Category Archives: Transfers

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)



Podolski, should he stay or should he go?

According to Arsène Wenger in his press conference today, Arsenal are not looking to offload Lukas Podolski and his £100k a week salary despite media reports that put him on Inter’s radar and quotes from the player suggesting he’s less than happy at Arsenal. Wenger trashed such speculation and stated that interest from Inter wasn’t serious and that he wants Podolski to stay and “give his best”.

Podolski, like Andrei Arshavin before him, is a talented footballer who simply never worked hard enough to earn his place in the starting lineup at Arsenal. This doesn’t make him useless, he can come on, like he did in the first leg against Anderlecht, and win Arsenal games. But when Arsenal bought the industrious and talented Alexis Sanchez this summer, a guy who plays on the left where Podolski used to play, Podolski looked surplus to requirements.

His work rate and training had been publicly questioned by Arsene Wenger¹ and he was hauled off after a lazy performance in the FA Cup final. But Wenger persisted with the player and Podolski persisted with frustrating performances.

Down 2-0 to Borussia Dortmund and in need of one of his trademark hammer goals, Arsene called for Podolski to come in to the game off the bench. Poldi instead spent a few minutes hunting around for a pair of shin guards. This was a Champions League match, a big game, against Borussia Dortmund, and the man wasn’t prepared to come on.

And when he did come on, like against Anderlecht in the second leg, he didn’t bother working for the team. Arsenal were up 3-2 in the 90th minute and all they needed for Podolski to do was mark his man. Just get tight, and make the cross a little difficult. He does none of that, the winger has all the time he needs to make the pass (Podolski makes a feint at blocking the cross), and Anderlecht stole a point from Arsenal. Had Podolski closed down his man Arsenal might have topped the group.

If his salary can be used to bring in a hard working player like Edinson Cavani, I don’t think many Gooners will be too upset to see him go. But it seems Arsène isn’t interested in parting with the player just yet. Or perhaps he’s trying to drive a hard bargain and force Inter to take him permanently so that Arsenal don’t have a repeat of the Nicklas Bendtner situation where the player is continuously loaned in and out of the club.

I guess we’ll have to see what happens in January. If you want to be the first to know, check Podolski’s Instagram. He may not work too hard on the pitch but he does put in quite the shift on social media.



¹”With Lukas Podolski you always got the feeling that he is 80%-90% on the pitch. But you want the 100%. The 100% are world-class.” – Arsene Wenger