It is 2020, not 2019
There is not a lot of money flying about football this summer.
Unlike 2019 when 6 clubs spent over £100million – including Aston Villa and Everton, and the likes of Leicester City spent over £90million and West Ham just shy of £80million, this summer will see spending dramatically reduced for all clubs bar Chelsea and Manchester City.
With COVID19 restrictions meaning crowds are unlikely, income at all clubs is going to be down. This means every side has less to spend.
So £20million in 2020 is more like £25-30million in 2019.
We are all going to have to get used to slightly lower transfer fees.
Of course, it also works for us. Getting Gabriel for £25million feels cheap.
Maitland-Niles is now 23-years-old. He is moving out of the “potential” bracket and into “established”.
This impacts Maitland-Niles fee as clubs will no longer spend money on what Maitland-Niles might become, but what he actually is.
So what is Maitland-Niles?
He is a 23-year-old versatile player with 100 games for Arsenal.
Over the last 3 years when he has been a regular in the Arsenal first team squad, he has not regularly started.
The majority of his games have been at right back, where he has been exposed a little bit defensively. Whilst at right wing back in a back 3 he has excelled.
He wants to play central midfield, but has very little top flight experience in that position.
So a club will be taking a risk with Maitland-Niles if they plan to put him central midfield. Likewise most clubs will not buy him to play right back.
It is interesting to see that it is Wolves he is seemingly heading for.
A team that often play 3 at the back and have just lost their Jonny for about 8 months.
Jonny covers both left wing back and right wing back for Wolves, so you can see why they are targeting Maitland-Niles.
£20million for a wing back is a decent chunk of cash.
Maitland-Niles is certainly no Declan Rice (midfielder) or Ben Chillwell (establish Premier League left back).
Arsenal do not need him
Often the price of a player is driven by how much a team still needs him.
Take Ben Chillwell. He is still very much in Leicester’s plans, so Chelsea have to pay a premium for him.
The reality is Maitland-Niles is 3rd choice right back, 2rd choice left back, and about 6th or 7th choice in midfield. He is very much surplus to requirements.
Getting the cash in is more important than holding out as long as possible for the highest fee.
Leicester would not be too upset if Chelsea failed to meet their valuation and Chillwell spent another 12 months in the Midlands.
Arsenal probably would be annoyed if they ended up keeping Maitland-Niles over £5million.
Sell to invest
As discussed, Maitland-Niles is surplus to requirements. Every Premier League club also needs to sell to buy.
These 2 factors drive down the price slightly.
It is like part-exchanging your car.
You might value your car at £5,000, but if £4,500 still allows you to buy your new car, you will take the lower price enabling yourself to drive away with your new motor the same day.
£20million for Arsenal might be just what is needed to sign Thomas Partey or Houssem Aouar.
A quick sale enables Arsenal to increase their offers for targets elsewhere. Targets that improve the first team.
A few people have mentioned that Alex Iwobi went for £35million last summer.
The Iwobi deal sums everything up:
- Iwobi was more established than Maitland-Niles
- Iwobi signed for Everton in 2019 when players value was higher than now
- Arsenal did not particularly need to sell Iwobi
- The move happened on deadline day
- Everton were desperate for a winger
- Everton had a big chunk of cash to spend
Throw these factors in a pot and you end up with Iwobi costing Everton £35million.
They were desperate to buy, Arsenal not desperate to sell.
Fast forward 12 months, I do not see any side desperate to sign Maitland-Niles out there. Not many teams looking to add an inexperienced central midfielder who has mainly played at full back.
There are more establish options available if you are after a central midfielder (Lewis Cook), and better options available if you are after a left back or right back (Nicolás Tagliafico). Being a wing back, you become quite a niche signing.
£20million feels like a good deal for both clubs.
Arsenal sell a fringe player who would get very little game time next year, adding cash to the purchase pot for a first team player. Wolves get their wing back to cover their first choice who is out injured.
My gut feeling is that those who are saying it is too cheap are judging him by 2018/19 prices, not 2019/20.
£20million for Ainsley Maitland-Niles is a good price.