By Christophe Jost
It is possible that in recent days you may have wondered a little about the competence of all those sports reporters who are seemingly totally unable to start telling the real story of the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of its effect on football.
So, given that our colleagues who actually get paid for writing about football can’t deliver anything that makes any sense, let’s look at Arsenal now and try to get a picture based in reality.
The first point to notice is that all market values of all the clubs I checked are marked as ‘Down.’ So players are worth less than they were, and the clubs themselves are worth less than they were.
But at the same time as things stand, Arsenal have a squad that will pretty much stay together next season. According to transfermarkt.com there are only four contracts running out. Three are loans and one is Matt Macey.
The loanees are Dani Ceballos, Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari. Of the three, only Pablo Maris has an option to purchase.
We’ve got five players out on loan. Saliba whom we signed last year, Elneny, Mavropanos, Mkhitaryan and Smith Rowe. And our manager is not yet on the ejector seat, so no one is expecting Arteta to move. Which means basically Arsenal 2020-2021 is the same as Arteta’s version of Arsenal in 2019-2020.
How does it look? Well, to me, I’d say, no worries.
The team will have gelled, the players are all at a good level, there are a bunch of youngsters who will keep the older ones on their toes, the internal competition will be intense. The manager has, I believe, all it takes to start a long-running period at Arsenal. And for the future there are other promising youngsters coming through the ranks.
What happens at transfer season then?
I can imagine that Matt Macey is kept. As for the three loanees, I’ve no idea. Keeping any of them would not make the team worse, and probably would make the squad better, even if we have not seen them show their full potential so far.
And the big advantage is that they are already there, they know the club and the team, and they have experience of the PL. We know who they are and what we get from them in the team. Indeed in the new football environment that now exists, their own clubs may be very happy to leave them at Arsenal and not have to worry about paying them.
As for the five loanees out there, I imagine Saliba will join; he is costing us enough. As for the other four, places in the team will be hard fought for. We have a competent manager for that, let him worry about it.
So when football restarts, my belief is that Arsenal can hit the ground running,; in fact much more than any other team. Most of the injured players will be back in shape, the team will have trained and been given infusions of Arteta philosophy. We will be ready.
I don’t believe there will be a European competition at all, so fewer games may mean less revenue, but on the other hand it may keep players fitter, which would be good.
Now as to the other teams in the league, here is what they have to deal with including total market value in € millions (excluding loanees)
Arsenal: 1 player at the end of his contract, 3 loanees, 0.25
Citeh: 2 players at the end of his contract, 1 loanee, 13.2
Pool!: 3 players at the end of his contract (Lalana), 17.75
Chelsky: 5 players at the end of his contract, 42.8
Sp*uds: 3 players at the end of his contract, 22.5
Manure: 1 player at the end of his contract, 1 loanee, 6.3
Leicester: 4 players at the end of his contract, 1 loanee, 3.55
Everton: 4 players at the end of his contract, 1 loanee, 6.55
Wolves: 4 players at the end of his contract, 1 loanee, 3.55
Looking at these numbers, I’d rather be the manager of Arsenal which keeps a full squad then of the others which have a few important players on the go.
Then again, for a player whose contract runs out, to find a new club this summer will require some luck… or a significant pay cut. I guess those out of a contract may end up being happy to get a new contract anywhere without the huge payout that was the custom until last season. Some agents and players will definitely have to start considering living on a smaller income…
The impact on the negotiations for the contracts ending 2021 is of course yet to be seen. Arsenal has the following players up for renewal in one year’s time: Aubameyang, Ozil, Sokratis, Mustafi, Saka and Luiz. Can they be moved during the summer window? And would it make any footballing or financial sense?
My guess in on Mustafi, Saka and Sokratis being kept beyond 30 June 2021 because in terms of quality/cost ratios it makes the most sense. But then, this is so far away time-wise that it makes little sense to speculate now.
So by the time the 2021-2022 season starts, Arsenal will most probably have a much-rejuvenated team. And most probably a reduced payroll. Better yet, the young guns will have quite a few seasons playing together under their belt and be a much more compact and identifiable team.
All that looks good to me. We may be soon witnessing the start of a new era at Arsenal, I believe.
Which, as you may have noticed, leaves three issues open: the end of the 2020-2021 season, what will games look like in the next two seasons, and what will be the fall-out of financial armageddon?
I could write fantasy reporting of such events yet to come, as all other writers do… but seriously… we’ve got enough of that already.
But one thing I think is getting clearer by the day: we will have to adapt to ghost games, as we call them in Europe (“behind closed doors” in English), with people watching from home and celebrating from their backyards, balconies and windows.
And another thought keeps nagging at my brain: will football avoid financial collapse and will Arsenal be able to navigate the waters ahead?
Well that will be for another article or two. In the meantime take care and stay safe.
- Football’s big problem: cash flow, transfers, collapse of sponsors, piracy, everything…
- £4.5bn is in outstanding transfer fees, and few have got the money to pay.
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP