Before I start, I do not think “£120million or less with a player thrown in” has much legs to it.
Firstly, I think the full fee for Rice will be less than £100m. Secondly, “player + cash” are thing that rarely happens in football. They are concept for headline writers and those that play far too much Football Manager.
They rarely happen because of the variables.
Normal transfer are hard enough to conclude. Negiotiating with clubs, players, their representatives. Agreeing on fees, wages and more. An exchange of players is even more complicated.
You Player A, Player B, Club Y and Club Z.
Player A needs to want to play for Club Z, Player B needs to want to Club Y. All it takes is for one of these players to not want to move to that club – either wanting to stay, or has an alternative club they want to join – and the deal falls through.
All players must be happy with the financial package on offer on both sides, and then agents, etc also need to agree.
Club Y must want Player B and Club Z must want Player A. If one club does not fancy signing the player, or has a preferred target elsewhere, the deal falls through.
Whilst Club Y might offer Player A as part of the deal, maybe Club Z want to sign Player C from a different club in that position?
And both clubs must agree on the values of both players. And work out who pays what in between.
Finally we have players demanding money to leave.
If you are the “lesser player” and know that your decision could impact your current club getting their first choice player, you might be inclined to demand a payment to leave the club. “Pay me the money or I will turn down the contract, collapsing the deal”.
The advantage of dealing with someone like West Ham is that anyone at Arsenal, already living in the London / Herts / Essex borders, will not need to relocate to a new city or country. That takes out one variable.
So if Edu (and West Ham) were looking to discuss players that might be interested in being added to a deal for Declan Rice, who would they consider?
Emile Smith Rowe
Right, let’s start with a big one. Emile Smith Rowe.
The Hale End graduate had his breakthrough last season, scoring 10 Premier League goals. He has spent the majority of this season in the treatment room.
We discussed recently about how Arsenal need to add quality to the squad. And Smith Rowe is certainly one of those we can look to improve on.
In a comparison of our squad to Manchester City’s, Smith Rowe was an additional player, meaning we could potentially sell him this summer without the need to replace him.
In Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Leoandro Trossard and Gabriel Jesus we have a good clutch of wide options that will start ahead of him. An additional new attacking player will likely join in the summer pushing Smith Rowe further down the pecking order.
There has been talk of Mikel Arteta working to convert Smith Rowe to a more central player, and that is something he certainly has the ability for.
But if Declan Rice signs, that will see us have Rice, Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard, Fabio Vieira and Jorginho as options in the “two-8” positions.
Add in Smith Rowe’s injury problems – his career has been plagued by them up to this point – and that he turns 23 in January, I would not be surprised if we try and cash in on him this summer.
So instead of cashing in on him, why not see if West Ham will take him as part of the Declan Rice deal?
Smith Rowe get’s his regular football and gets to remain local, West Ham get a player that improves their team (when fit), and Arsenal knock £20-30million of the Rice fee.
The on-loan hitman has been making waves out in France. But following the theme of “buying better than we have”, Folarin Balogun is simply not better than Gabriel Jesus. And a debate is to be had over whether he is better than Eddie Nketiah.
Balogun has also leaked that he wants to be playing first team football next season. And that is just not something Arsenal can provide.
If we add a striker to the squad next summer, it has to be someone like Victor Osimhen, Dusan Vlahovic or Ivan Toney. All are better than Balogun and will add real depth to the squad.
Depending on sales, I can realistically see Arsenal getting one of these in the summer, then utilising Jesus’s versatility to fill in behind the new man, as well as the out-wide option.
Michail Antonio is now 33 and Gianluca Scamacca has struggled. Balogun would be the Hammers first choice striker.
West Ham is probably Balogun’s level. He will score them 10-15 league goals a season.
You would expect Balogun to fetch £30-40million on the open market. A decent chunk to knock off the Rice fee.
Like Balogun, Charlie Patino has had the taste of first team football this season, on loan at Blackpool.
The youngster had an impressive start, but struggled for form alongside his teammates as Blackpool were relegated from the Championship.
Patino is clearly talented, but is also a long way from being ready to play week in, week out for a Champions League side.
Arsenal probably wanted to send him on loan next season to a lower Premier League side. Someone probably like West Ham! But Patino only has 2-years left on his contract and seemingly has no interest in signing a new deal.
The chances are, Arsenal will sell him this summer.
Whilst Patino would not be a like for like replacement for Rice – Declan is clearly levels above – he would provide a useful option in their midfield if Rice leaves. And with regular game time for the Hammers could develop into a top player.
I would be surprised if Patino would raise more than £10m on the open market, so does not really drop the price of Rice down too much. Likewise, West Ham’s recruitment team probably have other names ahead of him to replace Rice.
Your Football Manager player will say “well why don’t we add him as a 2nd player and knock another £10million off”. If player + cash deals were rare, player + player + cash are unicorns.
Keep an on on Kieran Tierney this summer. He could depart.
Whilst he has proven his worth for Arsenal in recent weeks, coming on for Olexsandr Zinchenko early in games to help shore up the defence, his time at Arsenal might be coming to an end.
Tierney has reportedly been frustrated with his lack of game time, and may well look for regular football elsewhere. Newcastle United is the likely destination.
Aaron Cresswell is 33-years-old and his best days are beyond him. Tierney would make a good long-term replacement at West Ham for him.
But this is where player + cash becomes completed.
Would Tierney want to go from a team challenging for the title to a team battling relegation? And if there is another Champions League team (Newcastle) sniffing about, his preference might be to move to them, snubbing West Ham.
I can see us getting £30million for Tierney. I just think it might be from Newcastle rather than West Ham.
This is where we get into the world of make believe a bit, proposing players that we do not want, with it also being unlikely West Ham would want them.
Albert Sambi Lokonga was playing regularly under Patrick Vieira, but has played just twice in Palace’s last 8 games. One start. I think his future is playing for a mid-table team in Germany or France. Expect maybe another loan deal next season with a “option to buy” clause.
For Nuno Tavares, he could be an option to replace Cresswell, but David Moyes will not want to work a defender that is so erratic.
Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are excluded due to their contracts expiring.
Eddie Nketiah is basically the same text as Balogun. The only difference being he has not signalled his intent to leave. And his departure would not satisfy Balogun’s desire for first team football.
West Ham could not afford Nicolas Pepe‘s wages, so we would end up having to pay them to take him. Whilst Pablo Mari‘s loan at Monza will likely be made permanent.
Finally the likes of Rob Holding, Cedric Soares, Auston Trusty and Marquinhos would not be valued high enough to have a significant impact on the fee.
If a player + cash deal does happen, Smith Rowe and Balogun are the two to keep an eye on.
No way!!! His time will come, just a matter of time before he resumes to work a better player.Rice purchace is not a do or die affair, if we can’t match their valuation we move to the next target not make some silly swap when we can just use him to our advantage hence save funds for something better and more pressing.
I am never happy to see Hale End Boys leave the club, or any player who has done good things for us e.g. Kieran Tierney, an absolute icon with his stuff in a Tescos bag who NEVER wears long sleeves or leggings not even in training! ESR should be kept at all cost. Flo should only be allowed to leave with a First Refusal clause in his contract so that, when he shows what he can do at wherever he goes next we can get him back if he develops as I suspect he might. As for the rest … this is the penalty you pay for having such an excellent Academy … so many very good players have to leave to play all the time but … the cream of the crop is fantastic aka BS7