So this mornings transfer news has all been about Thomas Vermaelen, and that he has agreed terms with Manchester United. The obvious immediate response from most Arsenal fans is ‘great, selling another captain, losing another senior player,strengthening another rival’ and I understand why.
Over the last few years, we have strengthened our rivals, or lost our captain, via:
2006/07 – Ashley Cole – Chelsea
2006/07 – Thierry Henry (c) – Barcelona
2009/10 – Kolo Toure (c) – Manchester City
2009/10 – Emmanuel Adebayor – Manchester City
2011/12 – Gael Clichy – Manchester City
2011/12 – Samir Nasri – Manchester City
2011/12 – Cesc Fabregas (c) – Barcelona
2012/13 – Robin Van Persie (c) – Manchester United
2013/14 – Cesc Fabregas – Chelsea (via Barcelona)
2013/14 – Bacary Sagna – Manchester City
By all means, it has been a torrid time. Stadium restriction’s meant that we could not compete when it came to wage bill. The likes of Adebayor & Nasri more than doubled their wages. The fact that Adebayor is still being paid 100k a week by Manchester City shows what we were up against.
But this summer, things were supposed to have changed. We were supposed to have become more competitive. And yet we sit here, and its ‘same again Jack.’
We have already lost Bacary Sagna to Manchester City. Whilst I would not want Arsenal to have tied up £25m over 3 years in a 31 year old on the wain, it is a repeat of previous years. And now we come to Thomas Vermaelen.
Talk of him joining Manchester United is very real:
- He shares an agent (SEG) with Robin Van Persie
- He has a year left on his contract at Arsenal
- He is currently Arsenal’s third choice centre back
- Manchester United have lost Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic
- He would be 1st choice for Manchester United
So Manchester United need a centre back, and Arsenal need to either secure Vermaelen to a new deal, or sell this summer. It all points to a move to Manchester United.
Whilst he is experienced, and, at times, has performed admirably for Arsenal, I would not be sad to see him go. Recently he has become a liability and he does not have the best fitness record.
So if we are set on selling him, we must get the best deal for him, enabling us to replace him without too much extra cost.
The obvious preferred destination is abroad, with Napoli potentially interested, however, with a British girlfriend who has just given birth to his son within the last year, it is unlikely he will be keen on a move abroad, so once more it all points to Manchester United.
Now the deal that we can potentially get. A pure cash deal would be in the region of £10m. For that, our options are limited on who we can get in. Unless Arsene Wenger can pull off another masterstroke, unearthing a talent like Koscielny or Mertesacker, £10m does not go far in this market, and there is always the risk of another Squillaci.
The option the press seem to be speculating is a cash + player deal. They have already linked us to Tom Cleverley (turn down Cesc, buy Cleverley…), Nani (Just a shit Michael Jackson) and Chris Smalling (English Senderos).
The first two are a non starter, but, after thinking about it for most of the morning, would a deal of a little bit of cash + Chris Smalling (or even a straight swap?) be so bad?
We lose an unhappy, out of form player in the last year of his contract and we gain a 24 year old centre back who, whilst having gone through a sticky time recently, has all the attributes to be a very good centre back.
Between Alex Ferguson and David Moyes, the careers of both Smalling and Phil Jones have nearly been ruined. Played mainly at right back and defensive midfield, neither has been given a run at centre back. Smalling is a big (6 4), strong, quick centre back. He would provide brilliant cover for Koscielny and Mertesacker and, at just 24, he could still develop into a top first choice centre back.
Whilst at the moment it is all press speculation, and we know how unreliable that is, I would not be too upset to see Vermaelen go to Manchester United, with Smalling coming the other way.