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Time For A Big Name?

We Arsenal fans tend to fall into two polarised categories when it comes to Arsenal's transfer policy. Those of us that thirst for big names and reputations to compete with United and Chelsea's illustrious transfer policies. Then there are those of us who faithfully follow Wenger's doctrine, memorably chrysallized by Peter Hill Wood, 'we don't buy stars, we make them.' (I like to think I'm in a third, separate camp, hidden away in my tent under my sleeping bag with my fingers in my ears singing 'I Don't Care What the Wengerman Says.' On this occasion, I'll play devil's advocate).

Now not even the most myopic of Gooners would discount Wenger's record of buying rough diamonds, before polishing them into shapely gems. That is, before they shed their sheen in the Continental Playboy mansions. (On a side note, has the so called 'Arsenal curse' ever struck anybody quicker than Mathieu Flamini? Within two weeks of joining A.C. Milan, they promptly fail to qualify for the Champions League and now he finds himself excluded from France's Euro 2008 final 23). However, it would appear that the two aforementioned camps have become warring factions, to the point that we seem to believe that the two discourses have become mutually exclusive. They are not. Indeed, putting aside the prohibitive costs of refinancing for Ashburton Grove, Wenger has by no means entirely eschewed the big name signing. Less than two years ago, William Gallas and Tomas Rosicky arrived in N5 with huge reputations. The fact that we cannot afford to purchase the Kakas and Ronaldos of this world seems to have created an almost insular culture amongst some of us, that big names should be avoided at all costs. The former Bank of England club has got us thinking prudently. The club are quite correct to support Wenger's current policy, Danny Fiszman absolutely spot on in his appraisal of continuing to do business 'the Arsenal way.'

There are a plethora of examples whereby 'big names' and big reputations have floundered. Arsenal simply cannot afford to mortgage their future on flops like Shevchenko and Veron. That said, big name players are not always prissy prima donnas or the product of an owner's adolescent fantasies. There is a lot to be said for proven quality as a galvanising effect. When United lost the title in 2002, they bought Rio Ferdinand and promptly won it back. When they lost it in 2004 they bought Wayne Rooney and began rebuilding their current all conquering side. In Arsenal's recent history, having gone three years without a trophy- the suicide inducing, self harm provoking 'predicament' we currently inhabit- in 2001, we signed Sol Campbell and threatened to dominate English football. (We also bought Jeffers, Inamoto, van Bronckhorst and Wright that summer)! I am not entirely sure whether the furore and excitement that permeated Campbell's transfer propelled us to glory, or whether it was just the fact that Sol was an excellent defender who filled the void left by the increasingly injury prone Adams. Indeed, Campbell made an indifferent start to life at Highbury with a series of bumbling displays, before the abuse he endured at White Hart Lane truly shook him from his overweight inertia. Thank you for that Tottenham fans.

In 1995, Arsenal were a club in dire straits. George Graham had been sacked for financial irregularities, Paul Merson had undergone a stint in rehab and an ex Tottenham player had scored a freak winner in the Cup Winners' Cup Final and Graham looked to have frog marched the club back to the mid eighties obscurity that he had lifted it out of. Then we signed Dennis Bergkamp and David Platt. The mood around Highbury was instantly lifted. Sure, Platt's tenure was injury plagued and Bergkamp's immediate impact was limited, but the twin signings dragged the club out of the doldrums and a sense of optimism once again pervaded a club in need of a lift. Of course DB10 would go on to become a landmark signing for the club, elevating us to another echelon. Ironically, Platt and Bergkamp would score the goals that fired us into the UEFA Cup on the last day of the season. (Believe me, those who feel winning no trophies this season represents unthinkable failure, you should have been at Highbury that day, qualifying for the UEFA Cup felt like winning the Champions League). Even as far back as the 1920s, Chapman's first act was to sign the reputed Charlie Buchan to get the crowd onside with his vision.

It is often said that signing crowd pleasing show ponies has been the preserve of Tottenham Hotspur. In the summer of 1983, with Arsenal bumbling around the lower regions of midtable, Terry Neill signed superstar Charlie Nicholas, the man who was supposed to lift us out of the abyss and onto the yellow brick road to glory. Indeed, on his debut, Arsenal tried to epitomise this dawning of a twinkling new era by introducing the players one by one to the crowd in glitzy Stateside style. Obviously, Nicholas drew the biggest ovation and instantly he was marked out as different and treated as such. Nicholas maintains that he felt very uncomfortable with this synthetic gesture from the club. Nicholas carved out a half decent Arsenal career, as Malcolm McDonald had before him, but given his reputation and penchant for nightclubbing, the supporters ultimately felt shortchanged. In retrospect, that was harsh on Nicholas, who arrived into a team whose camaraderie was rotten to the core, with Neill failing to control the raucous drinking culture and assuage big egos like Mariner and Woodcock. In fact, Graham's legacy was initially built on clearing these characters out and bringing through young, hungry players like Thomas, Rocastle, Adams and Merson. Indeed, Graham's legacy dried up when he ran out of egos and naysayers to bully and he began to pick on the humble professionals. Nicholas could not carry Arsenal out of limbo in the manner that Bergkamp had.

I guess what I have concluded is that there is a time and a place for this kind of signing. Arsenal are not subject to the kind of internal politicking that have ripped Shevchenko apart. In 1995 Arsenal was a laughing stock, full of journeymen players and suffering an embarrassing administration bungle. Bergkamp changed all that. In 2001, Arsenal were considered perennial bridesmaids, having succumbed to three consecutive runners up spots in the league and lost two Cup Finals. We signed Sol Campbell and added backbone and a winners' mentality (do not underestimate the signing of Gilberto in reinforcing that in 2002). The question is, has the current side reached that crossroads? Yells of 'feeder club' can be heard echoing through Fleet Street. This side stands on the cusp of greatness, but are we missing that statement of intent? For all of my appraisal of Gallas, I would have Fabregas as Arsenal captain in a second if I didn't already think we were in danger of overloading him as we did with Henry.

Whilst the board are correct to wax lyrical about Wenger's policy, do not be entirely fooled. They are businessmen and are well aware of that well vaunted phrase 'managing expectation', the money isn't there for star names. Whilst nobody would quibble with the impact of Sagna and Eduardo this year (we'd all settle for two more like that this summer wouldn't we?) has the time come to once again lay down that marker and protract the club from the bronze to the gold podium? Whilst star signings offer you no guarantees, will that 'wow' factor once again galvanise this teamand erase the memories of disappointment at the tail end of an otherwise excellent season? Despite the arguably underwhelming instances of Reyes and Wiltord as big money signings, I would trust Wenger to find a Bergkamp as opposed to a Bryn Jones. As ever, I'd be interested to know your thoughts.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday May 28 2008

Time: 8:52PM

Your Comments

Trying to stimulate debate with that headline cos it's been so quiet on the frontpage these few days, LD? Had to ask that question first, couldn't help it. Now I'll read the content of this piece lol.
Lou the Gunneress
As ever, with anything other than match reports it's all random inspiration. I guess it's provoked by having read something about Charlie Nicholas yesterday.
Little Dutch
Why not satisfy both parties and buy Kaka for 2 million? 8-)
flv
Might have to add a curly wurly and a packet of lovehearts to that offer.
Little Dutch
Sol Campbell came on a free (apart from his 6 figure weekly wage). Bergkamp was a name but a tarnished one and joined us for almost half of what Inter had paid for him 2 years earlier. Arguably Platt who joined a few weeks after was a bigger name (in the UK anyway) and Overmars came to us with a great deal of scepticism about his physical condition. There is nothing at all wrong with buying a big name and reputation provided you are not falling into the trap of paying an inflated fee just for the chance to posture in front of insatiable fans.
Amos.
Or some divine intervention.
Lou the Gunneress
Haha, yeah your probably right LD. And we all know there's no way the board will be willing to part with the curly wurly AND the lovehearts.
flv
For me a big name signing is a player with a reputation so good that all the top clubs in Europe are aware of him, and yes Arsenal do need a player like this. The board keep on reeling out the old "We never say no to Wenger" line, and like I've said many times, they don't have to say 'no' to Wenger because he doesn't ask for what he can't get. They have a manger who will never ask for more than he thinks the club can afford. The other point about 'Henry, Vieira, Ljungberg and so on, not being big names when Wenger signed them" is also a misguided response. When Arsenal signed those players they were not playing champions league football, they were not attractive to the top players in the world, they were not winning cup doubles and they were not playing Wengerball. Wenger has moved the club on since those days and it is utterly self defeating to expect him to totally rebuild in a way in which he did when he inherited a shambles, he deserves a substantial budget so he can tweak his team and preserve his hard work to keep the momentum of winning going. Alas that winning momentum has gone due to Wenger having to completely start from scratch whilst nearest rivals have had the luxury of spending significant money to replace an major loses. But more than that, there are just so many quality players who I would love to see playing Wengerball. If some Arsenal fans want to believe that AFC turn down great players simply out of choice because they would prefer to spend valuable empty seasons rebuilding, then suit yourselves. I know that no company or business in the world would 'chose' to do such a thing, the only reason Arsenal don't make frequent big name signings is because they haven't been able to afford it.
Professor Calculus
I'm inclined to agree, my matra has always been I want good players, simple. The transfer fee is a bit of a side issue, whilst Hill Wood may have labelled Bergkamp's fee "crazy money", it was more the feel good factor he bought- to players and supporters alike (Wrighty's account of his first meeting with DB10 and Merson's readiness to give up his number 10 shirt suggest the players were excited). Personally, I don't really worry about the transfer side of things, if we didn't sign another player, I couldn't honestly tell you I'd lose sleep, though I acknowledge that would probably be a bad move. I guess having been bought up on the vibe of going to football, I see my only useful role is to turn up and support. Everything else, I don't much concern myself with.
Little Dutch
When I said I'm inclined to agree, I was referring to Amos' post, but I find it hard to pick many holes in the Prof's post. One of the reasons we built the new stadium and have taken this short term hit is precisely so we can go and spend money. I recall Wenger talking about dreaming of signing Rooney, but he knew he couldn't do it.
Little Dutch
The reason Wenger hasn't been able to spend like ManU and Chelsea is simply because we haven't had as much to spend. It's an academic argument to say we should have spent more or as much as they have - we haven't been able to. ManU have generated some £500m more revenue than Arsenal during Wengers reign. Abramovich has ploughed £600m into Chelsea in the last 5 years. ManU were fortunate in that they were the primary benificiaries of the extra TV revenue that the formation of the PL brought into the game as their success kicked off pretty much at the same time. Our success under Graham pre-dated that money making boost. ManU had 5 or 6 years of success and CL qualfication before we even began to address the disparity in revenue. At least that has been addressed and that will change over time but the failure to sign as many big names as clubs with more money have isn't due to ideological opposition - it's simple economics. No club ever achieved sustained success spending money it hasn't got.
Amos.
Yeah I remember the board saying that big names will eventually come once the new stadium was in place. They definitely intend to spend more money, so anything they say to the contrary is a deliberate distraction from the budget team we have right now. I understand that Arsenal took a calculated risk and hopefully took a short term hit for a long term vision of success. I support their bottle but I do have concerns. Firstly once you give something up (in this case winning trophies) there is nothing to say you can regain it, and secondly I just wish AFC would stop pretending that they are signing players like Eboue and turning players like Torres down out of choice, they are insulting the intelligence of Arsenals fans. They don't have to lie or put spin on anything, we totally support the board and their building of Ashburton Grove.
Professor Calculus
Why buy big names when Juanzito Fezner, 17 year old guatemalan sensation is available?
k_chelski
@ Amos Yes that's right, I don't want Arsenal to spend money they don't have but I do want them to be honest with the fans and stop pretending that the past few years of budget transfers have been conducted out of choice rather than necessity.
Professor Calculus
Or Wilson Van Deer Door Meyer (big name) ,18 1/2 dutch division 3 star. :p
k_chelski
Economically, Arsenal is the best run club in the top four, due largely to Wenger's frugality which has ensured our survival and ability to compete. Amos and the Prof seem to be making a similar point that we cannot these sort of players. Wenger's management during this period has been exemplary and I would support a continuation of this policy whilst we are still paying off the mortgage. I guess what I should have made clearer in the article, is that hypothetically, do we NEED that sort of player, putting aside whether or not we can afford him. The long term benefits of the stadium far outweigh the short term hit, particularly whilst we have this manager, but do we require this kind of lift as a team? Or do the players have faith in Wenger's judgement to the extent that they would feel suitably enthused by more relative unknowns?
Little Dutch
To be honest, every senior signing Arsene makes is a 'big-name' signing to me. Anyone that Arsene is willing to spend money on I believe is worth it. I would not be disapointed if we spent £20 mil. on a top, top player this summer, or if we bought no player for over the amount we will pay for Nasri. When it's Arsene doing the buying, you can count on it being worth it. (Particuarly now, when depth is one of the biggest issues).
ArsenalRob
By the way, a bit off-topic but does anyone think there is a chance that we could sign Nasri AND keep Hleb for this season. Arsene did say after Matty's departure that no more would leave. Has there been an enforced change to that, or is there perhaps a chance that Nasri's signing is for the purposes of having the quality of depth that we needed last season?
ArsenalRob
personally, i dun think we need to go after a big name, i'm not even too sure if we need to sign any players in the summer cuz i think the time has come to give guys like Diaby, Denilson, Bendtner, Djourou & Senderos their chance. i'm not sure how many more seasons these guys will agree to play as squad members, because they know they have the quality to play at the highest level. and we have enough characters in Fabregas, Gallas, Toure, Van Persie & even Sagna to add steal and backbone to this side with their experience. if only Arsene can keep this squad together including Hleb, and Persie & Rosicky remain fit for large parts of next season, then this team is on the way to greatness next season, as i'm sure all of them are still hurting from last season. if i was Arsene, i would take a gamble on the fitness of our injury prone stars and give them one final chance to show that they can last the distance, and maybe just add one more player to the squad. this group needs to be shown even more faith after what happened last season and make them believe that they are the stuff of champions..
luckys_10
Got to say Dutch - great piece. Really well written and an interesting read. I dont think you guys are a million miles away - I think a top class striker and keeper and a decent winger and you will be there or thereabouts. I dont think Flamini or Hleb would be too much of a loss.
OLASAL
Rob i just read that Hleb has denied everything that has been said about him in the last few days. really glad that he has finally broken his silence and come out and said something. i hope Arsene can make him stay now..
luckys_10
I think we will need this sort of boost from time to time as much as any other team (perhaps a little less so while Wenger remains in charge). Whether we need to get into a bidding war for some flavour of the season 'name' depends partly on how desperate we are at the time and partly on how much we can afford to blow on a gesture. In any event it's important to realise that there isn't an ideological opposition to bringing in a star name if that is what is needed. The idea that there is hasn't come from the club. They have always been very open about costs and budget restraints. There have been frequent statements about the youth and transfer policy being driven by the need to accommodate budgetary restrictions. Full financial figures are published on the website every 6 months. It's incredibly easy to see whether the club are being honest about it's financial position. It seems to me that it is the fans that have built this idea of a false ideological opposition to spending big as opposed to a pragmatic need to invest differently in order to build long term revenues - not the club or it's manager. That was whole raison d'etre behind the Emirates and made clear to anyone listening at the time.
Amos.
I think taking a major hit in the real, current reality so that your theoretical non existant future is bright is so so risky. Like I said, there is absolutely nothing to suggest that Arsenal can regain their winning streak post new stadium and pick up where they left off pre new stadium. I think they made the right decision but I regret that this Stadium had to be built during Wenger's reign, his hands have been tied and I would love to see an uncompromised Wenger Arsenal team. I guess what I'm saying is that I know they had to build a new stadium but Arsenal fans should at least entertain the possibility that a post Emirates stadium Arsenal may not be winning trophies for a long time, if you look at great sides who have lost track, there is always a turning point which can be pinpointed in hindsight, I just hope that the new stadium isn't such a financial drain that it has major ripple effects and sends Arsenal off course for years to come. The fact that this budget Arsenal team were so close to winning trophies this season whilst also outplaying their rivals, is good evidence that Wenger has rode the storm and steered them back in the right direction.
Professor Calculus
Serious, intelligent debate! Why is our forum not like this?? lol
OLASAL
luckys, you've made my day. I honestly believe that this team just needs to stay together and work hard for us to sucseed. Just a defensive midfielder and sort out our leaking of goals. It's all about sticking together, nomatter who we sign.
ArsenalRob
Proffessor Calculus, I understand what you mean, but surely Wenger is one of the few managers who can have the financial burden of a move of stadium and still challenge strongly for honers. And Wenger's whole reign here has been and is about long-term innovation, so the building of the stadium makes complete sense to me.
ArsenalRob
I'm still undecided having heard both sides of the argument. But one thing I'm pretty sure is what Amos said about the club being honest to us - that's 'expectation management' too. They kept saying that we went for youth bcos we were cash-strapped for a few good years while we were building the Emirates. Arsene has actually been instructing the marketing/communications/publications depts of Arsenal to communicate what kind of players the fans would see in the CC and FAC precisely because he doesn't want us to feel short-changed when you get Senderos instead of Kolo in those games. People on the board like Edelman and Hill-Wood have said over the past year that around now is the time to start reaping rewards. Let's see how much of a change we can see this summer.
Lou the Gunneress
On the main issue - whether we need a big signing to give the team a lift - I thought to myself that when we lost THE superstar Thierry, we signed Eduardo, a relative unknown at that time. Then looking at how admirably the team performed in pre-season games, I thought we didn't need a big player to come in, despite a big big player in Thierry. And this past season we came so agonisingly close in the 2 major competitions that imho we're just 2-3 signings away from glory. It's a quality gap that we need to bridge, not a fame gap. That's me speaking from a fan's point of view. But then if you look at it from the players' perspective, we may be talking about something slightly different. Whenever I see that Dixon and Wright quote on Bergkamp (“He’s the messiah. We told him to get us into Europe when he joined the club and that’s exactly what he did.”), I realise how players need confidence and adding someone with a big reputation does boost that confidence, it's all psychology, regardless of the actual quality of that guy's contribution really. Whether the likes of Cesc, Gallas, Clichy or Ade need that boost, I don't know. So far I've only heard Gilberto's quotes about the need for signings but he's also expressed confidence in Arsene's transfer policy. Well I'd just trust the guy who's earned our great trust over the past 12 years then.
Lou the Gunneress
@ professor as much as i would appreciate the clubs honesty in these matters imagine how you would feel as a player coming to arsenal knowing they signed you bcoz they cannot afford the best players...I believe it's a matter of neccesity rather than choice but to sign a player who knows they were not first choice is unwise as it brings up motivation issus therefore we must always maintain that this is arsenals choice whether or not it is accurate
anonymous
Very true too.
Lou the Gunneress
Thankyou Tottenham fans?? Erm what can i say to that, your welcome? No problemo? Are you suggesting he didnt deserve the abuse he got? Or just winding me up?
HuddersfieldYiddo
Lou has hit the nail on the head the phsychological effect of a householdish name would be more than just an onfield quality boost to the team...2 or 3 seasons ago id reel off some names that i'd have killed for (torres,ronaldinho,eto,ribery...) but i cant think of anyone (at the moment) who fits this mould. im not as anxious about new sgnings as the last 2 seasons.
anonymous
Anon that's quite a fair observation there - there's nobody who would really get me off my seat right now. Well Ade scored just as many league goals as Torres. Eto'o, despite a great goal-scoring ratio of 16 goals (and 21 assists!) in 18 games, only won 8 of those games (which is a scary stat) and suffered from injuries and fluctuations in form. Or would you take risk of a Messi who's troubled by injuries? Or do you fancy Kaka who saw could be entirely outshined by our own Cesc? How about a sensational Ronaldo who's constantly linked to a move to Spain? While I admit there's a psychological effect that a big player can bring, I just don't see any big names worth the gamble of huge money you see. I guess I'm slightly leaning towards, in Arsene's own words, "big players better than big names."
Lou the Gunneress
@ anonymous. I think it is up to the individual to motivate themselves, the fact that someone is playing for Arsenal in the first place is a good enough incentive, then there's Champions League football and then there's the Wenger factor, all this is more than enough motivation. If you are a player bought by Arsenal during their cash strapped years then you should look at it as a unique opportunity to turn the football world on it's head and make a name for yourself, go from zero to hero, this is why I totally despise Eboue, he really shouldn't be playing for a club like Arsenal in the first place and is only still here because Arsenal have had no money recently. Has he taken this opportunity to fully exploit his unique opportunity? No. A player like Eboue has acted exactly like an Eboue type player which is why Arsenal should be far beyond this pathetic level of transfer deals by now. Wenger didn't work hard for over a decade so that he could sign players like Eboue. Also what about mid table teams? Most of their players know that they are not good enough for the elite clubs in Europe and yet they still manage to motivate themselves. If Arsenal were honest about their situation and their players started to crumble then those players aren't worth ***** to begin with.
Professor Calculus
Lou im craving an established defensive player we seem to have signed nasri, vela is coming home, hleb is staying and theo looks a good prospect for next season,then we have RVP,Ade, and later eduardo.... @ Professor 1. Regarding players like eboue i must agree , our scouts would have had to observe his behaviour prior to signing im sure it didnt start at arsenal. as talented as a player is, I think their character/attitude more than talent will determine their contribution to the team so i have to agree he is not arsenal standard. 2. It's up to players to motivate themselves but the club and managers are equally responsible thats why we have PR to handle things like what the media says about the clubs finances and stability all these things affect even the most motivated player. e.g. cesc fabregas has a fantstic attitude all the time however i remember last year he said "My future depends on Wenger. "Now I am happy at Arsenal but if the coach leaves the club and also other players I would have to think again about my position..."Wenger has shown much confidence in me since my arrival in London and that is key for a player." this was during the time when there was speculation about wenger and henry as well things like this affect player concntration and motivation. so a players individual motivation is the foundation and then the club does the remaining 10%...look at guys like berbatov talented as f##k but there is little spuds can do to motivate him.
anonymous
Anonymous, I think Arsenal fans just have to get used to the fact that many of our young players respect Wenger so much for giving them their chance that they will be extremely loyal to AW and not as much Arsenal. Its something I don't agree with, but its just the way it is at the moment.
gunnerkid107
i know gunnerkid107 sometimes i wonder who im loyal to myself ive only followed arsenal for about 12 yrs now so i understand why they would feel that way i cant picture arsenal without arsene
anonymous
I know what you mean Anonymous. I've only ever seen Arsenal coached under AW. But thankfully I see Arsene being apart of Arsenal for many more years. And when he finally does leave Im sure he will have a plan for the future of this club like he always does. And as for a big name transfer I guess I fall under the "big players instead of big names" camp. Though I feel we need 3 or 4 of these talented players to come depending on who leaves. By the way who else has absolutely no idea what's going on with the possible Hleb transfer anymore? First he's going then he's not, then his agent says he's definitely going, then Hleb comes out and says its all nonsense. This whole fiasco is silly season at its worst in my opinion. I would like him to stay, but if he wants to leave then just leave already.
gunnerkid107
i would not like arsene to break tradition and spend big on a "big name" now becos honestly there isnt a big name out there worth the money they are asking. if we just get nasri and maybe another sagna type defender in CB as cover this summer i would be very happy. flamini will regret his move i have no doubts. as for hleb, if he thinks the grass is greener in another team so be it. in fact i wouldnt mind ade goin either cos im not a big fan of him. as for eboue, he is surplus now we have sagna and walcott. there is an array of players yet break in the first team like vela, denilson, traore just to name a few. these guys will be a revelation yet. remember wat we were saying about flamini at the end of last season? how big difference a season makes???
supersof
anyone see the article with djourou talking about playing as a holding midfielder??? I have always admired his cool head id like to see him have a go
anonymous
nice piece LD, wenger has always said, we don't buy world class, we make it ! still I am of the thought, that we need something, cos at one stage when we had the likes of Denis, Viera, Henry and Pires, the kids had a lot to look upto and learn from. We need experience for certain, but not a huge name, possibly someone who is getting alot of experience right now on the european and international stage and has bags of potential, like Nasri ! its going to be an interesting summer !
PUREGOLD
I certainly concur we need experience, we can't give Gallas the burden of being the only hugely experienced player again. In that regard, it is also essential we hold on to Gilberto in my opinion, especially with Jens gone.
Little Dutch
Oh and also, Hleb has by no means said he is staying. He said he hadn't asked for a transfer. That may sound all very noble, but Hleb is acutely aware that asking for a transfer denies a player the right to a signing on fee. What with his agent whipping up a storm, Hleb has to put out these claims lest it look like he is requesting a transfer. His agent has been talking the talk for a little while now and ultimately, players are responsible for their agents. Cesc for example, parted company with his agent because he was sick of being touted around. Until Hleb takes that action, we have to assume that his agent is his mouthpiece, I don't think there's any way he can stay now, he's angled for a move and done it in a very unbecoming fashion. I say get rid ASAP before Hleb and his agent cause any more unrest than is necessary.
Little Dutch
To prove the point about players being responsible for their agents, I pose a simple riddle. Can anyone here tell me, without looking it up, what the name of Gael Clichy's agent is?
Little Dutch
We have to sign a superstar at Arsenal? Well if Cesc Fabregas isn't a superstar what is he? Adebayor has a pretty big profile across Europe right now after his season; and Van Persie, Clichy, Sagna, Gallas and Toure are no small names in football now either TYVM.
julieloveshenry4ever
Good riddle haha. And I'm expecting some good riddance too honestly.
Lou the Gunneress
Would love a big name as I do think it would lift the club and the supporters - the Bergkamp example is spot on. However I agree with AW that we shouldn't be signing big names for the sake of it - they must be quality players who would fit into our team; and I equally wouldn't want to see the situation we had at the end of TH14's tenure where the whole side seemed to be directed at fulfilling the desires of one big talismanic player.
Moorish
Interesting piece LD. However, I dont think the situations that you refer to (Nicholas & Bergkamp) even remotely compare to the current scenario. Those teams were desperately lacking in quality, motivation and were going down (in terms of league position). The current squad is going up and will get better next season. I dont think the fans NEED a big signing to get excited about thia team. I think this is the angle from which you've approached this article. So, I've gotta say - NO, we dont need a big name signing.
prits
As usual, I come into this discussion rather late. My first response to LD's question is: what do our players want? Would signing a big name boost their hope and confidence? Let's look at what may be going on with our players right now. They've just seen one of the season's most important first team players leave, plus definite signs that another critical first team midfielder is on his way out too. They've also gone thru the huge disappointment of no trophies plus the shock of Eduardo's horrific injury, plus media saturation about an "exodus," "3 trophyless seasons," "crisis," yadayadayada. Regardless of what we as fans feel it may be that a big name signing is exactly what the team needs as a shot in the arm. Cesc is not happy to see Flamini go and now maybe Hleb. He formed important partnerships with both. He's publicly urged the boss to get Villa and said it is absolutely essential that Arsenal win something next season. He's our one indispensible player, the team is built around him. So I'd say a "big name" signing is what the players themselves need to see. However, what is a "big name"? There are big names like Kaka, Messi and Cronaldo. Then there are "big" names like Nasri, Benzema, Villa. A lot of gooners who clamor for a "big name" are themselves ignorant of a lot of football outside the PL--all they know are the Kakas of the world. The name Nasri means nothing to them. Myself, I'd be quite satisfied with a Nasri, a DM like Toulalan (I can dream) and a tall strong quick CB (not sure who I prefer in that position).
jaelle
Regarding our wage bill and Arsene's transfer policy...I think what a lot of gooners are missing is what Arsene himself discussed with great concern in the shareholders Q&A. It was also discussed by the guy who runs gunnerblog on last week's arseblog podcast. Arsene emphasized that the new rules of player contracts promote INSTABILITY. Arsene used to be criticized for not giving young players enuf opportunities, now he relies almost entirely on a youth policy. I think that's because he's struggling with limited funds and the impact of new rules for contracts whereby players have much greater freedom of movement. Contracts are almost worthless nowadays. Arsene hopes to rely on young players and build loyalty and team cohesion but there are risks to this, look at Hleb and Flamini. Also the recent interview with Fiszman in which he made it clear that our wage bill is only slightly behind MU’s and ahead of Liverpool’s, he differentiated us from those other clubs by saying that Arsenal have a policy of keeping players’ salaries as equal as possible—i.e., preventing large wage gaps between the top tier and the lower tier of players. Obviously there have been exceptions to this. What strikes me about this entire discussion in the media is that it has long been well documented that Arsenal have the 3rd highest wage bill in the PL, this is not news. For years now, when new figures come out about PL finances, Arsenal is always reported as being just behind MU in wages. Yet they keep perpetuating this myth that we’re stingy employers. BTW, the Telegraph reported a few weeks ago that Arsenal doubled the wages for Cesc, Clichy, Sagna and Ade. Also, UEFA just held a mtg to discuss the growing influence in European competitions of clubs with massive debts. They feel that MU and Chelsea in particular benefit disproportionately in competitions due to their practice of buying players for enormous sums and racking up massive debts in the process. Apparently they plan on coming out with some kind of policy to discourage this. Arsenal's debt is not included in this as our debt is like a mortgage and is a far more secure one.
jaelle
Sorry about these long posts, just one more thing: I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep Hleb anymore because I don’t believe he’s committed to the club. I can understand if he feels like he has only a short time left to win trophies and that he may feel that he won’t win one at Arsenal. If he feels that way, then he should go. I’d rather have a player who sees his purpose at the club as working hard to get Arsenal a trophy rather than Arsenal giving him a trophy. One interesting thing that Myles Palmer said, according to his supposed “inside sources”: “Hleb doesn’t want his transfer to become a test case. But Arsene does, so that saga could run and run.” I have no idea if that’s true or not but if it is, it does explain the long delay in public comments from Hleb, and now his rather contradictory, noncommittal comments.
jaelle
i read in the paper a few weeks back teams with huge debts such as chelsea and man utd wont b allowed to compete in european tournements such as the UEFA and European Cup as they think they are given an unfair advantage
Achilles
LD, there is a very good chance that Hleb will stay, atleast for one more year. i feel he may even sign an extension just how Cole did and leave next summer. Wenger has made it very clear that he doesent want to lose anymore players after Flamini's departure. He knows this season is vital for this team's future, and although he may not agree to it, but deep down he will put massive pressure on himself to deliver trophies this season, because another season of so near, n yet so far, may well disintegrate this team next year..
luckys_10
Hleb's comments are classic arse covering, he didn't say he was staying and he didn't refute any of his agent's claims. Hleb knows asking for a transfer means he is not allowed a signing on fee at his next club. He'll come out with vague pleasantries about the club and AW, without actually committing while his agent makes things difficult. Hence, the threat to deliberately perform badly if he were made to stay. Its all cowardly and his position at the club is untennable, Arsene's job now is to get a good price for him.
Little Dutch
Agree with ArsnealRob - any signing AW makes is a 'big' signing. We don't NEED to sign a 30million+ player just because they are 'whoever they may be'; Wenger has by and large bought in players who fit within and compliment the existing framework and I trust him to continue to do that. We currently have superstars all over the park - there's a reason why every other week our players are being coveted/poached/linked with moves elsewhere. Losing Flamini wasn't ideal but it is far from catastrophic - if Hleb goes it'll be even less ideal but its not like we don't have the resources or indeed the allure to bring in players with at the very least the potential to cover those losses. Bringing in the 'big name' may have adverse effects on the morale of the current squad rather than enhancing it.... We're all slaves to our egos after all - we have a criminally talented squad that is shepherded well by AW, bringing in a big name that will grab the headlines and focus might just upset the apple cart. We are right there alongside Chelsea, Man U and the Euro powerhouses having followed a very solid and prudent buying policy. I can;t see the point right now in changing a mostly successful formula. A bit more luck during the season and we have the coveted silverware. As it is, I watch a team whose play and attitude is a pleasure to see.
the yza
i think we should buy buffon.
gooner_till_i_die
u think so gtid.. even i think a lot of things.. i think we should buy buffon, essien, richards, kaka and torres.. but we dont get all we think.. do we..
go4it_adi
If you are going to do anything next season then you need to buy a big name, not all these unknown. Fair enough some of tghem are god players but title winning players
redandwhitestripemad
Good read, totally agree with fellow mate OLASAL. I don`t think you lot are far behind. But Wenger needs to step aside from his transfer policy for 2-3 signings atleast. A winger, keeper and possibly an attacker. The rest he can choose from all his youngsters.
raaid
Would you lot consider Micah Richards a big name? I mean, he is probbaly going to leave Man City in their crisis, you need an uncompromising defender and he is a childhood arsenal fan. Just a thought...
united4life
Wenger's has never found it necessary to go for the big names. Last season you came close to being ready for the League title again. I am sure this season you will be closer still without having to go out and sign a big name.
dazza71
HE DONT SIGN BIG NAMES CAUSE HE WUD NOT BE ALBLE TO HANDLE THEM IE HAVE THEM ON THE BENCH
123spurs
 

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