Theo

Walcott’s signature adds up to a good deal

Theo Walcott is not the best player on the planet. He’s not even the most promising player on the planet: an Edinson Cavani, Radamel Falcao, El Shaarawy, or whomever is the flavor of the month. But Theo Walcott has plenty going for him and has reportedly signed a new deal with the Arsenal paying him a salary of just £85k per week with a £3m signing bonus over three and a half years. Simply put, it’s a deal that makes sense for both Arsenal and Theo Walcott.

Walcott is just 23 years old and on the verge of blossoming as a player. He started his Arsenal career slowly. Netting his first goal in the League Cup final against Chelsea. It then took him 5 seasons to get into double digits in goals and 6 seasons to do the same in assists. But this season has been his best return yet, scoring 14 goals and adding 10 assists in 24 apps all competitions, many as a sub.

Strikers usually mature between 25 and 29, and that means that this 3.5 year deal keeps Walcott at Arsenal until right in the middle of that maturation period. Many are already complaining that the brevity of the deal means Arsenal will be renegotiating with Walcott in just 18 months, but in reality that is the perfect time for both him and the team to reevaluate his contract. If he’s matured, you make him rich(er). If he’s stayed at the same level, you move him on.

It’s that last bit “you move him on” which I think is one of the best parts of the deal. Many people reporting that the deal is worth £100k a week, but the Beeb says that he’s making that amount after a £3m signing on bonus. That means he’s only making ~£85k a week. “Only”, I know. But in the new reality of the Premier League with massive television monies flooding teams’ coffers and the Sheikhigarchy hyperinflating player salaries, £85k a week is not an eye-popping sum. Wayne Bridge is still making £90k a week from Manchester City to play for Arsenal’s next opponent in the FA Cup, Brighton Hove & Albion.

The £3m signing on bonus is another great bit of news. The two of you who have been following me since the Flamini days know that I have long argued that Arsenal should be using signing on bonuses as a means of keeping salaries low but retaining top talent in the last year of their contracts. With Flamini the choice was clear, it was going to cost Arsenal £15m to replace him or they wouldn’t replace him and instead wait around for two years as Alex Song matured into the position for “free”. I use Flamini intentionally, because while I know that his career has suffered after leaving Arsenal I still think his partnership with Cesc was crucial to Arsenal nearly winning the League in 2007/08. And his loss set the team back two years.

(Edit: Somehow this paragraph didn’t publish the first time.)
You also can’t forget about the premium that top English players command in the transfer market. Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson, and Stewart Downing are the most notorious examples but setting aside Liverpool’s profligacy players like Ashley Young (£17m), James Milner (£28m), and Gareth Barry (£12m) all cost far more in the transfer market than a comparable foreign player would. So, again, £3m as a signing bonus is insanely cheap.

  • Carroll — £35m — 1 goal, 0 assists
  • Milner — £28m — 3 goals, 0 assists
  • Young —  £17m — 0 goals, 3 assists
  • Walcott — £3m — 8 goals, 6 assists

Above all though, Wenger prefers to keep his players rather than break the team up and buy replacements. In this, his fourth Arsenal team, he has gone with a decidedly British flavor; Wilshere, Walcott, Chamberlain, Gibbs, Ramsey, and Jenkinson represent a core of British players all of whom are young, hungry, and have been steeped in the Arsenal culture. The signing of Walcott was the last step in assuring that core would be around for a few more years.

And really, how much would it cost to buy a 23 year old English forward who has experience at a top club, and has scored 8 goals and contributed 6 assists? Those are numbers similar to players like Marco Reus, Thomas Meuller, Carlos Tevez, and Eden Hazard. Suddenly £3m is looking like quite the deal.

And while I am fully aware of the fact that Walcott can be frustrating and has shown some worrying signs of tactical indiscipline I still think that pound for pound, with his nose for goal, his pace, and his being the best “wide” player that the club have at the moment, this is a very good deal for Arsenal.

Qq

23 thoughts on “Walcott’s signature adds up to a good deal

  1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Redcore

    Nice article tim. Hope the club uses signing on bonuses ‘judiciously’ to stop players eloping in future.

  2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Jon

    I’m (mostly) really pleased and surprised about this. I was sure he’d be off on a Bosnam (I thought @YankeeGunner’s analysis was right) but the signing on fee is a really sensible bit of business to counter the Bosnam – and compared to signing a new equivalent (British or not) is cheap. Plus he’s already part of the team, so we don’t have to embed any new signing, or go through the whole developmental process with the Ox. In fact, it’s almost like a new signing! (smacks self in mouth)

    Like you I think this is as important symbolically for the team, we’re not a “selling club” etc., as it is for the actual team on the pitch.

    But, I am one of those who grumbles a little at the contract length. I wonder whether that, more than wages was actually the major sticking point? If that was the case, then I’ll take it. Who knows though, maybe in 18 months time when we’ve just won the league on the back of a storming set of 2013 summer signings and no forced-sales-of-captains, he’ll be happy to sign a five year contract extension …

    Now if we could just get that Cavani bloke I’ve been hearing so much about to sign …

  3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

    Agreed Tim. I think when you look at the big picture, it makes sense. Theo is an incredibly frustrating player as evidenced by his spurned chances against Swansea but he also has good games and in those games he usually puts on a MTM type performance – the most recent one being the against New Castle. He also usually puts in good performances against Chelsea 04, and that to me is reason alone to keep him. However when I talk about big picture I’m not talking about his individual performance from gameday to gameday. Obviously he isn’t consistent and he divides opinion among Gooners. Probably more than any other player. What is more important is that we have been able to hold on to one of our best players (at least statistically) instead of losing him to another club and we won’t have to hear about how we are unable to hold on to our players. Let’s face it, love him or hate him, we would have to hear a lot of shit about how no good player wants to play for us anymore. That has an adverse psychological effect on the players. Our biggest problem is recent seasons have been holding on to the players we have developed. We needed some squad continuity and having him sign up is good for morale. I hope some of that will translate onto the pitch. Maybe I’m clutching at straws here but for now I’m happy we aren’t losing yet another player to a rival club.

    The other positive thing you mentioned is the 3MM signing bonus. This sounds like something new for the club and hopefully a step in the right direction in fixing our wage restructure. 3MM signing bonus for a club you are already playing for sounds ridiculous but when you adjust the wages for the bonus, it’s on par with industry standards.

    The only downside to this is that I suspect Arsene will say we did have some new signings during the winter when we actually don’t end up buying anyone new. All the British boys were LANS.

  4. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1skyranger

    Don’t think a portion of gooners will ever get over Theo not being Thierry. I agree with your reading of the bottom line here . I feel it will prove to be a significant deal for the next few years in tandem with the recent contracts of Wilshere,Gibbs, Ox and I still believe Ramsey will be hero in time

  5. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    I’m pleased, and I think it’s a good deal for all concerned (thanks for the reminder about the 85k). The other major bonus is that we don’t have to hear about the usual “selling club” / “no ambition” nonsense from the media and ex-players for at least another four months.

  6. Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

    Da ting = signed…

    Good analysis Tim. Cheers for the optimism, I’m feeling good about this now even if I fully recognize Theo’s limitations. And Theo is unlikely to ever be deadwood – I think he wouldn’t be a hard asset to sell on should we choose to cash in.

    However, the optimism you display must be based on a set of assumptions:
    - Theo does in fact play wide, and play as a wide man, rather than just sit in the middle pretending he’s a striker.
    - His form doesn’t drop now that he’s signed the contract – some fluctuation is expected, but we’d like to see him continue this form.
    - His streak of good health continues – remember, he suffered a lot of injuries in years passed, but he’s been relatively injury free of late.

    If those conditions are fulfilled, then we have a very good and very threatening, pacy, and important member of the squad.

  7. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

    Also:

    With Theo signed up, does that mean Sagna is next? Or will we let his contract run down? Will he still be good enough to be first choice in 18 months, or will his form decline to the extent that we won’t miss him?

    1. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Jon

      I’d like Sagna to sign an extension. Even if the plan is to groom Jenkinson, the idea that Sagna is going to be unpickable or can’t play in two years time seems foolish – if there’s a graceful and managed progression of Jenkinson ousting Sagna on merit – and then Sagna being backup for a year, or even two, how is that not a sensible idea.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Ditto.

        Sagna should be able to go on till 34 (like Dixon)

        I think it will be crucial to keep some institutional experience by which I mean players very familiar with Wenger’s set up.

  8. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Witoldo

    Walcott is one of only two players to be in the top 10 in the Premier League in both goals and assists (according to the statistics on the official PL site):

    Goalscoring:
    10. Theo Walcott (8 goals, tied with Fellaini, Aguero, and Javier Hernandez)

    Assists:
    7. Theo Walcott (8 assists, ahead of Santi Cazorla, Wayne Rooney, and others)

    The only other player in the top 10 in both categories is a certain Robin van Persie. This shows very clearly, in my mind, just how productive Walcott can be, despite all his imperfections.

    I think this is a great deal for the club. Replacing Walcott’s production in the transfer market would have been very, very expensive, as you’ve rightly pointed out Tim, when you factor in transfer fee, agents fee, and salary (which would be comparable to Walcott’s new deal).

  9. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Philbet

    I \have been critical before but credit where it is due, this is a well written and well thought out article,yes Walcott is no Ribery but he is a lot better than say Lennon, Sturidge or Matt Jarvis (£10mill to West Ham) and the deal reflects this. he is far better playing for us than against us and has some scope to improve again.

  10. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Top_gooner

    Another inspired piece tim. Very logical and agree completely. Terms are very reasonable given climate and (inconsistent) past of Theo.

  11. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1CarsonWells

    I think a lot of us knew, deep down, that Theo needs Arsenal at a very fundamental level. He did a lot of his growing up an Arsenal lad and isn’t headstrong enough (see RVP) to think himself better than what the club can offer him.

    He’s quite clearly been trying to squeeze the best a man can get out of the club without the genuine intention of moving on. Can you imagine for one second Theo getting the same kind of leeway he gets here at Manchester United? No, and he isn’t mentally strong enough to compete with the egos at City either. The same point applies at Liverpool where he would be expected to play one of the starring roles of the team.

    I’m fairly confident one major reason he signed is because of Thierry. But not out of respect per se. I think he was afraid of how his idol would perceive him, had he moved out of the club at this age having taken on the 14 shirt.

    I think Theo always needed us more than we needed him. I’m not as confident as Tim about the benefits to both sides in this situation.

  12. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Geoff

    “The two of you who have been following me since the Flamini days”

    You mean there’s someone else Tim? :)

  13. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    Well said.

    Good comparison (with some of the over valued English)

    A good day for us. We get to keep a productive player (and top scorer)

    And it will allow us now to concentrate on adding one/two actual new signings.

    Likely a striker. Hopefully now that Walcott is signed, Wenger isn’t quite as compelled to play him up top at our apex. He does just as much harm from out RW (if not more) whilst providing us vital width.

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