Howdy folks, hope all is well with thee and you’re surviving during our continued isolation. I’ve been listening to a few podcasts whilst I go out running every day. Some are work related, but some are football related and I listened to the Ornstein and Chapman podcast the other day which had Phil Bardsley on it. I’m not a particular Bardsley fan – the Stoke connection prohibits any Arsenal fan from it, let alone the fact he now plays for Stoke 2.0 – but when you listen to his story, how he’s coping with the current issue, it does humanise him as a person and therefore make it a little more acceptable to listen in.
They didn’t really touch on the fact he’s out of contract in the summer because he spoke about how he hasn’t really thought about it, but with Pablo Mari telling the press he wants to stay beyond his current loan period, it did get me thinking about his position plus a few others within the Arsenal squad.
Mari has shown us only glimpses up until now and that’s because he’s had to build up his fitness. But he’s a player who has had a few good moments, one or two iffy moments during a few games, but in the main it’s been a positive set of displays from the player. But is that really enough to make a judgement on what is going to happen with the player when everything kicks off again?
Say we start the season on 30th June, for example, in which we then go through until August or September. What on earth do Arsenal do about the agreement? The Brazilian league was due to start on 3rd May and runs until December. Flamengo were in a position in which if the loan doesn’t work out they get a player back and he can start competing for the first team who is also match fit. But they also went out and bought a replacement I believe, so does that mean if Mari send him back, they are screwed? Or would they just integrate him back into the team as he was one of their best players? Does it mean Arsenal have some room for negotiation on any transfer fee?
But the problem there is will Arsenal have any money to negotiate a transfer fee? Every single football club is struggling to assess their finances right now and we’ve all heard the rumours of the players taking a wage cut. Apparently that has now been sorted thanks to Tricky Micky Arteta, but that will only help a portion of the clubs finances. The rest of the costs will still occur and Arsenal have a player in Mari with whom they really have very little data to suggest whether or not he’ll be a success or not. He could just not suit English football. We’ve seen so little of him that it’s almost impossible to make a judgement. He’s still adapting too. Premier League history is littered with players who looked pretty bang average when they joined their respective clubs, but after an adaptation period turned out to be brilliant players. I remember Jap Staam looking period basic in his first few months. I’m sure Didier Drogba was a bit of a donkey in front of goal to start off with and let’s face it, we all know the story about how Bobby Pires was told to sit on the bench and watch for his first game in the Premier League.
So for Arsenal there is a gamble that is on the cards. It’ll all come down to what the lawyers say, I suppose. There might be some leeway to extend the ‘try before you buy’ approach Arsenal have taken with Mari given that Flamengo have their replacement already sorted in Leo Pereira. But if he starts the season and isn’t exactly great for them, then Flamengo may not be too fussed about bringing back the Spaniard.
If I as to guess I’d suspect Arsenal will look to extend the loan until the season ends and therefore have the agreement to sign Mari when the season ends, rather than a definitive date. Whether that’s possible from a legalese perspective I don’t know, but it would be a big gamble to be dropping a few million quid in the current climate. Literally every penny counts at the moment and Arsenal can’t afford to be taking punts like they might have been able to do three months ago.
There’s also the Cedric Soares question but with him a free transfer in June I suspect Arsenal will just tell him that they’ll extend his loan agreement for an extra couple of months to get that one sorted. If you’re in Soares’ position you’d probably take that because it buys you more time, plus his agent can still be on standby to offer him up to other clubs should it look like Arsenal aren’t going to offer him the deal he wants.
It’s just a couple of examples of the thousands of different interconnected issues that Arsenal – and every other club – will have to work out between now and when everything gets back up to speed again. I don’t envy anybody in the corridors of power trying to make those kinds of decisions right now.
Catch you soon peeps. Stay safe.