Good morning all, not much to report on the Cesc Fabregas front. John Cross from the Mirror figures that Barcelona is going to make some kind of bid of £30m on Monday with only part of that being cash and the rest in Barcelona cast offs. If true, and I trust John that he’s not making things up, it’s pretty much one of the most insulting bids in Arsenal history.
A lot of people have been talking about how “if the player wants to leave, there isn’t much a club can do” and that’s true with one caveat: that player kind of has to be a dick and agitate his team for a move. Think about the way Adebayor forced Arsenal’s hand last year, or Hleb a few years ago. The player has to do more than just have a private meeting with the manager, he has to go public.
If the £30m price is true then Barcelona clearly think that they can force Cesc to force the club to accept this insulting bid. They think Cesc will throw away all of the good will he built at the club, destroy the relationship with Wenger, and shit on everything he built here to go back to Barcelona. If he does that then I think we’ve all misread the man.
I’d love to know what he thinks of that bid. To me, it means that the club of his youth who like to talk about his Catalan DNA doesn’t value him as much as they value some Asturian named David Villa or even some Swede named Ibrahimovich. It means they think he doesn’t care one jot about the club and manager which gave him the chance that his childhood club refused him. That would give me real pause, if I was Cesc.
Anyway, let’s get away from Cesc for a bit. As long as he doesn’t come out in the press and say he wants a move, I’m going to continue with the my magical thinking that says he met with Arsene Wenger and said:
Dude… DOOOD. Did you watch the end of the season? That was terrible. Can we get a real goalkeeper and someone who isn’t Silvestre to help me win some trophies? I’m good but I can’t do it all on my own. Oh and did you hear about that whole “me to Barcelona” thing? Yeah, that’s a laugh riot innit? I LOVE ARSENAL SO MUCH I WANT TO MARRY IT.
While I’m imagining things I thought I might imagine up some transfer targets that HAVEN’T been reported in the papers. I mean, come on, we all know that if you see “Arsenal ready gazilliondy dollar swoop for Stephane Mbia” then you can count it as nearly certain that we are NOT buying him. It’s the guys you’ve never heard of that we’re probably in for and here are some that I identified.
There are two ways to look at goalkeeper: we’ll buy a 35 year old who will put in three years while our 19 year old prodigy (Sneezy) goes to Leeds or something and gets more experience OR we’ll buy a 25 year old who will challenge Sneezy for his long term place at Arsenal.
Now, here’s something you probably didn’t know: France is minting top keepers left and right. According to the Castrol index 3 of the top five players in Ligue 1 are goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Teddy Richert, and Stephane Ruffier. You know how I feel about buying players from OL (they are too expensive) so that leaves Teddy Richert and Stephane Ruffier. Both of these players are good enough to come in to this Arsenal team and make an impact.
Richert is an interesting player, just 6′ tall but he’s got the kind of fearless attitude and crazy weirdo playing style that Arsenal fans missed when we let Lehmann go back to Germany. He’s a tremendous shot stopper as well, gets down quickly and palms the ball into the right places, rather than, say, putting the ball on the head of your opponent. Not only that, but he’s very vocal and at 35 years old he’s very experienced. I like him a lot, see for yourself:
Stephane Ruffier, on the other hand is 6’2″ and at 23 years old is a bit less vocal and a lot less crazy. But he’s got some great hands and isn’t afraid to come out and claim the ball. My favorite save is at about 5:15 in this video:
If we don’t want to spend any money (Arsene’s favorite!) there’s Herta Berlin’s Jaroslav Drobny who is available on a free. 6’4″ tall, 30 years old, free transfer, unknown, had a bit of a poor season as his club was relegated, this has Arsene Wenger written all over it!
Must be right footed, quick, and good in the air. French is a bonus and as usual Wenger likes players between the ages of 22 and 27.
Mbia hits all the points, except the one I said before: he’s already been linked and his club wants £16m! I’d be shocked if Wenger pays £16m for any player. This also rules out Gary Cahill, who Bolton want £20m for.
The best defender in France right now is Michael Ciani. Just 26 years old, 6’2″ tall, powerful, right footed, is a threat aerially on both ends of the pitch and formed one of the most effective defensive back lines in the Champions League last season… for Bordeaux. His partnership with Marouane Chamakh at Arsenal would ensure that we have a potent aerial threat for years to come.
That said, Bordeaux want nothing to do with Arsenal as they feel like they’ve been cheated in the whole Chamakh deal and with Ciani having 3 years left on his contract they will want a princely sum.
Meanwhile over in Germany, they are pumping out great defenders left and right and while every story links Arsenal to American born Neven Subotic, it’s his teammate Mats Hummels who has really impressed this season. 21 years old, 6’3″ tall, plays for Dortmund and is right footed. Would be a bit costly, though, given his youth and the fact that he’s got three years left on his contract.
One player who would be a bargain is Sebastien Squillaci. Despite his Italian sounding last name, he actually plays for France and was named in Domenech’s World Cup squad this year. He’s right footed, good in the air, French, and one of the top players in the Spanish league despite the injury hit end of the season. That said, he’s also 29 years old and under contract until 2012. Meaning he might be out of our price range.
I can’t find a world class midfielder who hasn’t been linked to Arsenal. But I did find something for you all to argue about!
Sign your prized assets to long-term contracts. Wenger astutely did this back in 2006 when he penned Cesc to an 8 year contract which lasts until 2014. There are rumors that Arsenal also did a one-off deal for Cesc last Summer which gave him £3m in lump sum and raised his pay from £80,000/wk to £110,000/wk. Those “golden handcuffs” are supposed to show the player that you value him, while at the same time making it very difficult for him to leave because the money is good and the contract is long-term.
Buy ‘em Young
Young players with a lot of experience who are on long-term contracts are more valuable than 28 year old’s who are at the pinnacle of their career. I’d say they are worth at least double because a 22 year old has 8 great years left in him and a 28 year old has 2, maybe 3 before production drops off (unless you’re at AC Milan, who have the world’s best medical staff).
Make Sure Your Club is Financially Stable
If your club is basically bankrupt, like Liverpool, and a club like Barcelona offers £70m for your best player (Torres) it’s very, very hard to resist. However, if you run your club in a financially responsible manner, pay off your debts, and build a surplus you can literally laugh in the face of anyone who thinks they are getting one of the world’s best players for the bargain basement price of £40m. Especially if they just signed a 28 year old for £35m.
Take the Moral High Road
I did a little research on the dot.com this morning and the number of times that Arsene Wenger told people at a press conference that Cesc was not for sale this Summer is quite shocking. It’s no exaggeration to say that pretty much every press conference from January to the last game of the season someone asked about Cesc and Barcelona, until Wenger finally said this:
Every week, in every press conference, I get asked if Fabregas will stay or not. Frankly, I believe it is not serious. The players are under contract and I always have to answer this.
If the players are free, I will tell you. Gallas can sign where he wants. We are trying to re-sign him but he is legally free to sign where he wants so I can tell you I don’t know where he will go. Maybe he will stay, maybe he will go. But when the players are under contract, why should we answer the same questions? Every week, it is exactly the same with Fabregas. Why? I don’t know.
When you sign a contract with a player, he commits his future to the club and I am surprised that you question the contracts of the players. You act as if the contract doesn’t mean anything. In what kind of society do we live?
Nobody puts a gun to your head when you sign a contract. We have more players who want to join us than players who want to leave us but you always put us in a position where we have to defend the players we want to keep who are under contract.
It should be absolutely logical to you that a player who is paid as he is paid respects his contract. I respect my contract because I have loyalty to the players so why should the players not respect theirs?
We have gone for a policy of development of the team over a longer period. We have stood up for these young players so it is down to them to pay us back, stay together and show that we can be successful together.
The items in bold are important because they pretty much highlight what the boss thinks about contracts and loyalty. That he said them publicly was actually kind of smart: he laid down the gauntlet for any of the players who want to come and talk to him about leaving. Contracts are about free will, honor, loyalty, and teamwork — do you really want to publicly break that?
Set a Price and Stick to it
With the upper-hand gained in terms of length of contract, you can now set the price you are willing to sell your player for. Word is that Arsenal are now telling people that £80m is the asking price for Cesc Fabregas and that they don’t need to budge.
After all, they have a 23 year old player, who has 4 years left on his contract, he’s paid handsomely, the club is financially stable, and they have publicly made a strong argument for players and coaches to honor their contracts. £80m is cheap.