06 February 2014

So, Puma wants to help us get Balotelli? What about Agüero instead?

Depending on whom you trust these days, there are reports that Puma, excited at its new deal with Arsenal, would love to bring Balotelli to Arsenal as a way of combining two of their biggest brands and might even be willing to pony up £15m to overcome Arsène's reluctance to spend the £40m or so that AC Milan rates him. At first blush, I thought, "hell no. Yeah, he is capable of scoring boatloads of goals, but he's a basket-case just as likely to lose his head or disappear into a sulk as he is to score. No thanks." At second blush, I reconsidered it: "well, maybe Arsène could calm him down, draw out the man from the man-child, and turn him into the lethal striker he sometimes is." At third blush (I'm kind of a bashful guy), I realized, "why focus on Balotelli? Surely, other players have deals with Puma?"

A quick search revealed that I was right. If we're going to let Puma start making suggestions, we could do worse than to field a starting XI that includes Cazorla, Giroud, Arteta, Sagna, and Rosický, each of whom already has a Puma sponsorship. However, scrolling through the list reveals a savory variety of possibilities, Balotelli included. Here, then, is a quick run-down some of the more mouth-watering prospects...
Player
Current Club
Value
Advantages
Drawbacks
Sergio Agüero
Man City
£39m
·     15 goals in 17 matches.
·     Continues tradition of signing players with umlauts in name.
·     Face it. He’s adorable.
·     Unlikely to leave a league rival.
·     Spats with Giroud over “sexy” vs. “adorable” could get messy.
Radamel Falcao
AS Monaco
£53m
·     9 goals in 17 matches.
·     We’d see what Arteta’s hair would look like if he grew it out.
·     We’d have to explain what “taxes” are.
·     We already have two players with torn ACLs.
Mario Balotelli
AC Milan
£40m
·     13 goals in 25 matches.
·     Acquainted with Prem.
·     Instantly ups the “lunatic” element.
·     Did I mention that he might be crazy?
·     Falling-out with Arsene over what’s harder to use: zippers or trainers.
Marco Reus
Dortmund
£30m
·     12 goals in 26 matches.
·     Idolizes Rosicky. Good taste.
·     Dortmund might have to sell him.
·     I think there’s a limit to how many midfielders a club can have. Some kind of quota?
·     Can he transition from heavy metal to orchestra?
Marta
Tyresö FF
£400k
·     Accustomed to winning silverware.
·     A comparative bargain.
·     Think of the marketing  boost ahead of the World Cup…
·     Accustomed to winning silverware.
·     Is the Prem ready for its first female-player?
Cesc Fàbregas
Barcelona
£44m
·     C’mon. It’s Cesc.
·     It’d be kinda like that awkward fourth-form dance, wouldn’t it?
Now, to be honest, I was surprised to see that Puma's roster contains so many older players—Gianluigi Buffon (36), Yaya Toure (30), Dante (30), Nemanja Vidic (32), Michael Carrick (32), Alessandro Diamianti (30), and Stephan Lichtsteiner (30) are all long in the tooth, and that's not including Thierry Henry (∞). It looks like Puma sees the deal with Arsenal as a chance to reinvigorate its own international profile. With that in mind, rather than letting them try to leverage us to bring on a player from their stable, perhaps we should be leveraging them. Our allure is now so strong that we're now the most-popular club in China, home to 20% of all of humanity and untapped market for football gear.

After all, it's not as if Arsène would suddenly say, after more than 17 years managing the club by his own prerogatives, would suddenly say, "Oh, Puma? You want a little bit to tell me who to sign? This is okay with me" and let them run with it. No, it's far-more likely that the money from the Puma deal will go signing someone whom Arsène prefers, whether it's the likes of Draxler or whoever. Still, there's no harm in dreaming, is there?