So it appears Matthieu Flamini might be the man to exit the Arsenal squad this summer then, after rumours across multiple websites appeared about the apparent interest from Bastia. Isn’t that where Squillaci was packed off to, with the club waving any fee, because Bastia played the poverty card? Perhaps they are the Broadstairs of the ageing French Arsenal footballers career, where players move to when their days representing us are numbered and they want a nice easy life with good food and happy memories.
If it does happen, it will be fine by me, because the Flamster has served his time, won a couple of trophies like he said he wanted to when he arrived for his second stint and I think he’s restored some of the irritation that remained when he jumped ship on a free transfer to AC Milan all those years ago.
I do wonder whether – assuming there’s no smoke without fire here – had Flamini signed a new deal the first time, been at the club all these years and established himself as one of our consistent performers, whether there would be more reticence from Le Boss to let him go. A player that knows the club so well and can act as a positive influence around London Colney and The Emirates would still have value in my eyes. Just look at Arteta. I have no doubt he’s being retained for another year for many more reasons than sentiment and his positive influence, but I’m sure it will play a part.
Flamini’s case does certainly show one thing, which is that in football there is no loyalty, but more than that, it happens in both directions. As fans we’re guilty all to often of lamenting the fact that footballers show no loyalty or interest in the modern game, but much like footballers treat the game as their job and frequently move around, so the clubs treat themselves as businesses and so have no qualms about sending a player packing if their use has diminished to an extent that they will no longer contribute to the team.
Footballers are assets and in the Flamini case it appears it’s an asset that has depreciated to an extent that the club are just happy to write it off and offload to Bastia. However in Joel Campbell’s case, we have the other end of the ‘footballer as a commodity’ spectrum. Having barely played any football at all for the club, it appears Besiktas are ready to hand us £3.5million for his services.
A little while back – I think it was shortly after Campbell had signed his new deal – I wrote a blog about how Joel was essentially the clubs way of making money through the youth system without actually playing. It was a slightly cynical look at the scouting overseas for young talent approach, but I’ve always believed that Arsenal take the view that if you snaffle up enough youngsters, you’ll get one that might break in to the first team. And given their age, if you send them on loan for a few years and they succeed but still aren’t quite good enough for the first team, you can still sell them on for a tidy profit.
I still believe that and the Joel Campbell situation – if it plays out as is being reported – will be a good case study to argue that point. No doubt Arsenal will also insert a hefty sell on clause as well, so there’ll be double-bubble in terms of the investment, should Campbell be a success in Turkey.
It does make you wonder though: is it all worth it? When you look at the revenues generated by the club at the moment through sponsorship, merchandising, the Premier League TV money, etc, surely this dwarfs the odd million or two here and there for the sell on of players? Then when you factor in player wages (for these younger player deals we no doubt pay a portion of young player salaries when on loan) and all the travel expenses Dick has to put in when he’s been running around all over the world chasing after the Joel Campbell’s and agents, it does make you wonder how much of the final fee ends up being profit.
Is it worth it? Probably. Because despite all the effort, as I said above, if you uncover a gem then the club is quids in. We didn’t like the Fabregas saga at the time, but given his cost to us, then what we received in return, one Fabregas probably funded ten Joel Campbell-type signings. It makes good business sense to gamble on young players and providing your scouting system isn’t totally diabolical, then you’ll unearth one gem that will pay for the other ten duds and still have plenty of profit left over to call it a worthwhile effort.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why football clubs are more about business than ever before. It’s about economics, man.