Yesterday I saw a Sky Sports News tweet about the youngster Reece Oxford, who made his Premier League debut against us, looked very good but who hasn’t featured regularly since the start of the season. The tweet alluded to a rejection from the kid of a new contract from West Ham, no doubt designed to secure his long-term future at the club and ward off any potential suitors, should he have a breakthrough season next year and West Ham want to protect the value of their asset.
This rejection, if true, sparked a bit of a convo about young players at Arsenal in which a few of us talked about those who might make it at the club. But even though I talked about young Arsenal players, I couldn’t help but find myself thinking about Oxford and his situation, in the sense that the footballing world has gone utterly bonkers.
This is a kid – I’m not using the term ‘player’ because he’s not really played much and for crying out loud, he’s 17 – who has a lot of potential it seems. He’s even got a £10million buy out clause apparently. How on earth can a 16/17 year-old have a buyout clause in the first place? When did that type of contractual negotiation start happening to kids playing for clubs still in school?
This could be a ploy from an agent I suppose. A way of getting West Ham to give the lad a contract that has an extra zero added on to the end of his earnings. The fact that agents are involved at such a young age is worrying enough, let alone that young players are starting to play the negotiation game years before they’ve even hit their 21st birthday. If we’re going to start to see more of this activity from younger players, we can only expect for the greed to filter further through the rest of the football club squads everywhere. Everyone knows how much money is awash in the Premier League and it appears as if everyone wants their pound of flesh.
But anyway, £10million?? Who would pay that for a completely unproven player, albeit one who has had a few decent games? To me, that seems an awful lot of cash, which then led me to thoughts on this summer and worries as to how crazy it is going to get.
Apparently, West Ham have dropped £31million on to Lyon’s laps in return for Lacazette, which suggests to me we’ve just seen the first of some serious spending across all Premier League clubs. But what about Arsenal? What are they going to do? We know that Arsène Wenger is notoriously thrifty with his company’s pound notes, so are we going to see another summer of frustration, as a player who five years ago was worth £15million is now touted as £35million?
That’s my worry. That we are still in 2010 with the valuations we put on everyone, whilst the rest of the world is cashing in on the Premier League gravy train, with us a little bit scared to drop some serious numbers because unlike West Ham, the club have worked very hard to build up a bank of reserves for a rainy day. West Ham have negotiated the sweetest deal of all. They get a practically free stadium (when you compare it to the income they generate) and are using all the money they should be spending on repaying debt, to improving their squad, where as Arsenal have gone through the pain of repayments and are reluctant to splash the cash.
Only time will tell how we approach the summer and whether the club is willing to properly set up the squad for a title challenge next season. But every time I think about how the Premier League is awash with cash and traditional mid-table teams are able to spend vast sums of cash, I wonder how we will react to the new world, and whether we will go with the times or do what we’ve always done and look for the slightly less polished diamond that we can shine up real good.
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter who we sign and when, if the squad gels and the manager does manager to build a team with enough desire and application to win the league. I’m not untreated in names, I’m interested in performances and titles, but to get that I do wonder if the manager has to act like he’s spending in 2016, not 2010.
The bubbling rumours about Xhaka appear to be gathering momentum and hopefully the club can get that over the line quickly so it can move on to the next signing, because there is quite a bit of work to do, but as always I suspect we’ll be waiting a bit for any real announcement to take place.
Righto, it’s off to work I go, so you stay good and I’ll catch you when the week is a day older.