24 June 2013

Higuain and the Tortoise: Zeno's Paradox rules the transfer market

Each passing day seems to bring us one step closer to signing Gonzalo Higuain, but, like Zeno's paradox "Achilles and the Tortoise", it seems we'll never actually get there. For those unfamiliar, Zeno was a Greek philosopher from around 450 BCE. He told a story in
which a tortoise challenged Achilles, the great war-hero, to a race. On the face of it, the race seems simple: of course, a hero like Achilles could outrun a tortoise. However, as the tortoise describes it, he gets a ten-meter head-start. In the time it takes Achilles to cover those ten meters, the tortoise will perhaps advance one meter. Then, in the time it takes Achilles to cover that one meter, the tortoise will advance 100cm. In the time Achilles takes to cover 100cm, the tortoise advances 10cm. The race continues like this, in an infinite number of steps, and Achilles never catches the turtle, who is always some shrinking, microscopic distance out of reach, always receding just beyond our reach...

Of course, it's an exercise in logic in which the conclusion follows from the premises but doesn't match reality. Races don't occur in a series of smaller and smaller steps (10m, then 1m, then 100cm...) and Achilles would, in real life, overtake the tortoise at the 11th meter and leave him in the dust. However, as I awake each day and see another litany of headlines linking us to Arsenal, the paradox came to mind. In the paradox, we are Achilles and Higuain (or his signature) is the tortoise. The interminable process and its inexorable conclusion seem to involve an infinite number of steps: Higuain wants out. We express interest. Juve expresses interest. We make an offer. Higuain seems open to it. Real Madrid balks. We offer. Real asks Juve to ante up. Higuain's father comments. Real won't make any deals until they bring in a manager. Higuain agrees to "personal terms." Real denies anything. Arsenal doesn't comment. Juve approaches again. Their bid isn't enough. Someone tweets that it's a done-deal. Someone else tweets to Higuain to welcome him to London. The betting parlors close the line on Higuain to Arsenal. Chelsea express interest. Dick Law travels to Madrid. Higuain's dad says it's "at an advanced stage". Higuain reportedly goes in for a physical.

The process, which seems to stretch back to antediluvian times, seems to have as many steps as Zeno's paradox. It seems we'll never catch up to Higuain. We pursue closer and closer, yet he remains tantalizingly out of reach, just beyond our oustretched hands. The happy news is that the paradox of Achilles and the tortoise is an abstract exercise in logic that doesn't apply to reality. Here's hoping that the same holds true in the paradox of Arsenal and el Pipita and we do finally close the gap and seal the deal.

When will Higuain's signature be official?

You make the call: when, if ever, will we read the official news that Higuain has signed? (American voters, I don't think they celebrate the 4th of July in England. July 5th is therefore a normal business-day over there).

Remember these are legally binding votes that I must report to the board to inform them of the will of the fans, so vote judiciously. No, not really. About the reporting, that is. Sorry.

More seriously, if we do see Higuain's signature, would this alone be enough to propel us into Prem League contention, or would we need to add somone else? Is Fellaini the real deal? Is Rooney worth the trouble? Your thoughts below the fold...