Has it really been over two weeks since my last post? I have been very busy what with me getting married in 8 weeks (sorry ladies) among many other things and I have neglected my blog a bit.
I have a number of blog topics swirling around my head and partly finished but I decided that I wanted to write another RVP related blog (Oh no! I hear you cry) but I also want to explore some related topics.
I was involved in a discussion recently about how easy it would be for Robin to force Arsenal to sell him this summer but before I get into that I want to talk about why we should keep him.
There will be a lot of people who completely disagree with my thoughts on this and that’s okay but I hope that once I have explained why I think we should keep Robin this summer no matter what I hope a few of them will be convinced or at least respect that there is a legitimate other side to the argument.
Keeping RVP this summer is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, he is the only “world-class” player we have at the club at the moment (even with the new signings). Secondly, we should not look to strengthen any of our league or European competitors in return for money we are not in dire need of. Thirdly, we need to send a message to our players and to other clubs that we are not pushovers. Lastly, we need his experience to afford new signings time to settle and to help us promote youth players into the first team set-up.
This is not to say I forgive him or forget his actions, far from it but I believe that keeping him is the best thing for Arsenal.
What do I mean when I say he is our only world-class player? Surely we have others? I don’t think so. I have a formula for what makes a player a world-class bracket player:
A good player would get into the squad of at least 50% (10) of the clubs in the same league.
A very good player would get into the squad of 80% (16) of clubs in his league.
A great player would get into the starting line-up of 75% (15) of teams in his league.
A class player would get into the squad of 80% (16) of the top 4 teams from the big 5 leagues.
A world-class player would get into the starting line-up of 80% (16) of the top 4 teams in the big 5 leagues.
There is another category; superstar, and that requires being able to get into the starting line-up of any team in the world; there are only two of those players, Messi and Ronaldo. We had one a few years back in Henry and I thought that Cesc was close to being one but his move to Barça proves that he will never be more than world-class (terrible I know ).
I think it is fair to say that of our current squad, Giroud and Podolski included, we only have 1 “world-class” player. There are many other ways to define what makes a player world-class but I think 99% of people would agree that RVP is our only world-class player if they are being objective. It is important to have a world-class player at the club when aren’t winning trophies to attract new players. We can’t rely on Wenger’s reputation forever and if we are all being honest, and this is no slight on Wenger, his reputation of the past few years is less attractive to an experienced player than it is to a young player who wants to use Arsenal as a stepping stone. There are plenty of other clubs who have managers with fantastic reputations who are winning things and I think that trumps Wenger more times than not. Podolski is a great example of a player who “chose” Arsenal because of Wenger (or at least it was a huge factor). If this was just after the world cup in 2006 and we were coming off the back of a 7 year drought I doubt we would have even got a sniff of Lukas as we tried to intercept his luggage at Heathrow on his way to Cobham. Keeping Robin allows us a year to get other players to world-class status or even better, win a trophy and use that to attract new players. Top players move for a few reasons; money, promise of success because of money, promise of success because of recent success, to play with better players or to be managed by a world-renowned coach. We certainly do not fit the first three.
What do I mean when I say we shouldn’t strengthen rivals? Why shouldn’t we cash in?
I believe that we do not need to cash in. Transfer Proceeds Account (TPA) aside, which is empty by the way despite claims that Arsenal do not spend the money they bring in from player sales, we have a decent amount of cash in the business to make a couple more signings and we should also see some cash injected from the sale of the so-called “dead-wood”. We are not desperate for the cash and keeping him regardless of the “loss” we would make would send a powerful statement to other clubs. Why should we cash in on players whilst they are still “assets”? Surely their assets are that they are good at football so why weaken yourself and strengthen a rival? The cash is useless unless we can buy a player as talented or who would offer a stronger balance to the team. Players like that don’t grow on trees and the money we could command for a player, albeit talented, who has 18 months of being injury free after a sketchy 7 years, one superb season under his belt based on a team being built entirely around his strengths rather than him imposing his abilities onto an existing squad/formation that is proven to be successful and is approaching 30 so has no sell-on value and who would demand upwards of £150k a week, would be derisory to his worth to Arsenal. We would be extremely lucky to get £15m for him in my opinion and in my opinion for that sort of money it’s worth keeping him for his remaining year. With new commercial deals being agreed and with commercial contracts due to be renewed soon we are no longer entirely reliant on player sales to boost income although we are still reliant on Champions League money.
My third reason in-depth is that the message keeping him would send would be immensely powerful. It would say that we are not a selling club, we cannot be bullied by cash, we cannot be forced into selling our best players because we have to cover stadium debt and we will not be held to ransom by players. Now that last “message” was the point of discussion with a fellow tweeter who I enjoy having on my TL despite the tone in which they responded to my tweets as I understand that it can be hard to put the finer points of a view on twitter with so few characters and the speed at which a twicussion takes place.
His view was that Robin can use the Webster Ruling to get out of his contract if he wants to leave and/or felt that Arsenal were punishing him in some way. Now I do not claim that these were his words verbatim but there is a view among a few that the Webster Ruling means players will definitely win, and easily, if they decided to take the matter to court.
I’m not a lawyer but I have spoken with some learned friends who are better versed in the art of law and I believe that I have a pretty good overview of the situation now although I am certain that I will get a tweet or a comment from someone who has a “degree in law”, written with atrocious grammar, who will tell me that I am wrong.
The Webster Ruling does not guarantee that a player would be found in the same favour. There is a legal term called Stare Decisis (et non quieta movere) “To stand by decisions and not disturb the undisturbed” which essentially means that previous rulings will to an extent dictate the outcome of similar cases to ensure consistency. This is either binding or persuasive which means it will definitely come out the same way or will probably come out the same way. The Webster Ruling is not technically binding but it would most likely be so. This doesn’t mean that the outcome of such a case is predetermined as the Supreme Court can overrule previous decisions although this is rare. Most things point to a player win but does that mean it is easy? No. Far from it.
The first thing stopping RVP from using the WR is that the 15 days have passed since the last match of the season and he has not invoked the little used ruling. This is in accordance with FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players Article 17. The next thing that would stop Robin from using the WR is the difficulty it would cause him. It would be the start of a long legal battle with FIFA and most likely Arsenal which would be a terrible PR move and expensive to boot. It could also make him less attractive to other teams because of the gentleman’s agreement between clubs over using the Webster Ruling and if RVP is found guilty of breach of contract, which has a reasonable chance of happening, he could be banned from playing for 4 months which would again make him less than attractive and the club that signs him could be opening themselves up to sanctions for “inducing” a breach of contract. (All from Article 17). In short, using the Webster Ruling is a pain in the arse and most sane people would avoid using it.
My last reason was his experience. I believe that keeping him takes the pressure off Giroud and Podolski as they can just be themselves rather than “Robin’s replacements” which I believe is more important than getting a meagre sum for Robin. Those two getting to grips with the league and being able to share the goal load and shoot us to a trophy is more important than getting some extra cash wouldn’t you say? I also believe that keeping RVP this season stops us needing to buy another striker and leaves a space open for Afobe and/or Campbell to step up in 2013/14.
Which takes me nicely onto my next points. I see that we are close to selling Vela and whilst that gives me some satisfaction as we are getting someone off our books permanently I am a little disappointed. I personally believe that Vela is a very good player and had the potential to play for Arsenal regularly which leads me nicely onto Campbell. I believe he also has the quality to play for Arsenal but I believe that we have made a mistake in loaning him to a Spanish team. In fact I believe we do ourselves a massive disservice when loan South/Central American players to Spanish sides.
When we buy these players we want them to assimilate into our game and our league but often permit issues mean we have to loan them out. Spanish football can be entertaining but it is slow and physically weak when compared to the premier league and we are sending players to a country where they need little adaptation time, where they feel at home and where their technical ability is pretty much ideally suited. Why would they want to come back to us?
Spain almost feels like home; they speak the same language, they like the food, they like the weather, they can take their time on the ball and they aren’t getting battered and bruised like they would over here.
I appreciate that the idea is to get them ready for the first team but more often than not they come back, find themselves limited, under-perform in games and training and are loaned out again and eventually sold. I do not want the same to happen to Campbell. Vela is gone and I doubt we will ever see the likes of Wellington, Botelho or Galindo in the first team.
Sure we should try to help them settle into life so far away from home but there are plenty of great pockets of almost every nationality in London, most of them living in North London, that can help some of these players to settle in terms of accessing their own culture. In fact the hybrid of “X” South American culture and the “London Effect” could actually help them settle better than sending them to a country with a similar language especially when that league is such a good league. I personally believe that we would be better served sending these players on loan to France or Germany if we could or at the very least to Belgium where it only takes 3 years to get a passport which would allow them to then either try to crack the first team or be loaned to clubs in England.
The last thing I want to write about today is Theo. I have left the most important thing, to me, to last. I believe it is vitally important that we sign Theo to a new contract. If we have to pay £100k a week then we should do because it’s our own damned fault for setting unrealistic wage demands by overpaying young players.
Selling Theo would be a mistake that everyone would come to rue even his biggest detractors. The kid gets some stick but on his day he is unplayable and has a little of almost everything. He scares opposition in a way very few players do and yes that is because of his raw pace but he is also a very acute finisher and accomplished assist-maker when on his game. Theo’s problem, like so many players like him is confidence and consistency. A mixture of having such high expectations placed on his young and barely matured shoulders, which may, (he says sardonically), have led to his shoulder problems of a couple of years back , being in and out of the team, having the crowd on his back, having every mistake scrutinised, being told he has no football brain twice a week by 20+ “pundits” and being played out of his preferred position probably plays a huge part in his inconsistency.
We say this about many players and end up with egg on our faces but I truly believe that Theo is not motivated by money (ironic that I say this when he is asking for a reported £100k but as I said that is our fault for inflating players self-worth). He earns good money and has many years left to earn even more so I think his motivation at the moment is to play through the middle and that may be what is holding up his contract talks. When Theo last signed a new contract he said that Le Boss had informed him that he was going to move him into the middle and three years later he is still out wide, I think we can forgive him being sceptical if Wenger tries to assure him that will happen this time if he signs a new contract.
I personally think that Theo would be great through the middle especially if he was playing with a number 10 like Podolski or RVP who could feed him delightful through balls he could run on to and as we have all seen he is capable of the “Henry finish” with conviction and he could also play with a “big man” up top like Giroud or Chamakh (I don’t think Chamakh will leave, I’ve said all along that I think only one of him and Bendtner will leave). Gradually moving Theo to the middle would allow us to hold on to RVP and not need to replace if he leaves for free next year or even for a crappy sum in January.
I believe that Theo through the middle is the future and Wenger should do whatever is necessary to prove to Theo that he believes it too and will make it happen.
I hope that we do keep RVP for the reasons I’ve listed but as long as Theo stays I really couldn’t give a toss if he does leave.
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