23 July 2013

Transfer Odds: Higuain collapsing, Cesar fading, Williams stable...

There are others, to be sure, and we'll get to them momentarily. The news this week is not for the faint of heart, as two players to whom we've been closely linked seem to be receding ever farther from reach as Napoli, flush with cash after selling Cavani, threaten to ruin everything. Jerks. Not only do they seem on the brink of signing Higuaín, their sale of Cavani may be guilty of driving up transfer-fees that much more, not that they needed the help. If there's any consolation to be found, it's that nothing's certain, and as close as Napoli might be, they're still not as close as we've been or rumored to be.

Let's get a bit of good-ish news out of the way first: we seem close to announcing the first proper signing of a player (Sanogo came in on the cheap, he's French, and he's young, so he doesn't signify a new way of doing things around here). Brazilian midfielder Bernard Anício Caldeira Duarte's odds of signing have skyrocketed to 59% from out of nowhere and is now, according to transfermarkt, our most likely signing. I'll have to add him to the chart, come to think of it. I'm not sure how excited to get for a 20-year old who stands 5'5" (162cm), so I'll have to more research so that I know whether to be excited or enraged.

Bernard's surge occurs mid-way through my composing this post and as s Higuaín's odds dropped again from 60% to 58%. We're now in a neck-and-neck race with Napoli, whose odds grew to 57%. A hefty grain of salt is on order as I still can't explain how they conjure these numbers—I continue to use them because they make more sense to me than the drivel peddled by The Sun or The Mirror. Statistics feel more meaningful to me. Of course, you can come up with statistics to prove anything. Forty percent of all people know that.

I don't know what to say about the Higuaín saga. We had apparently agreed to personal terms and a bid in the £23m range only to turn our attention to Suarez when negotiations with Real Madrid stalled. Now, into the breach steps Napoli who have £54m from the Cavani sale and a gap at striker to fill. Partly as a result, Fiorentina Pérez wants £37m for Higuaín. Can you blame him? He sees us offer Higuaín £40m, Cavani sells at £54m, and he wonders why he should be bothered to sell Higuaín at what now seems like a discounted price in seller's market. We're looking like rubes in the transfer-market, unable to comprehend how the game is played. That, more than any actual player we've signed, sold, or missed out on in the last ten years, might be the most damning legacy of our, uh, prudence in previous transfer-window: we're thoroughly unpracticed in how to play a high-stakes game and quail at the numbers being discussed, only to see those numbers grow. Meanwhile, Chelsea and PSG and Napoli (apparently) keep on raising the stakes. Are we going to ante up or are we going to fold?

I guess Kenny Rogers put it best in his song, "The Gambler," when he said this:
You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.
We've spent too much damned time counting our money over the last decade or so; we have upwards of £70m to spend. Get Higuaín for 30m (a price I've suggested is closer to his true value anyway). Give up on that biting, diving, racist and save the 50m that Liverpool want; spend it on players who fill other needs, like a defender or two. We'll be without Monreal and Vermaelen for the first half-dozen games or so, so take the plunge to get Ashley Williams and then bring up Miquel to support Gibbs. We have a soft-enough start to the Prem season that this should be enough to shore up the defense until Vermaelen and Monreal heal up.

As to these other players, not much movement to worry about. For all the talk of Suarez, he's still a long-shot at 29% odds, as is Luis Gustavo. Further away are Papadopolous at 22% and Rooney at 18%. Fellaini seems to have all but disappeared from our radar for now. Frankly, I could care less about any of these players.

We'd better learn how to play this transfer-window better or we'll be left scrambling yet again for a fourth-place "trophy" and trying to counter the taunts of trophyless seasons with flimsier retorts of top-four streaks and Champions League appearances. The club finishes the Asia Tour with a game on Friday against Urawa Reds, and this makes me wonder if we won't hear anything until Monday at the earliest. I just hope the news is dramatic and good and Argentinian.

That's all for now. Voting in the 2012-13 YAMA awards is still open; please consider voting for Woolwich 1886 as a "Best New Arsenal Blog"—thanks!