The list of “what Arsenal need” is truly bonkers



By Sir Hardly Anyone

One of the prime tactics of many top clubs during the summer is not, as might seem to be the case, to buy the players that they want, but rather could be to work with journalists to mislead other clubs into buying the wrong players for them.

If ever there were a candidate for this sort of activity it was seen in the last window with the transfer of Mudryk.  The ESPN website reported that Shakhtar chief executive Sergei Palkin had “claimed in an interview with The Athletic that [Arsenal] manager Mikel Arteta, technical director Edu and Arsenal’s Ukrainian defender Oleksandr Zinchenko called Mudryk ‘almost every day, every two days, every three days’.”

In January we found 66 players who were said to be coming to Arsenal and top of the list of course was Mykhaylo Mudryk with TBR  and  HITC each mentioning the transfer eight times in different articles.  In all, we found 53 separate reports saying that Mudryk was coming to Arsenal.  None of these that I have studied said anything to the effect that, “but of course there might be a gazumping along the way” or “Arsenal are still not offering what the selling club wants”.  And certainly nothing, until the very end of the affair to say that he was going to Chelsea.

In reality, if Arsenal had been doing what the media suggested that would have been against international transfer regulations – negotiations and contacts are to be between clubs only and the allegation that Arsenal were in wholesale breach of these regulations, without any evidence being presented, was outrageous.

And yet Arsenal did not object to such allegations; nor did anyone else.  Presumably, because everyone knew they were untrue.  After all what would Arsenal be phoning Mudryk three times a day for?

Now put this on top of the fact that transfers don’t normally help the buying club (see for example What difference did last summer’s transfers make?) and we can see that by and large transfer rumours serve a couple of purposes, the most obvious of which is to act as a cover story for what is really going on.  

The downside for any club presenting a false narrative as a cover is that such a tale can make the club look inept in that the club doesn’t get the player the journalists claim the club is after.   But that narrative fails if the club subsequently does far better than the journalists predicted.

And this is the journalistic problem: Arsenal were widely predicted to come a modest fifth or sixth in the league but came second – and without having bought Mudryk.

After such a disaster by the media, the story needs to continue with something new – and one obvious way to do this is to present the story that Arsenal want Rice – who is now getting as much publicity as Mudryk did.

To see how wild and whacky this is all getting there is a piece in the Telegraph on Arsenal headed, “What they need”

Their answer is Midfield revolution, defensive versatility, and more firepower.

So let’s consider this.  Take “more firepower” for example.  Arsenal were the second-highest-scoring club in the league, and the only club to have four players scoring in double figures.  Indeed Arsenal scored 13 goals more than Liverpool, the third-highest scorer in the league. and 18 more than Tottenham Hotspur whose centre-forward is so utterly beloved of football journalists.

Meanwhile, the latest story is that Arsenal have agreed to sign Kai Havertz from Chelsea for £65m, and are about to sign Jurrien Timber, Declan Rice, and Moises Caicedo.    Havertz is a right-back who can also play centre-back.  Caicedo would be a replacement for  Thomas Partey if he leaves.

Kai Havertz is an attacking midfielder or forward who has played 91 times for Chelsea and scored 19 goals.  He is 24.   Eddie Nketiah is the same age has played 89 times for Arsenal and scored 14 goals.

The Mirror now suggests that “While the Gunners boss is incredibly happy to be landing a player of Havertz’s calibre, there are now rumours that the arrival of the Germany international will put a few noses out of joint. Specifically, Eddie Nketiah, who is reportedly fearful of what Havertz’s arrival means for his own playing time.”

That is a comment that suggests that footballers can’t tell newspaper tittle-tattle from reality even though they are in the middle of it.  I find that hard to believe.

3 Replies to “The list of “what Arsenal need” is truly bonkers”

  1. Your article says Havertz is a right back!
    It also seems to intimate that Havertz is not happening, odd guven he has had part of his medical
    Why is it odd that Nketiah would be concerned at his arrival? Of course he would,
    Personally I would rather have Havertz than Nketiah Andy day of the week. For one thing his height offers a plan B.

  2. I used to make lists for all positions on my mobile a few years ago but gave up because of the number of names on the list. CIES Football Observatory is a Swiss company that holds the complete statistics on all professional footballers and is used by professional football clubs. They have Rice placed 12th in the world on their list of DM and valued at £67.8M & if he had 3 years on his contract would be worth £80.3M. Caicedo is 13th valued at £67.5M & the same price with 3 years to run. In 15th place is Tonali valued at £62.6M whom Newcastle are buying.
    On their AM list they have Saka 1st in the world on £195.8M. Ødegaard 4th at £88M and Havertz 5th at £76.9M & with a 3 year contract £91M
    So whoever ends up buying Rice, besides having the auction seller in east London rubbing his hands, will have overpaid by 33%+. The same goes for Caicedo. And for Havertz according to the list will have underpaid, in spite of Chelsea fans now calling him “rubbish”.
    Non of the sports scribblers in msm or fans on both sides seem to know why. or where the 5th highest valued AM player in the world will fit into Arteta’s plans. Which is why they are behind their keyboards & Arteta is where he is.
    PS interesting to see the name of Hungarian 22 year old Dominil Szoboszlai RB Leipzig at £73.8M at 7th & 2 behind Havertz pop up in the msm. I remember seeing his name linked to Arsenal when playing for RB Salzburg a few years ago.

  3. Adrian

    I’m not questioning what you are showing, in fact I found it very interesting, but I would ask one question.

    Do you know for a fact that these statistics are used by professional clubs, and if so how do you know?

    I ask, because if they do it adds credibility to the idea that Arsenals interest in Rice is indeed a hoax. So assuming they do put great stock in the Swiss Observatory’s valuations why on earth would they be considering paying grossly over the top when a player just 1 position down is a possible target at his true valuation?

    All I know is, this Rice deal just feels all wrong, and not at all the kind of deal Arsenal would normally get involved in.

    Whatever happens I have faith in Arteta and Edu. Only time will tell I suppose.

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