I am surprised, I don’t know why but I am surprised that there are still so many inaccurate myths doing the rounds about Arsenal’s transfer policy and no matter how hard I try to ignore them they still ruffle my feathers.
Top of the Pops at Arsenal are: we could have bought Alonso if only we had offered the asking price; next comes, the club refused to offer Flamini a new contract so he left to AC Milan and number one of my bug-bears is the idea that we almost lost Arshavin by holding out until the last minute for the best possible deal.
I can only assume that these rumours were started by people desperate to find something to write about on a slow news day, a kind of slow news day like today that I am using in an attempt to correct one inaccuracy in particular.
The Arshavin deal, in my opinion, is fundamental to understanding what the whole of the, post Abramovich, Arsenal transfer system has been forced to evolve into.
The central tenet of my argument is that it was Zenit, and not Arsenal, that kept the negotiations going until the last possible minute; the reason being that by doing so they hoped to attract other clubs for the purpose of creating an auction. It’s not rocket science, it really is quite easy, what possible reason could Arsenal have had to drag it out to the last minute?
To try and pay less than the asking price I hear you say……….Wrong.
There was never a fixed asking price for Arshavin, Arsenal being well aware of this offered what they thought he was worth, if Zenit had been successful in enticing Man City (a euphemism for any team with more money to spend that us) into the fray then we would have had no choice but to back out; so, with this possibility looming, why offer an unnecessarily high price from the outset.
I suggested a couple of days ago that some people (not on this site) seem to be under the delusion that buying players was as easy as buying apples and clubs like Arsenal, who have money in their pockets from the sale of other players, can simply waltz into any supermarket, chose a player within their budget, go to the check out and pay for him.
Continuing the theme: if the Arshavin deal was an apple in Tesco and it had a price tag of £1, it would be wrong to assume, as many do, that you could just pick it up, walk up to the check out and pay for it; you may be able to take it as far as the check out but you will not be able to buy it before Tesco have found out if Man City are interested in buying it as well and if they are then we all know that no matter how much Arsenal offer they will offer more. So, rather than suffer the embarrassment of losing an auction it surely makes more sense to give up any hope, there and then, and put the apple back.
Some may suggest that it might have been better to offer £1.25p for it at the beginning but even so, Tesco would still not have sold it to us before they were certain that Man City were not prepared to pay more.
The clever solution that Arsenal came up with was to pick the apple up and shout at the top of their voices, making everyone aware in the shop, that there was something wrong with it, in our case this took the form of Wenger commenting that he thought that “Arshavin lacked stamina” which was broadcast all over the media, with this doubt ringing in any other potential buyers minds Arsenal went ahead and offered 80p for the apple, accepting, that if Man city came in, then, so be it, but if they didn’t then Arsenal would know that we were the only club interested in buying this rosy cheeked Russian and Zenit would have no choice but to sell him to us at the price we were offering, which is exactly what happened…..we paid 80p for Arshavin, a clever bit of business if you ask me.