Monday, May 20, 2024

Flo Balo-gone – striker joins Monaco + EFL and CL draws


The main story to begin with is the sale of Folarin Balogun to Monaco for a fee that could reach €40m with add-ons. It’s also reported that Arsenal negotiated a 17.5% sell-on clause, which is substantial if the player moves on at some point in the future – which, I’m sure will be the case.

I have slightly mixed feelings about this one, as I would have liked to see him get a bit of an opportunity with us. However, an injury in pre-season scuppered his chances of playing, and with Gabriel Jesus, Eddie Nketiah, Leandro Trossard and Kai Havertz all options for that place up front, his departure felt inevitable. Not least, let’s not forget, because he made it known that after his goalscoring exploits for Reims last season he wanted regular first team football again and was not interested in going on loan.

With two years left on his contract, that kind of stance pretty much forces the issue from the club’s perspective. The other thing to bear in mind is that he was a ‘hot property’, so to speak – the most valuable outgoing asset we had. Even so, it has taken all summer for a buyer to complete a deal. There might have been some interest from Premier League clubs but nobody pushed all the way to sign him, and even if that had happened we’d have the discussion about whether a bit more money now is worth it to see him playing for another English club.

I also think comparisons to other deals this summer don’t really stack up because of just how skewed the Premier League market is. If Chelsea are paying £40m for Man City’s Cole Palmer, that’s a separate thing from Monaco paying up to €40m for Balogun, because Monaco aren’t as rich or as stupid as Chelsea when it comes to recruitment. And if we get down into the details, Palmer has 41 appearances for Man City across the Premier League and Champions League, Flo has 10 for Arsenal – most of which are in the Europa League and League Cup. Also, as I mentioned, if Chelsea had offered £60m for Balogun – which they didn’t by the way – would people really be happier with the extra money? I really don’t think so.

For me it comes down to this: two years ago, more or less, Balogun could have left for free, but we convinced him to sign a new contract. Now we’re selling him for €40m, with more potentially in the future, and that’s decent business. I still think as a club we are traditionally bad sellers in general, and that reputation is hard to shake, but in recent years our biggest sales have been Academy graduates who have made the grade. Alex Iwobi to Everton (€35m), Joe Willock to Newcastle (€30m), and now Balogun for the fee mentioned above.

It brings the summer’s incoming total to a pretty respectable figure. My back of a match-book maths shows Granit Xhaka + Pablo Mari + Austen Trusty + Matt Turner + Balogun + a couple of loan/sell-on fees coming in at around the £75m mark all told. Which isn’t bad, and it potentially could increase in the last couple of days. There are still players like Rob Holding, Nuno Tavares, Cedric and Nicolas Pepe who could all go in the next 48 hours in some way or another. I don’t think there’ll be anything massively substantial in terms of fees for those players, perhaps the best bet is a decent few quid for Holding, but let’s see what happens between tonight and the deadline at 11pm tomorrow night.

Anyway, good luck to Flo, it’s a really good move for him (he stays in red and white too!), and I thought Arsenal’s statement about his departure was a little more effusive than it has been for other players in the past.

Elsewhere, the draw for the third round of the EFL Cup was made and we’ve got Brentford away, which is just a bit annoying really. I was hoping we might get a lower league side, which would have enabled Mikel Arteta to really dip into the Academy when he was picking his side. The reality is, even if both teams will likely make changes for this one, the team will need to be relatively strong to take on another Premier League outfit as good as Brentford. Oh well.

Speaking of draws, later today we’ll be in Pot 2 for this season’s Champions League. Here are the four pots, and it’s one team from each (with the usual proviso about teams from the same country being kept apart at this stage.

Pot 1

Manchester City, Sevilla, Barcelona, Napoli, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica, Feyenoord

Pot 2

Real Madrid, Manchester United, Internazionale, Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, RB Leipzig, FC Porto, Arsenal

Pot 3

Shakhtar Donetsk, FC Salzburg, AC Milan, Braga, PSV Eindhoven, Lazio, Red Star Belgrade, FC Copenhagen

Pot 4

Young Boys, Real Sociedad, Galatasaray, Celtic, Newcastle United, Union Berlin, Antwerp, Lens

So, all eyes on UEFA HQ later on as they spend an eternity doing some kind of interminable bollox with some ex-players you’d forgotten all about before eventually picking the teams. We’ll bring you the result of the draw over on Arseblog News later.

We’ll also have an Arsecast for you today, a bit earlier than usual, but that’ll be with around lunch-time. Tomorrow is deadline day, so we’ll have the live blog, and we’ll cover all the ins and outs in a preview podcast on Patreon on Saturday morning.

For now, take it easy.

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