Depressing and sadly predictable at the moment that the press seem to wish to focus on Robin van Persie ’s obvious comments with regard to a new contract, rather than to applaud his on the pitch record breaking achievements in the past 12 months, culminating in him joining an elite group of Arsenal centurions on Saturday.
RVP had just taken over as captain of a club that he deeply loves and emulated his idol Dennis Bergkamp , but is also aware that he is at the helm of a team in transition. Why would he want to commit to Arsenal now when his contact runs for another 21 months and wants to see if we can turn the corner and match his ambitions?
However, given the events of the past few months with Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy, there will be questions about the club’s ambitions and the ability to convince RVP and others to commit their medium term future to the Arsenal.
For me, Arsene Wenger has reassessed his squad and the summer saw not only the release of several under achievers, but also the purchase of some experience. This is certainly a change in strategy, but perhaps the club needs to embrace more change and be a tad more radical. The policy from now on needs to see the management seriously cement what appears to be the strategy of combining seriously talented youth with top-flight experience. If this is the case, then now is the time to re-examine the wage policy and use the huge income from property sales, turnstiles, commercial enterprises and transfers to pay the going rate for top stars at a top club with ambition. We need to send out clear signals to our established stars that the Emirates is the place to be, where genuine world class talent will be paid accordingly, which will deliver a strong message to the youngsters with real potential that they too can achieve their ambitions with Arsenal.
Since the arrival of Bergkamp and Platt in 1995, we have massaged the figures and paid our top stars in other ways over and above the wage cap, mainly through image rights, shirt sales etc. This needs to stop now and we need to accept that established internationals at the top of their game must be paid at Arsenal in their contract the same or close to what they could be paid elsewhere.
For me, now there are five players in this category and we need to make a statement with them now – RVP, Bacary Sagna , Alex Song, Theo Walcott and Vermaelen, if he can prove his fitness. From this four it is RVP and Sagna that are 100% essential. I would also include Kozza, Arteta, Mertesacker and perhaps Rosicky as players of invaluable experience, but these guys are on long deals with us already.
The next part of the strategy has to be to blend top class youth with the above experience, but at the same time to shed those who fit into neither category from the wage bill.
Our squad is too large and there are too many under achievers on good wages. It is these savings that will allow us to shift our premier stars up to the £140,000 plus bracket. By removing over the next 12 months the following players from the wage bill, I conservatively expect we could save £500,000 a week, £26 million per annum, in salary:
Almunia, Djourou, Squillaci, Denilson, Diaby, Arsahvin, Chamakh, Bendtner and Vela.
We already have Wilshere, Gibbs and Ramsey on long-term deals and have recently added to our squad or extended deals for Lansbury, Frimpong, Afobe, Aneke, Ozyakup, Miquel, Coquelin, Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ryo, Campbell and Wellington, amongst others.
If we can tie down our genuine world class stars on proper salaries for just a few more years, even if only 50% of this host of young talent make it at the Emirates, then there is still a bright future. However, the club do need to act quickly and demonstrate their ambition both financially and perhaps with one truly world class addition in January.
Article courtesy of David Seager from the excellent Gunnersphere
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