Arsenal, Transfer Market Forces, Cesc Fabregas and Wayne Rooney
The renascence of Arsenal's spending power in the transfer market may find itself stifled by the reality of current market forces even before it finds its tentative footing.
The first problem comes from the fact that the pool of so-called world-class players is small and limited indeed. Moreover, the players who truly answer this name are mostly accounted for by top-tier clubs, who may have no intention of letting them go.
The news, for example, that Sergio Busquets has just renewed his contract with Barcelona until 2018, a contract said to be bolstered by a buy-out clause of €150 million, illustrates the preemptive measures clubs are taking to discourage rival clubs from buying their players.
It is, of course, possible that some insanely rich club owner could be willing to spend this amount of money were he or his club manager to deem Busquets very important to their club's rise to footballing dominance.
But such an occurrence would only serve to illustrate the second problem that is (and has been) confronting Arsenal: the rise of nouveau riche clubs underwritten by billionaire owners.
The rise of PSG last year and Monaco this year, Manchester City about three years before and Chelsea even a decade earlier continues to destabilize the transfer market, resulting in ever-rising inflation that shows little or no signs of abating.
For example, Edinson Cavani has just signed for PSG for £55 million, according to this report by Graeme Yorke for the Daily Mail, but just two years ago neither he nor any superstar would have gone to PSG or to Monaco were it not for both clubs' sudden change in status through the agency of free-spending billionaires.
Without this problem, the likes of Cavani and Radamel Falcao would surely be the kind of players Arsenal would easily attract. One realizes then that, in fact, Arsenal have little chance of competing with the insanely rich clubs despite their newly avowed financial power.
And it is not just the matter of inflated transfer fees: There is also the issue of wages, which benefit the players directly, the very reason why Arsenal cannot afford even want-away players such as the disgruntled Wayne Rooney, as reported by Ben Smith of BBC Sport.
The above reality, therefore, calls for prudence and compromise from clubs like Arsenal who do not possess billionaire patrons. One of the obvious routes is to scout for hidden talents.
For Arsenal, though, the need to end their eight-year trophy drought means that this alone cannot suffice. Moreover, this is the route the club has followed in the last eight years, a route that, though yielding certain dividends, failed to produce a trophy.
Besides, everyone is in the market for the same talents now, with lower clubs focusing on a strategy for financial profit whereby a talent bought cheaply today is hawked for an extraordinary amount tomorrow, a fact that contributes to the current market situation.
For a big club like Arsenal, which has above-average resources but is still not able to compete favorably with the financially underwritten clubs, another route would be to trim their squad to the bare essentials, employing the monies this allows to service the wages of top-tier players.
FC Barcelona has gone this route for several years now, and although it might be argued that this caused their undoing in last season's Champions League, where injuries severely limited their options in the defense, their outstanding success with very small squads in the last six years presents a compelling argument for this strategy.
Following this strategy could allow Arsenal to go for players such as Wayne Rooney, despite the burden of his wages. Culling away middling players who add little or nothing to the club's trophy quests can allow Arsenal to service big wages such as those commanded by Rooney, a potential transfer target according to the Guardian.
Big players such as Rooney bring confidence to a squad, and this is exactly what Arsenal need at this juncture, when they need to join the ranks of the very best.
Finally, a club like Arsenal ought to know how to play the market, and this involves making sure that their immediate rivals do not get the better of them in the competition for talents.
There is an immediate case here to consider: Cesc Fabregas. There is no profit whatsoever for Arsenal if Fabregas goes to Manchester United.
First of all, Arsenal were strong-armed into letting Fabregas go. But for extenuating circumstances, Fabregas would still be an Arsenal player, even their captain. If Fabregas now decides that the desire to play for his childhood club has been quelled, there is no reason why he shouldn't be brought back home, since for all intents and purposes, Arsenal is Fabregas' home.
Secondly, Fabregas received the best part of his footballing education at Arsenal. In fact, an entire team was built around him, and were he to return to Arsenal today, he'd fit right back in.
Why allow your immediate competitor to profit from your investment? Why strengthen the hand of your opponent when you can afford to stop this from happening?
What is more, Fabregas will bring the same level of depth and guile to Arsenal's midfield as what Tomas Rosicky is offering the team. And he is younger and arguably more gifted.
Thirdly, allowing Fabregas to go to Manchester United will not only strengthen United and make their title prospect more secure, but it will prove disquieting to Arsenal fans. It will be like adding salt to injury, having lost a big star to United last year and having to lose another one, even if he isn't still Arsenal's player.
It is very important that the club keeps its supporters happy, and I can think of nothing, except winning a trophy, that will make them happier than bringing Fabregas back if he decides to leave Barcelona.
Fourthly, Arsenal are in a strong position to re-sign Fabregas, since they have first option of refusal, but why would they refuse? Signing him makes tactical sense; signing him prevents their rival from profiting from their investment; signing him will make the supporters very happy; and it appears that the club has money to do so. So why would they not?
Winning trophies requires strengthening yourself while weakening your opponents when you are in a position to do so. This is why Arsenal shouldn't allow Fabregas to go to Manchester United. They should put their money where their mouth has been. They need as much aggression in the market as in the field of play.
It is true that market forces are not favorable, but other strategies such as the last two examined here can mitigate the situation.
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