Friday, March 1, 2024

Oh, it’s just tens of millions of pounds …

Morning all, a very quick Sunday round-up for you.

Much of the chat this morning is about our bid for Moises Caicedo, Brighton’s Ecuadorian midfielder. He’s a player we’ve been interested in for a while, but this weekend we submitted a £60m bid for the player which was immediately rejected. Brighton don’t want the player to go during this window, and you can understand why.

It’s almost the end of January, their ability to source a replacement is constrained by time, not to mention he’s been a key part of their team this season. They’re currently in 6th position, so I can completely understand their reluctance to sell. The situation was made more complicated by the fact that Caicedo has recently changed agent, and his Instagram statement asking the club to let him go feels like a very blunt force tactic. If you’re in charge at Brighton, it’s the kind of thing that would get your back up, not make you more willing to do a deal.

To me this one looks extremely messy at this point, but that doesn’t change the reality of our situation either. We’re top of the table, we absolutely need a midfielder before the window closes, and I suspect we’re pushing harder for this player because of that. That brings us to the money.

It’s been fascinating to see how a bid of £60m – SIXTY MILLION POUNDS!! – has been described as derisory and laughable from some quarters. Of course Brighton are entitled to put whatever valuation they want on him, especially in the circumstances, but I think people have lost their minds a bit when it comes to transfer fees. At times football feels a bit more like Monopoly, the way money is thrown around, but maybe we need to step back a bit and think about this outside the bubble of the transfer window.

£60m is an extraordinary amount of money for a 21 year old with fewer than 30 Premier League appearances to his name. Brighton paid around £4m for him, so you’re talking £56m in profit inside two years. Again, this isn’t to say they should simply accept it, but to frame how people talk about money in football. In the midst of a cost of living crisis, to see seasoned journalists scoff at a bid of this size just doesn’t feel right. I get football is its own special/mad/ridiculous thing, but come on.

There are all kinds of reasons why the market is like this, and while some clubs are more culpable than others, ultimately this is a consequence of the Premier League being the richest league on the planet, awash with TV cash. What would Moises Caicedo cost if you bought him from the Bundesliga or Ligue 1? Certainly a much smaller percentage of £60m, that’s for sure – but this is the market we exist in and that we have contributed to as well. Every Premier League club has made their respective financial beds, and now they have to lie in them. That’s where we are, but even though I fully understand the context, I just find the dismissal of massive amounts of money as if they were mere pennies somewhat distasteful.

I like Caicedo, but in much the same way as the Mykhaylo Mudryk fee made me uncomfortable due to its size and the relative inexperience of the player, so too does this one. I know, it’s not my money, but still. There are reports we’ve gone back again with a bigger bid, and other reports that Brighton simply will not sell. In the end every player has their price, clubs hold out until the money is simply too good to turn down, but it remains to be seen if we’ll find that middle ground with Brighton before Tuesday at 11pm.

It’s clear the club are very keen to add to the squad before the window closes, and it’s been quite interesting to see the briefing about how splashing out on Caicedo now wouldn’t impact our ability to sign Declan Rice in the summer. It’s just that right now the clock is ticking, and we’re embroiled in a difficult, messy situation that could leave us with nobody if it doesn’t go our way.

Let’s hope there are contingency plans.

Mad suggestion: Why don’t we sign Brighton’s scouts and save ourselves a load of money in the long run?

Right, let’s leave it there for now. James and I are recording the Arsecast Extra for you later on this morning. Keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you’re on Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the #arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.

We should have the podcast for you around lunchtime. Until then.

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