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By Ben Jones
An interesting article on the FourFourTwo website this week revealed that Jermaine Pennant’s move to Real Zaragoza has rewarded the former Young Gun with a £40k a week contract. Surprising, this is a figure that works out to roughly the same wage as a player earning £80k a week here in the EPL –Thanks to the British governments new 50% tax bracket. You can read the article here.
Now, I believe that puts him in the same company as Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie in terms of wages. So a player with a fraction of Cesc’s ability gets the same wage. Sound fair? No, It’s absolutely mental!
This whole situation has consequences on Arsenal’s future ability to attract and keep top class players. Good news is that Arsenal won’t be alone in facing this challenge – Everyone barring Man City you’d think. Wenger, a man of high economic understanding responded to questions about the recent domination of the EPL in Europe, saying…
"Don’t worry, that time will soon be over, because with the new taxation system, and the collapse of Sterling, the domination of the Premier League on that front will go. That is for sure. It will be a financial problem for all the English clubs."
You don’t have to have Arsene’s knowledge of economic matters to understand that players by nature will choose destinations where they can maximize their income. We all hate paying tax and would probably make a similar decision in our normal everyday lives. The truth is, teams will have to stump up even more money to keep their players in the EPL, otherwise La Liga will suddenly become a very appealing destination.
It may seem like its all doom and gloom but Arsenal are better positioned than any club to tackle this situation, and the reason why? Our ‘Young Guns’ of course.
In an interview given by Gilles Grimandi the Arsenal scout talks about our approach in tracking young players and gives some insight into the scouting network as a whole. The interview can be read here.
The curly haired legend touches upon an interesting point regarding the personal touch and assurances the club offer to both the players and their families during the recruitment process. I guess the signing of Aaron Ramsey from Cardiff epitomised this idea. When Manchester United were courting the youngster, they sent… wait for it… Gary Neville to speak to Ramsey and convince him that his future lies at Old Trafford. Arsenal? Well they flew Ramsey and his family first class to Switzerland to have lunch and a personal chat with Mr Wenger.
When Arsenal sign a youngster it’s done so with great consideration and it’s given the time it deserves by the highest rungs of the clubs hierarchy. Grimandi also had this to say…
"If young people are recruited, it is because one believes in their progression within the team. The trainer promises something to them which is realizable"
You can’t argue with that. It’s all about quality, not quantity with Arsenal. I certainly believe that the promises made to players and their families are going to be Arsenal’s greatest investment for the foreseeable future. That is of course, provided these promises are kept.
Building a team full of players that owe Arsenal a debt, a respect for the manager and who have grown to love the club, this is Arsenal’s best weapon against the silly amount of money going around. Its about creating an environment where loyalty can flourish.
Cesc and RVP are just the latest players that could have picked up more than double their current salaries elsewhere, but it’s the investment in these players as young men which has so far been critical in keeping them in the red and white.
Arsenal fans are now entering an exciting period in the clubs history. We are about to witness the first generation of players since Wenger took charge, that will complete the full development cycle by joining the club at the age of nine and going on to play first team football (Wilshire, Lansbury etc)
It’s been too long since Arsenal had their own Totti, Scholes or Maldini; players you could never see playing for any other club. Playing first team, for a club you’ve been at since the age of nine, surely you can’t have any more loyalty, love and respect for a club than that. Money becomes a side issue.
Seriously, could you imagine Paul Scholes or Ryan Giggs having a contract dispute?
Ok, we were stung by Ashley Cole, but for Arsenal and our youth players it’s the best thing that could of ever happened. Obviously it has contributed towards the development of Clichy and now Gibbs, but even more importantly, any Arsenal youngster can look at Cole’s example and see that following money doesn’t always bring happiness; it also brings widespread derision and great nicknames like "Cashley" and "C**tly C**t."
As teams are presented with the challenge of being expected to pay higher wages to compensate for the new tax hike, and stronger competition from Spain for the title of ‘Best League in the World," teams will be forced to reassess and look at returning to a more sustainable model. Of course this starts by developing your own players at grass roots level, something that puts Arsenal in pole position.
Article By – Ben Jones
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