It’s a weird and unusual experience, this winter break malarkey, because we haven’t done it before in this country and it also means there’s no Arsenal on and yet I can’t bemoan the pointlessness of international football!
There wasn’t really any cup upsets either last night, so that’s a Star Wars-esque “move along” too, which is a little annoying. Hopefully Southampton can do something delicious tonight against that horrible lot from up the Seven Sisters Road.
Arsenal are our in Dubai and there’s one or two pictures which have come out from the players. Nicolas Pepe has himself and loads of mates sitting on a fancy car in basketball jerseys. I only caught a quick glimpse of it, but it looks like Ainsley Maitland-Niles is in the picture too. Good on you Ainsley, retraining for another career, because the arrival of Soares probably put the kibosh on your Arsenal one.
I mean, let’s face it, he’s got plenty of people in front of him for centre midfield, he wasn’t even in the squad away to Burnley last weekend, plus the wide forwards positions are pretty stocked too. I do wonder if he was banging down Arteta’s door asking what is to become of him you know. The fight for places won’t have gotten any easier with the two January arrivals and Arteta has hardly been as glowing about Maitland-Niles as he has players like Reiss Nelson.
I think his card might be marked. And if you look at what we got for Iwobi last summer, I think he’ll be the next Hale End grad to be cashed in on. How much do you think we could get for a 22-year-old, versatile, established Premier League player? Because let’s face it, he’s made a fair few appearances for us in the first team, so he’s hardly a gamble for another Premier League team.
He’ll have a few years on his contract, he’s English, plus he has shown some decent performances this season. If Arsenal are looking at a rebuild of the team – a necessity given the age profile of some of the big earners – then cashing in on somebody like Maitland Niles makes sense. He could probably fetch a decent £25million in the crazy market that exists for Premier League talent. I mean, Liverpool got £19million for Solanke who had hardly played, so £25million for a guy with 80+ games of first team football doesn’t seem behind the realms of possibility.
And when you think about how much surgery the team probably needs, there will need to be some summer casualties. We have the big names such as Auba and Laca who will most likely be moved on, but with just one year on their respective deals, I can’t see them fetching more than £30million-odd for Auba, or £25million-odd for Lacazette. Let’s be bold and suggest we get that cash. Then factor in some money for a potential Mkhitaryan deal – probably no more than £5million for the player because of his wages – and even then we’re looking at a transfer kitty of around £60million.
Arsenal will have a little bit of their own self-generated cash available, but if we finish mid-table and don’t win the Europa League, then it’ll be no European football next season and whilst some people will skip with joy, the lack of cash from even that competition will reduce the transfer kitty even more.
So we’ve got my hypothetical £60million of senior player sales. Maybe Arsenal can add £25million of their own cash. That gives us £85million. Don’t forget we’re still paying for Pepe, which is why I’m assuming Arsenal can ‘top up’ the fund for around £25million at best. Suddenly, moving on a player like Maitland-Niles – assuming you can create a glossy enough brochure and talk a good talk to other Premier League clubs – makes sense.
That gives us £110million to spend some cash. If you’re looking at a top class centre forward you’ve lost half of that money already. And if we’re all in agreement that we need a creative attacking midfielder to sit just behind the striker then you’re talking the vast bulk of the rest of the transfer done. I haven’t even mentioned a centre half and if Pablo Mari isn’t a hit then the club need to have a think about how they finance a deal there too.
I think I’m right in saying that we also pay another chunk for Saliba in the summer. All of a sudden this hypothetical £110million that I’m absolutely clutching at and hoping for dear life, doesn’t really stretch far.
So the last thing we need to do is to be doubling money on average players with big wages and super agents by their side. It makes the Soares deal feel a little u comfortable to me. It was this time last year we were all briefed that Mislintat’s ‘data-focused’ approach to players was being canned for Raul’s ‘book of contacts and connections’. So far what we’ve seen is a decline in the teams fortunes and plenty of chumming up to agents who want their pound of flesh from football clubs.
If you’re not concerned by any of this then I reckon you could reconsider. Unless a lot of cards fall in our favour in the next six to nine months, we could be in for a rough old ride.
Catch you peeps tomorrow.