Tag Archives: Aaron Ramsey

Double deal would represent “solid January” for Arsenal

Transfer speculation seems to be intensifying over Arsenal signing Denis Suarez and Medhi Benatia before the end of January.

Whilst neither player would be top of many fans list, and plenty would complain that the club are “recruiting on the cheap” both signings would actually represent a solid transfer window.

On Denis Suarez, I have seen very little of the Spaniard. However he has previously played for Unai Emery at Sevilla, and was signed by Barcelona under Raul Sanllehi. Both men would know a lot more about the player than someone on social media.

I have seen him described as a “Iniesta-lite” which is certainly not mean as an insult considering that Iniesta was one of the greatest midfielders of his generation.

The comparison is more about the style of play. That Suarez likes to keep the ball moving, is comfortable on it, able to create space and create chances for others. Capable of playing in all 3 positions behind the striker, he was once named Manchester City Young Player of the Year.

Barcelona signed him in 2016 with the view of him being Iniesta’s replacement. It has not worked out for him during his second spell at Barcelona.

With Aaron Ramsey set to leave the club, Arsenal need a back up number 10, providing cover for Mesut Ozil. At just £20million, he would represent good value for money.

And good value for money is key.

With Arsenal set not to get a fee for Ramsey, we need to replace him without taken too much out of the pot. We do not want to go and spend big money on an Ozil understudy when we need a first team central defender, left back and winger.

Another thing to take into account is salary.

Suarez is reportedly only on £60,000 a week. That is £50,000 less than the reported £110,000 is on. I imagine Suarez would not be getting a significant pay rise.

Were Suarez to join on a 5 year deal, he would cost Arsenal around £7.12m a year (amortised transfer fee + wages). Ramsey currently costs £5.72m a year (just salary). The financial impact of replacing Ramsey with Suarez is minimal.

The second deal to keep an eye on is Mehdi Benatia.

Arsenal have been linked with the Moroccan  central defender for a number of years – way back in 2013 when he left Udinese for Roma. I doubt a year has gone by when we have not been linked with him.

The rumour doing the rounds is that Arsenal would let Ramsey go to Juventus in January (not cup tied in the Champions League) if they get Benatia in return.

At 31-years-old, many fans would rightly be sceptical about the deal. At face value, it would feel like the Henrikh Mkhitaryan / Alexis Sanchez deal again. That Arsenal are just happy getting anything, anyone, for a player set to leave on a free in the summer.

It would be another defender who is 30+ to go alongside Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis. Another short term option like the Greek and Stephan Lichtsteiner.

I have long had the opinion that Arsenal should not panic buy a central defender in January. That we should save our money for the summer, sell Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers, and invest the £50m we get for the pair into a first choice, first class central defender.

However circumstances change, and Benatia would not be a panic buy.

I saw us going into next season with a new central defender, Sokratis, Rob Holding, Laurent Koscielny and Konstantinos Mavropanos. However, having broken down twice since his return from injury, Koscielny is clearly a busted flush.

It is time for the club to thank him for his service, and allow him the freedom to find a new club in the summer.

That would mean we need two central defenders.

Benatia would not be coming in as a long term option in the middle, but as a mid-term replacement for Koscielny.

As he would not cost a penny, we would still have a full budget available in the summer to buy a long term central defender.

That would leave us with the options next season of new CB, Sokratis, Benatia, Holding, Mavropanos (in no particular order).

We would basically have two experienced defenders, and two younger guys.

In the short term, Benatia makes sense.

Holding is out for the season, Koscielny needs to be written off, and Mustafi has struggled with injuries this season. Mavropanos is also yet to play, and has only 3 senior games to his name in England (one which he got sent off in). Koscielny could have covered in the short term (ie until the end of the season), but it looks like he is no longer capable of doing that.

Losing Ramsey in January, signing Suarez and Benatia, a total spend of £20million. Plenty in the pot to buy another central defender, a left back and a winger in the summer.

Get them both done, our squad is stronger, both are more than a 6-month option, and both are available to play in the Europa League.

Trust Unai. Trust Sven. Trust Raul.

Keenos

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Arsenal lose £200m due to poor player sales

In recent weeks, one thing that has come to mind more often than not when discussing Arsenal finances is how we have criminally undersold players.

There has been a lot of talk about how Stan Kroenke needs to invest in the team – pumping in his own money. Many people are pointing to Liverpool, claiming that they have owners who are bank rolling the club to success.

This is completely fictional. The Liverpool owners are no different to Stan Kroenke. They believe in a self-sufficient model, making the money that the side brings in available for transfers.

The four main sources of income for all clubs are TV revenue, gate receipts, commercial revenue and player sales.

Due to the expansion of their new stadium, Liverpool’s match day revenue would have closed up on Arsenal. Arsenal’s lack of Champions League football would also mean that the TV figure is reversed. Ultimately, over the last 18 months, Liverpool and Arsenal have bought in similar revenue.

So how have Liverpool bank rolled the signings of the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson?

The simple answer is through buying and selling well.

Over the last 5 years, Liverpool have spent nearly £200m more than Arsenal. the total expenditure of both clubs is:

Liverpool: £633m
Arsenal: £434m

It is the net spend which is interesting though, as Arsenal have actually outspent Liverpool:

Arsenal: £255m
Liverpool: £211m

The high spend for Liverpool has been driven by player sales – they have raised £422m over the last 5 years. This is against Arsenal who have raised just £179m.

Liverpool have sold very well. But Arsenal have also sold very poorly.

Selling poorly is not a new thing for Arsenal. It has been going on for over a decade.

Think back to Partick Vieira. We only received £13,700,000 for the club captain when selling him to Juventus. A year later we sold Thierry Henry to Barcelona for just £16,100,000.

We allowed both player to enter the last year of their contract. Both were sold a year too late, reducing their transfer fees from close to £40m to less than £20m.

Then you have Robin van Persie. The Premier League top scorer sold for just £22,000,000 to Manchester United. Again, he was 12 months away from his contract running out.

We then have the likes of Wojciech Szczęsny and Serge Gnabry. We got less than £15,000,000 combined for the pair. Like those before them, both were allowed to leave on the cheap due to their contract situation. Had they not had 12 months left on their contract, we probably could have commanded closer to £50million for the pair (Szczęsny £30m; Gnabry £20m).

We then have even more recent deals.

The club lost Jack Wilshere on a free transfer and are set to lose Aaron Ramsey on the same. We also had to let Alexis Sanchez go to Manchester United last January.

Wilshere, Ramsey and Sanchez gone, and all we got in exchange was Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

That trio is around £100m worth of talent. Lost had they been sold a year earlier. Add in Danny Welbeck and you are talking about over £100m in players over a 12 month period.

There are two main issues the club face. and need to change.

The first is the wage bill.

The total that we spend on wages is not to dissimilar to Liverpool – they spend £210m a year on wage; Arsenal £199m.

Arsenal have the 5th highest wage bill in the league, so reducing it is not really up for discussion if we want to compete.

The problem Arsenal have is that over the last 5-or-so years we have given some very average players a high salary.

Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis had a fairly socialist outlook when it came to the wage bill. They believed that the lowest and highest earners should not differ by too much.

This led to us underpaying the top players (prior to Mesut Ozil) and overpaying poor players – the likes of Carl Jenkinson on £45,000 a week.

This mean that when it came to selling the likes of Lucas Perez, Kieran Gibbs and Francis Coquelin, we were not able to command big transfer fees.

Those players did not want to take a wage drop (for obvious reasons) when leaving the club. This results in the buying club offering Arsenal less in transfer fees so that they can cover the cost of higher wages.

If Arsenal are going to compete again, they need to start making more money from player sales. This can only be done if we have better control over the wage bill.

The second factor is we have let too many players enter the last year of their contract.

From van Persie to Ramsey, allowing a player to enter his last 12 months either means we have to take a reduced fee (in van Persie’s case) or no fee at all (Ramsey, Welbeck, Wilshere).

Poor player sales has cost us big in the last 5 years.

Gnabry, Sanchez, Szczęsny, Wilshere, Welbeck and Ramsey have all left (or are set to leave) the club. Between them we have received less than £15million and Mkhitaryan.

Close to £200m has walked out of the door.

Had we sold a year earlier, got a market-rate transfer fee, we could have gone out and bought Virgil van Dijk, Alisson and Mo Salah.

We did not sell a year earlier, and it has led to an underfunded squad.

It is clearly not good enough.

Back in October Raul Sanllehi spoke about the situation:

“In general, I do believe that a player’s contract should never go to the last year, as a policy,” said Sanllehi in a wide-ranging interview with the Sunday Telegraph. “But I don’t think I am inventing the wheel. Anybody could agree on that. Normally, the contracts of the players are for five years. You need to have a clear idea of what you want to do with that player when he is in the third year, at the latest.”

It is clear that Arsenal are changing, but the damage in the short term has already been done. A lot of these contracts, a lot of the deals, were prior to Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi coming in. But it is time to draw a line in the sand.

We have seen the likes of Bernd Leno and Lucas Torreira come in on fairly low wages. Matteo Guendouzi is reportedly only on £15,000 a week.

It will take a while for Arsenal to turnover the playing staff. We need to cut our losses on the likes of Jenkinson, Welbeck and Petr Cech, and replace them with cheaper, better options.

Moving forward I back Mislintat and Sanllehi to sort out the state of our squad – to stop losing players on the cheap or for free. To sell high and reinvest.

Like Liverpool selling Coutinho and Saurez, we might have to sell a star player or two – the likes of Lucas Torriera – to fund further transfers. To reinvest again.

Poor transfer dealings have led to Arsenal losing up to £200m in revenue over the last 5 years. The past is the past and there is no point dwelling on the mistakes made too much.

Back the new management team to get things right.

Keenos

Arsenal need a return to 4231 to stand a chance against Liverpool

In recent games, Unai Emery’s thinking has clearly been a bit muddled.

Faced with a defensive injury crisis and unsure how to fit Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette into the same team, we have seen a chopping and changing of formation and tactics.

We saw this against Brighton where we started with 3 deep lying central midfielders in an attempt to give the leaky defence some cover; and finished with 3 at the back.

With Shkodran Mustafi back in full training and available to start this evenings big game, Emery needs to return to 4 at the back.

Emery must avoid picking the tempting pace over Ainsley Maitland-Niles; and instead stick with the experience of Stephan Lichtsteiner. The message to Lichsteiner should be simple – do not bomb forward.

If the Swiss man stands up Sadio Mane, he wins the battle. If he allows Mane to run in behind him, the game is over. Stay positionally strong.

In defence We must see Mustafi return (if fully fit) alongside Sokratis.

Mustafi can provide the protection to Lichsteiner and the partnership with Sokratis was looking good prior to his injury.

Sead Kolasinac will play left back. Some might see this as a risk as he is so attacking – and facing Mo Salah – but he really is the only option.

Also by Lichsteiner not bombing forward; Kolasinac will be freed up to get forward knowing that there are still 3 back.

Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka must play in the middle of the park.

Liverpool tend not to play through the middle, but they do press high. The pair will give the defenders 2 options when playing out of the back and will enable Arsenal to transition from defence into attack quickly. With those two, Arsenal could dominate the midfield.

The majority of Liverpool’s attacking play comes from the wide positions. Sane and Salah, supported by the full backs.

Due to this Arsenal need to avoid 3412 – which gives very little cover on the flanks. If Emery goes for this, Arsenal will find the ball in behind the wing backs too often; and Kolasinac and Lichsteiner doubled up on too often by Andrew Robertson and whoever plays right back.

Alex Iwobi and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang need to play on the flanks.

This will enable Arsenal to pin back Liverpool’s full backs, whilst also providing cover for Arsenal’s full backs.

I would be tempted to go Iwobi left and Aubameyang right, as Kolasinac will need that bit more cover.

In between the pair Aaron Ramsey should start.

Ramsey’s mobility and work rate will be key. He will be able to press higher – and more consistently – than Mesut Ozil (note: this was written prior to the announcement of Ozil’s “injury”). He will be able to put pressure on Fabinho or Georgino Winjaldum. Hopefully stopping them playing those long balls over our full backs.

Alex Lacazette must start up front.

The Frenchman is our best finisher and we need to take advantage of our chances when they come.

So my starting XI:

Leno

Lichsteiner Mustafi Sokratis Kolasinac

Torreira Xhaka

Aubameyang Ramsey Iwobi

Lacazette

Up The Arsenal

Keenos