Tag Archives: Barcelona

How can Arsenal afford Osumane Dembele?

I am going to bring up that word again that I obsessed over recently. The word that got Big Dave Ornstein liking my previous blog before using what I wrote in a BBC interview. That word, of course, is amortisation.

Now why am I bringing it up in a blog about Osumane Dembele? Because it is relevant, that’s why.

In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned that Arsenal should target the Frenchman. Many responses were that we “can not afford him”. Yet we can. Easily.

Dembele joined Barcelona in the summer of 2017 for €105 million. He signed on a 5 year contract.

A year later, after a tough start to his career in Spain, they are reportedly looking to cut their losses and recoup as much of the transfer fee as they can. And a loan deal with an option to buy seems the way forward.

Big money loan deals with options to buy are not regular in England. Yet in Spain, Germany, France and Italy they are becoming big business. It allows a buying club to get a player on loan for a year or two without needing a big lump of cash to do it. If he works out, they can secure him permanently. If he doesn’t, well they just send him back to where they came from. This sort of deal was seen last year when James Rodriguez went to Bayern Munich from Real Madrid.

The advantage for the selling (or loaning) teams is that they get a player off their wage bill for a couple of years, get a chunk of cash before the loan deal, and a potential for another lump after.

So take Dembele. He originally cost Barcelona €105 million. But he has already been there a year, so his book value, or what Barcelona have left to declare in their accounts, is €84 million. Were Barcelona to accept this for him, they would be able to dispose of what they still have left to amortise and break even within their yearly accounts.

Now let’s say Arsenal do a deal with Barcelona to take the Frenchman on loan for 2 years. Say the deal was at €21 million loan fee. That would split the amortisation of his transfer fee in half.

In simple terms, Arsenal would be covering 1 year of his amortised transfer fee, Barcelona the other. The majority of Barcelona’s “portion” would be offset by the wages they save over the two years.

So fast forward to 2020. Dembele has had a brilliant two years at Arsenal, and we plan to make the deal permanent. The deal was in place 2 years previous. What will that deal be for?

Well at this stage, Barcelona only have €42 million on their books left to pay for Dembele. Could this be how low the agreed fee could be?

It would enable Barcelona to dispose of his transfer fee in the 2020 accounts and be free of him, breaking even on the accounts. Ensuring that they do not need to put additional funds not already set aside to offset a loss.

Arsenal would than be able to start the process again. Give Dembele a 5 year deal, amortising the €42 million over that period. €8.4 million a year.

Could Arsenal really sign Dembele on a 2 years deal for €21 million with an option to buy for €42 million? Yes.

“But where does he fit in” you cry.

Well we could return to playing 4231. Mkhitaryan on one side of Ozil, Dembele the other. But I still think we will play 4321 next season.

This will leave Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Dembele and Iwobi competing for the two behind Aubameyang.

We often moan we lack squad depth, I bet if it happened people would moan we can’t fit them all in.

Remember last season Ozil only started 24 league games. In all competitions he started 33 of the 59 games. That is 26 games he did not play.

Mkhitaryan is also a little bit fragile. He certainly will not start every game next year.

If we play ~60 games again next year, it would not be a major surprise to see Ozil start 35, Mkhitaryan start 35 and Dembele to start 35. Iwobi to start the remaining 16.

This is all just pie in the sky, and Barcelona have recently ruled the deal out. But stranger things have happened in football.


Arsenal need to learn Champions League lessons

There is a lot that Arsenal can learn from Tuesday nights Champions League games ahead of tonight’s tie against CSKA Moscow.

The ultimate lesson is do not try and defend the lead.

Barcelona went to Rome with a 4-1 lead from the home league. They were in a similar situation as Arsenal face tonight. A 3 goal lead, but with the opponents having a crucial away goal.

Whilst Barcelona had the majority of the possession, they did little with it. Pass, pass, pass. Sideways, sideways, sideways. 57% of the possession resulting in just 9 shots.

Manchester City did similar with a 4-0 lead over Basel.

They were leading 4-0 from the away leg, but lost the home leg 2-1. Despite having 78% of the possession, and going 1-0 up, they were just not interested in scoring.

Liverpool in the first half against Manchester City on Tuesday was a similar story. They were defending deep, looking to hold on to what they had rather than increase their lead.

It was only in the second half when Liverpool decided to attack that the momentum of the tie changed. What was looking like being an incredible Manchester City come back ended up with Liverpool leaving the Manchester Commonwealth Games Stadium having won both the battle and the war.

Tonight Arsenal need to be aggressive. They need to come out and play their normal game. To attack. To not let CSKA Moscow get back in the game.

As we saw on Tuesday with both Barcelona and Manchester City, the first goal can change the complexion of the tie.

Manchester City scored in the first 3 minutes. This forced Liverpool even deeper. Had City’s second “goal” not been wrongly disallowed, I am sure they would have gone on to win the game.

Roma were similar. They scored in the 6th minute. And when Daniele De Rossi scored the second goal, Barcelona players looked scared.

In 90 minutes, it is the equivalent of being 2-0 up. You’re in control. Should cruise to the end. A few substitutes come on. Starting to relax. Then it is 2-1. It is hard to then get back on the front foot, get the mentality right, and often it ends up 2-2.

This is the same for Arsenal. At 4-1, we should get through, but we need to show the right attitude. We need to get on the front foot and ensure that we are dictating the game and being a threat. Just a single Arsenal goal in Moscow will change the tie, as it takes out the away goals. But to get that goal, Arsenal need to attack.

We saw is against Ostersunds.

A poor attitude led to sloppy defending which led to the Swedish minnows going 2-0 up after 23 minutes. Arsenal started the goal with the wrong attitude, thinking they could just pass their opponents off the pitch, and nearly ended up paying.

Against AC Milan, leading 2-0 from the away leg, Arsenal conceded first at home. Hakan Calhanoglu scoring from 30 yards looked to change the tie. Luckily Arsenal shook themselves down and responded quickly.

If we go 1-0 down tonight, we could be in for a long 90 minutes as the natural response will be to defend deeper.

Arsenal need to learn the lessons from the Champions League and come out attacking.

Be aggressive and we go through.


Wenger the Talent Extractor, AC Milan, Chelsea Fans

Wenger the Talent Extractor

Over the years, I have been more than happy to criticise Arsene Wenger when he gets things wrong. And it happens a lot. I am more than happy to point out his lack of plan B, his predictable substitutions, and his failures in the transfer market.

But one thing I will not call him is a “talent extractor”. It is just BS.

You only have to look at the amount of players that have come to Arsenal, and improved under Wenger. And the amount who have then left Arsenal ,and not gone on to be any better.

Whilst the likes of Gael Clichy, Ashley Cole, Kolo Toure, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri might have won trophies elsewhere, they did not improve as players.

As Arsenal fans, we often expect too much. Not every Yaya Sanogo can be turned into a Thierry Henry.

I always laugh at people moaning about Andrei Arshavin. He is the player that many fans complain about the most. But these people base their view on little knowledge. Arshavin, in Russia, was always inconsistent. Capable of doing brilliant, game winning things, before disappearing for weeks on end. It is his incoistency that saw him struggle to become a regular for Russia in the early days.

Arshavin was excellent for Arsenal in his first 2 and a half years. 25 goals, 30 assists, but some have re-written history.

And we see the same with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

People are pretending that he was absolutely awful every single game for Arsenal. And since moving to Liverpool, he has been brilliant, every single game.

The reality is somewhat different.

At Arsenal, he would have a couple of good games, showing the raw talent he clearly has. Getting people excited that he might have finally broken through the glass wall. But then he would go missing for a month. Not being able to play a pass. Not contributing anything.

Then he would have another couple of good games. It is his consistency which has made him so frustrating.

At Liverpool, he is no different. He has had the odd good game, but has had a lot of rubbish in between.

The big difference is we no longer have to watch the poor performances, or get frustrated by them, so they kind of disappear from memory. Meanwhile his odd good performance is repeated on Match of the Day and Sky Sport and fools you into thinking he has been playing like that every week.

So I had a look at some statistics:

Make your own conclusions.

AC Milan

We are 2-0 up after the away leg. A solid base to start from, but Arsenal must not rest on their laurels tonight and become complacent.

Whilst AC Milan are certainly not the side of yesteryear, we still need to take them seriously.

If we go in to start the game how we did against Östersund, AC Milan could find themselves back in the game quicker than it takes me to find a stream to watch out on.

Do not forget that this Arsenal side has lost to the likes of Östersund, Nottingham Forest, Tottenham, Brighton & Hove Albion, Bournemouth and Swansea this calendar year. Small, weak sides that we should have rolled over with ease.

Tonight we need to take the game seriously, get an early goal, get the job done, and look forward to the Quarter Finals.

Chelsea Fans

Absolute disgraceful scenes in Barcelona last night involving Chelsea fans.

All football disagreements aside, the way English football fans are treated abroad is sickening. We are walking targets for the police. In previous years, I have been at Roma, AC Milan and was in Lille for Wales v England.

At each game English fans were targets to be attacked by the police. An over aggressive police who would be quick to use batons and tear gas.

Whilst when other fans come into the UK, they get the run of the streets, as we saw with Cologne, English fans abroad are attacked.

What is most worrying about the incident in Barcelona is it is stewards using batons and attacking fans, not the police. How is this right? How does UEFA allow this?

A similar thing happened with Arsenal fans in 2016. And that bridge you have to walk over is dangerous. On the other side is just two turnstiles.

So at one end of the bridge you have stewards physically forcing people onto and over it, and on the other side, you have no where to go. It is an accident waiting to happen.

Earlier this season, Liverpool fans were attacked by the police in Sevilla.

English fans were banned in the 80s for their behaviour, and justifiably so. But it is now 33 years since the Heysel disaster. Things have changed.

The fact UEFA remain so silent on the issue indicates that they condone it. That they accept English fans – same young teenagers and children – being attacked by police and stewards up and down the country.

I do not expect UEFA to act, just like they have not acted when English fans have been stabbed (and killed) in the likes of Turkey and Italy.

Attacking English fans seems to be acceptable. It is not.