After the defeat to Man City, a mate said to me “we need to spend £300m to compete regularly with them”.
He also added the caveat that we do not have that sort of money to spend.
We are not Newcastle or Manchester City. State funded clubs with limitless wealth (and the ability to hide additional payments in bank accounts no one will find).
We are also not going to do a Chelsea. Sacrifice the next 5-6 years transfer spending with a single huge window.
I guestimate that we will spend the usual £100-150m this summer, with the top end being dependent on who we sell.
That level of spending would finance a move for Declan Rice (£70-80m estimate), and a new right sided central defender – keep an eye on Josip Sutalo; has an £18m release clause and has similar attributes to Ben White.
An attacking option is then dependant one who we sell.
But what if I said we could have £300m+ to spend? “Great” I imagine your answer would be. But you might want to wait until you hear how we get the figure.
If Manchester City came in with a £200m offer for Bukayo Saka, would you take it?
Off the bat, I imagine it would be a “hard no”.
Saka is our best player. One of our own. And would improve our rivals for the league title. I get it.
But then I think of Liverpool. Selling Coutinho to Barcelona. And the funds from that transfer basically financed Mohamed Salah and Virgil an Dijk.
They sold their star player, but strengthened their team. The Champions League and Premier League then followed.
But I imagine at this point you are not sold. And your first thought it probably “it would cost us £200m to replace Saka”. And I agree.
Saka is amongst the best right wingers in the world. Up there with Mo Salah and Riyad Mahrez. And whilst those two are on the decline, he is only going to get better.
But (and I am sort of playing Football Manager here), I think that whilst selling him might weaken the right hand side, you could improve the team. And you do that through buying Victor Osimhen.
Osimhen is up there as one of the best strikers in Europe right now.
Osimhen, Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe are the 3 best in the world under 25. We can’t get Haaland or Mbappe. Osimhen would be a huge improvement on Gabriel Jesus.
21 league goals in 25 games this year for Napoli, Osimhen is about to become a regular 20+ league goals a season man. The sort of level you need down the middle to win us the league.
And then you replace Saka on the right with a man currently at Arsenal, Jesus.
Jesus has played a lot of his career out wide. Some would argue he is a more natural winger than striker. He himself has argued this in the past.
Saka has 13 goals and 11 assists in the league this season. Jesus has 9 goals and 5 assists. A combined 22 goals and 16 assists.
In his last 3 seasons for City, Jesus averaged 10 league goals. Mainly from outwide. Without any penalties. He also averaged 7 assists.
So there would be a few goals and few assists drop off from Saka to Jesus. But that is made up with Osimhen and his 20+ league goals a season.
You probably get Osimhen for £150m. A huge fee, but that is (at least) what Mbappe and Haaland would cost in a normal market.
You could then supplement Jesus on the right with a Xavi Simons or Ansu Fati.
Simons would provide cover for Jesus on the right hand of midfield, whilst also being an option more centrally if we want a player who will drive at players.
Fati is a fallen starlet who is still just 20. He would cover Jesus and also be a 3rd options (alongside Jesus and Osimhen) upfront.
Osimhen, Rice and Simons (plus a new right sides central defender). Would that be worthwhile sacrificing Saka for?
And we might even have enough money left to go for someone like Ollie Watkins to further improve our strength in depth.
Your answer is still probably no. And we could potentially do every deal mentioned here bar the Osimhen one without selling Saka.
Just some food for thought this Monday morning…
Brave thinking. Very hard. Good thinking? I don’t know. None of us know how anyone’s career will developer.
We would never get 200 million for Saka.
100 Mill more like.
We will probably and should have to sell if we want to rebuild for the future.
We need money to buy extra players.
No No No … there are so many others to sell before Saka … too many passengers in the team, e.g. Vieira, who we need to clear off the wage bill before we sell any of the Hale End boys
Like a good thought exercise– and this is a good one. However, the idea that we sell Saka to our probable most direct rival for the PL title? Just can’t do it. The idea that we have to improve enough to beat City next season– or even the one after may be a bit soon; a bit too ambitious. We have the core of a good team right now. Building toward the juncture when our talent meets the requisite experience to win a title or two or several– is still out over the horizon. Pep will have to retool in the next 2yrs. The landscape will be different somewhere during and after that timeframe.
No sale of Saka required.