Category Archives: Transfers

"I support myself" Walt Whitman

Liverpool admits that Suarez had a release clause and Arsenal activated it

There has been further light shed on the the Arsenal summer transfer saga with Luis Suarez as Liverpool’s owner John Henry has admitted that the striker had a £40m release clause, that Arsenal triggered the clause, and that Liverpool refused to sell, putting the ball in Suarez’ court to demand a trade or for Arsenal to open litigation.

Henry, speaking to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, admitted “He (Suarez) had a buyout clause of £40m. Arsenal, one of our prime rivals, offered £40m plus £1. What we’ve found… is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England – actually, in world football. Since apparently these contracts don’t seem to hold, we took the position that we’re just not selling.”

Henry went on to explain that if contracts like Torres’ don’t matter and the player can demand a trade at any time, thus voiding the agreement between player and club, why should clubs honor the buyout clauses in player’s contracts?

Release clauses in and of themselves don’t mean that the player has to join the club triggering the clause. As Arsenal fans are left wondering what happened this summer and in January, this is a timely reminder that players have to want to join the club as much as the clubs have to agree to a fee. Perhaps Arsenal could have bid £80m and perhaps Liverpool would have accepted that amount, but even then Suarez could refuse, especially if Arsenal wasn’t really the team he wanted to play for.

Suarez had been complaining about the British press and his treatment in England all season. Saying he wanted a move to a different country. He is still refusing to admit that he racially abused Patrice Evra and still blaming others for his bad behavior. Though that all seems to be forgiven now that he’s breaking his career records for goals scored and within a shout to win Liverpool their first League title since 1990.

And after the bid was revealed and the Liverpool hierarchy openly mocked Arsenal. Suarez gave an interview to the press over his situation. Suarez’ anodyne interview this summer, in which he never mentioned Arsenal, certainly hurt the Gunners’ case. Suarez promised to press the issue with the Premier League saying “I have the club’s word and we have the written contract and we are happy to take this to the Premier League for them to decide the case but I do not want it to come to that,” but he never did.

Suarez could have easily made his position with Liverpool untenable and forced a trade to Arsenal but many suspected that the Uruguayan had ulterior motives. It could just be coincidence, but it seems unlikely, that Suarez’ release clause came to light when Arsenal were negotiating with Real Madrid for Gonzalo Higuain. Many suspect Suarez’ true target was a transfer to Madrid and that he would have done nearly anything to get that deal done.

Arsenal’s hierarchy took a lot of heat from supporters this summer over the deal with many people wondering exactly what happened and why the club couldn’t get Higuain or Suarez in. I was vocally against the Suarez deal not because of his ability to create and take chances but rather because I felt he wasn’t a good fit for Arsenal both footballistically and as a human being. Given the new revelations about Liverpool refusing to honor the contract and Suarez’ summer interview, it looks as if Arsenal had trusted those two parties to be honorable and neither were.

It seems Arsenal’s only mistake this summer was to cast £40,000,001 pearls before swine.



Does the Drake Equation explain why Arsene didn’t buy a striker?

I was listening to This American Life last night as I fell asleep and at one point they mentioned that a group of scientists did a Drake Equation in order to explain why they were single. For those of you who haven’t watched any TV, alien contact movies, or read a book in the last 20 years the Drake Equation is something Dr. Frank Drake dreamt up in order to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations that Humans could expect to encounter in the universe.

The Drake equation is:

N=R_{{\ast }}\cdot f_{p}\cdot n_{e}\cdot f_{{\ell }}\cdot f_{i}\cdot f_{c}\cdot L
N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which radio-communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone);


R* = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fl = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations)
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space[8]

Now, with that equation there are obviously a ton of things we could argue over and produce a huge range of results. And sure enough, plenty of bright people have argued over such things and produced a huge range of results.

But what if we use the Drake Equation method and deal with something a little more concrete like, say, my love life?

Population 200,000
Women (50%) 100,000
My age (28%) 28,000
Single (45%) 12,600
Above avg. int. (40%) 5,040
Above avg. looks (30%) 1,512
Likes me (10%) 151
I like them (5%) 8

The top 4 numbers I took from census data and rounded. There are actually 51% women in my city and there are a few more than 200,000 total people and so on with age range and single status. After that, you’ll also notice that I wasn’t even very picky. I didn’t put that they have to like (English) football or that they have to like Arsenal. That would quickly get that number down to nil.

I know I will get stick about the “above average” stuff and, uhh, I’m actually being generous with those numbers — which brings me neatly to the last two numbers. I think those are about right for my level of pomposity and jackassishness, don’t you?

So there you have it. 8 in 200,000. 0.00004. 40 in a million. Maybe I should be more affable? You, know, get that number up to a whopping 100 in a million.

Now what about strikers? Why didn’t Arsene Wenger buy a striker?

What is our total population of strikers?
How many are top quality?
How many are eligible for work permits in the UK?
How many are healthy?
How many want to move in January of a World Cup year?
How many want to join Arsenal?
How many can Arsenal afford?

Let’s say that there are 10 possible leagues to buy players from: Premier League, Bundesliga, Eredivisie, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue Un, Liga Sagres, Russia, Turkey, and the English Championship. And let’s say that each team has three strikers. That’s a population of 582 strikers Arsenal could possibly buy. Looking at the Drake equation above you should already see that this isn’t going to bode well.

Of those 582 strikers, let’s say Arsenal could afford 90%: 524
Of those 524, let’s say 75% are eligible for work permits: 393
Of those 393, let’s say 90% would pass a fitness test: 354
Of those 354, let’s say 5% are top quality: 18
Of those 18, let’s say 15% would want to join Arsenal*: 3
Of those 3, let’s say 5% would be willing to move clubs in January of a World Cup year: <1

And that, right there, is why Arsenal didn’t buy a striker. Or at least that’s my take on it.

So, can we please, seriously, just stop saying “Arsenal wasted a chance to win the League by not buying anyone”? Because that is such a throw away line that pretends the waters were teeming with top quality strikers and Arsene simply didn’t float a lure.


*Over other suitors like Chelsea/Man City/PSG, etc who, if this fictitious player existed, would have bid for because they all need strikers.


Good news: the transfer window is closed. Bad news: the transfer window is closed.

Good news: the transfer window is closed
Bad news: the recriminations window is open

Good news: Arsenal signed Kim Kallstrom to bolster a midfield hit with injury and suspension at a crucial juncture to the Arsenal season
Bad news: Kallstrom isn’t a replacement for Ramsey who will be out 6 more weeks

Good news: Arsenal moved Park and Frimpong and basically cleaned out a ton of players under contract (Denilson, Santos, Djourou, Arshavin, Squllaci, Gervinho, Mannone, along with moving many young players on loan) freeing up a lot of money in salary savings
Bad news: Arsenal still have Bendtner and can’t sell him because we need him

Good news: Arsenal’s board confirmed, via BBC journalist David Ornstein, that Arsenal were interested in Draxler
Bad news: Arsenal didn’t sign Draxler because Schalke wanted over the odds and besides which there were many folks doubting that Draxler would have been a huge boost to Arsenal’s title hopes this season anyway
Bad news: It doesn’t matter what Schalke asked, it doesn’t matter whether Draxler was the right player to help Arsenal’s title hopes, it doesn’t matter if we could get him in Summer for the £37m release clause, people really wanted him now and are really upset
Bad news: Also, why didn’t Arsenal sign Vuciniberbakalouklose?

Good news: Arsenal will post a profit and large sums of cash on hand (£50m+) when the half yearly reports come out in late February
Bad news: Arsenal will post a profit and large sums of cash on hand (£50m+) when the half yearly reports come out in late February

Good news: there will now be a brief respite (1 week) from transfer news clogging up the airwaves
Bad news: there will now be three articles a day about how Jose Mourinho is standing up for English culture, taking a stand against diving, calling out other teams for playing negative football, or complaining about Manchester City flaunting Financial Fair Play (subscription required). There is literally only one shark left for him to jump: complaining about football’s loan system.

Look for my Arsenal v. Cry Pal — Stats Preview at 8am GMT 2/2/14.