Arsene Wenger looks miserable sometimes. But I’ve recently found out how he gets his thrills.
No, it’s not picking fights with opposing managers, nor is it volunteering as a chef down at White Hart Lane. Mr Wenger gets his kicks out of waiting as late as possible before offering key players contract extensions. He just loves it.
Before we get into the contract debacle that’s plagued this summer transfer window, let us cast our eyes back to the summer of 2008. Arsenal had finished third in the Premier League with 83 points, just 5 points off of first place. We had completed a half-decent (trophy-less) season, and nothing was too far out of the ordinary.
Then the news hit us. Mathieu Flamini, who had been a revelation for us in the centre of the park that season, was now able to leave the club for free due to his contract expiring.
Despite frantic last minute contract offers from Arsenal to tie up the Frenchman, Flamini opted to sign for AC Milan instead (who ironically released and re-signed him this summer on lower wages).
After walking away, Flamini revealed that the problem had roots dating back to the previous summer:
“If Arsenal had offered me a contract last summer I would still be their player now.
“Last July I told Arsenal I wanted to extend my contract so, of course, I would have signed if they had offered me a deal . . . but they didn’t.”
Arsenal fans were fuming that Wenger had so nonchalantly allowed Flamini’s contract to fizzle out, just as we began to build a team who could achieve something great. But hey, at least we learnt our lesson, right?
[title]History Painfully Repeating Itself[/title]
Fast forward to today, and it seems that Le Professeur hasn’t learnt a thing from his past mistakes. Robin Van Persie & Theo Walcott both have just one year left on their contracts.
Fair enough, this stops them walking out for another year, but allowing you two top goal scorers to dwindle down to a one year contract is almost suicidal. Why is this such a big deal you ask? Allow me to explain in detail.
Once a player like Robin Van Persie gets to the last year of his contract…Vultures appear. Clubs such as Manchester City, Real Madrid, Manchester United, and the rest begin to gather around London Colney like starving Hyenas. This allows the player to think of life elsewhere. They begin to feel the temptations of the higher wages and better weather or foreign lands.
Whats more is, allowing such a situation to happen puts the player, and the clubs bidding for him, in a position of power. Everybody knows that in just one short year, the player can walk away for free. This means he’s worth less in terms of transfer fees, and he’s worth more in terms of wages. A Financial shot in the foot, if you will.
Patrick Vieira, a figure who hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory in the eyes of Arsenal fans recently, hit the nail on the head:
“Of course, it is going to be difficult to keep him or convince him to stay, but I don’t know what is the plan for them.”
“I don’t think you have many talents like Robin who have just one year left on their contracts - I think there will be a lot of teams who want a signing like him.”
You’re damn right Paddy. Players of Van Persie’s calibre are never allowed to run down their contracts, forcing the club into an awkward situations. It’s a rarity amongst footballing clubs, expect Arsenal.
[title]Loyalties or Royalties?[/title]
These unfortunate events have already began to unfold. Numerous clubs are sniffing around both Walcott & Robin Van Persie, and, if we’re totally honest, there isn’t much we can do about it. The power is in their hands now. We have to rely upon their loyalty, if they have any.
It seems that Arsene Wenger relies too much upon the loyalty of his players. But with super clubs throwing truck loads of cash at just about anybody these days, he’s playing a dangerous game. Your average footballer today is more concerned about the money in his pocket rather than the badge on his shirt.
For me, the buck rests well and truly with Arsene Wenger on this occasion. He needed to tie these issues up last summer. Despite the Fabregas & Nasri fiascos we were facing, this also needed to be sorted out, and it wasn’t.
All we can do now is wait for the best. But one thing’s for sure, Arsene Wenger is the ultimate contract procrastinator.
[title]Over To You[/title]
Whats your view on the contractual dealings of Arsene wenger? Is he simply too laid back, or are there other elements at play? Voice your opinion by leaving a comment below, or head over to the forum.