The rumours of The Ox getting a new contract aren’t exactly new, in fact they have been circulating for a while and I’ve opined over it with friends and tweeps quite a bit and now there are rumours of Arteta potentially getting a new contract I decided I’d finally get around to blogging my thoughts on the issue.
First things first, Arteta deserves a new contract. His contribution and importance to the team this season I believe warrants an improved deal if rumours are to be believed. If he took a pay cut to join us I see no reason why we cannot improve his deal now he has proven himself to be an Arsenal player.
Moving on to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, I do not believe he should get a new contract.
I’ve had many discussions on this matter and I have had every reasoned argument for giving him a new contract thrust at me however none of them have even remotely changed my mind.
My opinion is that we should make football about football for our younger players before we make it about money. AOC is reportedly on £20k a week and is rumoured to have been offered an increase to £50k a week. £20k a week pretty much buys an 18 year old anything they want, £50k is excessive in the extreme for a number of reasons.
Alex has not had what I would call a breakthrough season. He has made 12 starts and 12 sub appearances, not exactly a regular. If we just consider his premier league campaign then you see that he only started 6 games and came on as a sub 10 times never completing more than 74 minutes when starting and an average of just 35 minutes per appearance. That to me suggests that he is considered an impact sub not as a first team regular.
It was argued that he should play more games and I sort of agree. I don’t think he should be playing too many games like Jack did because we’re putting him at risk of injury. It was argued by many people that Alex is built like a man and is a lot more physically developed than Jack and whilst I agree I don’t think that is an argument for throwing him in at the deep end. Regardless of his build now he is still just 18 years old and his body has not yet finished developing. His muscles are still developing and his bones are still hardening and knitting together and the intensity of the premier league puts him at high risk of injury at his age not just because he hasn’t finished developing but also because his body has not acclimatised to the league. It is for that reason I believe he should be given more games but at the same time eased into the first team.
I also said that I did not believe his contribution had been significant enough to warrant an increase in salary. He has scored 4 goals and has made 2 assists which is a goal or assist every 93 minutes which in Alex’s terms is approximately 3 appearances. Theo Walcott on the other hand has an average of 78 minutes per appearance and a goal/assist every 172 minutes which is 2.2 appearances per goal/assist yet I see so much negativity about Theo getting a new contract, made worse by Stewart Robson who in my opinion should be sacked by Arsenal FC for his excessive attack on Theo on TalkSHITE.
This is not to say that I think Alex is a poor or average player. I don’t. I think he is an exceptional talent but I think we’re making far too much of him far too early. He is an entertaining player and when he is on the ball he excites the crowd which is fantastic but he is far from the finished article and far from being as influential as many people have mistakenly assumed he is. That said I hope he gets more game time and that leads me on to my main point.
He should not be given a new and improved contract to the tune of £50k a week. Instead he should be rewarded with more starts.
What has happened to the game to take us to the point where we pay kids vast sums of money for making a few cameo appearances? Danny Welbeck’s form at United and improved contract offer was used as a example of why we should give AOC more money but Welbeck had his cameo appearances and then went on to complete two excellent years in the premier league for Sunderland and Manchester United so he deserves a new contract, plus he only has two years left on his current deal as I understand it. AOC has 5 years left on his current deal and an increase now would possibly only add one extra year to his contract.
We’re making football about money far too soon. It’s a romantic notion but I truly believe that most young players play for the love of the game and I believe that they don’t really consider money until they’ve had 3-4 years worth of first team football. Alex has less than a year and we’re reportedly already making it about money.
Theo Walcott for example is reportedly requesting £90k a week to extend his contract which only has a year left on it. Should he get it? I say yes. 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 £90k 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.
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.
I’m a big believer in target driven contracts and if we are to offer AOC a new contract it should be an extension not just an improvement and should be a modest increase to £25k with targets of starts, goals and assists and if he hits them he’ll automatically trigger an increase to £30k.
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 always known it would take a number of years as I’ve blogged about it many times unless we make drastic changes such as putting players up for free transfers or paying to release players. What is worrying is that reading between the lines it seems as though we are going to change it at entry level with younger players (which is positive for my point on AOC) not getting paid silly money after 5 good games but also that we are going to let players run their contracts down which is a bad thing as it makes it difficult, in my opinion, to attract players on sensible wages and perpetuates the situation of paying unproven players unwarranted wages.
For example, Olivier Giroud is on a reported €15k a week at Montpellier which after tax is about €9100. If we were to buy him and pay him the same real term wages when you consider the change in tax and the higher living costs of London compared to Montpellier we’d need to pay him €21200 to give him the same post tax income but as living expenses are around 58% higher we’d need to pay him €33500 to give him the same purchasing power which would be £27200 per week. Could we justify that to him and his advisor’s when players who are perpetually crocked, out on loan or not getting a sniff at the first team are on £50-60k? I’m not so sure. Even if we gave him a real terms 50% increase he’d only be on £40k. An amount I’m sure most would agree is a fair salary for a player in his first year at the club and unproven in the league. Would that get past his advisor’s? I don’t think so either.
The likelihood would be that we offer him £50-60k which puts him in the same bracket as players who don’t even get a game and one of two things will happen. Either he will be a great success and we’ll have to pay him more than we can really afford or he’ll flop and he’ll be another player we cannot get off our books because of wages. It should also be noted that Giroud is no more guaranteed to be effective in the league than Chamakh was. I think he is more talented but he has only had 2 years in Ligue 1 having spent most of his career in Ligue 2 and 3 so is far from guaranteed to bang in the goals despite his excellent form in France which for me makes him, at this moment in time, at most a £40k a week player. That said, I think he’ll be a great success and will prove his worth very quickly.
This is an extreme scenario but not unrealistic. I’m hoping that new players that come in will be on modest wages with target driven increases built into the contracts and players like Giroud and Dempsey have enough talent to play for the club and are reasonably priced so I can only hope that Gazidis is wrong and that we don’t take 3-4 years to make a significant play to reverse our Marxist wage policy and replace it with a meritocratic one.
I believe that should start with players like Alex who are yet to be first team regulars who should be rewarded with more game time and when we run out of game time to give him then and only then should we significantly increase his wages.
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