Still very calm from Arsenal’s point of view but a few pieces go around this morning. First of all, reports of an offer from Roma for Granit Xhaka, estimated at around € 15million, which seems a bit weak. Then it’s about 20 million euros plus bonuses, which seems pretty close to where we could be doing business.
We’re also linked with a £ 35million transfer (apologies for the currency mix here) for Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves. If Xhaka goes one way and Neves comes our way, it’s safe to assume we’ve replaced one with the other. It’s interesting how people react to the fees, and there has been some concern about how much we might pay for the Portugal international, especially compared to what we might get for Xhaka.
They have two years left on their current contracts, the point at which any sane football club would have to renew or sell. By the way, you know the way Liverpool have ‘It’s Anfield‘inscribed in their tunnel as the players enter the field? Is there a way to register ‘Learn how to better sell players and stop letting their contracts expire which makes it harder for us to evolve them and even if we do we have to do it at a reduced rate or even pay them to leave‘on the door above Edu’s desk? Maybe if he had to touch it every day to access it, it could sink in.
Either way, the two still have two years on their deals. Xhaka remains a divisive figure among Arsenal fans. Some people absolutely can’t stand him, others think he’s great at what he does, but he’s been the lifeblood of the team under three different managers. At Arsenal he was mostly solid, but he also made some high-profile mistakes. His disciplinary record is not as bad as we think, but he gets a good number of reservations. And then there was the Crystal Palace affair which, whatever your vision, was an unsavory incident and leaves something of a stain.
The point of bringing all of this up is to illustrate that we have a decent, but imperfect, player who has been at the club for five years and is now 28. He will be 29 in September. Are we going to offer him a new contract? It doesn’t look like it. This in itself suggests some learning at the management level. So we have a player heading into the later years of his career who is attractive to a club in a less physically intense league, and assuming we have something close to that 20 million mark (I’d be happier with that. £ s that € s of course), it seems like a bargain for everyone involved.
Neves, meanwhile, turned 24 in March. It makes a difference. We also buy from another Premier League club which also has an impact on the price. It seems to me, as James and I discussed on Arsecast Extra, that Arteta wants some sort of Arteta player on the team. Neves is a decent passer, shoots a lot more than Xhaka and, in terms of basic stats, compares pretty well to the Switzerland international. In some areas he’s better, but we also have to take into account the style of the team he’s playing for, and last season Wolves finished 13th.
I think £ 35million sounds like a lot but as a replacement for Xhaka I’m not against. I don’t think he brings the kind of athleticism and physical power that many want to see in the squad, and with a question mark over all the other central midfielders at the club right now, if that is. is Neves + AN Other (Arsenal linked to move for Other, aggregators report), so that’s a pretty significant rebuilding of the midfielder. If we let Torreira, Guendouzi and Xhaka go, we will need more than one signing in this area. Not to mention a fit Thomas Partey, if we get such a thing next season, should add that extra dimension in terms of pitch coverage and presence.
At the end of the line: There will always be a price gap between a player in September of his somewhat eventful career sold to a club on the continent, and a much younger player you are trying to buy from another club in the same division. I don’t really see that as the problem. If it’s £ 15million for Neves (£ 35-20million we get for Xhaka, and I know it’s not that simplistic) it doesn’t sound so bad to me. . Especially since it will retain value if things do not go completely. We could still sell it in what is basically its prime. Whether we can do better than Neves is another question, but it seems our interest is very real and I have a devious feeling this one might pass.
What if Wolves still craved a little Ainsley Maitland-Niles, like they did last summer? It might not be ideal, but including a player in any deal could offset some of the expense. As Nigel Phillips of the Arsenal Supporter’s Trust reminded me, Arsenal still have something of around £ 160million to pay in transfer fees for the various deals we have made in recent years. It’s not something we have to pay off all at once or anything, but it still has to be serviced on an annual basis. When you consider how many players we have that could go and the seemingly limited liquid funds we have now, I would be surprised if we didn’t at least think of swap + cash deals where possible / appropriate.
Still, all of this will come out in the wash in the not too distant future. Interestingly, the transfer window actually opens tomorrow, so I guess we’re just waiting for that to happen before we do a series of deals ahead of the euro.
Alright, I’ll leave it there, and for your listening pleasure, if you haven’t heard it already, the new Arsecast Extra is below. Enjoy.
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This Arsecast Extra was recorded with ipDTL