This blog is not designed to give controversial opinion, but more to look at tactics, players, potential transfers, from a personal perspective. Depressing as situation is therefore it will endeavour to retain positivity for the great club we all support.
Depressing and sadly predictable this season that the press seem to wish focus as much on Robin van Persie’s unwillingness to discuss his contact until the summer, as they are to applaud his on the pitch record breaking achievements in the past 15 months, culminating in him passing Dennis Bergkamp and moving inside our top 10 record scorers. After the humiliation at the San Siro and yesterday capitulation the questions will be asked again. Even Milan players and their President seem to have a view on Robin’s ambition and his future. RVP has taken over as captain of a club that he deeply loves and emulated his idol Dennis Bergkamp but is also aware that he is at the helm of a team in transition. Why would he want to commit to Arsenal now when his contact runs for another 18 months and he wants to see if we can turn the corner and match his ambition?
However given the events of the summer with Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy there are understandably questions about the club’s ambitions and the ability to convince RVP and others to commit their medium term future to the Arsenal. This was heightened with the lack of investment from Wenger/Arsenal in January. For me Wenger had reassessed his squad and the summer saw not only the release of several under achievers, and I include Clichy in that bracket, but also the purchase of some experience. This was certainly a change in strategy but perhaps the club needs to embrace more change and be a tad more radical. The policy from now on needs to see the management seriously cement what appears to be the strategy of combining talented youth with topflight experience. If this is the case then now is the time to re-examine the wage policy and use the huge income from property sales, turnstiles, commercial enterprises and transfers to pay the going rate for top stars at a top club with ambition. We need to send out clear signals to our established stars that the Emirates is the place to stay where genuine world class talent will be paid accordingly, and we need to do it now. This in turn will deliver a strong message to those youngsters with real potential that they too can indeed achieve their ambitions with Arsenal.
Since the arrival of Bergkamp and Platt in 1995 we have massaged the figures and paid our top stars in other ways over and above the wage cap, mainly through image rights, shirt sales etc. This needs to stop now and we need to accept that established internationals at the top of their game must be paid at Arsenal via their contracts the same or close to what they could be paid elsewhere a top club. For me now there are three players in this category and we need to make a statement with them now – RVP, Bacary Sagna and Alex Song, My heart would love to add Theo to the list but my head is not convinced at present. From this 3 it is RVP and Sagna that are 100% essential. I would also include Kozza, Arteta, Mertesacker, Santos and Vermaelen as players of invaluable experience but these guys are on long deals with us already. Personally I would extend Rosicky’s stay as he is an invaluable squad asset with bags of experience, but this is not a view I accept held by all.
The next part of the strategy has to be to blend top class youth with the above experience but at the same time to shed those who fit into neither category from the wage bill. Our squad is too large and there are too many under achievers on good wages. It is these savings that will allow us to shift our premier stars up to the £140/150,000 plus bracket. By removing over the coming summer months, the following players from the wage bill I conservatively expect we could save £500,000 a week, £26 million per annum, in salaries
Almunia, Squillaci, Denilson, Diaby, Arsahvin, Chamakh, Bendtner, Fabianski and Vela. I would add Djourou to the list but some obscure reason I cannot fathom he wants to stay as 4 or 5th choice and the management want the same!
We already have Wilshire, Gibbs, and Ramsey on long term deals and have recently added to our squad with extended deals for Lansbury, Frimpong, Afobe, Aneke, Ozyakup, Miquel, Coquelin, Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ryo, Campbell and Wellington, amongst others.
If we can tie down our genuine world class stars on proper salaries for just a few more years, even if only 50% of this host of young talent make it at the Emirates there is still a bright future. (I have highlighted those I have highest hopes for).However the club do need to act swiftly and decisively and demonstrate their ambition both financially and with at least 2 more established signings for the summer. Early moves for pre-contract agreements with identified targets now would seem to be the best way to indicate ambition to our talismanic skipper and convince that he should extend his stay in North London, which he quite obviously wants to do on a personal level. In practical terms I think we only actually need to see Robin extend his contract by a year. That way he will be with us until he is 30 and we can still secure a reasonable sell on fee if he chooses to leave in the summer of 2013. One has to assume with some confidence that with at least one new attacking addition either Afobe or Campbell will have stepped up by them.
In my view we the fans by staying with the team, the management and the board owe it to our skipper to ensure he does not go down in history as the next Matt Le Tissier. Time to show our strength, resolve and ambition.
Until next time thanks for reading and tell your friends about the blog.
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