Can Arsenal Afford To Sell RvP & Pre-Season Clarity
Euro2012 draws to its soporific close with the first half promise of Portugal and Spain lumbering through the remaining seventy-five minutes as penalties drew nearer. The shootout itself finished with the inevitable winner from Cesc Fabregas, a little case of history repeating itself. Their final opponents will be decided tonight as the Germans take their perfect record in this tournament into battle with their nemesis, Italy. Of the pair, Germany are perhaps best equipped to beat the Spaniards and based on performances thus far, would be worthy winners.
The Spanish have been subjected to a lot of criticism for the manner of their play and I find it rather baffling. There is not much difference now to two or four years ago, save for Del Bosque deciding to dispense with the traditional centre-forward on occasion. It is telling that Negredo played last night and Spain were muted in the first forty-five minutes. That was not his fault but served to underline how much they miss David Villa. That and how well the Portuguese harried their opponents in possession.
Quite where Fernando Torres fits in is difficult to see. His spell at Chelsea has been damaging to his confidence but that appeared to be improving. Yet he still finds himself on the periphery of the national team. He is an object lesson on the pressures which come with a large transfer fee and the impact that the consequent expectations can have. Whilst he and Robin van Persie are different characters, it does offer a glimpse of what happens when the reality turns out differently.
Of course we know that Robin van Persie is now staying at Arsenal, even if he does not sign a new deal. He will play out his contract with all of the commitment he has previously shown and we would expect nothing less. We know this because David Ornstein of the BBC in London (or Salford, wherever he is based) tweeted and told us so. Ornstein is a credible source and is in no way related to the David Ornstein of the BBC in London who was torched with derision last year for proclaiming that the Arteta deal was dead and that the Spaniard would not be joining Arsenal under any circumstances. It must be confusing for the Corporation staff when emailing or phoning the Ornstein’s; how their inboxes must be full of misdirected messages. Nor can Arsenal fans be accused of picking and choosing when we want to believe the media, oh no Sir, not us.
Jonny raised a fair point in a recent comment. For those who missed it, he offered this view, which is edited for brevity and not wishing to speak for his opinion on football itself:
If RVP does go to City – I still don’t think this will happen – then I am no longer sure what the point is any more.
Football has been p*ssing in it’s own well for a while but, were this to happen, it would represent an outright act of vandalism upon our club. City have no need for RVP in order to win the premiership or any other trophy – frankly it would be represent a damning indictment of their or any decent manager’s capabilities to suggest otherwise.
If the Arsenal cannot hold true to their principles and actively compete, without being targeted and stripped of our best assets and effectively sabotaged then what is the point in developing new world class talent?
There is another aspect to this: can Arsenal afford to sell to Manchester City? The answer to that comes in two areas although one underpins both: financial and sporting.
In pure monetary terms, Arsenal would be faced with the choice of accepting £20m (a finger in the air figure, not an assessment of value) or passing over this sum. It is not inconsiderable and as we have seen this summer, it would substantially fund two good quality players this or next summer. Squad strengthening is a key aspect of each transfer window and unlike the Mancunians, we do not have an actively investing ‘Sugar Daddy’. Thus, the question is whether the opportunity cost is too much to bear for the club.
The self-financing business model suggests that the club sh0uld not pass up this opportunity; not only does it provide the mechanism to fund the future, there are salary savings to be accounted for as well. If you take a detached view of the scenario, there is nothing that suggests Arsenal should decline an offer of that much money for van Persie’s services.
However, there is a wider aspect to consider and as such, it is intangible: future revenues. What is the cost of selling van Persie in terms of commercial revenues? Shirt sales would undoubtedly decline compared to previous seasons although given this a new kit season, the shortfall might be covered by the purchases of the new designs. Even so, sales might fall compared to expectations.
Which is before you consider the impact on prize money. The loss of revenues is intangible; who knows it might be a gain if Arsenal finish higher which cannot be ruled out. Hindsight has to be used to judge this more than any other potential scenario above.
This is all predicated on the belief that Podolski and Giroud are deemed sufficient replacements. That is not unbelievable given the current squad composition and if anything, offers a potential return for Arshavin. I knew I could keep George happy with at least one line in today’s post.
Whilst the finances are important, they are not the key. As much as they drive sporting performance through investment and reward, it is the football results that dictate whether or not selling the player is beneficial to the club in the long-term. The club has strengthened the forward line this summer and this eventuality cannot be discounted. However, it is hard to see any scenario – injuries aside – where the sale of a player which strengthens a rival, is beneficial. It does not make sense from the sporting perspective.
Such an outcome has a deeper message as Jonny pointed out: how is the club going to be perceived from the outside? In essence the sale of van Persie would leave the impression of Arsenal being a nursery club for the richer members of Europe’s top table. Come to Arsenal, learn your trade, win trophies elsewhere when we sell you. It goes to the heart of what a football club exists for at this level; to win. Admitting that they are powerless to retain key players seems to suggest the white flag has already been hoisted before the season begins.
Elsewhere, Anderlecht replace Rangers in the tournament at Southampton, hardly surprising news given the Scottish clubs current woes, problems that seem to be getting worse with nine players now refusing to have their contracts passed to the new owners. Following that Arsenal will meet with Nigeria as part of their pre-season tour. Playing a national team is nothing new to the club, the list friendlies includes all manner of national XIs. In the main they have been select XI but it is a reminder of the 1980s when Australia and France were both put to the sword at Highbury. The latter took place in February 1989, a Valentine treat for the ladies. I am not sure that my then girlfriend had a football match in mind when I suggested a night out in town.
Behind the scenes, the changes arising from Pat Rice’s retirement continue. Terry Burton has returned to the club to take over the reserve team according to The Independent. It is a role that he filled three decades ago and was responsible for nurturing Tony Adams amongst others, through to the first team. If Burton is able to continue the good work of Steve Bould in progressing youngsters through, he will do well. And those that don’t make it at Arsenal can generate income that keeps the Academy self-funding. That pesky self-financing business model gets everywhere.
Finally, Ian Castle has contacted me regarding a book he is writing about his experiences as an Arsenal supporter spanning five decades, Arsenal: The Agony And The Ecstasy. He has set up a website and a Facebook page for the project. Please ‘Like’ on Facebook as it shows interest in the book for prospective publishers.