Category Archives: Transfers


Why the FA’s meddling with immigration rules is bad for English football

You have by now caught wind that Arsène wanted to sign Angel Di Maria when he was 16 but was prevented because of the British work permit laws. In some of the articles I’ve read on this topic there is even mention that the Football Association wants to artificially limit the number of non-EU footballers in the Premier League starting next season. To put a cap on the number of Latin American and Asian players, essentially. 

It is, along with every idea that the FA has concocted since I’ve been writing about football, the dumbest idea ever. You know what this rule does? It makes the Spanish and German leagues stronger because they have a much deeper talent pool to draw from. It also enriches those leagues because they can get young Brazilians and Argentinians in early, spend a few years developing them, and then sell them to the Premier League for… what did di Maria cost Man U? Exactly.

And that’s not even mentioning the effect this will have on British players. With this rule, the homegrown rule, and everything else they have tried since they were forced to accept EU passport holders without caps, the FA acts like it believes that if they just closed off England to all foreign players, the British kids would get better.

I have news for you: England tried that and didn’t win a single World Cup after 1966 despite being one of the most closed off countries in the world.

If you really want British kids to get better at football you need them to play with kids like di Maria starting at a young age. You need them to work with coaches like Jonker and others who bring in new ideas and marry them to the old ideas.

I dare say, and I don’t have the stats to prove it, but I suspect Arsenal Football club have more former players currently playing in the Premier League than any other club. Song, Jenkinson, Fabregas, van Persie, Clichy, Sagna, and those are just the stars! There are many more second-tier Arsenal players (feel free to list them and their teams below).

The positive effect of Arsenal’s policy of taking on any player who is good enough regardless of their passport is on display every weekend in the Premier League. Every time Seb Larsson scores a winning goal off a set play, that’s Arsenal kicking a hole in England’s anti-immigration policy. Every time Fabregas sets up Costa, that’s Arsenal kicking another hole. Every time Alex Song (homegrown player) passes the ball to Jenkinson (local kid) who whips in a cross to that lumbering galoot Carroll, that’s Arsenal taking yet another chink out of the FA’s preposterously constructed anti-immigrant armor.

The Football Association’s preposterous attempts to enact what amounts to affirmative action for Englishmen is, and always has been, doomed to failure. No one in England benefits. The only people who win are the clubs in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Germany, where players like Alexis have to go for 5 years while they wait to get their EU citizenship and then get sold to England for tens of millions of pounds.

And not only are these players now costing more, the fact that clubs are bringing in 26 year old players like di Maria instead of a 17 year old di Maria means that young English talent will not get a look in at these top clubs. Because a team is going to play a 26 year old (who is now the finished product) over the 17 year old English player who has a bright career in front of him.

It is exactly the kind of market meddling that always has the exact opposite effect from the one intended. Instead of bringing in competition for places, it artificially raises the competition to a point where English players are squeezed out. Further meddling, making the non-EU players rarer won’t help the Premier League or the English players. It will only help every other league in the world.

That’s your lot for today, I’ve ranted enough. Perhaps tomorrow I will bring some stats about corners and crosses. Maybe. Until then I have to go check my passport, I’m not sure if the FA wants me writing about English Football. After all, I’m an American.


Post Script: 

I want to mention that Arsenal are doing an event in April called “Be a Gunner, Be a Runner.” It’s a short run, 6.4km (4 miles) in which the participants run 10 laps around the Emirates stadium. There is an entry fee of £15 with proceeds going to the Arsenal Foundation. The Arsenal Foundation is Arsenal’s official charity and works to help young people around the world fulfill their potential. The Arsenal Foundation partners with Save the Children and the Willow Foundation.

If you live in England or plan to be there on April 11th and want to participate you can find out more information on For those of us who live overseas we can participate as well and I thought it would be fun to get a group together here in my part of the world to train and run on April 11th. I have the route already picked out, it’s a forest jog through Tacoma’s very own Pt. Defiance. Perhaps you made a resolution to get fit in the new year? Getting a group run together is the perfect way to make that happen. I envision us practicing on the weekends after the matches, maybe every Saturday until we can nail the entire run in under an hour. If you’re into this sort of thing, send me an email to 7amkickoff at gmail and I’ll get you signed up. As a bonus, we will get numbers from Arsenal for the actual race day and I will take photos of us all and send them to the media folks. You could be famous!

Arsenal verge on signing Paulista but will he work?

We have confirmation from Arsène Wenger that Arsenal are well down the road toward buying center back Gabriel Paulista from Villareal. With Mertesacker and Koscielny the only two first choice center backs and with both players looking like they are carrying injuries, Arsenal desperately need another center half and Paulista fits the bill. But as usual with Arsenal transfers, the Gunners look like they are trying to get him on the cheap and he might not even qualify for a work permit. If I didn’t know any better I would say Arsène Wenger is just trolling you all with this signing.

It’s unusual for Arsène to speak about a transfer deal until it is done. On the verge of signing Mesut Özil from Real Madrid, Wenger once tittered “maybe we will have a little surprise for you”. I would have a hard time keeping my mouth shut if I was about to sign Mesut Özil for my fantasy football team, only Wenger knows how he kept himself in check while working on signing Özil in real life.

And yet Wenger was very open that he is trying to sign Paulista:

“The talks are progressing quite well, to be serious,” the Arsenal manager said. “[It’s] 50-50 at this moment, yes. We are talking at the moment; can we find an agreement or not? I don’t know. We are slowly progressing but there’s a chance. We are ready to pay the price we think is right for a good player, no matter what the price is. If we think it’s the right price we will pay.”

From what I’ve read, Paulista has a £16m release clause. The snag from Villareal’s point of view is that Arsenal aren’t meeting that valuation and Villareal have absolutely no need to sell.

Meanwhile, Arsenal aren’t meeting that valuation for good reason: the kid doesn’t qualify for a work permit in the UK because he doesn’t even come close to fulfilling the rather arbitrary requirement that he play 75% of his country’s international matches. In fact, Paulista hasn’t played a single match for Brazil. So, do you just stump up the money for a player you can’t play? No, of course not.

This is exactly the kind of transfer saga that drives a certain portion of the Arsenal fanbase nuts: Wenger is clearly looking to get a good deal, to fill a position where there is an absolute need, and the transfer has turned into a saga.

It’s all a little too much for some fans and I get it. On the day that Arsenal are announced as the 8th richest club in the universe the manager is bargaining to get a player he might not even be allowed to play because he can’t get a work permit.

This signing also excites a large portion of the fanbase and I get that too: this signing has all the hallmarks of Wenger uncovering another gem for cheap. Let’s not forget that when Arsène signed Koscielny it drove a certain portion of the fanbase nuts. “Who is this guy from League 2?” and “Why can’t we just go sign Gary Cahill? He’s mates with Wiltshere!”¹

Paulista is already being compared favorably to Koscielny by writers in the know like Sid Lowe. Apparently, he’s strong and quick, he reads the game well, and he likes to attack the ball. All the best qualities of Koscielny.

Villareal play counter-attacking football with Paulista an important part of both the defending and getting the counters started. As we detailed in yesterday’s post, Arsenal look like they are switching to a counter-attacking style and in that case Paulista could possibly slot right in.

But the sticking point is the work permit. Arsenal have tried to get around the work permit rules in the past and have failed every time. In fact, the Gunners still have Wellington Silva on loan, a player they signed in 2010 and who the FA originally awarded a special talent visa to, which they later rescinded. There were others before that, Petr Cech most notably. Arsenal couldn’t get Cech a visa despite the fact that he had played at every level for the Czech Republic since he was 15 years old. Chelsea managed to get him that permit two years later.

Wenger is known for being stubborn and only signing the Goldilocks players, players who are “just right” for what he wants at Arsenal. But this one seems like a hell of a gamble on not only the player but the rather capricious UK and FA work permit rules. Wenger seemed confident in his interview that they could get a visa and they seem to be putting in the work to sign the player so perhaps this saga is much ado about nothing and the player will step right into the Arsenal first team before the close of the window.

I sure hope so. I’d hate to see the state of some blogs if Wenger fails to sign this guy or worse, signs him and has to loan him back out for another 4 years to get him a visa.


¹I know his name is Wilshere but for some reason Brits seem to call him Wiltshere.


An Arsenal Transfer Chanty

By Tim Todd

These ticket prices are crazy
They’ve priced me out of the game.
The pounds we pay for mid-table teams
is a crisis and a shame.

But throw the window open (hooray!)
Breathe in the transfer air!
If Wenger doesn’t buy some players
We’ll kick his derrière!

Kick greed out of football
and into the hands of the jocks.
Round up all their agents,
(the cunts!)
And hang them in the stocks!

Pirate 1: No wait, no we won’t, we need the agents to give the money to the players.
Pirate 2: We do?
Pirate 3: Yes, that’s how it works: you ring up the agent, offer him a bung and he talks to the player for you, offering the player a huge salary increase, of which he gets his portion. Then the player throws a strop at his club, the club’s “position becomes untenable” and then your club comes along, offers to take the player off that club’s hands. The club gets a fee, the agent gets a cut, the players get bigger salaries, the agents get another cut, and we get our player!
Pirate 2: And we all pay for it with increased ticket prices?
All Together: YES!
Pirate 2: will it ever end?
All Together: HELL NO!

But throw the window open (hooray!)
Breathe in the transfer air!
If Wenger doesn’t buy some players
We’ll kick his derrière!

I don’t care if YOU think they’re worth it,
your valuations are wrong.
Just spend some mucking funny,
Or we will give you the gong.

So throw the window open (hooray!)
And breathe the transfer air!
If Wenger doesn’t buy some players
We’ll kick his derrière!

Why did you buy that player?
Now he’s just deadwood.
(A Diaby!)
It’s plain to all that he was crap!
Our management’s no good!

But throw the window open (hooray!)
Breathe in the transfer air!
If Wenger doesn’t buy some players
We’ll kick his derrière!

Why didn’t you buy so and so?
We needed midfield steel!
It’s back to the transfer board my lad,
These players are too genteel!

So throw the window open (hooray!)
Breathe in the transfer air!
If Wenger doesn’t buy some steel
We’ll kick his derrière!

We’ll kick…

(From Stoke to Leicester Square!)

(repeat ad nauseam until 2017)