In his first press conference of the year Wenger was taken off guard by a reporter asking if he would like to keep Alexis Sanchez. Responding to this most unusual of questions Wenger stated “We’ll see. The players have contracts and we expect them to respect their contracts, and that’s what we want.” Wenger also reminded the gathered press (and us fans) that just because Alexis is in the final season of his contract he’s not really in the final season of his contract because he could still sign an extension with Arsenal any time between now and the end of the season.
Rumors are flying that Arsenal are holding out for £80m to transfer Alexis to another Premier League team and the press is also reporting that Alexis has asked for £400k a week from Arsenal to sign an extension (reported through Arsenal mouthpiece John Cross). These reports have the club’s fingerprints on them and show that Arsenal are playing hardball with Alexis over his extension.
There is no doubt that Alexis wants more money. Bayern would have taken him in a minute and were actually confident that they could get him but then he told them his salary demands and the German side, not wanting to break their salary structure, said “no thanks.” After that, Alexis has been shopping himself around to clubs which could afford him, in other words, Chelsea and Man City.
While Alexis’ Arsenal salary demands seem crazy it’s important to note that Arsenal are no longer in the Champions League and that Arsenal players earn less than Man City and Chelsea players do for their endorsement deals. Most fans only see the “salary” numbers for players and fail to notice, because it’s never reported, that players earn just as much, if not more, in endorsements than in salary. Robin van Persie bragged about taking a “pay cut” to go to United but in reality, while his weekly wage went down a small amount, his endorsement deals made him one of the richest footballers in the world.
When I saw Alexis’ salary demands I thought two things: one, the club leaked this to make him look greedy; and two, if this is a real demand, it doesn’t surprise me as it’s saying “I want compensation for the lost money from Arsenal’s lower profile and smaller endorsement deals.”
You probably think this is greedy. It is. Greed abounds in football and works both for and against Arsenal. I know that fans like to think their club is attractive because of its history, location, and manager but Arsenal also attract players to the team because we pay a lot more than other clubs in Europe. It’s a bit hypocritical for Arsenal supporters to complain about greed in football when their club has the 7th highest wage bill… in Europe. No doubt Arsenal are a destination because of London, because of Herbert Chapman, but also because we pay massive salaries and players get better endorsements here than they do in France or Germany.
As for Alexis staying at Arsenal, at this point I’m a lot less confident that he’s going to leave this summer. Unless he throws a public strop, Arsenal seem to have boxed him in with their public pronouncements about how much it would take to buy him and his “outrageous” salary. It is a clever bit of maneuvering by Arsenal’s board and sets the stage for Alexis to possibly sign an extension with the club once he sees how and whether the Arsenal improve with Arsene’s £100m in summer signings.
And if Arsenal do re-sign him, what if they give him a £10m singing bonus? Wouldn’t that be caving in to greed?
Well, yes it would. It’s also just the sordid reality of football in 2017.