The transfer window is a laugh for us Arsenal supporters, is it not, my fellow travellers on the road to enlightenment? If there were no ‘window’ and transfers could be conducted all year round, would we be in a constant state of fevered tension awaiting signings? Possibly, but on the plus side the spuds would be in a worse state, never knowing when Real Madrid would ‘swoop’ for Bale. Literally every match could be his last for their, er, ‘great club’.
The Arsenal community could not even agree when the window opened. On July 1, there were many tweets starting ‘Now the window is officially open . . .’ Do what? According to the Premier League website, it’s been open since ‘the day after the last day of the season’. Mind you, according to the Premier League website it’s also been open since June 11, so take your pick. Either way, I don’t see anything official about July 1. Other clubs don’t seem to have had any trouble signing players in the time before July 1.
It is true that player contracts invariably run to the end of June, and it may be true that tightwad clubs think, “Why should we buy someone before we want them to start actually doing anything, just to pay them money for going to Vegas, smoking dodgy substances and getting involved with hookers? Let their French club pay for that.”
Anyway, July came and Arsenal signed a player! On a free! An action that the Evening Standard described as the start of a ‘Spending Spree’. Call me Mr Picky, but doesn’t a spending spree need to involve some actual spending? Still, early days. And at least the signing of Sanogo has given us some new songs to work on, at least if you’re old enough to remember Wham and George Michael before he was famous for living in public toilets, crashing into things and rolling around on motorways.
Can you guess I am not so far enthused with this transfer window? I can’t really get excited about a 20 year old kid from France with a very unfortunate injury record. Maybe, just maybe, he will be the new Thierry Henry, or perhaps slightly more realistically the new Nicolas Anelka. Then I’d be excited. But at the moment it’s all a bit ‘meh’. Someone from France on a free? Potential, you say? Yeah, I know it’s important in its own way, it’s just not stirring the blood.
Meanwhile some news of a player exiting (as opposed to ‘exciting’) that may be more significant. Johan Djourou has reportedly taken a pay cut to go on loan for the season to Hamburg. This is a bit odd. Hamburg are also reported to be paying £850,000 for the loan deal with an option to buy. Are they desperate? So Arsenal are getting £850k for the season for a player they don’t want, and don’t have to pay him while he’s still under contract either? That is some tough negotiating!
The Standard quote Djourou as saying, “In London I could have earned considerably more money.” Whether he went on to say “by sitting on my arse in the stand” I don’t know. If he has taken a pay cut then it’s unusual and refreshing. Others such as Almunia and Arshavin have been happy to sit and do nothing while collecting their full wages until contracts expired, secure in the knowledge that there wasn’t a damn thing Arsenal could do about it.
So why didn’t Djourou do the same thing? The obvious answer is that he wants to play, but even so, he holds nearly all the cards in this negotiation. He can say to Arsenal, “You can pay half my wages and I’ll go on loan, or you can pay all of it and I’ll sit here.” Better for Arsenal to pay half and get him out of the way, surely? The only card Arsenal have is to say, “We know you want to play, and we won’t let you go and play if we have to pay any part of your wages.” In which case that would be Arsenal being extremely tough in a wages negotiation for the first time since George Graham left. And also rather risking cutting off their nose to spite their face. Then add in the supposed fee Hamburg are paying as well – why would they even agree to a fee? Are they that desperate for first option on a purchase next year? There’s something odd going on. Either way I bet any agents involved are still getting richer.
Still, enough of departures. If you look at this page on the Premier League website, there’s a list of all the movements so far in this transfer window (not just since July 1, note). At last there is an entry in the Arsenal ‘In’ column! More to follow? We normally sign a few in the summer, so I’m sure there will be at some point, but I must say I’m not actually holding my breath for a new transfer record.
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