Whilst the bid for Wilfried Zaha was breaking on Sky Sports News a few days ago, there was another deal on the ticker going fairly unnoticed that had broke earlier in the day.
According to Sky sources, Arsenal are in talks with attacking midfielder Yacine Brahimi.
The 29-year-old is currently a free agent after running down his contract at Portuguese side Porto.
Many people turned their noise up at the deal when it broke earlier in the day, prior to the Zaha announcement. Questions were asked as to why Arsenal were looking to be a 29-year-old.
The free transfer aspect led to comments that “Arsenal are trying to do things on the cheap again”. But there is plenty of logic behind Arsenal targeting the experienced Algerian.
Having lost Aaron Ramsey on a free transfer to Juventus, Arsenal have been in the market for a cheap attacking option to provide some strength in depth behind Mesut Ozil.
Signing Brahimi would also likely see Henrikh Mkhitaryan sold.
Raul Sanllehi’s remit this summer is to get in control of Arsenal’s wage bill whilst improving the quality of the squad.
Signing Kieran Tierney and selling Saed Kolasinac is an example of how we can sign bett4er, younger players whilst lowering that was bill.
Mkhitaryan is 30-years-old and on £180,000 a week. He is one of the clubs 3 highest earners alongside Mesut Ozil and Peirre-Emerick Aubameyang. Last season he started just half of the Premier League games. He is on 1st XI wages but is not a 1st team regular.
Sanllehi has spoken not allowing players to enter the last year of their contract.
“one of our priorities is not to get to the last year of contracts.
“The only way to get to the end of a contract is when you are ready to release that player at the end of that contract.
“We cannot get to the last year of the contract. If we cannot get a renewal before that, then we may have to sell.”
Mkhitaryan is entering the last year in his contract. This gives the club 3 choices:
- Offer him a new contract – unlikely due to age unless he wants a big pay cut
- Sell him – He would still command £10-15million on the transfer market
- Keep for a year and release – This would cost the club £10million in wages
The preferred option for Arsenal would be to sell Mkhitaryan for £10-£15million and sign a replacement on half the wages. This would knock £5million off the wage bill.
Brahimi was on £40,000 a week at Porto. Arsenal could double his wages to £80,000 a week, offering him a 3-year-deal in the process – a figure that would see him pocket £12.5million which is probably not too far what he has earned in his entire career so far.
£80,000 would also be more than he would likely get elsewhere, unless a Chinese club came in for him (which is probable).
Arsenal were linked with Brahami back in 2015 for £30million. Last season he scored 13 goals in 49 appearances as Porto finished second behind champions Benfica.
He is a solid player who is not too far away from Mkhitaryan ability wise. The key is he saves us money.
Over 3 years, Brahimi on £80,000 will cost the club £12.5m. Selling Mkhitaryan would save the club in the region of £10million in wages and see the club rake in a further £10million (minimum) in transfer fee.
The salary saving alone makes the deal worthwhile as it would free up as further £5million from Arsenal’s wage bill. This is already on top of what we have culled with Ramsey, Petr Cech, Danny Welbeck and Stephan Lichsteiner leaving
Those 5 leaving, and swapping Tiernay for Kolasinac and Brahimi for mkhitaryan would see Arsenal free up nearly £30million in wages.
Brahimi might not be the most exciting signing, but selling Mkhitaryan and bringing him in is a sensible decision.