By Toby Maitland
I’ve been an Arsenal fan since the mid-1970s: a season-ticket holder in the late eighties, now living in the US and follow The Arsenal on the telly and the web.
I was hoping that you would post something the Untold Arsenal blog that relates to the Cesc Situation. Much has already been written, and everyone has an opinion, and here is my opinion, which I don’t think I’ve seen expressed by anyone else.
I’ll give you guys full license to wordsmith / pen an article based on the following thoughts. I’d post it myself, but the debate that follows your articles is more extensive than if I were to simply post this as a response to an existing article.
To wit, here are my thoughts:
1) Nobody is bigger than the shirt that they wear. Players come and go, but the club lives on (as long as it is run with some measure of fiduciary responsibility!).
2) Players have to be regarded in light of that philosophy. Kennedy, Brady, Stapleton, Rocastle, Wright, Henry, Vieira: we’ve seen all these players leave when once the thought was unfathomable, and yet the Club lives on.
3) Players contribute to the Club both on the field and off the field. On the field, in terms of honours won, and off the field in terms of contribution to the Club’s Balance Sheet. If they can’t contribute on the field (titles), then they can contribute off the field (financially through a transfer). If they can contribute neither on the field nor off the field, then they should be gone. But at the end of the day, the Board has to gauge the measure of player’s contribution on the field against what he can contribute off the field through a transfer, and make the best decision.
4) In that context, no single player is immune from transfer speculation, regardless of how much they can contribute on the field.
Which brings us to Cesc Fàbregas and my thoughts about how intelligently Arsène Wenger is handling the relationship with Barcelona.
First the Facts:
Fact #1: Arsenal has issued a statement saying that Cesc is not for sale at any price.
Fact #2: It is well publicized that Arsenal will be seeking out a number of new players this off-season: a defender or two, a goalkeeper, and maybe somebody else too.
Now the Logic:
If you want to go buy a new car, you hardly walk into the dealer with a briefcase full of cash and say, “I’ll take that one, how much will it cost me?” Instead, you present a picture to the car salesman of the maximum you can afford to drive the price of the new car down. It’s called leverage.
If Arsenal sold Cesc before they’d finished their other transfer projects, they would have a briefcase full of cash and everyone would know exactly how much Arsenal could afford to pay for their transfer targets. Arsenal would lose leverage.
Instead, I believe that Arsène is going to finish his transfer purchases first, and then sit down with Cesc again, with the conversation going something like the following: “Cesc, son, look here: we’ve just purchased four new players for 30 million quid that you and I know will all strengthen the team. This gives us a real chance of winning something. Go to Barcelona if you like, but we’d love to have you stick around.”
If he still wants to go, then negotiations with Barcelona will begin again. If Barcelona ups their offer to 40 million quid, then Arsenal would have just financed 3-4 new plays, plus pocketed another 10 million, and probably without breaking their wage structure.
If Arsenal sell Fàbregas before they’ve concluded their other transfer dealings, then (a) they won’t have any leverage at all and the 30 million they would have otherwise spent would probably end up closer to 50 million; and (b) they will be known as a selling club, and who wants to join a selling club?
But if Arsenal sell Fàbregas after they’ve concluded their other transfer dealings, then (a) they’ve been able to buy their target players without tipping their hand to the sellers, thus preventing The Arsenal from paying too much; and (b) from Fàbregas’ perspective, he’ll be able to see the proof in Arsenal’s commitment to succeed, and make a decision about whether to stay or go.
Bottom line, it wouldn’t surprise me if Fàbregas goes in late July / early August. Would I be disappointed? Absolutely. Would I be devastated? Absolutely not. The Club lives on, players come and go. If Fàbregas sees out his career with the Arsenal, he would have given us plenty of wonderful memories, regardless of whether we win anything (remember the goal against Tottenham?), although we probably will win lots. If Fàbregas goes this summer, then he will leave a financial legacy that will give us plenty to look forward to.
Don’t be surprised if Cesc leaves for all the reasons cited above. Be disappointed, but recognize that there is plenty, plenty to look forward to.
Cheers, Tony & Walter. Keep up the good work and here’s to a happy and injury-free WC!!
Editor’s note: Despite the invite to do so, we didn’t change the article. We just wrote a headline. (Bloody sub-editors)