Arsenal's early transfer business is proving to be quite the departure from the cautious, problem-riddled transfer windows of seasons past. Yet this doesn't mean Arsene Wenger is throwing all caution to the wind—not if recent conjecture is to be taken as gospel.
After securing the signature of the prized Chilean Alexis Sanchez, as well as preparing a deal for Newcastle full-back Mathieu Debuchy, the Gunners have now set their sights on prising World Cup winner Sami Khedira away from his current home at Real Madrid, via The Independent's Pete Jenson.
Jenson's report features discussion as to why a potential move to Arsenal might include a few roadblocks, including one regarding wages:
The player’s demands are also likely to slow down the operation. His net salary of €3.2m (£2.5m) leaves him down at the bottom of Real Madrid’s pay scale. He has long since felt undervalued and is now asking for something in the region of £150,000 a week from what will be the main contract of his playing career.
On top of this, it's been suggested that such wage demands are causing quite a commotion for Wenger. Khedira is reportedly asking for around £150,000 a week on his contract, which would put him ahead of compatriot and close friend Mesut Ozil in Arsenal's wage structure. TalkSPORT's Graham Hunter has more:
The Emirates side operate a tight wage structure, meaning they are unlikely to go beyond club-record signing Mesut Ozil’s £130,000-a-week deal.
The hard line for Arsenal fans is that if Khedira will join Arsenal.wants this player, it’s time for him to make a movement on his salary, because at that stage
As per Squawka, new man Sanchez has his wages set around that £150,000 mark as well. The question remains, however: Is Khedira so vital to Arsenal's future that his signing warrants breaking Arsenal's wage structure?
Arsenal have been crafting a meticulous wage structure for some time. Much has been said about how the Gunners maintained consistency while under financial limitations from Emirates Stadium repayments and the like.
However, Arsenal also shot themselves in the proverbial foot by crafting relatively hefty wage deals over several years for the likes of Marouane Chamakh, Sebastien Squillaci and Nicklas Bendtner. Over the last couple of seasons, then, the club has re-structured their system, putting deals in place to secure both indispensable first-team players, as well as prospects not only for the present, but the future.
Arsenal may have come raring out of the blocks in this summer transfer window by laying down at least £30millon on Sanchez, but that by no means suggests the club are ready to pay over the odds for superstars' wages in the vein of bigger financial players at home and abroad. Jenson's remark of how Khedira's contract is currently at the bottom of Los Blancos' wage structure gives some insight into how the continent's financial juggernauts act.
Is Sami Khedira worth breaking the wage structure for?
It's evident, then, that the club's payment structure is integral to this burgeoning transfer saga.
One interesting point to make on that front would be that the wage structure, along with the rest of the club's consistent re-growth in these first eight seasons of play at the Emirates, has been marked with patience. Patience in spending the right money on the right players, in this context.
Unlike the ilk of Manchester City, who seem to have no problem lavishing lucrative contracts on their personnel (a Sporting Intelligence report in April of this year listed the City squad's average salary as over £100,000 a week, more than a third over Arsenal's average), the Gunners can't—and, crucially, shouldn't—contort their wage structure to suit individual players.
Especially when such a player is Khedira, who, despite being immensely talented and experienced, has at least a few question marks surrounding him. Would a move for Khedira involve the patience that has typified Arsenal's development over the last few seasons? Perhaps not.
Khedira's main question marks surround his injury history. Spending a large proportion of Real's Decima season—in which they secured a historic 10th Champions League win—sidelined with ligament damage, Khedira was also cruelly ruled out of what should have been a starring turn in the World Cup final.
With Arsenal notorious for dealing with injuries, the club should definitely have one eye on the fitness and strength of any potential new signings.
Another question mark comes when considering whether Khedira's contributions in Arsenal colours will be worth such a salary.
The buzz surrounding Sanchez's arrival—and the lofty expectations packaged with it—are matched by his purported £150,000 salary. He is a world-class attacker, versatile in where he can play and—crucially—just 25 years old, potentially moving into his prime.
Questions over Khedira's potential contributions remain.
Some fans are sceptical whether Khedira—at his best as a box-to-box midfielder, defensively reliable but at the peak of his powers as a surging force from the midfield core with the ball at his feet—is really what Arsenal need.
Others are unsure whether he would truly be more effective than either Mikel Arteta or Aaron Ramsey in the midfield pivot that proved so successful in the first half of last season.
For the £150,000 a week that is floating around, Khedira would be expected to slot in seamlessly to Arsenal's starting 11. He would be expected to dominate possession, contribute defensively and work tirelessly to push for an Arsenal victory, in every single match in all competitions.
Spectators of this summer's World Cup know that Khedira is capable of all of that. Whether he can do all of that consistently, across an entire season in a league in which he has no experience, is another matter entirely.
If Wenger decides to meet these wage demands and compromise the fabled structure, he'll have only done so because he's confident that Khedira can replicate his best form on a regular basis in North London.
Le Professeur is a patient man, and he'll wait for the right man to become available. If he believes that man to be Sami Khedira, then expect to see him in Arsenal colours very soon.