The summer of the long knives begins

Have you ever tried eating with a long knife? It is very awkward, particularly when the knife is disproportionately large when compared with the fork. It is probably relatively easy, however, when compared to the task of offloading Arsenal’s glut of overpaid squad members.

The list, by now, is familiar: Fabianski, Squillaci, Denilson, Arshavin, Chamakh, Bendtner and Vela are all very much available. The problem is finding someone who will a) pay a reasonable fee, and b) match their current salary. One can’t help but think that we will end up sacrificing a) in order to facilitate b). From the little I know about the murky world of transfers, I can tell you this: no player will lose out financially.

It has become common practise in the Premier League for clubs to pay up the remainder of players contracts using transfer fees. Take for example, one transfer between two Premier League clubs last season. A player at a top six club was being moved on by the Chairman to make room for a new signing. A mid-table club wanted to take him, and made a reasonable offer, but could not match his wages. The player refused to take a pay-cut and move, and on transfer deadline day the selling club’s desperation to get the player off the wage bill saw them pay him a fee which would make up the difference in his earnings for the duration of his remaining contract. In doing so, they essentially halved the fee they received. This happens all the time, so anyone expecting us to rake in a huge warchest by selling of our fringe players is barking up the wrong tree. Getting them off the books and distributing our salary budget more sensibly remains undoubtedly worthwhile.

That process began in earnest on Monday with the release of seven players, including Manuel Almunia. I’ve always been somewhat fond of Manuel, despite his much-publicised flaws. For a brief time, when he first ousted Jens Lehmann, he looked like a reasonable number one, although he was always distressingly vulnerable at his near post. In the end, old foibles crept back in, and he ended up being taken out of the firing line. His departure comes as no surprise, and his shirt number will surely join his spot in the team in falling in to the safer hands of Wojciech Szczesny.

We all hope the clear-out will make room for a few new signings, but it’s worth remembering we have some good prospects returning to the squad from loan spells last year. Yesterday Ryo Miyaichi became Japan’s second youngest ever player when he made his international debut as a substitute. Bolton seem keen to take him next season, but I suspect Arsene may want Ryo to test himself at Premier League level again. We shall see: he’ll certainly accompany us on our pre-season tour. If he performs well he may make a case to remain with the squad next season.

The same is true of Joel Campbell, although his situation is dependent on him being granted a work permit. If he does, I can foresee him being kept around as a third or fourth choice striker. It’s worth noting that he’s played a lot of his football at Lorient as a right-winger cutting in on his left-foot, so he does bring a degree of versatility.

Right, that’s all from me today.  Time to enjoy the freshly-arrived sun and the silliness of summer.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.


  1. Kiwigoonerz   •  

    Boom – been a while between posts, but still read GB religiously. Love your work GS.

  2. Me   •  

    I really enjoy coming on to blogs & pointing out what everyone is doing wrong, such as world class footballers & one of the best managers in the modern age.

    It makes me feel powerful & takes me away from the fact that I am a loser with no purpose in life.


    Oh yeah, just got my daily fix. See you all again tomorrow at the same time.

  3. Damon   •  

    It seems to me for a man with an economics degree Wegner is oddly incapable of understanding what a sunk cost is. It doesn’t matter what they paid to acquire Squillaci- that money is gone and it doesn’t affect at all what he is worth now. If it means that Arsenal is going to have to pay a portion of his salary to play for someone else next season, thats far better than keeping him around when it keeps them from acquiring someone else who may actually be able to contribute.

    Wenger also seems to be very confused about the idea of a replacement level player. Its all well and good to try and lock up young players early, but they need to understand the premium that needs to be paid for top level talent. If the team can pay a backup like Djourou 50k a week, they need to be offering Van Persie at least 4 times that. The flat wage structure Arsenal seems to want is absolutely ridiculous.

  4. John   •  

    Squillaci’s costs aren’t sunk at all; the transfer fee of a player is amortised over the length of his contract. If for example a player cost £10k and the contract is for 4 years, the player is still in the balance sheet for 5k. So releasing him of his contract would cost in this case £5k + lost income. There is a difference between cash flow and costs. This is btw accounting, not economics.

    If you want to slag Wenger off, please make sure your facts are right otherwise you make yourself look like a total tit, or loser as ‘me’ calls it.

    • feygooner   •  

      Why would it cost £5k + lost income? seems to me that it should only be £5k.

    • Damon   •  

      From an accounting perspective Squillaci may still be on the books, from an economics perspective what they paid to acquire him is a sunk cost and is completely irrelevant. It doesn’t matter whether they paid a fee of 10k or 10M to acquire him, his value to the team is completely unrelated.

  5. John   •  

    ** £5k after 2 years

  6. RVB   •  

    Out with old sh*t! In with new hopes!
    Who will probably turn out sh*t!

    Please let our hit rate improve. It seems just yesterday that we were singing the praises of these players who we are now eager to be rid of.

  7. Stevieo   •  

    Thanks for the creative accounting lesson John.

    Like Wenger, I made a similar mistake. I bought a French car two years ago, a right bag of shit. It was an old beat up Citroen 2CV with 150,000 miles on the clock. In true Wenger style, I was fleeced and ended up paying £10k for it. The thing don’t work, can’t shift it, and it’s worth £50 scrap value.

    And just like Wenger, being a fool, instead of calling it a day with it and biting the bullet, I’ve just taxed it. Next week I’m going to reinsure it. Then next month, just for the hell of it, I’m going to put it through an mot, even though it’s shit, and I know it won’t pass. Just like Wenger keeps paying Squillaci, even though our Under 15 centre back is ahead of him in the pecking order.

    Thankfully, under your thinking, I’ve only wasted £5k which makes me feel a lot better in myself. So when I tell the bank manager I ain’t paying the balance of the loan that I borrowed to buy it, he’ll fully understand?

    The facts are that not only is Squillaci a sunk cost to the club, he is also a current drain on wage resources, and a waste of a squad number. Now feel free to put all of that in to some simultaneous equation and dress it up with some fancy words like ‘amortisation’, ‘economies of scale’ or ‘fixed cost ratios’, and no doubt you’ll tell us through your calculation process that we’ve actually made a profit on Squillaci!

    If you want to defend Wenger over Squillaci, please don’t talk bollocks, otherwise you make yourself look like the total tit.

  8. Me   •  

    Why is everyone talking about Squillaci?

    He made one league apperance for Arsenal this season & will be 32 at the start of next season.

    He was bought as a short term solution to Vermaelen’s injury.

    He has only ever been an experienced back up squad player for us.

    At the cost of £4m, I think he was a good buy.

    • Wegrice Weguamba   •  

      If you have a long knife, you need to eat with a long fork as well. Common sense. It’s a bit like eating with BBQ equipment, which I’ve done on occasion during the hot Aussie summers.

      Sometimes, Aussies are the world’s greatest innovators. Other times, we’re not the best innovators, and have to settle being better looking, smarter and having better oral hygiene than the rest of the world.

    • Munitionsman   •  

      No he wasn’t a good buy. He cost us dear. He will only ever be a Good bye.

  9. Wegrice Weguamba   •  

    Something they do all the time in Aussie Rules is to get the previous club to pay a portion of the contract to alleviate salary cap problems. It’s something that innovative Aussies have been doing for a long time.

    Do the English still use short forks and knives to eat their BBQ? How quaint.

  10. R.S.P.C.Arsenal   •  

    GS… wanted to post yesterday … but no one had started the blogds…. how do you post when there are no guns?

    • Gooner 4 Life   •  

      Click on the title (The summer of the long knives begins). A page opens bearing that blog. Scroll down ‘n write ur comment.

    • Munitionsman   •  

      Being old can be so cruel :)

  11. Me   •  

    Did you try clicking in the same area that you normally would?

  12. Gerard   •  

    Selling Fabianski, Squillaci, Denilson, Arshavin, Chamakh, Bendtner and Vela, and with Almunia already released, what are your thoughts about bringing replacements? I think we DO NEED a better keeper than Szczesny, and without both Almunia and Fabianski, we should in fact be looking for an experienced #1. If Campbell gets a work permit and with the addition of Podolski, that Chamakh, Bendtner and Vela left wouldn’t leave us stranded. Hell, maybe we’ll actually play Park this year.
    A centre-back is also needed, since Djourou and Mertesacker haven’t been great (or even decent for that matter). A young attacking midfielder would be icing on the cake, seeing how we only have Rosicky. Let’s admit we need a big squad considering we had an average of 6-7 injured players. No more ‘we don’t have a single fit FB’ excuses.

    • Munitionsman   •  

      The team with mert concedes far far less than the team without him. Per is a defender and an asset. He just don’t fit in as he doesn’t do stand in cf routines like tv when we are ahead.

  13. Gooner 4 Life   •  

    Get an LB, a GK and a centre back.
    Sell Squillaci & Park.
    That is all.

    • Gooner 4 Life   •  

      Not to mention give out the players we loaned of ‘coz we were unable 2 sell ‘em…!!

  14. Munitionsman   •  

    Get a dm…. Sell the drinks trolley called alex

  15. Munitionsman   •  

    Put theo at lb. headless chicken runs are ok back there

  16. Wegrice Weguamba   •  

    I am a man with a long knife. That knife is a metaphor, but the length is not…. trust me, it’s very long!

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