How Arsenal allegedly wasted millions by not demanding right price for one player

That investment company is Carteret Analytics, who, FoLo says, believe Iwobi had a value close to £46.3m – but Arsenal were willing to deal with Everton for only £27.4m.

Now that is a huge gap – just under £20m difference between the selling price and what the club could have got.  How incompetent is that?

Although, not everyone quite accepts that Arsenal only got £27.4m. For the Independent said, upon releasing the story of the sale, “Everton sign Alex Iwobi from Arsenal for £35m”.  

And the Sun went further saying, on 8 August, “Arsenal agree to stunning £40m sale of Alex Iwobi to Everton.”  Then on 13 August, wrote, “Arsenal ‘undersold Iwobi to Everton’ and should have demanded £46m for forward, say computer boffins…”

(Incidentally have you ever met a computer boffin?  Or come to that, come across a “Super computer”?  I haven’t but then I suppose I live a sheltered life.)

But if the player was worth £40m+, why did Arsenal accept far less – whether it was £27.4m or £35m?  Is this yet another case of Arsenal’s gross incompetence; a world in which every other club does its deals properly, but Arsenal are always late, selling the wrong guy, buying the wrong guy, and always for the wrong price?  Or could it be that none of the newspapers actually know how much Arsenal were paid?

Certainly there were a lot of supposedly Arsenal fans around saying Iwobi had to go.  As for example with’s headline “Alex Iwobi was never Arsenal’s level.”

But also it could be that Arsenal were hampered by the relentless negativity of the Arsenal blogs, as for example when PainintheArsenal said, “The player that strikes me as having relatively strong market value that is somewhat overvalued compared to their true value and potential is Alex Iwobi.”  And that was one of the milder comments.

But all of this hides the real problem.  Because although Arsenal can demand what they like for a player, that doesn’t mean anyone will pay that price.  If Arsenal felt they had found a player who was better than Iwobi (which clearly they did, not least in terms of how many goals the player might score, for Iwobi was generally only getting three a season) and if the market in buying second hand Iwobis is weak, all they can do is take what they can get. 

Holding on to him because no one will pay what an “expert” or a “supercomputer” or even a “boffin” claims he is worth, does neither the player, nor the long term reputation of the club, any good.

But we might also note that the Sun has a bit of history with Iwobi.  For just one year ago, the same newspaper had Iwobi all over it claiming that he had been at a “wild drug fuelled house party” the day before Arsenal were knocked out of the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest.   That didn’t help raise his value much.

The Sun also ran the story that Iwobi had told them that he would have “no choice but to leave” Arsenal if Zaha joined.   Which he (Iwobi) did not because he (Zaha) did not.   And never was going to.  That was all a media fantasy because Arsenal were settling a totally different deal.

Anyway, the idea that Iwobi was worth a lot more, comes from the notion of intrinsic value, which is based on performance and projected impact on the buying club.   In short, another piece of guesswork which excludes the one central, vital and key point in any transfer – the willingness of a club to pay the price asked.

In the end, players, like everyone and everything else, are only worth what someone will pay for them.  The computer on my desk was only worth £500 because that is what I was willing to pay for it when I bought it new.  Now, six months old but second hand it is only worth £150, not because I have knocked it about, but because that is what someone will pay for a second hand computer of this type – not that I want to sell.

The “notional price” story did the rounds for a couple of days, with no one seeming to notice either that the concept dealt in a “NOTIONAL” price, not a real one, nor the fact that Arsenal could only get what a club was willing to pay.   Reporting the same story, and in a prime bit of Arsenal knocking the BBC said,

“Based on this metric, Arsenal were also deemed to have paid above the odds for Nicolas Pepe – the reported £72m coughed up was almost £22m higher than the Ivorian winger’s intrinsic value.

“Likewise, the Gunners are adjudged to have paid Saint-Étienne around £8.5m more than young centre back William Saliba’s intrinsic value.

“Arsenal’s remaining summer recruit, Kieran Tierney, is a little harder to place.   He cost Unai Emery’s side a reported £25m – but there is “not enough data on Scottish football to determine an accurate intrinsic value.”

What a load of bonkers what-not.  Notional prices are fairly meaningless until someone agrees to pay the price and even then they are just what someone is willing to pay. 

I’d like to say you really couldn’t make this up, but quite clearly someone did. 

8 Replies to “How Arsenal allegedly wasted millions by not demanding right price for one player”

  1. I admire Tony Attwood’s dedication in refuting so many of the absurd stories that are published about Arsenal. Iwobi is a talented player who may yet fulfil his potential but there is no way any EPL team would pay in excess of £40m to get him right now.

  2. Lol. According to Transfermarkt, Everton paid more than they should have. The media chose what they believe would get them more clicks apparently.
    I’m pretty sure Man Utd over-overpaid for Maguire according to this “UK-based investment company”.

  3. Iwobi and Pepe are a similar age. Iwobi’s goals/assists output has never been good and he doesn’t appear to have kicked on since he first broke through (I remember an excellent game and goal at Everton, ironically). Pepe’s was much higher last season. The big challenges are: Can Pepe transfer that form from the French League to the Premier League, and will he settle in London? Would seem to be a reasonably positive pair of deals – but only time will tell.

    Some other of Carteret’s valuations seem wildly off too. They seem to take far little account of age, and hence potential resale value. Just because a firm sets itself up as a sporting data analytics shop, it doesn’t mean that they are any good.

  4. I totally agree with you Tony. However it’s the same you(Tony) who’s always whining about how much our competitors are willing to pay for their players, as well as praising especially Wenger for buying players below their “actual” values. If I’m to believe your thoughts in this article, a player’s worth is the fee the buying and selling clubs are able to agree on, period.

  5. Yes Bambam, a player’s worth is like the worth of anything that is bought and sold: the person or the object is worth what someone is willing to pay. Thus the good manager, like the good purchaser of goods, tries to get the same quality at a lower price. Wenger might see a top line player for £30m, but then find someone who is just as good for a fraction of the price. As when he bought Vieira for (I think from memory) around £3.5m.

  6. Bambara

    To be honest I don’t think whether Arsenal did or didn’t pay over the odds or sell under the odds is the real point here is it, but more about the lengths these drainpipes will go to in an effort to show Arsenal in a bad light, an effort they quite clearly wouldn’t put in for anyone else.

    It’s clear to me these numpties all jumped on the £45 million bandwagon and made themselves look complete idiots, but rather than admit their mistake they’ve changed tack and are now trying to discredit what business we did do.

    The fact is it’s clear to anyone other than a blind man with his head in the sand that Arsenal had a brilliant transfer window, much to everyone’s annoyance it seems.

  7. I’ll give you an example.

    On SKY SPORTS immediately after the window ‘slammed’ shut they had 4 or 5 talking heads discussing the pros and cons of each clubs dealings.

    When summing up the first question asked was “who had the best transfer window” ?

    The first guy said “I’m SORRY to say I think Arsenal did”

    2 things:

    The way the other guys looked at him you’d of thought he’d asked them to eat a pile of vomit. They simply couldn’t disguise their contempt.

    And secondly, why was he SORRY to say Arsenal ?

    Perhaps he thought he may never work again.

    Also in the London Evening Standard each sports writer was asked their worst/best/strangest etc. deals of the window, and over half had Everton buying Iwobi as bad business for them.

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