Category Archives: Transfers


Arsenal should gazump Real Madrid and sign Bale

Many Arsenal supporters hate Gareth Bale. I’m not one of them. I happen to think he is the most exciting player in the League. I also happen to think Arsenal should be bold and try to prise him from Tottenham. Of course, it will never happen but here’s at least some reasoning why I think it should.

First, let’s just start with what Bale did for Tottenham. We often complain that Walcott, for example, scores meaningless goals. That the young Englishman will get the 4th goal in a 5-2 blow-out for example, and there is merit to that argument. Game winning goals matter more than other goals. But that’s actually what makes Bale’s season last year so special: his goals won Spurs 11 League games:

Sunderland 1-0
Southampton 1-0
Man City 3-1 goal and assist
Swansea 2-1 goal and assist
West Ham 3-2 two goals
Newcastle 2-1 two goals
West Brom 1-0
Villa 4-0 hat trick
Liverpool 2-1 goal and assist
West Ham 3-1 scored the second goal
Reading 3-1 scored the second goal

His goals also nabbed one draw (Norwich 1-1). That means all totaled, Gareth Bale’s offensive contribution gave Tottenham 34 of their total 72 points. 47% of their total points were from Bale. Moreover, 16 of his 21 League goals directly went to winning his team points. This matches up well with our perception of Bale as a match winner. The kind of player who just wants to win at all costs.

Bale is also a long distance specialist scoring 9 goals from outside the box. That’s more than any other player in the top five leagues. He shoots more than anyone from distance as well, but his conversion rate was a very respectable 9.4%. To put that into perspective, Luis Suarez only converted 12% of all of his attempts and if you remember that he converted 16/30 from big chances but 7/157 from the rest of the field meaning Suarez has a 53% conversion in great positions and 4% conversion rate from everywhere else on the pitch. Bale is double that, from distance. An amazing number, truly.

These long distance goals open teams up to inside threats and should also keep defenders tight to him. As a result, he should have more successful dribbles but he was a bit lacking there. He was one of the most prolific dribblers in terms of attempts but only completed 43%. That’s about on par with Theo Walcott (47/107), whom many think is a terrible dribbler (he isn’t, Suarez is only 37%, for example).

Bale also has tremendous growth potential. Spurs were a pitiful team last season and his teammates only created 12 “big chances” for him. But to Bale’s credit, he converted 7 of those 12 chances. To give you a comparison, Giroud was presented with 23 “big chances” last season and he scored just 4. Big chance conversion is the bread and butter of strikers. They shouldn’t have to rely on long distance shots, dead ball shots, and other attempts to get their goals.

Bale also creates chances for others, leading his team with 75 key passes. Bale creates his own shot, she scores from distance, from set plays, and converts his big chances, he isn’t a huge turnover machine (he is actually pretty evenly split in my analysis with 10.35 positive actions per 90 and 10.65 negative actions), and he wins his team games. That’s why Spurs want £80m for him.

The problems with Bale are the fact that Spurs want £80m for him and that his numbers last season were so astronomically good that you have to worry if he can repeat the feat.

The £80m problem may be bigger than Arsenal can manage, I suspect. Looking at the first team names, the Gunners only have 18 players who are reliable starters:

1 Wojciech Szczesny
21 Lukasz Fabianski
3 Bacary Sagna
4 Per Mertesacker
5 Thomas Vermaelen
6 Laurent Koscielny
17 Nacho Monreal
25 Carl Jenkinson
28 Kieran Gibbs
7 Tomas Rosicky
8 Mikel Arteta
10 Jack Wilshere
16 Aaron Ramsey
19 Santi Cazorla
24 Abou Diaby — not reliably healthy
26 Emmanuel Frimpong — not good enough
31 Ryo Miyaichi — not even close
9 Lukas Podolski
12 Olivier Giroud
14 Theo Walcott
15 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
22 Yaya Sanogo — first year
30 Ju-Young Park — no
52 Nicklas Bendtner — he is listed on the official site, just to make it look like Arsenal have numbers, they don’t.

If there is any hope that Arsene plans to buy some players, it’s got to rest on the fact that the Gunners are sitting there with just 18 first team players. With such a threadbare first team at least part of Arsene Wenger’s sizeable warchest has to be spent on bringing in 3-5 players. If Wenger were to spend all of the Swiss Ramble’s estimated £70-100m, we might get real close to Tottenham’s Bale-valuation and have some money left over to get in a couple of £10m players. But it would be real close and maybe even impossible.

I say that while wondering how much of his transfer would be recouped in increased sponsorships, television appearances, winning trophies, shirt sales and the like? Bale already sells a lot of shirts and his face is used on ads in Times Square — we can only imagine what his impact would be to Arsenal’s global profile: it would be the biggest signing Arsenal have ever made, hands down. That has to be worth something. £10m a year?

The biggest problem is that last year was a real break-out season for Bale and questions have to be asked whether he can do it again. Andres Villas-Boas improved Bale’s game by giving him the freedom to roam and raid the opposition defenses from both sides of the pitch, especially his favored right to left cut back and *bang* distance shot. Wenger’s Arsenal would give him the same freedom but can he do it again?

So, is he worth £100m? I think you’d be paying over the odds. But honestly? Not by much. He is 24 years old, if you put him on a five year deal, that’s £20m a year amortized in transfer costs. How much of that is recouped winning trophies, bigger sponsorships, more television time, and so on? We don’t know that answer. There’s also the fact that you’re taking the best player away from a hated rival who has been threatening to overtake you in the League table. How much is that worth? If sports are about fantasies and doing a job on your rivals then taking Bale from Spurs seems like it would be worth £100m alone!

The only problem is if he caught lightning in a bottle last season. If he continues to perform at the same level, or above, then it seems to me that it would be well worth the money.


Hey Spurms, do us a favor love and buy somefink? Cheers, bye, bye, bye.

Or this…



BREAKING NEWS: Arsenal schedule football match during transfer season

In a move being derided by many as an attempt to distract fans from their awful record in the transfer season, Arsenal Football Club has scheduled a football match to be played against Manchester City tomorrow in Helsinki.

Arsenal’s transfer season so far has the Gunners firmly lodged at the bottom of the transfer table with a record of W1 D1 L28. Arsenal’s only win of the season so far was against the lowly Sanogo who conceded without the Gunners having to spend a single penny.

It’s been especially disappointing for Gooners because the transfer season started with the management talking about how much firepower the club now has and instead of firing off big guns, Arsenal have been shooting blanks. Arsenal fans are understandably nervous as Arsene Wenger and the management team face certain relegation if they finish the transfer season without winning at least a few big names. And the pile of dry powder that Ivan Gazidis and Arsene Wenger sit on could catch light and hoist them upon their own petard.

Arsenal’s only draw of the transfer season was against Liverpool in Suarez. Arsenal apparently dropped Higuain to the bench for that match and put all of their transfer power into signing a player who is twice bitten, once racismed. The strategy, however, backfired when Liverpool parked the bus and left Arsenal looking toothless in front of goal. Suarez himself attempted to dribble around the Liverpool bus but as usual he simply lost possession and blamed someone else. The Gunners passed the ball around the outside but never found the penetration they needed to create a real chance. Arsenal fans were left gutted when Suarez scored an own goal late in the match, which would have surely won the match, only to have the PFA officials rule that Suarez’ contract was offside.

The Gunners settled for the draw in Suarez. Leaving Liverpool to have to deal with an unruly, wantaway player, who is renown as much for his antics as he is for his football and Arsenal are left with a huge pile of cash but also not having to deal with Suarez.

Amid the chaos and squalor of the Suarez transfer, Arsenal’s management and players will welcome the distraction of actually playing a football match if only for the 90 minutes the game lasts. Because even that match will be fraught with discussions about Arsenal’s transfer season as Manchester City is top of the transfer table having won Jovetic, Fernandinho, Negredo, and Jesus for a combined £97m.

Financial Fair Play is clearly working as Man City have been kept to spending just under £570m since 2007/2008. Without FFP City might have broken the £600m mark and that would truly be ridiculous because that is like a billion dollars or something. That would be Chelsea-type spending, they have spunked out £670m on transfers.

The Arsenal starting XI tomorrow is expected to be:

Sagna      Mertesacker     Koscielny     Gibbs
Ramsey     Arteta     Wilshere
Walcott    Giroud    Cazorla

Please watch the match. For sanity’s sake.



Arsenal’s transfers: much ado about planning

This summer has been most dreadful. From the visions of warchests brimming with booty to the free transfer of Sanogo. From the excitement of Fellaini to the excrement of Flamini. From the heights of Higuain to the grotty depths of Suarez. Every step along the way, this summer, has seemed to be a misstep.

I have said all along that there is a need for reinforcements and I was mocked last summer for writing that Arsenal needed to buy £100m worth of players to get up to the level of the Chelsea’s and City’s. The players at Arsenal have said all along that there is a need for reinforcements. And Mikel Arteta even seemed cocksure that we will see new faces saying “I think we are going to start the season with new faces. That is what we are all hoping for. That will give us a big boost and everyone is very positive.”

So, I have been very certain, up till now, that Wenger surely sees the need for bodies. Wenger has to know that his captain is benched and/or injured leaving Sagna and Miquel to cover for first choice Mertesacker and Koscielny. That Miquel cannot be seen as a legitimate starting center back for a team with aspirations of winning the title, not while we have money to spend. That after putting Coquelin out on loan his defensive midfield options are limited. That surely we can’t be really starting the season with just Szczesny and Fabianski in goal. And that the Higuain bid and the Suarez bids indicated a willingness on Arsene’s part to finally go after the big names.

But there’s this notion that Wenger has no plan and I find that rather hard to fathom. In fact, if I were to ask Arsene Wenger what the plan was for this summer and he said “plan? there was no plan!” I would laugh in his face, then I would go over and call mental health services because he has clearly taken leave of his senses.

Perhaps the people are right. Wenger has no plan. But think about that for a second. This is a man who micromanages every aspect of everything he does. He’s picking out the flowers for the catering. This is also a man who is so secretive about what he is doing in the transfer window that three days before we bought Cazorla he stated that he’d never heard of him. This is a man who executed a nearly flawless plan last season in getting rid of van Persie, Song and replacing Gervinho, by bringing in three players of pretty decent quality.

Wenger is also an iconoclast to the n-th degree and a long-term planner rather than short term. There is definitely a core group of people in the press and the stands who subscribe to the wheeler-dealer philosophy and would love to see 5-10 new players come in every season, so much so that its become a meme on twitter “BUY ALL THE PLAYERS”. Wenger doesn’t like to do that, we know that he doesn’t like to just buy to fill slots.

Buy all the players, buy all the managers, buy all the season tickets, BUY EVERYTHING


He can, however, when he needs to. The much-derided trolley dash season saw the additions of Mertesacker, Arteta, and Benayoun, along with the less desirable Santos and Park deals. Which augmented his early season buys of Gervinho, Theox, and Jenkinson. Arteta is hands-down one of the best midfielders in the League and Mertesacker is our starting center back. Not bad for an emergency buy. Whilst Benayoun was a huge fan favorite for his performances.

That season is the one where people like to first point to a lack of planning. But I think there was a plan, it was just wrong. The plan was, as Wenger stated, to keep both or at least either of Cesc and Nasri. But Cesc went on strike which must have been a huge personal blow to the man. Then he tried to keep Nasri until he saw the Frenchman’s pathetic performance against Liverpool and realized that he had a player who wouldn’t give 100% for the full season.

Perhaps Wenger can be faulted for myopia when it comes to player power but he did have a plan and when that plan failed he seemed to do pretty decent in quickly assembling a squad which finished in the top four again. So, I think it’s likely that he had a backup plan too.

But if Wenger truly has no plan and had no plan going into this summer then he must be fired. Immediately. From a corporate standpoint alone, you have to fire the manager of billion dollar company who doesn’t have an annual plan. If he is that insane/negligent you need to fire him now so that you can get someone else in who will have a plan.

When you say that Wenger has no plan, that’s what I’m hearing: “No plan, Wenger must go.”

So, I balk at this notion that Wenger has no plan. It’s far more likely that he has a plan, but it’s gotten screwed up somewhere along the line and has components that people don’t like (Ramsey as Arteta’s backup for instance).

I don’t think Suarez was part of the original plan but the boss saw what he thought was an opportunity to get a top talent for a great price and bid. It turns out that Suarez’ people were wrong about the clause. The player has now said he wants to leave Liverpool and the ugliest man in the Premier League has, rather predictably, become the ugliest transfer in the League.

I have a feeling that Arsene is circling the wagons and turning his attention elsewhere to allow emotions to cool. As such I remain confident that Wenger is working on other deals. I hope that one of them is us signing a defender. It will be out of the blue too. Cazorla-esque. He loves doing that.

And things are getting close. We have until 11pm on Monday the 12th to get a player registered for Champions League play. The first match of the season is that Saturday. And Ideally we would love to have all these players bedded in before the season kicks off. We aren’t going to have them bedded in, which I do fault Wenger for. He’s not perfect.

As I have said before, so many times that I am blue in the face, this is a decisive summer for Arsene and Kroenke. The buck stops with Kroenke on this one and if the window closes and our only signing is Sanogo while selling half a dozen deadwood players I think it would be fair to let loose on all and demand that Wenger not see his contract renewed.

In fact, if that transpires and we find out that Wenger had no plan I will play the part of Dogberry and read aloud the offences that Wenger has committed:

Marry, Sir. Arsene has failed to plan; moreover, he has not devised a course of action; secondly, he has no strategem; sixth and lastly, there is a discreet lack of intention; thirdly, there seems to be no game plan; and, to conclude, he has knavishly unplanned.

I really hope that doesn’t happen.