Earlier this week I focused on the financial aspects of Arsenal’s trophy drought, in particular the correlation between Arsenal being unable to challenge for the title and the rise in wages elsewhere in a fashion that best attracted top players.
Today I want to explore what clearing out the “dead wood” is actually going to do for us. Will our end of year sale actually make us win something?
As we all know there are players on Arsenal’s books that based on the quality of their performances over their entire career with Arsenal (Ramsey’s few months of bad form not considered) who most Gooners believe do not deserve to be at the club, especially if we are claiming to have designs on winning trophies. More so than that there are players being paid far beyond what the average fan would call acceptable for their worth and value to the squad.
I want to examine moving these players on but before we can examine the moving on of players we need to actually see what our squad of 25 could look like and where additions or replacements need to be made.
The premier league 25 rule is this:
A squad can have a maximum of 25 senior players. They can also use as many players as they like who are under 21 or will still be 21 or under on January 1st of the year the season starts.
Of that 25 at least 8 must be “home-grown”. Home-grown means a player that had been registered with an English or Welsh club for at least 3 years between the ages of 16 and 21 irrespective of nationality. If a club cannot name 8 home-grown players then they must sacrifice one of their 25 places in the squad.
With that in mind I want to examine who will make the squad next season, who can we afford to let go and how easy it may be to have a clear out.
It will be our intention to trim a little bit and if possible add one or two players
Arsene Wenger on the summer transfer window
These are the players currently on our books and/or in the first team squad. Benayoun is not included as until such time we buy him he is a Chelsea player next season. (Red means loaned out this year)
Almunia, Fabianski, Szczesny, Mannone, Sagna, Jenkinson, Santos, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Djourou, Squillaci, Song, Arteta, Frimpong, Coquelin, Wilshere, Ramsey, Diaby, Denilson, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Miyaichi, Lansbury, Vela, Arshavin, Chamakh, Park, Campbell, Walcott, Bendtner, Van Persie, Gervinho
These players until such time they are sold are in contention for our 25 next season.
Goalkeepers: Almunia will leave on a free transfer, that is already confirmed so I will not include him.
Szczesny, Fabianski, Mannone = 3
Defenders: Sagna, Jenkinson, Santos, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Djourou, Squillaci = 9
Midfielders: Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Coquelin, Diaby, Arshavin, Denilson = 8 (Wilshere, Frimpong, Ryo, Lansbury & Chamberlain were all under 21 on 1/1/12)
Forwards: Van Persie, Walcott, Gervinho, Park, Chamakh, Bendtner, Vela, Podolski* = 8
So far that is a total of 28 players so we can safely assume that we will attempt to sell at least three players plus at least one more to make room for one of the purchases Wenger has said he will try to make on top of Podolski.
Of the 28 we have Szczesny, Mannone, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Djourou, Song, Ramsey, Denilson, Walcott and Bendtner are considered “home-grown”.
That means that we can only sell two of those players unless we wish to submit a smaller squad or “promote” one of our under 21′s to make up the 8 or buy a home-grown player. Of those 10 home-grown players there are at least three players I can see leaving and at least one more that I know many Gooners would like to see the back of (no, it’s not Ramsey – no premature Ramsey writing-off on this blog).
Mannone, Denilson and Bendtner I can see leaving and Djourou I think many would like to see go but he recently signed a new contract so I doubt he will.
I expect Mannone to leave leaving Szczesny and Fabianski as our two senior keepers. Whilst Wenger rates young Damian Martinez highly I think he would prefer to have another experienced keeper in the ranks so may enter the transfer market. I have a feeling it will be Craig Gordon on a free.
I do not expect Wenger to name a full 25 man squad as I believe he likes to keep at least two spaces spare in case he needs to buy in January because of injury.
We were kind of “lucky” this year that we had many players still part of the under 21 rule but as with all young teams the players grow up and we will lose a few squad places because of this.
The players most think we should sell are: Squillaci, Bendtner, Denilson, Chamakh, Park, Arshavin, Vela and Mannone. Diaby is also one name but there is no way he is leaving.
Of these we can easily afford to lose Mannone, Squillaci, Denilson and Vela as they do not need to be directly replaced and if they do we have internal youth options to make up the numbers.
That would take us down to 24. If Wenger wants to sign at least one more player then I think he will try to lose two more for his two spare spaces.
I think we can assume that Arshavin will be one of these as although I think his experience and talent (when he can be bothered) will be missed I do not expect him to return from Russia. I think that Ryo and Oxlade-Chamberlain between them are more than capable of covering the loss of talent and will treble the effort even on a bad day.
That leaves us with one more player to lose from Bendtner, Park and Chamakh. I honestly cannot see us losing many more unless Wenger tries to sign new players. We can promote Campbell and Afobe but we will be light on experience and I think Wenger is trying to move away from relying solely on youth.
Although I personally think Park was bought for commercial reasons and isn’t rated extremely highly by Wenger I do not see him being sold.
I think we will lose only one of Chamakh and Bendtner and Nicklas is the most likely candidate.
How easy is it going to be to trim these players from our squad? Hopefully not too difficult but I believe that our Marxist wage policy will make it harder than it has to be.
Selling our players to other premier league clubs is going to be difficult especially when most of the clubs that would be interested in what some of Gooners label as “dross” already have wages bills that far exceed comfortable levels (around 50% of TO).
I know there is a romantic notion that players will accept lower wages elsewhere because they want to play football but in this day and age it is a mostly flawed notion. Gone are the days of players like Perry Groves and Ian Wright (see a guest launch post by Dave Seagar on James Cook‘s new blog; Victoria Concordia Bergkamp, for more details on this reference. It’s a great new blog by a fantastic up and coming young blogger).
He (Ashley Cole) is saying how lucky Arsenal was to have him, he can’t believe the way they have treated him, which is a load of bo**ocks. And me thinking how lucky I was to play for Arsenal.
Perry Groves on getting paid to play for Arsenal
Footballers are not paid to play football they are paid to be contracted to a club for a certain period of time. Their duties include playing football but if they don’t they still get paid. As such many modern footballers, whilst preferring to play at every possible opportunity, are unlikely to prefer to play for less money for a so called lesser team and risk getting a career threatening injury (as they risk every time they step onto a pitch regardless of who they are playing for) when they can sit on a bench, get big money and not get injured.
There are obvious exceptions to this rule like Arteta but it has to be considered on its individual merits. Arteta is a player close to the end of his career and has been offered to play football for one of European football’s top clubs who have a track record of playing in club football’s most illustrious competition, a competition Arteta has dreamed of playing in. All he has to do is drop £5-10k a week in basic salary. It’s a no brainer as he will probably recoup his lost earnings in commercial deals now he is more marketable or with the better bonuses he’ll get at Arsenal.
What about Chamakh? He traded winning titles and playing in the Champions League for a club that hadn’t won a trophy in 5/6 years. Why? I suspect it was the reported £25k a week pay rise. Alas I digress.
When you look at the squad there does seem to be room for Arsenal to let players go on the cheap or even for free but that doesn’t really fit into the profit making aims of the club and would leave us with less transfer funds for new purchases however that is not a problem as we won’t buy new players unless we sell even more because of squad restrictions.
Apart for the return of a few youth players from loan and Podolski of course our squad next year isn’t going to be much different from the squad this year (although we will hopefully have Jack back!)
Our wage bill will be a little lighter next year or at the least a little less Marxist but our playing squad won’t be much different save for the return of an albeit excellent player but still a player that didn’t make us magically become title challengers for longer than 6 months last season and the addition of an albeit excellent player but a player that is unproven in the English league.
I personally am very optimistic about next season but I say that every year. No really, I have a feeling about next year, I honestly believe we will win something, probably a cup.
Until we see who Wenger brings over the summer we can assume our squad next year isn’t going to be much different from this year.
So we can have the end of year fire sale that all of the fractions of supporters are clamouring for from the Arsene Knows Best crew to the Wenger Out Brigade and the “Ramsey has always been crap” posse but don’t expect that alone won’t crown us Champions 2012/13.
Here’s to a strong finish tomorrow, a strong transfer window and a strong start to next year. We do that and that will improve our chances of winning something more than selling Denilson will.
Up The Arsenal!
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