Friday, 26 August 2011

You Need Wings

Image of The Bullshit Piled Up So Fast In Vietnam You Needed Wings

Sometimes I think that Arsenal fans are the most gullible in the world. They're certainly among the most eager to set their thoughts down online - new Arsenal blogs seem to appear every day. The latest thing to get the Arseblogosphere's knickers in a collective twist was the rumour mill surrounding the club's interest in Gary Cahill. According to a morning news report, Arsenal had bid £6million (plus add-ons) for Cahill; this was followed up By Owen Coyle's denunciation of Arsenal's 'derisory' offer and Bolton chairman Phil Gartside's re-tweet of some Bolton fan's fulmination against said £6 million offer. At Arsene's 12.30pm presser, he strongly denied the bid was as low as £6 million, and called out Gartside on the matter. Cue much gnashing of online teeth at Arsenal's parsimony.

Come on, friends. At no point did Coyle or Gartside say 'Cahill is not for sale'. What is to be established is a reasonable value for the player, an English centre-back, playing in the Premier League, aged 24, in the last year of his contract. Vermaelen and Koscielny both cost around £10 million, Cahill must be thought of by the Arsenal staff as a player of similar stature. In Cahill's case, 'English', 'Premier League' and 'age 24' push the price up; 'last year of contract' pushes his price down. I reckon Cahill's value to be around £12 million, plus some add-ons. The touted price is £18 million, but no-one (even Liverpool) have looked like paying that amount.

Here's what I think went on today:

1. Bolton leaked a story to a friendly journalist overnight that Arsenal had bid £6 million.

2. Coyle does a presser in which he fulminates against the 'derisory' offer, but without mentioning the actual bid amount. Journos and Arsenal bloggers put 2 and 2 together and make...

3. Arsenal, having banked nearly £70 million this summer, are assumed to be behaving in a 'ridiculous' manner in offering such a low-ball amount. Pressure then comes on to the club by an already disgruntled element of the fanbase to make this transfer happen, 'no matter what the cost' (i.e. driving up the price). Who benefits? Bolton Wanderers.

4. Arsene gets a bit tetchy with journos who take this fairly transparent ploy at face value (or pretend to) and use it as a stick to beat the club with. Relations between Arsenal and Bolton remain good; further negotiations will take place, as Arsenal's interest has been confirmed by both parties. Bringing this out in the open, Bolton must hope, adds to their leverage and, at best, might flush out a competitor club who will make an alternative bid, again driving up the price.

Canny stuff. Arsenal look like hypocrites in not splashing the cash on Cahill, when this week they got £25 million out of City for a player in the last year of his contract; Bolton hold up the value of a player who, come next summer, can walk away from the club for free.

I think this transfer will happen, and have thought that for a while. All the posturing means nothing; Arsenal prefer to do their negotiations behind closed doors as it avoids all this public leveraging. Arsene was right in the presser: either Bolton will sell, or they won't. The can accept a reasonable bid, or they can risk losing Cahill for free next year. It's the choice Arsenal themselves faced this summer, and the outcome of those deliberations make me think that there will be a compromise on the fee eventually. £12 million might be less than £18m, but it's a whole lot better that nothing.

And until next Wednesday, the bullsh*t will keep on piling up. Keep those wings clean.

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