The Annual £30 Million Question
By Theo Jensen
The ‘deadwood’ anchor will soon be lifted
I thought I would mark the completion of the club's second summer signing by reviewing where we stand with our 'deadwood set' players. As some of you are aware, Arsène Wenger's budget for transfers also includes the costs of player-contracts (ie their wages).
The squad players who have been almost unanimously identified as 'deadwood' have not only made just a handful of appearances between them for the club in the previous season, but are also reported to be earning salaries that each commands a payment of £50,000 per week, or more. The exact amount for each player is not always reported identically, but I am yet to find a purported sum that falls outside £10,000 of the most frequently cited figure.
When you add up these players' contracts, a sum of around £30 million per annum emerges. Although this is, of course, a guess and not definitive, it does seem to be a well-founded calculation. So, without further ado, let's review where things stand (please note - unless otherwise stated, I am working on the assumption that these players earn £50,000 per week each):
Manuel Almunia: Old news now, but our third-choice keeper was released by the club. Adios!
Lukasz Fabianski: I can't find a solid source indicating whether he has one or two years left on his contract. He told Arsenal TV Online that he had signed a contract-extension in early 2010, and earlier this summer indicated his desire to leave. He probably has either one or two years left, but I expect Wenger may hold on to him so he need not fork out a transfer fee for a new keeper; in any event, it is far from certain that Fabianski could be sold at such a wage.
Sebastien Squillaci: thankfully, he only has one year left - I'm still not convinced he's ever had the concept of marking explained to him.
Abou Diaby: Reportedly earning an incredible £60,000 per week, Diaby is admired by a select few fans. He has shown some great potential, but, aside from being injury-prone, we have tons of depth for our central midfield options, and I personally would prefer to see players like Coquelin given more chances. He was originally contracted until 2012, but signed an extension at the end of 2009. He (possibly) is contracted until 2014.
Park Chu-Young: I really struggled to find out the details of this signing. Wenger stated that the signing was necessary given the absence of Chamakh and Gervinho, due to the African Cup of Nations. He was also 26 when signed, and, though I couldn’t find a source for this, allegedly told the club in advance he would be needed for military service in South Korea in two years' time. Hopefully, therefore, given any or all of those reasons, his contract is a short-term one.
Johan Djourou: I, like many of you, only recently saw the return of my eyebrows from the back of my head after hearing that Wenger had decided to extend Djourou's contract until 2015.
Marouane Chamakh: he is contracted until 2014. Despite his excellent start, his confidence seems to have been shattered since RvP returned. Assuming that our talisman stays, one hopes such a situation doesn't transpire with Giroud, who may play on the right wing, but may also be primarily the back-up lone striker.
Andrey Arshavin: world-class when he can be bothered, and supposedly earning £70,000 per week, but there doesn't seem to be any place for Arshavin anymore. Some have suggested he could be used as a playmaker, but again, we have Wilshere to come back who will presumably take up this role next season. He has one year left on his contract, and I suspect we could fetch a reasonable fee for him.
Denilson: Sao Paulo president Juvenal Juvencio is quoted as saying that we have set a fee of £4.9 million for his purchase. Given his wage, this seems a little unfounded. As with Chamakh, it would be probably be better for us to make these players available for close-to-free transfers, given their wages (our gamble on Chamakh's four-year contract works out at more than £10 million!). In any case, he signed a contract extension in September 2009 and is apparently contracted until 2014.
Carlos Vela: Signed on a five-year deal in November 2005, he extended his contract in December 2009. As usual, the club did not specify the length of this contract extension but he is reportedly contracted until 2015. Again, there are clubs allegedly interested in La Liga, so it wouldn't be prudent to quibble too much over his fee.
Nicklas Bendtner: contracted until 2014, Bendtner is, according to his agent, attracting 'global interest' - though which globe he meant is not clear. He could perhaps gain a decent fee - let's just hope his performances at the Euros have fuelled that to happen!
So, upon examination, it's clear that the problem of the deadwood players is not so bad after all. The majority of the 'set' will be gone, at worst, by 2014. This coincides with the time when new kit- and shirt-sponsorship deals will be negotiated. I refer you to the excellent work of Swiss Ramble's article 'Arsenal's Mystery Dance' for analysis of this. But we will be substantially stronger in terms of financial muscle when it comes to transfer-fees and player-wages, if we can stay in the Champions League or, better yet, win some trophies. The new TV deals, which I have not yet looked at in depth yet, will also apparently be the source of more income.
Therefore, long term, things are not looking so bad - as long as we keep competitive in the next two seasons. This unfortunate wage policy cannot reasonably become a trend, so let's hope that if more youngsters and/or squad players are signed, Wenger has learned the necessary lessons and makes their wages based on performance-related bonuses!
30th June 2012
User Comment and Reaction
User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.
bob davy 17:15pm 30th Jun 2012
wouldnt it have been better in some of the cases above to have offerd a financial hand shake to get rid quicker? - Post No. 26022
Peter Wain 17:16pm 30th Jun 2012
Am I the only one who finds this total bad management. Their are at ;east ten players who we shpuld get rid of most of whom stay becuase of the wages they are on. It is time to change our wage structure so that players like RVP earn substabtially more than Bendtner Diaby or Flappianski. Quite what the management was thinking when they offered these players the salaries is beyond me. Still it is the snake oil sales man so nothing is a surprise. - Post No. 26023
Mike Stefan 17:21pm 30th Jun 2012
This is actually rather depressing. That means we are stuck with these morons for another 2, possibly 3 years. Oh dear. - Post No. 26024
Bob A 17:39pm 30th Jun 2012
Do not forget in this same period most off all the new commercial deals will be up for grabs , which should add an extra £ 20 million plus £ 20 million from Sky/BT these are questimates which are on the low side so we are talking £ 40 million plus in 2014. - Post No. 26025
Frank 18:01pm 30th Jun 2012
The problem with the deadwood not so bad.You joking.You left out Rosicky who after 5 decent games was given a new contract(£70k a week,i kid you not!!!!).The Diaby situation is beyond a joke and would not be allowed at any other club.The only players who earnt their wages last season were RVP,Kos,Arteta and maybe Sczcesny.Get Diaby and Rosicky off the wage bill and we COULD offer RVP £200k plus a week.But we would rather pay two injury prone tossers £130k a week between them for a dozen games a season.Thanks Wenger - Post No. 26026
martin wengrow 18:43pm 30th Jun 2012
So many errors of judgement by Wenger. - Post No. 26027
Domhuaille MacMathghamhna 22:48pm 30th Jun 2012
Theo....nice misinformed transition from your first paragraph of pure unfounded speculation about AFC's compensation packages for individual players to your last paragraph where it seems we cannot afford to continue to allow this ¨unfortunate¨ wage policy to continue! Are you saying that over a 11-12 paragraphs, you suddenly found out that what you said was mostly ¨bollocks¨ misinformation at the beginning became a certainty at the end? Sorry, but despite your Fantasy Football Manager certainty, and your fair assessments about our ¨deadwood¨, you missed the boat bigtime. - Post No. 26028
wrightydenhenry 8:02am 1st Jul 2012
All of this is true and the points are well made but you have to question how we arrived at this situation. You've named 10 plàyers all surplus to requirements costing between £25M and £30 million a year. That's over 20% of Arsenal's alleged £140M wage budget. As they near the end of their contracts so their sale value reduces. So the total losses (excluding loan deals) if left to 2014 could be more than £50M no wonder we can't compete. In my view this is where we have indulged Arsene in this economic egalitarian model and it needs to stop. Sell these players realise whatever cash we can and use it for fewer better squad players. We are using the loan system for our underperforming players, more than 18 on loan last when it should be just for development of young players. - Post No. 26030
GG89 10:32am 1st Jul 2012
Stan Koenke is deadwood too. Usmanov maybe be shady but thats football these days. If financial fairplay comes in the big clubs will just form a new association to continue their spending and trophy collections... Taking the money from Citeh, chelski, barca etc means are money is not clean either.... Wake up the conservative idiots at the club. - Post No. 26031
James 11:05am 1st Jul 2012
Any owner who knew anything about football would call Wenger into his office to explain how downright rubbish like Almunia Diaby Denilson Bendtner and Djourou were all offered long term contracts worth £50k a week or more.But of course Kroenke knows f**k all about football.At the moment RVP earns £10k a week more than Diaby.We cant get rid of the deadwood because no one is fool enough to play them what we do.Almunia didnt play one game last season and got paid £60k a week - Post No. 26033
AFCasap 11:19am 1st Jul 2012
so this is the "fiscal responsibility" we are always hearing from wengers secretary gazidis...not to mention the 7mil for le boss....all lies and deception....these are the real reasons we don't buy quality players, everyones lining their pockets...the club treats us like fools but the akbs love it...we are a sick joke - Post No. 26034
Theo Jensen 13:50pm 1st Jul 2012
@'Domhuaille MacMathghamhna' you completely misunderstood. My sources for the first paragraph claim are The Making of a Modern Superclub and Swiss Rambles- where are your sources? The point was that LONG TERM it isn't viable to just gift squad players or younger unproven ones massive contracts. If you think the wage sums are questionable then explain why the wage bill is so high? - Post No. 26035
maguiresbridge gooner 14:17pm 1st Jul 2012
The sooner the deadwood anchor is lifted the better there's no real sign or it yet and until it is there is a problem with the deadwood and that problem will remain until they're all gone almunia is just one piece with a hell of a lot more to go.The money these duds are on is a disgrace.The thought of flappy as a number two or three for another season for whatever reason is enough to drive anyone to drink if he hasn't already. I think we all know who sanctioned these inflated contracts and extensions with nobody being held responsible for their failure.I think enough youngsters and squad players not up to the job on inflated contracts have been signed its time for proven quality and maybe we'll not have to worry about just being competitive and go on and win something. - Post No. 26036
Angry & Frustrated 15:36pm 1st Jul 2012
We may indeed be in a better position in 2 years time, when all the current deadwood has gone. However as i said the "current deadwood" remember Senderos, Eboue, Traore whose to say that in 2 years time Wenger will not have given us another set of overpaid deadwood players? The route of the problem is Wenger and his never ending bargain basement policy. I hope both Podolski and Giroud don't turn into the new Chamakh & Bendtner, but it's a posibility because that's the never ending risk we take buying players at sub £15 million. I still expect one or two completely unheard of French players to arrive for practically no money but given high wages and then become the latest deadwood types on our never ending production line that we can't get rid off. So in two years time we may still be in the same situation, with only the names being different with Wenger telling us these latest "super super quality" players are world beaters just as we were told that Squilachi etc fell into this category!! - Post No. 26037
Gare Kekeke 16:40pm 1st Jul 2012
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, with the above mentioned players and more on huge sums of money and with a lot of them still relatively young, the club will charge top dollar to any potential suitor so no one should expect the ‘deadwood’ to be easily sold this summer or even next year. Remember the failed attempts to sell Senderos in summer 2009? As we know he eventually left The Arsenal a year later on a Bosman free to Fulham depriving the club of extra funds because of the greed of the board and possibly Wenger. A typical failure from the club in recent seasons that they just refuse to learn from. I do laugh at the comments from some Gooners on this site who expect the club to sell these players with consummate ease. But then to me, these people think it’s a myth that they are earning huge sums of money. Do these people think the wage bill of £124.4m from 2010/11 is fabricated nonsense? It’s already rumoured that the wage bill for 2011/12 is up to £140m. And yes, it takes into account all staff members not just the players. Feel free to have a word with a member of the AST about this. Personally, I don’t agree with the notion that we should pay off the players the remainder of their contracts as it will use up funds that could be used to bring in better quality players. Overall, it’s the wage structure that has to change. But as long as Wenger is the manager and as long as he is involved in negotiations with other club officials don’t expect that to happen any time soon. But we shall see. Up The Arsenal! - Post No. 26039
Ray 17:37pm 1st Jul 2012
Wengers flawded philosophy is to pay our best players just a little bit extra than our poor players.So out of a wage billof £124m a year our top player earns £80k a week.So while RVP should be on £150k a week and Chamakh on £5k a week the differnce between them is £10k.And that is why its adios Robin.Arsenal reward players who have achieved nothing - Post No. 26040
Joe S. 22:03pm 1st Jul 2012
So what are you saying Theo, we should chill out and be patient with this bad management because the person responsible is beyond accountability or blame? also nothing is going to happen in terms of success before then. Don't forget that by 2014 Arteta, Rosicky, Santos Cervinio and possibly Ramsey could also be floating amongst the deadwood. all the positivity is based on wishful thinking.I can't see any cause for optimism unless there is a mass clear out within the next year and that should also include management. - Post No. 26041
Andrew Cohen 22:59pm 1st Jul 2012
It doesn't matter about the dead wood. Mr Wenger will continue to back his own judgment, and he will continue to be wrong. More players who he is incapable of getting the best out of will be hired or kept, and those players who have genuine career prospects, will, if they know what is good for them, get out. Watching Fabregas rip the heart and lungs out of Italy's game plan tonight made me very pleased for him that he had escaped, and more angry than I already was at Wenger for having lost such a good player. One of many. All that matters is getting rid of Wenger. If we can ship out the dead wood at the same time, then that would be just peachey. - Post No. 26042
jason b 23:39pm 1st Jul 2012
I'll add Jack WIlshire to your list of deadwood in June 2013.I can't see him in an Aresnal shirt much before then.After he's the new diaby.Always injured and when he gets on the comeback trial,he picks up another injury.Loan out or get rid of him! - Post No. 26043
clockender1 1:47am 2nd Jul 2012
i still don't understand why we offered these high contracts in the first place ? were we afraid of losing them ? all we would of lost was potential, which is easily replaced. the sad thing is that we are not talking about one or two players here or even three or four,we're talking about 8-10 ! at any business Arsene would have been fired for making so many long term bad decisions, i mean come on Djourou is almost due a testimonial for 10 years service. 10 whole years - surely the scouts at the club should have known at 18 or 20 he wasn't going to make it ? It's not just been the problem with Arsene, it's been the failing of the whole coaching and management staff, and the medical team is shocking as well. - Post No. 26044
Tony Evans 8:17am 2nd Jul 2012
Completely agree with 'Angry and Frustrated'. The problem is Wenger and I simply do not trust his judgement any more, either tactically or in the transfer market and don't get me started on his attitude to defending! - Post No. 26045
chris dee 9:05am 2nd Jul 2012
If we are to win anything next year the goalkeeping situation has to be sorted. 'Deadwood' Fabianski and Mannone must be kicked out. Sirchesney is a good promising young keeper,but thats all. His mistake cost us the Carling Cup and he screwed up again for Poland aaginst Greece,both big games and that's worrying. Fat Boy Robinson at Blackburn is available from Blackburn,he has vast Premiership experience ,just like Mark Schwarzer who Arsene tried to sign previously. If Sirchesney is not performing or is injured we will at least have a half decent back up goalie instead of having to s**t ourselves everytime the ball gets within 30 yards of Fabianski. We would have won at least one trophy in the last seven years if we had replaced Jens with a decent keeper instead of our original 'dodgy' keeper Almunia. Van de Sar,Schwarzer,Freidel were all available during the last seven years.Bad bad call Arsene. - Post No. 26046
Theo Jensen 12:24pm 2nd Jul 2012
@ Angry and Frustrated- you raise an excellent point. I'm surprised Wenger hasn't gone for players like Dempsey or Tiote tbh, who are proven in the EPL and probably cheaper than some other targets we're linked to. It is true that we could have a different 'set' of deadwood by the time the current lot are gone, but at least the majority of potential ones (reasonably in my view) are considered hard workers- Denilson, Squillaci, Chamakh etc. couldn't care less and never put in a shift. I actually think it would be better to speculate to accumulate like you say and get some non-bargain buys, considering how much revenue we could expect to see in two years' time. I really think Wenger ought to fundamentally change the wage structure from now on and use performance-related bonuses as the cornerstone of all new contracts- and yes I do agree with others that it's ridiculous the fact he has not been held accountable for these blunders so far!! - Post No. 26051
JER 13:07pm 2nd Jul 2012
Don't forget the homegrown rule. You are limited to 17 non-homegrown players. With the addition of Podolski and Giroud but the release of Alumunia we are now on 18. That includes Fabianski, Squelchy, Park, Benayoun, Diaby and Chamakh - so someone has to go. Plus if we buy a non-homegrown keeper another one will go. Djourou counts as homegrown. - Post No. 26053
Ron 13:36pm 2nd Jul 2012
'Not so bad' eh?. Id say the sitaution that has allowed dross like that lot to form essential parts (in Wengers view)of a Prem Lge squad is disastrous give the wages theyve been given for so long and never being asked to justify such wages before being handed them. Arsenal will struggle to shift that lot becuse theyre all next to hopeless, they truly are so why do you think some other Club wouldnt think the same? (Arshavin does have ability but hes usually fat, bone idle and never fit so that puts him into 'hopeless' category too). There must be force of argument in Arsenal buying out the Contracts of such dross and taking the hit. Yes, it screws them no doubt for purchases but in the longer term, allows earlier rebuilding and avoids Wengers successor being saddled with this garbage as Arsenal have been for far too long. - Post No. 26056
TK 16:43pm 2nd Jul 2012
its worth noting that park has had his national service postponed till a later date, in his 30s i believe (35 i think) so the contract was prob a 3-4 yr one. - Post No. 26059
Tom OB 22:43pm 2nd Jul 2012
There was/is an article that of Wenger's 'remit' (tho how an Emperor and his new clothes has one..) has to explain to 'shareholders' or whatever/whoever that he has to be seen in 'investing' in the squad on a yearly seasonal basis. So, instead of making those Jeffers and Richard Wright (arguably Wiltord) he gives all those 'promising youngsters' increased contracts on a regular basis. Bendnter the perfect example, someone who believes his own deluded drivel but when offered £60K a week as per reason above who is ultimately responsibles for this chaos? Without Dein around now, I give you one possible guess. - Post No. 26063
Theo Jensen 23:30pm 3rd Jul 2012
@TK- yeah I saw the story but I think the postponement was quite a recent development; from my research it appeared that the vast majority of Koreans are expected (or obliged) to start their military service by age 28 at the latest, and given the other reasons which I suggested I think the contract was probably a two year one. It was not until March of this year that he was granted a Monaco residency Visa, only under which provision was he permitted the 10-year postponement, on terms in accordance with Korean law. - Post No. 26070
20th May 2013
Online Ed: 4th place trophy and CL qualifier secured