By Dr Billy “the dog” McGraw
It appears that Arsenal have raised the stakes for Mbappé, seeming to have offered €142 million now for the player.
By setting the bar as high, with the transfer window just six days old, Arsenal are helping to spiral the prices of players to previously unimaginable levels, meaning that whoever wants Mbappé the most won’t have much other money to spend after that…and may have to sell.
Does it really sound possible for Arsenal actually to spend €142 million? I find it unlikely in any circumstances, but in these circumstances, having just spent so much on Lacazette – it seems very very unlikely. More likely, the club is playing the game that has been around for a few seasons now – pushing other clubs to the very edge of the precipice.
We know that what a player is worth is merely what someone is willing to pay for him, and so his value can go up and down very easily. We also know that while for many years the notion of anyone telling the truth about a club’s intentions has been out of fashion, in recent years the matter has got far worse.
We also know that in less than two years the UK will leave the EU, and that the key aspect of that move is a desire by some to cut immigration. At that moment, as things stands, none of the EU nationals playing in the UK will have the automatic right to stay, their transfer value reduced by 80% overnight. (That deduction because no English club could sign the player, and because there will be too many of them flooding the market.
Even if some get work permits, there will be many who won’t meet the sort of criteria that is being talked about. And do remember, the people making these rules in London are not football supporters – they are trying to salvage an entire economy, and no one is going to think about the rights of EU footballers until it is far too late.
And above all this, we know that downright lying and breaking the rules is now central not just to politics, but also to football. Lying as an everyday modus operandi started with Liverpool in particular with the rejection of the £40m plus a penny deal offered by Arsenal and the notorious “what are they smoking at the Emirates” comment. That offer turned into a triumph for Liverpool – with a perfect version of Fake PR the club said, no there was no such clause and the media lapped it up repeating it ad nauseam.
The media never bothered to go back to Arsenal and ask what made them think there was such a clause – and that was of course because everyone knew there really was exactly that clause – as a few finally reported when the Liverpool owner, a Mr Henry, declared at a sports conference in the US that of course there was a £40m buy out clause – they just said there wasn’t, “because contracts in soccer aren’t worth anything.”
Clubs have been following this line for a while quite happily until Liverpool and Manchester City got banned from signing youth players and Liverpool were caught tapping-up Virgil van Dijk. Liverpool, realising they’d been caught red handed, pulled out of that deal. Now, as we reported, Velez Sarsfield of Argentina have taken Manchester City to the Court for Arbitration in Sports in the Benjamin Garré case.
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Of course Fifa (sponsored by a middle east airline) rejected an initial complaint from Velez last September against Man City (sponsored by a middle east airline) which is why it has gone to CAS. If Velez win, City might be banned from registering players for one or two transfer windows. But these penalties have a habit of being whittled away.
City have reacted exactly as their fans did when it was suggested by Untold that Uefa was after them for breaking the Financial Fair Play regulations – they dismiss the allegations out of hand, claim they are illegal and claim they don’t apply in this case. But others suggest that the reasons they are looking to sign anyone who moves is because if there is a ban it will not come into place until January.
The Velez case is interesting, in that Fifa rules allow players under 18 to move between clubs only in EU countries. Fifa said Garre has an Italian passport and therefore he’s ok to move. However the rule actually says that the move has to be between EU clubs – something that will of course put England outside the opportunity of signing EU youngsters in a couple of years time.
Bernardo Bertelloni, the Velez club secretary, has said that the player left Velez just before his 16th birthday and spent a few days in Germany before entering England one day after his 16th birthday, in order to get round the rules. They say the deal however was set up before the 16th birthday and issued a notice to Manchester City to say the club had been rumbled.
It is felt that Fifa agreed that the transfer was ok, because they had made the initial mistake in misunderstanding their own rules, something that is becoming increasingly common as the previously active members of Fifa (on the Ethics Committee and elsewhere) are all removed and replaced by people more inclined to let absolutely anything go through on the nod.
All this will leave clubs with a plethora of players they can’t recoup any money on, or who might well not have permission to play in England, is now part of the game. Yes there is still time for more transfers and Arsenal might well buy Riyad Mahrez, and then, with three players signed (and as we said yesterday, still too many on the books to fit into the “25”), that could well be that.
Not just because that gives us a nicely balanced team, even if Alexis goes, but also because the risk exposure is otherwise too great even before we take into account that there could be a serious decline in the bid made by media operations next time around, because of the dramatic decline in the TV audience.
- Next season’s Arsenal 25 plus the under 21s. It is going to be tight.
- The tax law that football clubs must follow has been tightened: expect legal actions shortly
- Total Arsenal shambles as all 3 backup keepers are sold, leaving club desperate to sign replacements.