29 June 2015

Arturo Vidal, a Gunner for £21m?

Kondogbia goes to Inter. Schneiderlin goes to Man U. What is it with these central midfielders trading down the table? In Kondogbia's case, he's traded AS Monaco's Champions League qualifier for Inter's eighth-place finish. In Schneiderlin's case, he's traded Southampton's irrepressible resilience and passed on Arsenal's Champions League ambitions for Man U's Champions League qualifier. Yes, I understand that wages matter, and that these players have a precious decade or so during which they have to maximize their earnings. However, when players of this calibre are looking at earning more in a week than most of us earn in a year, they can perhaps afford to bear a little skepticism on our parts. Isn't there anyone out there who's willing to trade down the table and trade up on prospects? I introduce to you one Arturo Vidal.

Juventus have just enjoyed a magical season. Winners now of four consecutive scudetto, they added a Coppa Italia and fought valiantly against Barcelona in the Champions League title match. By all appearances, Juventus is the place to be, at least in Italian football. However, a quick perusal of the squad suggests that it's one ripe for evisceration. At one end are the graybeards, players on the wrong side of thirty who are in decline and/or are on their way out—Pirlo (36), Buffon (37), Tévez (31), Lichtsteiner (31), Llorente (30), Chiellini (30), Padoin (31), Evra (34). Each of these men logged heavy minutes, and many of them are on their way out, whether they like it or not. At the other end are those up-and-comers—Pereyra (24), Morata (22), Pogba (22)—who have to be wondering if their best bets lie elsewhere.

'Twixt the two are the 'tweeners, players like Vidal who, aged 28, have to start wondering where their own best interests lie. Watching the legends get put to pasture has to inspire a bit of soul-searching, as does the probable departures of the starlets. While it's true that Juventus will likely dominate Serie A for another season, they're looking increasingly vulnerable after the rumoured departures of Pirlo, Tévez, and Pogba, among others. Vidal has to be looking around and wondering what the future of this club will be, and whether he, at his age, can or should stick in for another season in the hopes that the Old Lady has mount another assault for the scudetto and/or the Champions League.

If Vidal is reading the writing on the wall, he has to know that Juventus may have already reached a pinnacle of sorts and will start to fade. By contrast, Arsenal have enjoyed one of its best seasons in the last decade and are looking to build on that success while overcoming the disappointment. No longer content to finish fourth, we've added winning the FA Cup to the "simply must do" list, and we're hungry for more.

Having missed out on Kondogbia and Schneiderlin, rumour has it that we've made an offer of some £21m for Vidal. Amidst rumours that Schneiderlin will join Manchester United on a transfer fee of £25m with weekly wages in the range of £130k, one has to wonder if Vidal can be had at a fee of £21m. His weekly wages are reportedly in the £70k range, so a modest pay-rise (£90k?) could be enough to seal the deal. He's a rugged, tenacious, defender but one who can and will get forward to score goals (seven goals, good for fourth in the squad).

While we might rue missing out on Kondogbia and Schneiderlin, we can console ourselves with the notion that neither offered what we are really looking for. The question then becomes, does Vidal offer what we are looking for? If so, is Arsène willing to pony up?