By Walter Broeckx
We should have dealt with it earlier. If people talk about our last season they sometimes use this sentence to criticise the way Arsenal has handled the Fabregas and Nasri situation and the first weeks of the season. But I really don’t think it is that simple to deal with the situation we had at the time. And if there is someone to blame can we really put the blame at Arsenal?
Let us take Fabregas. We had given him the best deal ever given to any Arsenal player (if we can believe rumours that is because we actually don’t know the real details of the agreement). And despite this and declaring how much he loves Arsenal he still wanted to go to Barcelona. One could say he didn’t really wanted to leave Arsenal money wise but he just wanted to join up with this friends in his home town.
So how should Arsenal have reacted? By saying: you stay here, you got a contract and that’s it. We then would end up with a player high on the wages bill and maybe one who didn’t feel like risking his legs for us any more because his heart not being here any more. If I would have been the board and the manager and the lady who sells the tickets I probably would have gone for that road. But when you think about it, it really is not the most sensible way of running things. And that is why I write about football and don’t manage the team. My supporters heart would ruin the whole thing maybe.
The Fabregas situation was even more complicated because it was a very simple one. He would only leave for Barcelona. So Arsenal could only try to get as much money as they could from the transfer. If Cesc would have said: I want to go, no matter to which team, I just want to go. We could have sold him for more money to Real Madrid or even to some Russian team that could pay even more. But in this case everybody knew that the only direction he would take was Barcelona.
This is a situation that makes the position of Arsenal rather weak in negotiating a deal. Barcelona knew they could wait and wait and eventually the price had to be dropped. Because Arsenal doesn’t have the habit of keeping players against their will.
The perverse thing about it was also that if Arsenal would have brought in someone that could be called a replacement for Fabregas it would have been even more clear for Barcelona that the longer they waited the lower the price would sink. So it was a very difficult situation to handle for Arsenal (or for any other club that has to live within its means).
So buying early could send a message to Barcelona that they were willing to let him go. Now we didn’t send that message and we still got a nice sum of money for Fabregas. Not what he was really worth but considering the one way direction he was heading for still reasonable. So if we want to put blame I think the first person to blame is Fabregas for not respecting his contract and wanting out.
The Nasri situation was a bit different. I think he really wanted out once it became clear that Cesc would go. The improved contract Arsenal offered was peanuts compared to what City offered. And they can just offer more than we can. We can dislike this situation and I do this from the bottom of my heart but this is just the way it is. Their sheikh can pay what he wants (for the moment) and we have to see if we can balance the books to keep the club in good condition for the future.
Again Arsenal had to show that they didn’t want to sell him to get the highest possible price. Buying a replacement before he was sold would again weaken our position. So we had not option to do our deals before our players were sold. Nasri had a good half season, Arsenal wanted to reward him with a better contract. Nasri heard about City offering more than Arsenal could pay and also was willing to pay. So if you want to put blame on someone, blame the ones who offer ludicrous amounts of money and the one who wanted all that money.
I’m not saying the way Arsenal dealt with the situation was the best one or the ideal one. I think it was the best possible way to deal with the situation.
And yes it cost us points. Because with the players unwilling to play for us any more had to be replaced in some games with players who weren’t completely ready at the time. So the game at United showed it for a few of them.
But we also couldn’t deal early with bringing in players if our situation was not completely clear. Would we be in the champions league or not was an important question for a few players. So we had to sit out the qualifiers before we could really promise the players CL football and also to know how much money we would have available to pay them.
Of course we could have let Cesc go on a free… and let Nasri go for 5M at the start of the transfer period. That would have been dealing early. And then we could buy replacements early. But would that have been in the best interest for Arsenal in the long run? I really doubt it. Because now we had a sum of money we could use to bring in what we needed.
But the good thing about this summer is that this summer all is clear. We are certain of CL football an can offer it to players who we want to buy. Podolski wanted to come to Arsenal and when he signed we were not even 100% sure of CL football so this is something we should be grateful for and shows how much he wanted to come.
The only problem we still face is Van Persie. But if he goes or if he stays. I’m sure Wenger will have a solution. Maybe the solution for the worst case scenario is already in our hands…Who knows? Maybe Wenger does…