27 January 2014

Odds of Draxler to Arsenal drop to 1/7; only Paddy Power taking bets

Or is it rise? Anyway, a quick scan of more than twenty betting sites shows that only Paddy Power is accepting bets on Julian Draxler moving to Arsenal with odds at 1/7, meaning that a £7 bet wins you £1—a significant change from the odds just two days ago, which stood at 1/5. This is still a far-cry from proving that Draxler is about to sign, but the tea-leaves we're reading are starting to show signs of legibility.

Maybe it's better if you just don't look.
Of course, Monday looked to have been a promising day for an announcement—we did after all know that there would be a press conference, which announced the Puma deal, a record £150m, five-year contract, and Gazidis confirming via twitter that Arsène "will be extending (his contract) with us and at right time we will make that announcement." And the good times don't stop there, as Mertesacker and Rosický have extended their contracts as well, with Mertesacker's rumored to be a three-year deal and Rosický's a rolling one-year contract. An announcement to confirm these should come in the next few days.

Still, though, no word on Draxler. I can see a few reasons for that. One, there was quite enough to announce today. Contract renewels and a new-kit sponsor (and a record-breaking one at that) is enough fodder for one day. Two, the announcement of a new contract for a player as hyped as Draxler has been might upstage that new sponsor. I tossed it over, pretending I was Puma CEO Bjoern Gulden: would I want Draxler wearing the new kit, the better to play on the euphoria, or would this detract from the branding effort? It seems to me that the headlines would focus on Draxler and mention Puma. It's enough to have shared the stage with talk of Arsène; trying to compete with a Draxler announcement could have completely stolen the show from Puma. Third, we have a match to concentrate on—a tough trip to Southampton, who will be looking for some revenge after losing in such a disappointing way back in November. Announcing that we've signed Draxler would create a flurry of distracting questions, not to mention pressure: "will he make an appearance against Southampton?" "Why isn't he playing against Southampton?" "Does this mean Podolski is on his way out?" and so on.

If there is to be a Draxler-related announcement, far better to make it separate from the Puma announcement and after the Southampton match when there will be three days before the transfer-window closes and four before facing Crystal Palace. Arsène also has a long-established habit of waiting until the last days of the transfer-window to announce signings.

As discussed a few days ago, betting sites work on a principle nearly opposite that of tabloids. Tabloids make their money by breathlessly and repeatedly announcing any rumors they can dream up (something you can have fun with here) whereas betting sites make their money by doing their best to assess the likelihood of such rumors. If they provide more-generous odds on Draxler coming to Arsenal, and that move comes through, they're taking a bath. The bigger that number on the right gets, the more likely the event becomes, and the less the sites want to pay out. Again, it's still speculation, not confirmation, but it's a far-better proxy for prediction than are the headlines on offer from The Sun or tweets from Tancredi.

As we learned today through the Puma-deal, after all, money makes the world go 'round. Rather than being driven crazy by the splashy headlines, it's a bit better to take a cold, hard look at things through the cynical eye of the bookie. They may not get it right in the long run, but they're at least putting their money where their mouths are. Here's hoping we can do the same for Draxler in the next few days.

Right. I mentioned a match against Southampton. I'll have more on that in a while. 'Til next time, thanks for your visit.