If you’re going to take the ideas from this blog and make them your own, I’ll make it easy for you.
- The Arsenal-Khedira links are real, regardless of what the agent is saying publicly.
- The press in Britain and Spain are struggling with Khedira’s current salary, despite reliable reports detailing exactly how much money he makes a year.
- Khedira is asking for more money than he’s already on at Real but the rates I’m hearing are in line with the difference between his Real salary and what he would need to make at Arsenal to cover differences in taxes.
- If Wenger is after Khedira, Mourinho bought Khedira, and Löw won a World Cup with Khedira, he must be good but man his stats sure don’t show it and they don’t show him to be a defensive midfielder.
Agents talk. Agents also get fired. Agents also talk to the pubic in order to get their clients better deals. There are myriad reasons why agents make statements and after the Suarez debacle¹, the one thing that I have learned in player negotiations is that there are lies, damn lies, and there are agents©.
I was talking to Arseblog yesterday and I asked him if I should go ahead with this by the numbers piece I have which compares 10 different defensive midfielders and comes to the conclusion that one of them is the best fit for Arsenal. I asked him, because I didn’t include Khedira in the article. Who, in their right mind, would include Khedira in a statistically driven article on defensive midfielders? He didn’t do that job for Real Madrid nor for Germany. Not in any way that makes sense. Anyway, Blogs said that he felt strongly Arsenal really were after Khedira and today in his post he revealed why he is so sure, Rafael Honigstein.
It looks like, for all intents and purposes, Arsenal have made contacts with the player and with the club. They have “felt out” the deal and it looks like the deal is that Real Madrid want £20m and Khedira wants £7.8m a year. It is possible, by the way, for the agent to be bypassed in all this. Agents do get fired.
Meanwhile, the press are all reporting that Khedira is currently on just £50k a week and wants a topping up to £150k a week to join Arsenal. I’m not sure where they got the £50k a week number because we know exactly how much money Khedira is making and it’s closer to £100k a week.
I know what Marca reported when he first signed with the club and maybe that was his salary in 2010. Maybe it was his take home salary? You know, his after tax salary? Maybe he was given a signing bonus early on and a smaller salary to start? Who knows how his deal was structured. But despite those early reports, we know for a fact that Khedira earned €5m last season because FIFA had to pay his salary to Real Madrid when he was injured last year. And if you look at the language in FIFA’s compensation insurance document they only pay the player’s base salary.
We also know that since he negotiated his current contract in 2010 he is only paying a 25% tax rate. That means that he is taking home around €75k a week right now. His new contract at Real Madrid would take him to the current Spanish tax level which is over 50% and if he moved to England he would pay a similar tax rate. He is also now a World Cup winner and this is almost certainly his last professional contract (unless he can get a sweet retirement deal here in America). Is it any surprise that he’s asking for more money? Not to me.
But like Arseblog, I’m not sure that his salary demands are the problem. I’m almost entirely sure that the £20m compensation Real Madrid are asking for is the problem. That is a huge sum for a player in the last year of his contract, especially one who is just recovering from ACL surgery. If Arsenal were to pay that sum, it would push his entire contract over £50m. That severely limits Wenger’s ability to improve the squad over the next four years.
I’ve looked at Khedira’s stats compared to other defensive midfielders, I’ve looked at his individual games, and I’ve looked at his numbers compared to other players on his team (thus eliminating the “possession adjustment” problem) and the fact is that Khedira was never really deployed as a DM at Real Madrid or Stuttgart.
At Stuttgart Khedira played with a host of players in midfield and ended the season tied for 12th place in tackles per game, and 7th in interceptions per game. He was also a sub 80% passer of the ball, was third on the team in Key Passes (behind Hleb) and led the team in assists. He was also second in through balls and hit half as many long balls as his midfield partner Hitzlsperger. These numbers indicate a player playing box-to-box midfield, not defensive midfield.
And when he makes to the move to Real Madrid, you see a similar pattern: he’s being deployed next to Alonso or Diarra who are both tackling like madmen! He’s not bad defensively and as we would expect to see from a Mourinho player he tackles plenty (1.9 per game) and intercepts a fairly good number (2.1). The reality is that he played second fiddle to Alonso and there is no shame in that. None.
Can he make the jump over to Arsenal? Of course he could. He’s big and mobile and can play in many positions. I can see Arsene playing a double-pivot with Ramsey and Khedira at the back, similar to the way that he played Vieira and Petit. Though it would have to be a much more modern incarnation of that pairing.
I can see Khedira playing slightly more actual defensive midfield with Ramsey more freely roaming. I can see Arteta playing deep against slow teams and Khedira giving Ramsey a breather in the box-to-box role. I can see him playing a lot of different places. The point is that Khedira’s strength is in his flexibility and team-orientated attitude and he would fit right in at Arsenal.
So, let’s sign him up. Plenty of work still to do in that regard and just over a week before the first pre-season friendly. Got to get cracking, Arsene!
¹In case you had forgotten or in case you want to relive that PTSD moment over again, let’s remind ourselves that Suarez’ people came to Arsenal and told them that he had a £40m release clause. Did he have one? Was it just a verbal clause? Was the clause’s intent misunderstood by Suarez’ people? Did they do that intentionally? Did Liverpool basically say “sue me”? Did the PFA collude with Liverpool to say that the clause wasn’t as iron-clad as Suarez’ agents thought? Are Liverpool going to finish in the top 10 this season?