So bye-bye RvP. On the face of it £24m for a 29-year old injury prone striker is not bad business for the seller. The BBC are reporting that he was basically kicked out, having decided he wanted to stay. I’m not sure whether to believe that and maybe the truth will remain somewhat shrouded for a while yet. But that’s not the important thing at the moment, the important thing is how we start the new season with the players who want to be there (and Van Persie getting a niggling hamstring injury that turns into a Diaby-esque saga).
But the problem we have is that this looks like a regular occurrence. Players have had enough of Arsenal after a while and want to leave. Why is that? Perhaps the main reason is that they don’t think they are going to have any medals to show at the end of their careers. Arsenal basically compete for two trophies each season, whereas the other top teams compete for three or four. If they think after several years of trying and perhaps a couple of near misses, “I’m coming towards the end of my career and what will I have to show my grand-kids if I stay here (apart from a fat pile of cash)?” then maybe they think they’re better off elsewhere. At Arsenal’s level players don’t expect a completely blank mantelpiece when they retire, they expect a few medals on it.
At Liverpool, who recently have been much further away from one of the two trophies that Arsenal compete for, they at least pick up the odd cup. We all know that unfortunately being in the CL is more important all round than winning the world’s oldest cup competition these days, but when you look back at the end of a career you’re not going to be smiling fondly on those fourth places, are you? You want the picture of you japing around with a silver pot and a medal in your hand.
I’m thinking that maybe younger players don’t worry about this – for most of them the thought of their football career having an end scares them shitless anyway, so they avoid it – but once they’re past their mid-twenties and have a family, they start thinking, “What’s my legacy here?”
Some people say the problem is Arsenal let players get to the last year of their contracts. That’s just the manifestation of the problem – the problem itself is that the players are quite happy to get to the last year of their contract, because it gives them more options. How is that going to be addressed?