The press seems to have taken leave of their senses in recent weeks by identifying a series of high profile players costing anywhere between £25m-£50m. Speculation is one thing but at least, it brightens up an otherwise dreary planet which is currently minus the beautiful game, but the reality of the situation at this moment in time is that there will be no major transfers unless players are sold or the terms of any transfer deal are spread across 5 years.
Even so, the valuation of players is a process that is now going to be open to question after the pandemic eventually ends. Paul Pogba, Manchester United’s prima donna and the workshy midfielder was said to be worth £150m.
What would he be worth today with football in complete disarray and the future of the game uncertain? Transfermarkt.co.uk has his valuation at £72m but if it’s based on the current financial market globally, I’m not sure anyone would be willing to take the risk for a player who plays when he chooses and on occasion, offers nothing for his enormous salary.
I’m not a Pogba fan, never have been, and based on his contribution at United, especially last season and this, I’d happily shave £25m-£30m off that figure because he simply isn’t worth more than £42m. He carries too much baggage, has too many advisors and his attitude isn’t exactly that of a model employee. No, he’s very overrated and overpriced!
Anyway, let’s get back on the theme and discuss the only other way a big-money transfer will happen. That involves….don’t laugh, Stan Kroenke. If the American owner is finally going to take his role seriously and reflect the passion of the supporters, he needs to invest his own money in Arteta’s rebuild or risk falling further behind.
When I say further behind, I think out of contention is more accurate. Of course, this will almost certainly lead to a regular mid-table position. It’s a leap of faith to suggest that invisible Stan will ignore the financial shortfalls from Arsenal’s absence in the Champions League and the suspension of the Premier League and dip deep into his own considerable pockets.
So what are the chances?
The head says no, the heart certainly wants him to but the evidence suggests that it’s extremely unlikely. It’s almost like reality has played into Kroenke’s hands and has reinforced his self sustaining brand blueprint which relies on low spending, maximising profits off the pitch, and utilising academy talent.
Stan must be thanking his lucky stars that he can now justify his actions while concentrating on his American based sports empire. As if to underline the scepticism, a story emerged that NFL owners approved lending the LA Rams another $500 million for SoFi stadium development.
This follows an NFL approved $400 million in stadium financing through its G-4 program and the cancelling of a $2.25b debt which was to ease concerns after Kroenke failed to obtain enough corporate interest in the sport’s facilities.
None of this screams investment in North London and what it does tend to do is reinforce the regime’s narrow-minded shallow investment programme and before you mention last seasons £130m, which was overdue, Arsenal still didn’t end up with a functional side.
A key acquisition on loan for a season, transfer of a high profile player that needed time to adapt, another three unproven and unconvincing loans, an injured player, and another approaching the end of a career.
It was clearly a balls-up of a transfer window with some muddled thinking from a collection of foggy minds and it highlights the eclectic way that Arsenal conducts its business these days and says even more about Raul Sanllehi. I’ve long been questioning the appointment of GAZIDIS II and he hasn’t disappointed me.
Unfortunately, Arsenal fans need to be prepared for more of the same and hope that Arteta can rise above the circumstances with his academy prospects and man-management skills. It doesn’t bode well but it’s time to realise that the transfer window is going to be a modest affair if any business is conducted at all.