16 July 2014

Closing in on Khedira, pound by precious pound...

It seems that each day brings us closer and closer to sealing a deal with Sami, and yet, like Achilles and the tortoise, we can never quite cross the finish line. Each day, we cover a bit more ground, drawing closer and closer to the target. Each day, there's a little more ground to cover. As the chase gets more and more frustrating, we start to wonder if it's really worth all the trouble or whether we should turn our attention elsewhere. Schneiderlin, for example. Bender. The numbers come into play, and we notice that these two seem to deliver statistics superior to Khedira's. We hear of Khedira's wage-demands and worry that he'll get too pricey, especially for an older player coming back from ACL surgery. These numbers, for as much as they give us anything to discuss, mean little if anything to the outcome.

Those numbers, though, will continue to distract and bedevil us. For example, there are now reports that Arsenal and Real Madrid have "almost reached an agreement...to pay around €25" for Khedira, which would convert to a fee of about £19.75, a fantastic bit of business for a player of Khedira's quality. Next, however, are the player's (or agent's) expectations for weekly wages. The same report suggests that he "wants to earn a net total of around €7m a season", which would amount to roughly £107k per week, far short of the rumors that suggested that Khedira hoped to earn something closer to £150k per week and much more in-line with the rest of our current wage-structure.

Ah, but then there's that word "net." As in "after taxes". The highest tax-rate in the UK is 45%, and I assume that Mr. Khedira and his accounting team would do right by the tax-man, eschewing loopholes or other shenanigans. This would then tack on another £88,000 or so to his weekly wage, bringing us right back to that £150k range all over again figure up to £195,000 per week (edit thanks to comments below). That's a ludicrous amount. Nothing to do there but walk way from the table. Shucks. However, these are negotiations, after all, and it's a bit optimistic of Khedira's camp to assume that they'd get all of what they're asking for. If we could whittle them down a bit, we should be able to strike a deal that leaves everyone more or less satisfied. Yes, Khedira might leave behind the virtual guarantee of annual silverware, but, then again, he'd emerge from the shadows cast by Ronaldo, Ramos, and Bale to join a club where he'd emerge as one of its biggest names. There's something in that, not to be underestimated.

Let's look at one other element that doesn't appear at squawka, whoscored, or in the financial details: experience. Perhaps alone among the players we've been linked with, Khedira has now won a World Cup, the Champions League, and La Liga. There's a confidence forged in those crucibles that is difficult to quantify. Under the extreme pressure of competing for those titles, a player learns what it takes to win. By contrast, look at how Everton buckled under the late-season strain of finishing in the top four. Should we come to terms with Khedira, we'd have quite a bit more wisdom and confidence in the squad, and that's the kind of intangible that we can't put a number to.

As we return to cold, hard financials, let's hope that the widely reported transfer-kitty of £105m is what we're working with and not that  We've put £35m of that to Sánchez's transfer-fee. If we can sign Khedira for £19-20m, we'll still have around £50m, and that's after addressing our most-expensive need. Bringing in the likes of Debuchy, who could be had for £12m, still leaves £38m (give or take) for a center-back and a keeper, and each position could be comfortably filled for something in below £10m each. That would make for a busy, busy summer, but the kind of business that set us up for some exciting action when the season commences...