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.