27 May 2014

Transfer round-up: Draxler, Cavani, and Fàbregas continue to flirt and seduce...

There's not much actual football being played at the moment as we all hold our collective breath and wait for the World Cup to begin...in two weeks' time. Sigh. You can bet your bottom-dollar that these days will be filled with all sorts of rumors, from the scurrilous to the sensational, but few if any offering much in the way of substance. It's at this time of year that I turn to the betting sites—not because I'm a gamblin' man but because I find their ruthless, cold-blooded assessment of all things transfer-related to be a breath of fresh air, if only by contrast with the click-bait on offer from The Daily Mail, The Sun, Bleacher Report, and others. It's still early days, of course, and Arsène's proclivity for leaving things late, whether they be substitutions or transfers, should never be underestimated. Still, though, there are some encouraging signs from the legitimate businessmen's community...

The betting sites, for better or for worse, will make their money by assessing the collective wisdom of the unwashed masses. This is a step-up from preying on that collective wisdom, but it's a step worth nothing. Whereas the various tabloids can make their money by getting the gullible to click on any headline that includes words like EXCLUSIVE or SHOCK or various other klaxons, we can count on the betting sites for a somewhat less-cynical approach: they assess the likelihood of a player's move to another club and offer pay-outs based on how many people see the move happening and are willing to put their money where their mouths are. It's a little less predatory and sordid than the usual silly-season folderol.

First, a quick primer. The fractional odds you'll see below work like this: the first number (numerator*) you'll see is the pay-out. The second number (denominator) is what you wager. For example, with Cesc at 7/4, you could wager £4 on him going to Arsenal. Should it happen, you'd net £7. You'd leave with £7 in your pocket—the original £4 you put down plus the £3 you won. If you're looking to pay off a mortgage or finance a pricey addiction, you'll hope to put down see odds expressed as a very large number all by itself, such as 33 (because the denominator, 1, just isn't listed). These are the long-shots, the unlikely bets that are unlikely to come through but will pay out handsomely if they do. Therefore, for Gooners, what we hope to see is a numerator that is lower than the denominator, implying but not proving that the move is highly likely to go through. With that in mind, here is a quick run-down of the current odds around a few high-interest players...

Player
Odds (source)
Fàbregas
7/4 (skybet)
Cavani
12 (Stanjames)
Draxler
1/2 (skybet)
Benzema
7/4 (skybet)
Khedira
6 (betvictor)
Griezmann
10/3 (skybet)
 As you can see, some of the players we covet the most  still dangle just out of reach. Cavani (12) and Khedira (6)  look like long-shots. Even Griezmann (10/3) looks more  like a money-maker rather than a sure thing. More  optimistically, Benzema (7/4) is approaching a toss-up,  but I'll reserve judgment on that. Suffice it to say that he  doesn't "strike" me (ha ha) as a significant upgrade on  Giroud, with whom he competes for time in the French national team. Still, maybe a move away from Real Madrid would rejuvenate the man.

More salivatingly, perhaps, is the idea that Fàbregas is attracting similar odds (7/4). After all, for all of the wanton desire that has followed Cavani, the sentimental, romantic idea of a reunion with Fàbregas is almost incalculable. Yes, we have a glut of creative midfielders, and, yes, we really should focus on a striker. Then again, it's Cesc. Cesc, scorer of sumptuous goals such as this one against Tottenham or this against Barcelona. The rumors swirling around his return are that much harder to ignore than the rumors around some other, random player regardless of stature. Is he superfluous to our needs? Perhaps. Would our minds be blown if he did return? Certainly.

Last, but perhaps not least, is Draxler. Among the players listed, he's the most-likely to make a move. Plunk down £2 and win...£1? That's hardly worth the effort, which suggests that skybet, among others, rates the move as more than likely. Take that with a huge grain of salt. Does this really mean that we'll see Draxler at the Emirates come August? Meh. Maybe. Talk of his move has been mooted by suggestions that he can't be converted from a wide position to striker. Other concerns center around the idea that his transfer-fee—some £40m or more at one point—is justified by his performance or his potential. Then again, the same question can be asked about any of these other players.

For now, given Arsène's habits, we may have to content ourselves with little more than speculation. After all, we've again finished fourth in the Prem, which offers a bit of a fig-leaf to cover our shortcomings, and we've won the FA Cup, which has taken the monkey from our backs and run that monkey over several times in an SUV rented for just that occasion. Let us hope then that Arsène does not feel content with these accomplishments and instead sees the need to put his money, his well-saved and parsimoniously protected money, where his mouth is.

*if you muttered to yourself that "numerator" is Latin for "number eighter", please let me know. We're soulmates.
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