Keep Sagna as second choice & pay Theo what he wants

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
Dec 7th, 2012

Contracts seem to be the flavour of the day so I thought I’d blog my two pennies worth. Sagna is reportedly in negotiations to add an extra year to his contract which some have reported as “a smack in the face”, so much so that Sagna wants to quit. For what it’s worth I think that is hokum. Bacary knows our over 30s policy and he gets paid well so would have been foolish to expect a 2 or 3 year extension. I’m certain he has been offered roughly what was expected and has no plans to leave at all. I think it’s important to keep Sagna but would not be devastated if he left because I think he is fast becoming, if he isn’t already, Arsenal’s 2nd best right-back. More on that later.

Pay the man & he’ll sign da ting

First things first, Theo deserves a new contract even if his people are demanding £100k per week. His contribution and importance to the team this season I believe warrants an improved deal.

Theo Walcott prior to this season had an average of 78 minutes on the pitch per appearance and a goal/assist every 172 minutes which is 2.2 appearances per goal/assist. That is a pretty decent return for a player who is often maligned for his inconsistency.

This season Theo has made 17 appearances (8 starts & 9 subs and one of those sub appearances was in the 90th minute against Montpellier!) and scored 10 goals and assisted 7 more. A contribution in every appearance on average. His total minutes on the pitch are around 850 which is an average of 50 minutes on the pitch per appearance which is significantly less than his entire career at Arsenal before. So his contribution per minutes played has improved from 172 minutes (2.2 appearances) to 50 minutes (1 appearance) or 1.8 goals/assists per 90 minutes. Not bad for someone who lacks consistency.

Theo’s contribution and sheer improvement surely warrants a new contract. Some would say that he is not worth the money or not worth being one of our best paid players but I disagree. Do we really want to lose yet another of our best/most creative/most effective players to our rivals?

When it comes to contracts Arsenal are victims of circumstance in two ways. One, we fall foul to the inflated wages in football because of the sheer purchasing power of the likes of Man City and Chelsea as well as the commercial power of United. Two, we fall foul to a wage trap of our own creation.

His goals/assists to minutes played ratio is insane this season

Theo Walcott should get his £80k, £90k, £100k a week. Not because I think he is a superstar or anything like that but because I think he is a quality member of the squad and I think Arsenal have created this problem themselves by paying him far too much far too soon. I believe he should be offered a new 4 year contract worth £80/90/100k a week but on the understanding that he will not get any increases in those 4 years and future rises will be dependent on him hitting targets such as 15-20 competitive goals per season across those 4 years. He’s currently on 10 so getting 5 or 10 more shouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve touched on wages a lot (check out most of May’s early archives – I recommend reading them all if you have 15 minutes. I’ve been told they’re pretty good ;-)) and it is my belief that it is wages and not purchasing power that holds us back.

We over pay almost all of our players because in some cases that is what we need to do to compete and in other cases it’s because we’ve made mistakes in the past.

I’ve touched on the Marxist element of our wage policy before and it seems that the club recognises this and is trying to change (I’ve paraphrased):

We’ve been based around a flatter salary structure with a relatively big squad with relatively few superstars. We have to make adjustments for the top talent as they are earning a lot of money and we have to adjust our model but that won’t happen instantly. It takes time – three to four years – but we are conscious of that.

Ivan Gazidis on 6th June 2012 at Supporters Q&A

This is positive as it shows the club is trying to change but worrying at the same time as they believe it will take a number of years. I’ve blogged many times about it taking a long time to do this unless we make drastic changes such as putting players up for free transfers or paying to release players which we won’t do. The problem with that is whilst we still have players on the payroll who aren’t getting games but are still picking up decent wages it will increase the wage valuation of performing players at player and/or agent level.

The club set the wages so they have to shoulder some of the blame for the demands of existing players. Based on the contribution figures can we really argue that Theo isn’t worth it? I don’t think we can unless you are one of those people who rate players only on the name on the back of their shirt. If Theo’s stats belonged to someone else I’m pretty certain there’d be a lot less fan opposition to his demands in much the same way hardly anyone criticises Ox for doing things that Rambo gets slaughtered for.

I do see the irony in me complaining about the wage structure and overpaying players etc whilst saying we have to pay Theo whatever he asks for but I see paying Theo what his agents are asking for (or close enough to get a signature) as part of what Ivan was talking about.

Realigning wages, reducing our wage bill through sales and considered negotiations as well as retaining our best talent will allow us to attract the best talent and afford to pay what is necessary to get and keep them. Our new commercial deals, low stadium debt and increasing revenue will allow us to compete with top wages but only for a handful of players, like we had with the Invincibles. We won’t be able to do a City or a Chelsea and attract a whole new team on £100-200k per player so we’ll need to already have a decent team and the ability to pay those wages to attract the one or two “stars” we need/want. Keeping our best players is the best way to do that and as most of our best players are new players on long contracts it means we have to focus on retaining those players whose contracts are running out, like Theo and Sagna.

Still top class

Moving back to Sagna, I said earlier that I feel he is fast becoming our second best right-back if he isn’t already. Don’t get me wrong, Bacary is still a top player but I feel that Jenkinson is better for the team.

When I spoke about Mertesacker and Jenkinson in the summer not many people agreed with me that they had the talent to succeed and be important members of the starting line-up at Arsenal but I think their performances this season have swayed a lot of people.

I think I’ll have just as many people disagree with my thoughts on Jenkinson being better for the team than Sagna and I doubt my writing talents or my opinion holds enough influence to persuade people otherwise but I’m more than happy for Jenkinson to prove my point for me and have no doubt that he will.

I could go through lots of statistics but as always with statistics, if someone doesn’t agree with the conclusion or findings they will trot out the line “stats aren’t everything” and to a degree they are right. Stats don’t take into consideration opposition, colleagues, weather or any other variable but that doesn’t mean they’re useless.

The stats are available on WhoScored, EPLindex and NBCSports and if you look closely you’ll see that in almost every area Jenkinson is pretty much toe to toe with Sagna, a man of 10 years more experience and widely considered as one of the best right-backs in the world.

Fast becoming one of the best in the league

Arsenal look more solid with Jenkinson playing, or at least they have this season, in my opinion and his 1.26 goals conceded per match compared to Sagna’s 1.43 say something about that. In each of their 23 games this season, Arsenal have conceded an average of 1.3 goals which decreases with Jenkinson and increases with Sagna. This doesn’t take variables into consideration and by no means is “proof” that Jenkinson is better than Sagna but it says something to me.

This isn’t a “slag off Sagna” piece or me saying we should sell him, far from it. I think his presence and experience drives and helps Jenkinson to perform to the level he has performed at, which for me, is Sagna’s level. Jenkinson is 20 years old and has less than 1.5 years experience in the Premier League and he is performing at the level of one of the best right-backs in the world. Jenkinson may not be our number one right-back at the moment but I’m pretty sure he will be by the start of next season and keeping Sagna is important to sticking to that trajectory.

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About "" - 509 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

8 Responses to “Keep Sagna as second choice & pay Theo what he wants”

  1. gooner-girl says:

    Well said. Completely agree. But will they listen? No.

  2. Mean Lean says:

    The thing about contracts is this. We can all say pay Theo, Sagna, Jack etc whatever they want but the truth is we cannot.

    Theo is able to chat to clubs after January and those clubs know that a transfer fee has all been wiped away.

    Arsenal could go to Theo’s agents and say, ok we need you. Here is 110k per week. Off pops Mr agent onto the phone to Chelsea and they say they will pay him £150k pw do we then push that to £180k? This is not about Theo, this is about matching Chelsea, Man City, PSG and co. We cannot do it.

    There isn’t a figure that will automatically make Theo sign a deal,. his agent will push for the best offer his client can get.

    Look at what we hear now about van Persie and his offers. yet people were saying pay him what he wants.

    I am just hoping now that a restructure of wages as well as the improved Emirates deals mean that we can get closer to the top clubs, although we can never match unlimited funds.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks for the comment. Very true, we can’t match the figures that could be offered by other clubs if a transfer fee is wiped away or if we are up against unlimited funds but I think if the figure requested was undeliverable then Arsenal would have sold in the summer.

      I don’t think there is an automatic figure but then again I think that £90k or £100k would do it quite easily. It was reported that Nasri would have stayed for £110k but we refused. Cole would have stayed for £60k. I think Theo would stay for £90k-100k if indeed his motivation is money (I’m still not entirely convinced it is but that’s for another day).

      We know that we can afford to pay a few players wages of around £100k and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to pay one or two players top wages of £150k a week (the City and Chelsea wages are just ridiculous). We did it before with Henry and Vieira and had Pires, Campbell, Ljungberg and a few others at the just below top level rate.

      We cannot afford to match Chelsea, City or PSG for every single position but we can use what we can afford better, I think we can all agree on this.

      If Theo wants £100k then I think we can afford that and should pay it but if it’s £110k, £120k or a match what Chelsea or City are offering me scenario then I say shake his hand and say thanks for the memories.

  3. poznaninmypants says:

    Good stuff, mate. I agree on Theo, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he has worked out his exit strategy already, to a bigger club – here or abroad.

    I agree on Sagna except on him being our 2nd best RB. Love Jenks but he has a long way to go. Sagna’s Tiki Taka is far superior, apart from him being a near World Class RB. And if there is 1 place you want experience on the field, it’s in the defensive area. Jenks’s blunder against Swansea reminds us he’s played less than a season.

    It was Wenger who said something like Attackers are good till they’re 30, midfielders till they’re 32, and defenders till 34? i think the physical attributes required of a RB are similar to a midfielder, and as we said before probably 75% of defending at FB is about positioning/smarts. So i think he’s got 2-3 more peak years left in him.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks mate, I fear you are right regarding Theo but cling to the hope that you are wrong.

      I’m not sure I explicitly said Sagna is our 2nd best RB (FWIW I think he has been this season but I haven’t handed his crown to Corporal Jenks just yet). Jenks’ blunder wasn’t great but then again Sagna was poor against Fulham and pretty much gifted Everton their goal with a little help from Lego hair.

      Sagna is still our no.1 but I don’t think it will be for long if Jenks continues on the curve he is on. Statistically there isn’t much to separate them and Sagna is only marginally superior in pass success. Only clear superiority (stats wise) is aerial duels and that could be down to teams not putting it in the air near Jenks because he’s so much taller than most wingers. I think by Jan 2014 he’ll be the clear first choice. I’ve not been wrong with my faith in a player yet although many would argue that that ship sailed a long time ago with Ramsey but I think he can still get there 😉

  4. I agree. Theo deserves atleast a 90K contract. Its Arsenal’s fault that’s right too. Theypay the youngsters exorbidantly and then they expect them to play with a minimal pay rise. Same with Chamberlain, I don’t think his contract should be renewed to 45K a week. Maybe 30K and thats maximum.

    Sagna till last season was the best RB in the league. I think he can still maintain that. But Jenkinson grows with every game. For the time being Sagna should be first choice. Maybe from next season onwards we will see the best of Jenko and thats when Sagna will become 2nd choice 🙂

  5. Dragan says:

    The problem is that if Walcott is worth,let`s say £80k, in arsenal`s assessment, and they pay £100 k, next Sagna will say, OK, then I`m worth at least 80k, then Podolski will say, OK I`m on £120k now, and so on, and they all wait to enter in the last year of contract, and do what Walcott does. Maybe if Arsenal can clear out all the fringe players, 8-9 of them, and release £450-500k, also, maybe £20-25 m, would be received in transfer fees,it will be possible to satisfy them. Arsenal don`t need replacements for treleased players, coz they don`t play at all, and one or two high profile players will be enough. Maybe the wrong wage structure was the core of the problems now, and RvP, Nasri and Song would remain in other case.

    It would be nice to make analysis what would happen is Usmanov got the majority of shares.

  6. HaHaHerbert says:

    It is impossible to tell what increase in his compensation will keep Walcott at AFC. Jail-Arsenal Bedpan’s comment about paying youth ¨exorbitant wages¨ is typical of the gullible fanboys who believe everything they see in the corrupt media. They don’t even know what salaries are paid and how the salary structure is actually weighted, but they don’t let their ignorance get in the way of their prejudice.
    Sagna’s advantages over Jenkinson are as follows:

    1) More used to big game pressure,
    2) Doesn’t get into difficult situations very often (more experienced),
    3) Is faster and can maintain a higher pace,
    4) Is more accustomed to the Arsenal-Wenger way,
    5) Has the first team mentality, and never until this season,, been a bench-warmer,
    6) Has reached his prime and will remain so for 2-3 years.

    Jenkinson’s advantages over Sagna are:

    1) Is less injury-prone (younger)
    2) Is taller and equally tough,
    3) Has his future ahead of him so can play like he loves to,
    4) Is highly motivated to become # 1.
    5) Has the best youth development manager in English Football,
    6) Has an excellent mentor in Sagna,
    7) Is cheaper.

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