The players who will not play football: and why we are stuck with them

by Tony Attwood

You may have noted that I have, several times, made the point that we have too many over-21 foreign players in our squad and we need to drop two of them.

The Europa squad has now been announced and Arsenal have dropped Ozil, and Sokratis.  Rather amusingly Caughtoffside tells us that Saliba and Martinelli have been dropped, but as I understand the rules they are both under 21 and so don’t have to be listed.  Assuming we get through the group stages, a new list is declared for the knock out stage – and there is talk of Saliba going on loan to Norwich.

So I was wrong in suggesting Mustafi might be out because of his injury.

But it seems that we are not  the only club with a problem.   The Daily Mail have been running  the headline “Danny Rose set to be left out of Tottenham’s squad in latest blow by Jose Mourinho as England left-back faces sitting out until January… or go on loan to the Championship.”  At the time of writing I can’t find the Tottenham list on line, although it may have been published since I have written this.

In a similar mode JustArsenal ask, “Why is Sokratis still an Arsenal player?” and they go on to ask “why was it so hard to get rid of Sokratis over the transfer window?”

Then adding, “If any of our defenders were going to be sold this transfer window, I was sure that Sokratis was going to be one of them. Considering reports suggesting that this was going to be the case and given that he managed to get himself back nice and fit before the close of the of the window I am disappointed that he has not left.”

All of which rather misses the point that in any transfer deal there needs to be three parties who are in agreement in terms of aspects of the deal and the contract, both the buying and selling club, and the player.

For contrary to popular belief, contracts in football do actually mean something.  A club simply cannot throw out a player, or force another club to buy a player.  The player has to agree to leave and go to the new club.

So Arsenal can cut the price for Sokratis down and down until it is a free transfer, but if Sokratis says he’s only going if his salary is maintained, then under the law of contracts he can stay.

Now according to the WageIndicator website Sokratis is on a salary of £5,200,000 a year, and his contract runs for one more season.  He is 32, so his next contract, by which time he will be 33, will be a very short one at a lower salary – quite possibly with a very low base level and a payment per match.

Now of course it can be argued by the anti-Arsenal movement (those supporters who ally themselves with the media in attacking the club at every turn) that Arsenal were stupid to get themselves in this position.  But let’s think it through.

He joined in July 2018 when coronavirus was just a twinkle in the eye of the gods (if there are any), and was given a four year contract aged 30.  That was quite standard, and all quite normal.  We had a new manager because the old one had been chased out of the club by the AAA and their media pals, and he obviously saw Sokratis as an older player who could help the younger team mates at the back, and bring solidity to the back line.

Over the last two seasons he has played 69 games, including 44 league matches and 17 Europa matches which has allowed the club to use him to be an older stabilising player while the youngsters were given experience of European games.

This is absolutely standard procedure – one brings in, or continues to utilise, such players not just for their skills, and as a back up, but also to help the youngsters find their way.  Had there not been a crisis in football world wide, he might now have moved to Greece to finish off his career, but the clubs there have their own crises and don’t want to fork out money for a transfer or pay his salary.

And really, if you were a footballer whose career was going to end in two or three years, would you give up a salary of £5.2m a year just to help out a club in a foreign land?

Plus here’s another thing.  We might recall a player who did want to leave and go back to his homeland for the last years of his career, no matter what the loss of salary: Koscielny.  And think of the stink that the media and some supporters made because he suggested that he had a deal that he could be allowed to leave before the end of his contract if a suitable offer was made.

So the argument is used both ways.  Koscielny was wrong for forcing a sale, while Sokratis is somehow wrong for not offering to give up a contract that was legitimately signed with Arsenal.

In a way this is also part of the inevitable fall-out from having three managers in three years.  They will have their own plans, and their own favoured players.  If anyone is to blame for Sokratis being paid for not playing (if that is what happens) then it is the media and some parts of the fan base who forced out Mr Wenger, and then having thought “oh look at all our power” did the same to Mr Emery.

In effect I rather suspect Sokratis will be part of the squad and will be used in the Europa as a stabilising force, and of course a backup if we have lots of injuries.  And I very much suspect there are such players in other clubs too.  Those clubs might not have players they will leave out of the 25, but they will probably have players they would have happily sold, if they had had the chance.

I should add a caveat.  My understanding is that the details of player registration for the Europa have not changed.  But what is being reported in the Standard and reproduced by websites that like to copy from each other, suggests the rules have been changed.  The Standard is talking about players aged under 21 who have not been listed by Arsenal.  And yet always in the past there has been an A list and a B list…

A player may be registered on List B if he is born on, or after, 1 January 1999 and has been eligible to play for the club concerned for any uninterrupted period of two years since his 15th birthday (players aged 16 may be registered if they have been registered with the club for the previous two years). Clubs are entitled to register an unlimited number of players on List B during the season, but the list must be submitted by no later than 0001 CET on the day of the match.

If that rule has been changed, my apologies, I have missed it.  If not, I think the Standard has got things wrong.

11 Replies to “The players who will not play football: and why we are stuck with them”

  1. Great to see Arsenal Squad for Europa league though Ozil being left out is a big big disappointment.Theway best no 10 In the world being treated by the club will remain a mystery.

    Also will be a big let down for the idiots at Arseblog,Legroan and Twitter etc to see Mustafi Xhaka Elneny Kolasinac in the first team.
    All Wenger boys in the team led by Wengers son. It shows the type of knowledge these fickle fans pocess.

  2. OT,

    what the heck are they smoking at the Emirates…. firing Gunnersaurus ?!?!? I mean is his wage making any sort of difference on the Arsenal balance sheet ?
    And even if there were not home games to be played with a public this season… this is just a plain-stupid-spreadsheet-based robotic decision.
    The fallout worldwide in terms of image is astounding. They even got a 2-3 minutes segment on CNN this morning….

    Talk about negative image and shooting yourself in the foot.

    And seein Ozil ready to pay for our mascot’s salary makes it even worse.

    I may be an Arsenal fan, but in this case, I feel ashamed of their behaviour.

    Interestingly, I see no groundswell from the AAA or anybody else to shame the club into reverting the decision.

  3. There are a group of Arsenal players who because of their huge salary want to run down their contract thereby refusing transfer. They do not give a damn if the club gets no income from them through sales:ozil,mustafi,socratis,kolasinac appears to have formed a club for that purpose. They push up agents who can’t find a club for them. Every season, they appear to be planning a transfer only for it to end in futility. The treatment Arsenal is giving them is the right treatment. They should smell the coffee.

  4. At Chelsea the same is happening with Victor Moses and Danny Drinkwater, at Man U with Sergio Romero, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo, at Liverpool with Harry Wilson, at Tottenham with Gedson Fernandes, Paulo Gazzaniga and Danny Rose.

  5. Kind of puts into perspective the “just pay him what he wants” mantra of many pundits. Which is possibly why we are in the position we are with Ozil, but avoided with Sanchez. And in two-three years time might be in with PEA. But like first marriages, they seemed a good idea at the time.

  6. @Dublin Gooner,

    as I’ve posted before, considering we did not pay a transfer fee for Aubameyang this time around, his wages are a steal. And he is worth any penny even if, God forbid, his performances were to decline in 3 years. Nor re-singning him this summer would have been a major blunder and, in my opinion, a catastrophe. Better be positive and see the goals that will be coming then what may go wrong in a few years.

  7. As I have suggested before I am sure it is Ozil’s public support for the persecuted Uighur Muslims in China that is behind his exclusion from the squad and Arsenal are trying to limit any damage to its business in China by not playing him. I know Arsenal games where banned from being shown by the Chinese Government who where infuriated by Ozil’s comments: I do not know if it is still the case.
    When Arteta was appointed Ozil started or was involved in every game up until shortly after his support for the Uighurs became public, then we had lockdown since when he has not even been in the squads. Ozil surely didn’t deteriorate as a player or in attitude during the couple of months of the lockdown to that extent.
    Could it be Arteta has been instructed from board level to omit Ozil from the squad so that Arsenal can regain favour with the Chinese authorities.

  8. i think gunnersaurus was part of the 55 made redundant. but only the media posted about it on last day of transfer to publish negative news about Arsenal. the club already said gunnersarus will return. they didnt mention the guy as its meant to be a secret no one knows who is gunnersaurus.

  9. Mick Shelley

    I think you are correct, the order to freeze ozil out has come from above which is why arteta always seems embarrassed when the subject is broached.

    The fan support is polarised.

    One half are only interested in results so whilst they continue positively they are happy.

    If and when what happened to Emery’s teams happens to areteta’s then they will become deathly silent.

    The other half feel that what is going on is wrong and to the detriment of the club and just as what happened to Emery will not end well..

    Wenger’s legacy is gone and we now have is the money men dictating the football which is bad for the game, bad for the club and is likely to bite arteta badly if and when the s..t hits the fan.

    I, after nearly 60 years a supporter sm profoundly disappointed and can only see my interest waning as this continues.

  10. Everyone has a right to their own beliefs and opinions , as do players . Am not too sure that ‘The Chinese Authorities ‘ have such leverage or influence to get the Arsenal board , or the owners to deal with those with differing views . Who runs the club ? The last I heard the owner is a supporter of his president !

    And why should Arsenal FC feel beholden to the Chinese ? Are they big investors in the club ? Why does Arsenal have to follow their party dictates ? I do hope that don’t tell our manager which players to pick for which matches ! Wouldn’t that be running foul of laws ?

    Again there are certain details that only the concerned parties are privy to , and it is our wish that decisions taken are measured and only for the club’s interest.

  11. @Chris,
    we do not pay transfers to players we already bought, so that is a red herring. But I get your point. But what you are saying applies equally to Ozil, and would have done to Sanchez had we met his wage demands. At the time we extended Ozil’s contract, we took on a huge wage liability, we avoided the cost of replacement, and we missed out on any income from selling him.
    If in 2-3 years time PEA is not being picked because of form or whatever, we will be in the same situation as we are with Ozil. That doesn’t mean to say the deal with PEA was a bad one (for Arsenal). But it is a deal that, say, Chelsea would not have done (which is why we got Willian). So in 2 years we could have (at least) 2 very high earners we want to move on, but can’t because no-one else will pay their wages

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