25 February 2014

Should Sagna see £100,000-a-week?

It's a long week between matches, what with no mid-week fixture to look forward to (or dread, as is your wont), and there's apparently not enough misinformation or ginned-up scandal to fill the void as we wait to visit Stoke. Some of the more-desperate and lazier of the rags are building up around the idea that Stoke haven't yet forgotten Aaron Ramsey's temerity in daring to decide to break his leg and are working themselves up into a frenzy over his return, which is more than a bit silly because (a) he's already injured (no, Potters, not in a way that allows you to take glee from it) and (b) he won't even make the trip. Maybe they could arrange for Shawcross to break an effigy's leg at some point to sate their blood-lust? I kid. In the absence of much else to talk about, then, we look inward. It seems that Tomáš Rosický is set to sign a new deal with saying he is "adamant" that Tom stay. Of the other member of the long-in-the-tooth crowd, it seems that Bacary Sagna or the remoras attached to him are holding out for a bigger payday.

More specifically, The Telegragh suggests that Sagna—or those who represent him, who like all agents are pure as the driven snow—is playing hardball, to the tune of a three-year deal worth £100,000 per week, which would mark a 143% 43% raise over his current rate of £70,000 per week (math corrected with a bit of help. Ahem). There are apparently four-year deals at the same or similar 100k level from Galatasaray, PSG, or Monaco, and even given Sagna's evident loyalty to Arsenal, such deals, not to mention the chance at silverware that a club like PSG could offer/guarantee, must be tempting indeed. The tax-rate in Turkey is something like 13%, a nifty cut from the rates many pay in England. For a man about to turn 31, the contrast is stark: on one hand, his current club apparently won't budge from its current offer, essentially the same contract and wages; on the other, a host of clubs willing to give him the golden parachute he wants to ease into retirement.

Given how dedicated, consistent, and (at times) superb Sagna has been, doesn't he have a right to wonder what price loyalty? After all, he's made 269 appearances, broken his leg twice, seen other teammates and friends leave for almost-instant glory, not to mention pay-raises, and what does he get in a season in which he's seen us announce a new deal with Puma worth some £30m a year? A standard, one-year deal with no pay-raise despite being our only legitimate full-time right back has to feel a little, well, disappointing.

If the club are not willing to resign him at £100,000 a week, we have to be willing to ask ourselves, what will we lose and what could we gain? Are there younger, better right backs out there who would match or beat Sagna's performance? If so, can they be had for less than what Sagna wants? With Carl Jenkinson and Hector Bellerin behind him, Sagna is almost ideal—he's reached an age at which he may not want or be capable of two or three starts per week, but he knows Arsenal, he knows the Prem, and he can tutor Jenkinson and Bellerin. Given other needs we'd like to meet, such as striker (a position that usually commands hefty fees) and center-back, the utility—not to mention the symbolism—of retaining Sagna is not to be overlooked.

If he could be wooed with a compromise bid of, say, £85k for two years, would this convince him to stay? He's one of Arsenal's longest-tenured players and has put in years of dedicated, loyal service. Does that count for something, or should the club focus more exclusively on its bottom line even if it means losing Sagna and having to find a replacement in the summer? I'm torn. It's not my money, so I can't just go ahead and say, "sign him, whatever it takes!" On the other, I love the guy and hope to see him finish out his career here even if that does require us to pony up. What do you think? Can you put a price-tag on what he's been worth to the club over the years, or is time to say "thanks, best of luck to you elsewhere?" Offer your views below the fold.

'Til next time, thanks for stopping by!