10 June 2014

Fàbregas, Draxler, and Pogba, oh my! It's Wenger's Law...

... of Inverse Relationships, formulated by yours truly here and which states that there is an inverse relationship between how early and numerous are the rumors linking us to a player and the likelihood of us actually signing him. It happened last summer when it seemed that Gonzalo Higuaín was drawing ever closer to signing only to get snatched up by Napoli and again with Luis Suarez when our £40m+1 bid didn't quite seal the deal. The rumors around each of them seemed to swirl all summer only to come to naught. The same may have happened with Draxler in the January transfer window. By contrast, stories around us signing Özil appeared only in the last few days of the summer transfer window when—pow!—he was signed.  Now, this proposed law has yet to appear in any peer-reviewed journals; nonetheless, it still seems to bear up well under scrutiny.

Bad news: this would all but eliminate a certain Barcelona midfielder from signing with us. Who knows? Maybe he'll turn out to the be exception that proves the rule (bit of a logical mobius-strip, that, as you can't have an exception to a rule unless there's a rule in the first place; hence, any exception to a rule proves that the rule exists. Cogito ergo sum). Similarly, Wenger's Law may also eliminate Vela, Aurier, Pogba, and Remy, to name a few. Sad as that suggestion may be, consider the alternatives: in much the same way that the signing of Özil came out of left field, Wenger's Law makes possible any number of unforeseen signings.

How does this all work? For one, the click-bait on offer from the likes of The Sun, The Mirror, Bleacher Report, and so on proliferate like spores. It's as if they have a couple of dartboards in their offices, one for player-names and one for clubs, and after a few tosses of the dart—presto!—why, these stories practically write themselves. Therefore, the more common and pervasive a rumored combination is, the less likely it is to actually combine.

Second, Arsène is infamously parsimonious and secretive in his dealings. Once word of an Arsenal swoop becomes public, every Johnny-come-lately tries to horn in on the action, driving up prices and mucking up processes. Far better for Arsène, it seems, to fly below the radar. After all, the man simply refuses to pay more than what he adjudges to be a player's value, so why would he engage in such sordid bidding wars? If he rates a player at, say £25m, he has to know that the interest and involvement of some other club is going to drive the selling-price upwards. Let's say, for example, that Arsène rated Higuaín at £28m. Napoli got involved and the fee rose to £32m. That's not a colossal difference. Then again, Higuaín bagged 24 goals in 44 appearances—not much more than Giroud's 22 goals in 52 appearances. Giroud, by the way, signed for a fee somewhere around £10m.

However, we're not here to compare Giroud to Higuaín or Benzema (another striker who might be eliminated by Wenger's Law). We're here to ponder the potential ramifications of that Law. If it is in fact true that this inverse relationship holds true, well, then, we're out of the running for some of our most-desirable targets. For as sad as it may be to miss out on a few of those names, we've had to know, at some level, that there was a certain pie-in-the-sky element to the rumors. They're rumors, after all. However, the upside to Wenger's Law is that it makes anything possible. Let your mind wander: to whom have we not been connected in the tabloids? For as enticing as some of the names floated around our club have been, how exciting would it be to learn of a surprise-signing that almost no one anticipated? As always, for fear of triggering Wenger's Law, I won't mention anyone. Suffice it to say that there are a fair few players whose names have not recently been mentioned in connection with a move to the Emirates that I wouldn't mind reading about on deadline-day, if not earlier. I like surprises.

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