Category Archives: Transfers

Action Jackson Martinez

Almost every Premier League team bought a forward: almost all of them worse than Giroud

Tim Todd

Arsene Wenger was questioned vigorously today about Arsenal’s lack of transfer activity this summer. The gathered members of the press focused exclusively on strikers, asking the boss in various ways why he didn’t buy a center forward.

The press focused on strikers (center forwards) because many Arsenal supporters, including TV pundit and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, want an upgrade on Olivier Giroud in the center forward role. Wanting your club to buy a top quality striker is not an unreasonable desire: having a player who can score 25+ goals a season from the forward position almost guarantees a title push for your team and more importantly, since goals are why we watch the game, an exciting season of football.

And yet when questioned about whether Arsenal tried to get a forward, Arsene Wenger insisted that such a solution didn’t exist:

I told you many times, you look at what happened on the transfer market at the end of the day and you will see. I can understand everyone’s hope, but if you look at what happened it shows you that there is a shortage of solutions out there.

Many Arsenal fans will point to transfers outside of the Premier League and wonder why Arsenal couldn’t have purchased those players. Eden Dzeko in particular would possibly be an upgrade on Giroud, he has a superior scoring record in terms of Minutes per Goal: banging in a goal every 151 minutes over his career in all competitions, compared to Giroud’s 171 minutes per goal. But the chance of getting Dzeko on loan from a Premier League title rival who don’t need the money in any way is almost zero.

Plenty of other players made moves this summer as well: Carlos Bacca went from Sevilla to AC Milan for €30m and he has an excellent career goalscoring record of 138MPG, Paulo Dybala is a 21 year old prospect often compared to fellow Argentinian Kun Aguero (273MPG right now) and he moved to Juventus for €32m, and Jackson Martinez has an astounding career goalscoring record of 129MPG (which is up there with the likes of Falcao at 126MPG) and he was scooped up by Atleti for €35m.

So why couldn’t Arsenal land any of these players?

Wenger’s answer struck me as odd, he said essentially, “look at what everyone else in the Premier League did and you will see that there was a shortage of solutions.” So, I looked at the transfer business of every Premier League team (via and sure enough, nearly every team in the Premier League bought a center forward and yet none of them went for the likes of Bacca, Martinez, or Dybala and instead opted for names like Martial, Benteke, and Falcao.

Two teams refused to buy a center forward this season: Arsenal and Man City. Man City have just Aguero and Bony while Arsene Wenger named Giroud, Sanchez, Walcott, and Welbeck as his center forwards.

If we look at Arsenal’s four center forwards their minutes per goal and ages look like this:

Player Age MPG
Giroud 28 171
Sanchez 26 231
Walcott 26 241
Welbeck 24 303

These MPG numbers are career numbers (all competitions, all teams) and should change as the player gets better or starts to fade. I expect Sanchez and Walcott to both lower their MPG numbers this season as they enter the prime of their respective careers. Welbeck isn’t really a consideration this season as his knee injury will likely keep him sidelined for half the year.

But what did the other teams in the Premier League do to get center forwards? Be warned, it’s underwhelming:

Club Name Price Age MPG
Chelsea Falcao Loan 29 126
Kenedy £5.6 19 502
City -____-
Arsenal -____-
Man U Martial £35 19 255
Tottenham N’Jie £10 22 226
Liverpool Benteke £33 24 182
Ings Free 22 232
Southampton Juanmi £5 22 293
Swansea Eder £5 27 227
McBurnie £0.25 19 239
Biabi £0.15 19 312
Stoke City Joselu £5 25 240
Crystal Palace Wickham £7 22 284
Bamford Loan 21 171
Everton Rodriquez £0.5 22 232
Henen £0.2 19 387
West Ham Jelavic £3 30 174
WBA Rondon £12 25 177
Lambert £3 33 205
Leicester Okazaki £8 29 237
Newcastle Mitrovic £13 20 177
Toney £0.5 19 254
Sunderland Borini £8 24 184
Aston Villa Ayew £8 23 278
Gestede £6 26 186
Bournemouth Murray £4 31 181
Tomlin £3 26 298
Watford Vydra £6 23 183
Oulare £6 19 157
Norwich Mbokani Loan 29 173

The only player even vaguely comparable to Giroud is Falcao. He had a rough season last year with Man U but has already gotten off the mark with a great header to equalize in Chelsea’s 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge. The other players with lower MPG numbers are both 19-21 year old prospects (Bamford and Oulare).

The chart shows clearly there were several teams who wanted to sign a world class center forward and who settled for Benteke, took a chance on Falcao, or went prospecting in Monaco for a 19 year old with no history.  But in terms of upgrades on Giroud, no one in the Premier League was able to land one of those players. Why remains a mystery, but the facts are clear.


Financial data proves Arsenal not in the top top tier of world football

By Tim Todd, Fairly Funny Person

Just a quick follow up to a tweet yesterday.

I posted an image showing the total turnover for the top clubs in world football. It was a side-track for this project/proposal I am working on but an interesting one none-the-less. I created the graphic because I’ve made the statement several times that Arsenal are simply not at the level of a club like Man U, Chelsea, City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich. And because we are in that second bracket, it is very difficult to attract the “world claaaaas” players that would improve the club. This is, ultimately, why a player like Schneiderlin chooses a club like Man U over Arsenal: he stands to make more not just in salary but in the even more important area of product endorsements and image rights. So, even if Arsenal were to offer Schneiderlin a similar wage package, we can’t compete with the huge clubs in terms of the endorsement packages they offer. Not even close.

Here’s the data:



As you can see, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich basically have as much money as they want. Man U is a close fourth and again have a license to print money. They have used that license in the last few years as they have burned through hundreds of millions in the transfer market.

Chelsea and City don’t have very high turnover and the supplement that with losses. This is what Wenger means when he refers to “financial doping”. This is also what Financial Fair Play (FFP) was supposed to end. Judging by the fact that Man City spent £82m this summer, after having their hands slapped last summer, FFP looks like it stands for “Foreseeable Failure of Policing” rather than “Financial Fair Play”.

Arsenal’s line is there in red¹. Our turnover has been rather stagnant for seven of the last nine years, since the stadium was built. I expect that 2014/15 and 2015/16 will probably see an increase in turnover at Arsenal but we have to wait for the financial reports.

I also ran the numbers for Chelsea and Arsenal in terms of wages plus transfers, in order to show the gap there.

Cheslea v

As you can see, up to 2013 (financial year), Arsenal were significantly (£50m+) behind Chelsea almost every season since Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2005.²  The gap closed to about £7m in 2014 and Arsenal might even have outspent Chelsea last season.

The reason for that incroyable result is that Chelsea managed to convince PSG to pay £34m for David Lulz and Wolfsburg to pay £22 for Andre Unshurrle.

Anyway, I’m sure if we look at Real Madrid’s salary and transfer combined spend or Man U or any of the other teams that were in that top group it will only further prove my point that Arsenal are simply not in the very top group that can attract the very top players. And Arsenal certainly can’t afford to pay £60m for a 19 year old striker with 15 goals to his name.

And with that I leave you to enjoy your transfer deadline day of doom.


¹Turnover data from Deloitte’s Annual Review of Football Finances. Annual losses data gathered from various sources.
²Transfer and wage data culled from Arsenal’s annual reports,, and a site called “The Chels” which has surprisingly accurate financial data on Chelsea.


Schneiderlin to United and Pedro to Chelsea: A Woman’s Touch?

One thing I wanted to touch on in yesterday’s article on Arsenal being in the third tier of the transfer market is about transfer stories and how there is an incestuousness about the market that many fans seem to forget.

One of the most pernicious problems with transfer reports is that journalists are often given scoops which further the client’s purposes. Fans take these scoops and run with them as fact that their club was interested and when the player doesn’t sign for their club, fans feel like “their club could have done more” or worse, that management is inept.

But agents will often give journalists information about a club like Arsenal contacting them because they want to use that link to further their bargaining position with the club that their player is currently negotiating with. Arturo Vidal did this with Juventus, a few years back, eventually securing a larger contract with the Old Grey Lady and leaving Arsenal fans feeling like their club didn’t do enough to land the player.

The role that agents play in a player’s career and life is often gravely understated, as is the role that money plays in these transactions. A great example of that is the Morgan Schneiderlin transfer saga from the last two years. This summer Philippe Auclair tweeted:

You can read this tweet two ways: Schneiderlin genuinely wanted to come to Arsenal but his agents hate Arsenal and Schneiderlin listens to his agents or that his agents were feeding this information to reporters so that they could improve their bargaining position with United and get a larger pay packet and media rights deal. In the end, Schneiderlin signed for United, United paid £150k a week for his services, and Morgan Schneiderlin chose the club which will pay him handsomely, and which will increase his global marketability, thus leading to even more money in endorsements.

I admit I read Auclair’s tweet the first way this summer. That stems from the fact that Schneiderlin’s agents are Gervinho’s agents and we know that Gervinho and Arsenal don’t see eye-to-eye over his time at the club. But it also stems from my desire to want Schneiderlin to want us.

Schneiderlin is one of the cool kids. He’s a terrific player and he would help our club. I want the cool kids to want to be in my club. And here is the cool kid saying “I’d join your club, but my agent advises me against it.” It’s the perfect scenario: I still get to pine for Schneiderlin, because he didn’t do anything wrong, and I get to blame either his agents (which is where I would go) or the Arsenal management (“for not trying hard enough” which is where others go). But what if Arsenal were never really a consideration?

Remember when Robin van Persie left Arsenal because he “didn’t agree with the direction of the club”? And when he went to United, he won the League, and many people said he fulfilled his dream. But there was another side to that transfer that people just don’t want to hear: by his third year at United, Robin van Persie was making $75m a season – making him one of the highest paid footballers in the world. Not just in salary, but in Salary, endorsements, and all the other perks that come with being a star player on a club like Man U.

When I say that Arsenal are a third tier transfer team, that’s what I’m talking about. Did Schneiderlin go to United because he longed to play for the notoriously grumpy van Gaal on a team that was struggling in the Champions League? Or was it because his agents and Arsenal didn’t get along? Or was it because including pay packet and endorsements, Arsenal couldn’t really compete financially with what Man U offer? And do I change my story now, because he’s a United player?

Other times journalists are given inside information in order to further the agenda of a club. Oliver Kay’s article on how Chelsea stole Pedro is one of those times.

First Kay accuses United of having a problem with “Hispanic” players in a few uncomfortable paragraphs:

it is fair to say that Hispanic footballers are not exactly thriving in Manchester under Van Gaal. Valdés joined United in January as a potential successor to David De Gea but is now surplus to requirements after falling out with Van Gaal over his refusal to play in an under-21 match; Rafael da Silva and Nani were sold, along with Ángelo Henríquez and Bebé; Ángel Di María quickly fell out of favour after a British record £59.7 million move from Real Madrid; Radamel Falcao’s loan move from Monaco did not work out.

De Gea wants to join Real, as almost every Hispanic player does, and has left Van Gaal convinced that he is not in the right frame of mind to play unless he is still at United when the transfer window closes; Sergio Romero, Marcos Rojo, Antonio Valencia, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira remain, but there is a certain disenchantment among some of the Spanish and South American contingent at Old Trafford.

That’s an incredible bit of journalism right there. I’m not one to take van Gaal’s side but citing Bebe, Henriquez, Nani, and da Silva as evidence that there’s a problem with “Hispanic” players and van Gaal, which then casts an almost racist tone over the whole dealings, is disingenuous at best. As for Falcao and Valdes, the evidence had long been clear before they signed that they were washed up. Di Maria is the only player who washed out at United under van Gaal, de Gea would be a starter if he hadn’t had his head turned by Real Madrid.

Kay’s lede, though, is the claim that Chelsea have a female “middle-man” (and Cesc’s girlfriend) who brokers these deals:

…a £21.1 million deal presented by Marina Granovskaia, the director, with a little help from Cesc Fàbregas and his girlfriend, Daniella Semaan.

For all the focus on José Mourinho and Roman Abramovich, it is Granovskaia, operating on the level between manager and owner, who has turned Chelsea from a club heavily reliant on agents to one who get their transfer business done quickly and, in many cases, far more privately and decisively than their rivals…

For Chelsea’s success in landing the player for what looks a reasonable fee, Granovskaia deserves much of the credit. The estrangement of Eva Carneiro, previously the first-team doctor, might have led some to accuse Chelsea of sexual discrimination, but this is a rare football club where, increasingly, a woman calls the shots.

It couldn’t be any clearer that this article was fed to Kay by Chelsea’s PR department. The story here is that United are “anti-Hispanic” and that Chelsea are “pro-woman.”

Chelsea have suffered the slings and arrows of their outrageous manager in the wake of his benching Eva Carneiro, who was promoted at the behest of Granovskaia, and along comes this story about the massive gazumping of their title rivals, which was conveniently brokered by Cesc’s girlfriend and a female executive.

Oliver Kay is the Chief Football Correspondent for the Times, a paper of record, and this article was his scoop. This is transfer journalism, folks.