Valencia hint they are set to sign Gabriel from Arsenal

Recent reported links between Arsenal and Valencia over the signing of Gabriel Paulista have been too easily dismissed by Arsenal supporters as it seems like Valencia CF have “pre-announced” his transfer via twitter:

Selling Gabriel is a risky move for Arsenal as the London team seems light in the center back position. Koscielny, Arsenal’s best defender, is suffering chronic tendonitis; Mertesacker is in his last season, Mustafi seems a good option (especially in buildup) though his defending has been questioned; and Rob Holding is raw at best and at worst is a mess with the ball.

Arsenal have been forced to play Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac in the CB position in the early part of the season – both players converted from left back – because the other two options Arsenal have at CB either of Chambers and the aforementioned Gabriel have been injured or are out of favor.

Gabriel isn’t Arsenal’s best defender by any stretch and has been red carded for losing his temper with Diego Costa among a few other mistakes. But he is a big body who isn’t afraid to get stuck into aerial challenges and his departure, more importantly, leaves Arsenal with just one or two top quality healthy center backs.

It’s a strange move from Arsenal, especially in light of Wenger’s comments that Arsenal are basically done buying. Speaking to reporters at his Wednesday press conference Wenger was asked if Arsenal were busy in the market looking to buy players, Wenger replied “Getting players out keeps you as busy as getting players in. I think I will be busy, yes.” And even the official site suggests that Wenger is done in the buying end of the market reporting “By Arsene Wenger’s own admission, the focus for much of the rest of the transfer window will be on outgoings rather than who could be joining us.” (same link as above)

It becomes an even stranger move in the context of Arsene saying that he’s determined to keep Alexis, Ox, Ozil, and Wilshere who are all in the last year of their contracts. Wenger also admitted that Arsenal are looking to sell Lucas Perez. That means Arsenal could potentially lose Alexis, Ox, Ozil, Cazorla, Gibbs, Wilshere, and Mertesacker (all on a free) next summer along with Gabriel, Debuchy, Szczesny (sold), and Lucas being sold this summer.

The contract situation at Arsenal looks even more precarious when you see that Ramsey, Giroud, Walcott, Welbeck, Monreal, Ospina, and Cech are all out of contract in 2019 (source: transfermarkt). That means that in addition to having players like Ox, Ozil, and Alexis able to demand a huge signing on bonus because they are out of contract, Arsenal will also be trying to nail down the entire rest of the team’s core to long-term deals.

Giroud is a big body and is often called upon to defend set plays and corners. Perhaps Wenger is looking to convert the French forward? (I don’t really believe this, it’s what we call a “joke.”)

I have no special access to Arsenal’s hierarchy but this looks like the owner, manager, and corporate bosses are simply blowing this team up. If this was an NFL or NBA team I’d say it looks like the club are clearing out a lot of salary.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Teams have to rebuild from time to time and Arsenal’s wage structure, which was put in place to help fund the stadium, is inefficient because it makes moving players like Theo Walcott difficult. It could also mean that Arsenal and the Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke are looking to cut their costs and increase profits.

Regardless my speculation on the club’s intent the reality is that selling Gabriel leaves the club short in a key position. This is a pattern with Arsenal, though, and one which fans have grown accustomed to. It is also just as possible that Wenger was kidding about not buying any more players and that the Gunners already have a replacement lined up for Gabriel, one which adds top top quality to the back line.

Let’s hope its the latter.



  1. Not gonna get concerned about this unless chambers actually goes. Even with Gabriel gone, we have koscielny, mertesacker, mustafi, monreal – that’s four that are solid (in a back three system) plus two decent-even-if-a-little-raw options in chambers and holding, plus kolasinac who can play theee if needed too. Plenty of bodies.

  2. I just commented on this on your previous article. I am not worried about the CB role (as long as we keep Chambers) but if we sell Ox we have essentially lost the two players who can play back up to Bellerin in that wing back role. In that scenario, I think we will need another right back unless Wenger wants to keep the space clear for Nelson.

    The contract situation is a sh*t show.

  3. They’ve royally f**** up the contracts situation, and honestly, I’d not be angry with Kroenke if someone’s head rolled over this. It does not look intentional — it looks like mismanagement.

    Does anyone really believe that Ox and Ozil, if they really wanted to sign, wouldn’t have done already. They’re forgoing big pay increases, for a reason. Wenger said there’s possibility that the would sign in their final year. That’s balls, and he knows it.

    I support the decision to hold Sanchez to his contract, but 3 Bosmans in the First XI (and more likely next year) are too many. That’s a £125m asset write-off (minus the cost of wage increases). It’s a mess.

  4. In terms of players who are contracted to a long term, you have:
    -> Holding, Mustafi, Koscielny, Chambers, Kolasinac & Bellerin in Defense
    -> Xhaka, Elneny, Coquelin in Mid-Field
    -> Lacazette & Iwobi in Forward
    That’s not even a full squad.

    Giroud, Ramsey, Walcott, Monreal, Welbeck & Ospina seem to be first team regulars who are going into the last 2 years of their contract & who would need to have either extensions or sold.

    The whole situation seems to lack planning on Arsenal’s side whereby important players seem to have been allowed to enter their final years leaving the club’s negotiating hand at a loss.

    I agree with Tim, there needs to be contract extensions for many players, at least for Ox and one of Alexis or, Ozil else, there will be too much quality walking out of the door.

    Also, we need to buy young upcoming players like Dembele or, Asensio. Without that, we are in for a few turbulent years ahead.

  5. And of course the other figure leaving at end 2019 is Wenger himself. Interesting times ahead.

    I think that I’ve basically had enough of this whole not-quite-making-it with expensive players thing that we’re doing right now, and would like to go back to the days of not-quite-making-it with young, exciting unknowns. I feel like there are experienced, well-paid, 24-30 year-olds who are underperforming, undercommitted and clogging up our first eleven. Time to get the young blood in. Back to project youth. The fans love that stuff.

    Half joking.

    1. On reflection though isn’t it a bit too early to be calling a shitshow on contracts that are 2 years out from expiring? Most player contracts would not get renewed before the last 2 years, no?

    2. No half joke – for real.

      Feasting on the second tier of the transfer market will not provide a consistent pathway to success.

      It’s supply and demand economics; transfer fees and salaries are absurd because there is an undersupply of top level talent. So, stop worrying about the demand side – go create the talent and be your own supplier.

      1. The problem is we don’t have a great record in creating talent either and we haven’t seen anything from the club in the last two decades that’s encouraging to that regard. I think one or two academy products every other season is a realistic target. As far as buying identifying and buying players when they are on the cusp of breaking out, say 19-22 year olds, they have all been identified by other clubs as well and Arsenal won’t be able to attract the elite players in that tier either.

  6. roughly once a month, last season, i declared that arsenal needed to make alexis sanchez the highest paid player in the bpl. why? because he was the best player in the bpl and deserved it. they needed to pay him while he was a bit under the radar and everyone else was looking at man city and chelsea. what did arsenal do? inexplicably, they decided to delay contract negotiations for ozil and alexis until the summer. can someone explain to me why that was a good idea?

    the stupid thing is we all know that this contract situation is screwed. what upsets me most is wenger actually has the audacity to try and convince us that this situation is ideal like he really believes we’re all stupid. arsenal won’t be able to compete with other clubs to keep players in the last year of their contracts. arsenal couldn’t even keep flamini for crying out loud. how are they going to keep alexis, ozil, or chamberlain? the only way they stay is if no one else wants them (walcott).

    i know many have argued with me and said they don’t mind ox leaving but i still think that’s insane. if this kid stays fit through christmas and wenger doesn’t move him again, he’ll probably triple his worth. he’s gotten better every single year and is quickly approaching a level where he’s unplayable. once he figures out that position, he’s going to be world class. for arsenal to lose a young english player entering his prime on a free transfer is plain stupid. my mom used to tell me that stupid was an ugly word but sometimes it’s good to call a spade what it is.

    1. I share your sentiment of frustration around not having a settled XI.
      A lot of this uncertainty comes from the fact that the board was unclear on Wenger himself.

      There needs to be better planning all around including better recruitment.
      We hired a scout from Leicester, some fitness coaches but, we are no where near the level a club of Arsenal’s stature should be at tbh.

      35m for the Ox is good money and AFC should take it. Let’s promote some of the younger talent like Nelson to take his place.

    2. You hit the nail on the head with that second paragraph.

      As for Ox, I am not sure if we have left ourselves with much a choice but to sell him. We simply can’t have 3 first team players leaving for free. The only way to keep him at this point would be by making him a ludicrous offer. The risk is that if doesn’t come good, we will have another Theo Walcott situation on our hands. He turned 24 couple of days ago. I haven’t seen enough from him to confidently say he is going to be a world class player but if he is, it’s probably now or never. Some of his runs are unstoppable, as you say but I think his end product still needs a lot of work. Complicating his situation is his desire to play CM. He has had a few good performances there but didn’t quite cement his position as a midfielder. I think a wing back or MF role on the right side plays to his strengths. It’s a tough call and I hate to sell even stale bread to Chelsea but £35mil is a tempting offer, provided we use it to bolster the midfield.

      His career has been mismanaged at Arsenal. Someone with his natural abilities should have been further down the road in terms of development but I think the reason he isn’t is because he has been played in way too many different positions (he has played every position other than GK, CB and striker). I find it incredible that he hasn’t been able to lock down a position after 6 seasons at the club.

    3. “roughly once a month, last season, i declared that arsenal needed to make alexis sanchez the highest paid player in the bpl. why? because he was the best player in the bpl and deserved it. they needed to pay him while he was a bit under the radar and everyone else was looking at man city and chelsea. what did arsenal do? inexplicably, they decided to delay contract negotiations for ozil and alexis until the summer. can someone explain to me why that was a good idea?”

      Wenger’s own contract situation took all the air out of the room and he was in a weak position to negotiate players’ contract extensions.
      That’s what happens when the BOD is a token entity and the all powerful manager who’s got the ear of the owner holds them hostage.

  7. I think we have all been scratching heads over this for a while and Wenger “hoping” that it will be all sorted is as several have said, no kind of planning.

    What is it? Are we still nickle and diming these contracts down? Forget about enough wages for their flash cars – are we not putting enough on the players pre-paid Oyster cards?

  8. I’m not super happy about the current contract situation but I don’t think it’s too unfair to say that if Arsenal had handed Ozil and Ox hugely improved long term contracts a year ago in order to keep them at the club just as many people (and a lot of the same people) would be just as angry at Arsenal for rewarding underachieving players.

    And I say that as someone who would have questioned those improved contracts myself.

  9. I hate to say it, but this is what happens when you give a 68 year old manager carte blanche.

    I know the argument that even if we sold Alexis for 60m that we could not buy a replacement for that amount. Guess what? The prices aren’t going down next year and we will have just lost 60m to offset the loss, because by Wenger’s own admissions it doesn’t look like Alexis is staying. Or Ox. Or Wilshere. Or Gibbs. And maybe even Ozil is out too.

    This is short-term-ism run amok. Even if retaining the four big ones (Sanchez, Ozil, Ox and Wilshere) to see us back into the top 4 succeeds, what does that mean for revenue boosts – 50 million for group stage? That will barely cover a third of the transfer + wages of ONE player brought in.

    Then Gabriel is being sold for an apparent discount, Perez will likely go at a discount, Juve basically STOLE Sczeszny from us for a song, Chambers looks like he’s been binned… WTF?

    It’s a joke. There is a quote from Wenger about two years ago where he stated he wanted to leave the club in a fantastic position for the next manager. A fantastic position would be team with lots of quality young players tied to long term contracts, a thriving academy system pumping out first-rate talent and a massive cash reserve to fund a new manager’s buying spree. None of that will be there end of next year.

    Jim Collins in “Good to Great” talked about different levels of leaders. For those who’ve read it, Wenger is definitely a Level 4. I used to think he was Level 5, but no longer.

    1. “Leaving the club in a fantastic position for a new manager.”
      Let’s see,……posibly out of CL places and having no world class players to speak of ( if Ozil and Sanchez leave) might be a fantastic position for a new manager to be in when taking over. No pressure to succeed whatsoever.

  10. For everyone who blames Wenger, please explain why it makes sense from Ozil, Alexis or Chambers perspective to have signed a long-term contract last year.

    Putting myself in their shoes last year I see,
    1. A club that is structurally in Tier 1a, but that could still overperform.
    2. A manager who is being attacked by his own fans and whose future is uncertain.
    3. A huge Premier league TV deal which is going to inflate player value, not just because my team will have more money, but also because other teams will have more money.
    4. New Chinese money buying clubs in England and overpaying mediocre talent to move to China.
    5. Hints of runaway inflation in player value, e.g. Martial, Higuain and Pogba.

    Why would you tie your future to Arsenal?
    Why wouldn’t you run down your contract and maximize your share of the pie?

    Now above average player cost 50mm, kids with superstar potential 100mm and true superstars 200mm. Unless you believe the bubble is about to burst, why wouldn’t you try to get your share of that pie?

    1. By this logic Coutinho made a huge mistake by signing a new deal with Loverpool to more than triple his wages last year even though he had two years left on his original deal.
      Oh wait, no he didn’t.
      He packetted an extra £6.7 m last season and will soon be off to Barca to further increase his wages and profile , while Liverpool make a tidy profit of £100m over his original transfer fee from Inter.

    2. I do not blame Sanchez, Ozil or Ox for what they are doing. It’s a win-win for them if they are comfortable with the risk they may get seriously hurt. But as they say, no risk – no reward.

      Where the club is failing is in contingency planning. You can plan on retaining these players but if that doesn’t look likely you need a contingency plan that can transition the club to life without these players. It’s not evident. It’s all for broke, this year.

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