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”That could suggest something closer to £1m a game it has cost Tottenham to have Bentley on the books.”
By Tony Attwood
It is a common tactic for anyone who wants to knock a club and its management to point to the transfers that have gone wrong. The most common approach is where the player has cost a lot in transfer fees and then had a whacking great salary, and yet not delivered.
Indeed this was the sort of thing I was talking about yesterday with Barcelona. The buying in of Arsenal players for huge sums, putting them on big salaries, and then finding that they are not as central to their requirements as they first thought.
I don’t make any claim that Arsenal doesn’t get some transfers wrong. Take Squillaci who had an illuminated history in football. He played in the Monaco team that reached the 2004 Champions League final, and was named in the team of the year that season.
217 games for Monaco, 67 for Lyon, 49 for Sevilla, but just 23 for Arsenal since 2010 and I think most Arsenal fans don’t expect him to continue. He has become one of those players there “just in case”. Perhaps Park was the same. He is held up by some Anti-Wenger fans as being a fine example of why Mr Wenger should not continue.
But such things happen in any club. That was what I was talking about with the transfers of players like Theirry Henry to Barcelona – at the cost of nearly half a million pounds per appearance. As several writers said, Henry was probably very happy to be in the team that was winning things at the time and at that salary I don’t doubt it.
My point here is that this is not just an Arsenal or a Barcelona thing. The transfer of Nic Anelka to Real Madrid for £25m never made much sense to me – he just looked the wrong sort of player for the profile and publicity that Real Madrid will bring – and he lost Real Mad money in terms of salary and subsequent sell on fee.
And here’s another club that does get it wrong sometimes: Tottenham. (Incidentally every time I write about Tottenham the same five people – or maybe the same person with five different email addresses and site names – write in saying I am “fixated” with Tottenham. I am rather thankful this person/people is not my psychiatrist).
I’m thinking of course of Bentley who joined the club in July 2008, played 42 games in three years, a low number that was as much due to injury and loss of form. His loans have been to Birmingham, West Ham and now Rostov – a club that came 13th in the Russian first division last season.
He joined Tottenham for £15m and within a year was reported to be seeking a move (Villa were suggested as the destination) with a salary of about £2.5m a year (according to the Sun, 28 August 2009, while reporting his drink driving offence). His solicitor in court said he had been fined two weeks’ wages by his club (£100,000) and lost a lucrative sponsorship deal with Puma.
Tottenham also have four interesting goalkeepers, Lloris, Friedel, Gomes and Cudicini. all of them must be on fairly big salaries. As the Daily Telegraph said, “Here is a club whose obsession with goalkeepers — they now possess four of international class — borders on a fetish.”
Lloris cost £12m according to the reports, Friedel came on a free, Gomes (£7.8m), and Cudicini (free). I would estimate the salaries of all four together are costing £20m+ a year.
Now I know that Arsenal have a similar overload in some places, although the more negative folk among those who claim to be Arsenal supporters say that the club should have bought more and more and more. Some recently argued that we should have a goalkeeper team like Tottenham, rather than relying on Mannone at times, but when you look at figures like this it is surely clear that the whole situation is getting quite insane.
These overloads arrive when players are offered long term contracts. But these contracts don’t actually keep the players at the club; Cesc remember had something like five years to run on his contract when he demanded to go and be substituted in Barcelona games, so the long term deals don’t help keep players.
Yes, long term deals do indeed help get a decent transfer fee for players when they go – but, we’ve seen that even players with just one year left can command a fair old fee.
The danger of course with long term contracts is that shown with some of the players above – if they are then surplus to your requirements, you find yourself paying out huge amounts. Squillaci joined Arsenal on a three-year contract in the summer of 2010, and I would be surprised if he gets a game this season before leaving on a free.
What I am trying to say in my meandering way is that the whole system is based on gambling of the type developed by bankers a few years ago. You see a great player, buy him, offer him a huge salary, and then just hope for the best. If he loses his talent, you lose out unless you can loan him out – but even then it is unlikely that anyone will want to take on his full salary. If he gets better and better you have to keep giving him longer and longer extensions to his contract and bigger and bigger salaries.
Consider one case where even I questioned if Arsenal had got it perfectly right: Robert Pirès. I loved Pirès as a player. He is the only Arsenal player whose picture I have up on the wall in my house (although it is as much to do with the memory of the occasion as anything else). In May 2006 Pirès went to Villareal on a free transfer, and I was really fed up. But he got injured pre-season and was out for seven months. Yes he did go on to play 100 odd games in the next four years. Since then he has played for Aston Villa a few times and is now with Sanica Boru Elazığspor in Turkey.
Should we have offered him a contract for more than one year as he wanted? Mr Wenger refused, offering one year only – which would have meant paying him for a year with only a few games coming our way if he had got that same injury. I suspect he would not have made that much impact.
And the conclusion?
Well, the situation is impossible and crazy. Just look at these figures from Sportingintelligence Global Sports Salaries Survey 2012,
The average first team pay at Barcelona – is calculated at £101,160 per player per week, or £5,260,313 per year. That represents a year-on-year increase of 10% despite the fact that the club is in severe financial difficulty.
Real Madrid’s players earned £90,859 per week (£4.7m per year, 6% up on the previous year).
Manchester City are third. Their players earned an average of £86,280 per man per week, or £4.5m per year, the highest salaries ever paid in the Premier League
Chelsea are fourth with average first-team pay of £4.1m per player. Arsenal’s figure is £3.2m per year, just a little above Liverpool (£3.1m) although obviously Liverpool are desperately trying to get that amount down now. Tottenham are on £2.3m
Of course all the figures here are estimates and as one moves around from one source to another the figures do vary – I’ve tried to put together average figures where different sources are used.
But even if I am out in some cases, this is surely crazy.
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