Monday, 15 August 2011

You Are What You Spend

So, to confirm, I am leaving Walsall by foot tonight and heading for the continental mainland. First stop: Birmingham!

But my ill advised life choices aside, todays big news is the conclusion of the painful transfer saga that takes Cesc Fabregas back to his hometown club Barcelona, after 8 years, 303 games and 57 goals for Arsenal. The whole ordeal was a matter of when, not if, but raises two points of debate: the conduct of the transfer and the future of Arsene and Arsenal.

The fee to add one of the finest midfielders in the Premiership to the finest footballing side in the world? Up to £35m, with only £25.4m coming initially. The rest is split between Cesc himself, contributing over his 5 year contract, and Barca depending on winning a very conceivable 2 la Ligas and 1 Champions League trophy over the same period. Not a snip exactly, but for all the hype its not a big ask in the current market either. Not for a 24 year old world class midfielder.

The truth is, Wenger knew there was no other option. This was clear many months ago but Wenger's pride may have be come an obstacle. Barca were initially offering £30m according to various reports, and refusing to bid any higher to edge closer to Arsenal's £40m valuation. To an outsider, it appeared he was not an essential signing for Barca (as if anyone is). Perhaps this is why the delay ensued.

The methods used by Barca were unsavoury to many. Arsenal expressed their willingness to sell, but the press releases, tweets and that post world cup photo turned the pressure on North London.

What this highlighted is the lack of power a selling club has when the player wants out, and the insignificance of player contracts.

The opposite may now apply to Wenger, as it is he who now needs players, and it is the selling clubs that can hold him to ransome. To make matters worse, even before the imminent sale of Nasri, the obvious problems of last season - lack of an experienced goalkeeper and a reliable defence - have not been addressed. Given has gone begging, even Wes Brown it could be argued was an opportunity. Cahill, Jagielka, Samba and Dann so far remain elusive seemingly because Wenger has not been prepared to pay the asking price for the right players.

Hypocrasy perhaps? The only difference being that Arsene hasn't used the cheekier tools at his disposal to unsettle a player as Barca have. Perhaps the lack of recent success nullifies this option, but the fact remains,if Arsenal want to be seen as a big club, they will have to spend as one.
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