07 June 2015

To Arsenal go the spoils of the Champions League: Pogba or Vidal?

So, Barcelona have again the Champions League. Good for them. It must be as thrilling as cheering for gravity or the wetness of water. Having now won it three times in seven years, Barça might feel a bit glutted, if jaded, not that this diminishes the impressiveness of the feat. At a risk if sounding a bit envious, it might be nice if we at Arsenal would stop selling them players who go on to win doubles or, in Vermaelen's case, a treble. Speaking of Vermaelen, we apparently inserted a clause into his contract that would pay us some £3m should Barça win the Champions League. Well, they did. Whether that clause bears fruit is another question. Whether we should care is still another.

Let me just say for starters that I've had it up to my eyeballs with clauses inserted into contracts that may or may not get triggered. We endured quite enough of that last summer, thank you very much. The question of whether or not Barça will have to pay us this pittance does not matter. We're talking, after all, of £3m. That's such a small fraction of our annual budget that it barely merits the mention. Instead of harping on about that, why not crow about the £16.7m we got for an out-of-form centre-back who couldn't find his way into our starting line-up, got injured at his new club, and made just one appearance, and that in their last league match of the season against relegation-threatened Deportiva La Coruna by which point Barça had all but won La Liga.

For context's sake, we've earned far-more from winning the FA Cup than Barça would have to pay us. Estimates vary and this season's stats have not yet been released, so we'll go with last season's numbers. Our run to the 2014 FA Cup final netted us some £4.2m, and it stands to reason that winning the 2015 FA Cup win earn us that and more. In other words, thanks, Tommy, for your services. I'm not saying we should wantonly walk away from £3m; I'm merely pointing out that the transfer of Vermaelen may have already been harvested. His transfer-fee is close to those of Calum Chambers (£17.8) and Danny Welbeck (£17.6m) and exceeds those of Mathieu Debuchy (£13.2m) and Gabriel (£13.2). Of the four, only Debuchy is likely to have commanded the weekly wages that Vermaelen was on. Even then, I'd wager that each of those four delivered more to his new club than Vermaelen did.

In other words, don't lose sleep over whether or not we're due this money from Barça. I despise the club almost as much as I do Tottenham or Chelsea, but I'm not about to grovel over what amounts to half of an Andre Santos transfer-free.

Further afield, I have to admit to a bit of drool after the performances of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba. We've been heavily linked with each of them, and after their rather-diffident performances in the Champions League final, one has to wonder what their futures hold. This has to have been a swan-song of sorts for Gianluigi Buffon (37) and Andrea Pirlo (36), as well as for recent additions like Patrice Evra (34) and Carlos Tevez (31). Heck, Pogba and Alvaro Morata were the only starters younger than 28. One way of looking at this is to suggest that Pogba and Vidal are prized assets who must be sold to finance Juventus's summer ambitions; another is to suggest that the two are a foundation around which a new squad must be built.

'Twixt the two, Pogba is probably the pricier. He's only 22, and according to what I've seen on youtube and various Vines, there's nothing he can't do. Strange that he didn't do so much of that against Barça. Could we count on Arsenal's status as a French club in England to lure him back to the Prem? Man U apparently want him back, but would he be willing to wait on them qualifying for the group-stage? They have a potentially nettlesome qualifier to fight through, which might be enough to delay their deal or give Pogba pause. Moving down the scale a bit, could Alexis whisper sweet-nothings into Vidal's ear, convincing his countryman of the virtues of playing for the Arsenal?

Surely, the apparent arrival of Sami Khedira, who is out of contract with Real Madrid, suggests that Juventus will be willing to part with one or other, Pogba or Vidal. If we could pounce on either, the transfer-fee alone would likely rise to the £40m mark, if not higher. How does that stand in contrast to, say, a £30m fee for the Prem-tested Morgan Schneiderlin?

There are nearly three months until the transfer-window closes. Brace yourselves...