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Arsenal: The Usmanov Takeover

Almost every day on twitter and on blogs there are voices ranging from the humble and benign to the good and great criticizing the ownership of Stan Kroenke, not only for his refusal to spend the entire £200 million cash reserves on buying players in the fashion of United and City, but for failing to bring on board a manager who would be so inclined. One leading Arsenal blogger lamented:

“Where is the knowledge of, and passion for, Arsenal Football Club? Who is there that knows the modern game, the way it’s developing, the talent that exists throughout the world that might make this club better and more competitive? Not just on the pitch, but in every aspect. Sir Chips is simply a figurehead. The gruesome twosome of Stan and Josh Kroenke? Yeah, right.”

Make no mistake, Stan and Josh are just a convenient foil for this fairly typical type of ridicule by the blogger, but this entire screed had Arsene Wenger as the prime target.  It was already argued in the piece that AW’s dominance of the club football-wise is the greatest obstacle to Arsenal adapting to the modern game, i.e. pursuing the not so new idea that football clubs should spend beyond their organically generated resources to achieve success.  

To lay bare the poverty of the wisdom of the sage of Dublin, I decided to do some scenario planning and imagine what the club would be like if there had been an alternate takeover. Given the widespread nature of “cognitive fluency” (hat tip to d_c for spotting this piece on the BBC’s website Why are people so incredibly gullible), I doubt any of this will cause the majority of readers of this blog to stop believing the myths they are being fed daily. But at least they may be willing to consider for one moment, if the boot was on the other foot, would Usmanov be really different from Kroenke?

Background

fiszman_1872037c

So Danny Fiszman is on his deathbed, agonizingly aware that his days on earth are numbered, but fully cognizant that he must decide on the disposition of his shareholdings in Arsenal Football Club to not only prevent a fratricidal war between existing and potential owners but even more importantly to guarantee the strategic direction of the club which he had helped to define at great cost, not the least being at the expense of former friends and allies.

A life-long Arsenal fan, Fiszman bought his first tranche of shares in the club from its then vice-chairman David Dein in 1991, to acquire a seat on the board. By 1999 he owned as much as 33 per cent of the club. In his first years he took a back seat and tended to be seen only in the directors’ box at games.

But in the late 1990s he emerged to head up Arsenal’s search for a new stadium to replace Highbury, the club’s home for 86 years. Though it was Dein who brought Fiszman on to the board, the two men clashed repeatedly over the stadium project. Dein favoured a move to King’s Cross or to the restored Wembley. But in 1999 Fiszman identified a suitable plot on an Islington council rubbish dump at Ashburton Grove, about half a mile from Highbury, and it was his view that prevailed. The new stadium opened in 2006.

Fiszman subsequently became involved in the battle for control of the club between the Uzbek metal billionaire, Alisher Usmanov, and the American sports investor, Stan Kroenke. In April 2007 Fiszman was instrumental in ousting Dein from the board after differences arose over funding for the new stadium. Dein argued that external investment would be needed to control debt and remain competitive, and proposed to bring in Stan Kroenke. When he encouraged the American to buy ITV’s 9.9 per cent stake in Arsenal for £65 million, Dein was summarily drummed out as a director. By the way, the sacking of Dein by the Board is an inconvenient truth for the perpetuators of the Dein-myth, i.e. the man who would do any and everything for the best of the club. In fact the Telegraph reports it was Fiszman, who was the board member who took away Dein’s mobile phone and marched him off the premises.

Dein David

When he was cast aside, Dein decided he was free to sell to the highest bidder and in August he sold his remaining 14.5 per cent stake for £75 million to Red & White Holdings, an investment vehicle of Usmanov and his business partner Farhad Moshiri.

The Takeover

So let us stop the clock of history. Let us assume that with this move Dein gained the upper hand. Fiszman on his deathbed has long known that the game is up. His leadership in getting a one-year lockdown of directors selling their shares, his engineering of the removal from the board of Lady Bracewell-Smith, Keith Edelman and Richard Carr, was valiant but ultimately an act of futility.  So in March 2009 he would have sold 5,000 ordinary shares at a total cost of £42.5 million to an “anonymous buyer”, later revealed as Usmanov, in a deal which increased the Uzbek’s stake in Arsenal to 20.5 per cent. Despite subsequent assurances that he had no intention of selling any more shares in the club, three days before his death, on 10 April 2011, Fiszman would have sold his remaining shares to the business magnate, helping Usmanov to take control of the club with a 62.89 per cent holding.

Usmanov fencing

As the sage of Dublin and others now advocate, wouldn’t such a turn of events have led to Arsenal falling into the hands of modern football men, those with the ambition “to speculate to accumulate.” Surely a man of such enormous wealth, reputedly in excess of his countryman and fellow Premier League owner, Roman Abramovich (Net Worth:  £11 billion vs £5 billion).

I would suggest we can only judge the Uzbek on the public statements he has made about his policies for the club. On 5 July 2012 Usmanov and his investment vehicle, Red & White Holding’s PLC., issued the following as their vision for the Club?

“ A debt free Club, with a big enough war chest to buy top talent players who can hit the ground running and who can complement the Club’s long tradition of developing young players and homegrown talent.”

Is this any different from Stan Kroenke’s current policies? War chest? £200 million?

In fact R & W concluded their 2012 letter by stating:

“…in order to formalize our long-term involvement with the Club and put an end to any speculation over our position, we, as the co-owners of Red&White, will proudly retain our holding in the Club as a long-term investment for ourselves and our family members to benefit for generations to come.”

So Usmanov is just another long term investor like Stan Kroenke. Hmmm.

Is it any surprise, after seeing the steady regular growth of the value of his investment, only this week Usmanov was reported by leading Russian publication, Rossiya24 as saying:

“Arsenal’s results are stable,

 “They are always among the leaders of the English Premier League. This is a good and large sports business project, and I am pleased with it.

“The only thing is that today such situation occurred, like in any sport, there are ups and downs. The club must retain its major symbol and main asset – manager Arsene Wenger.

“I believe that Arsene Wenger is a great coach, and Arsenal have to give him the opportunity to plan the succession process and leave his legacy when he deems it necessary.

“It is very important for the football club to maintain the principles that were established by those people who created its victories. Arsenal need Arsene Wenger.”

My heavens. Not even Kroenke has given Arsene such an overwhelming endorsement.

Conclusion

So despite the naive, infantile caterwauling by bloggers and podcasters, Usmanov, who is currently the only real alternative to Kroenke as owner of our club, far from throwing Arsene under the bus, not only wants him to stay but is urging that he be able to choose his own successor. Maybe those of us with nothing at stake, except our season tickets and bragging rights (including traffic to our blog-sites), should take stock and simmer down.

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150 comments on “Arsenal: The Usmanov Takeover

  1. The Cat is running amok in the Pigeon coop

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks Shotta-a gripping read.More please!

    Like

  3. Keep sticking your head in th sand!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good to read some intelligent analysis of the reality …..amongst all the chatter and noise. Quite a lot in there I for one wasn’t aware of.
    The fact is, our model is not that of the sugar daddy……or someone who , for whatever their reasons is desperate to lose a billion or two, never has been and probably never will be.
    And for a club run in such a way, I would imagine there would be very few owners who would want to be rid of the likes of Arsene Wenger.
    That said,,their have been times when I have wondered if the board could have given Wenger more support…..but have read no evidence he has ever asked for this, in fact, quite the contrary.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A comprehensive review Shotts, in as much as any man can predict events had history taken a different fork. The arrows of insight are however winged by the feathers of informed speculation.

    For my part I have no genuine idea what Usmanov wants. If he wanted to buy Stan’s share he was and still is wealthy enough to complete the transaction. I suspect that like anyone with a large sum tied up in a business he would like a seat or two on the board hence his occasional expressions of pique. He is however a patient, long term investor and has enjoyed a reasonable return thus far. It may also be that AU is shrewd enough to understand the political insulation his investment in a high profile global brand buys him with the Kremlin.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. thanks Shotta.

    Have you seen footage of the crowd from the NIgeria-Egypt game? Crazy scenes! Imagine making your international debut as an Arsenal teenager amidst that mayhem. Amazing stuff.
    The perfect antidote to the online gibberings of the modern Expert football fan, and the unwell (that’d be the AAAA).

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Granit Xhaka the guy we are being strongly linked with, is a bit of a dirty bastard, or is that headless thug, here is is third sending off of this season, a kick to an opponent well away form the ball.

    Like

  8. I don’t know why my post is appearing as from eduardo792, and not just eduardo, I think it has something to do with me having to set up a wordpress account so that I could like other posters comments, but that was a couple of weeks ago, so why its now changed my poster ID here I don’t know.

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  9. Thanks for the feedback so far guys. Uwot? and I am sure the hundreds who have had a read are by no means convinced since they are bound to what the psychologists now call “cognitive fluency”, long ago we simply said most people are conformist in holding unto certain well established beliefs. Given what football fans are fed daily by the media and by bloggers/podcasters like the sage of Dublin, it is very difficult for them to appreciate the fantastic achievements of Wenger and Arsenal in a fiercely competitive environment. It is even harder for them to understand that being sensible, our owners recognize this achievement and will never fire AW. Owners, unlike fans, will aim for the best football product on the field at the best price, not the highest price. City and Chelsea are vanity projects so the same rules do not apply. United have lost sight of these rules, which led to them becoming the biggest club in England. Continue on their current path and they will end up like Liverpool. Mark my words.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Shotta

    Very informative and enjoyable read, thanks.

    I would rather suffer Latin and cold showers and hair shirts than win things with the tainted proceeds of a sugar daddy…..

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Entirely off topic but I have not over the past month seen one comment concerning Elneny in the mainstream or social media that he is the “new Patrick Vieira”. And this despite he is a tall box to box midfielder, and ‘robust’ in his tackling.

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  12. anicol it may be cos Elneny is several shades lighter than PV4, have you not seen the latest # on twitter – makearsenalblackagain

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  13. Dein was removed from Arsenal not because Kroenke bought the 9.9% shareholding from ITV, but because Dein had been found to be lying to the board, and directly to fiszman in persuading him to sell a few of his shares to S, unbeknown to DF, as DD had told DF that it was just a few shares to a friend of his.

    the whole PHW comment “we don’t want his sort” at AFC, was due to the Board believing that Stan had tricked his way in to the club, but when SK revealed to the board what Dein was up to, was the moment things changed for both Stand and DD. Dein was drummed out, and Stan was welcomed in, and of course Dein in one last desperate attempt to become AFC Chairman ran to Usmanov and sold his shares to him, in the hope he would gain control and reinstate DD, not only to the board but promote him to the role of Chairman.

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  14. when the latest Usmanov comments about Arsenal being a business and Wenger being its main assest, was made, it really threw a spanner in the works of those that want Wenger out, Kroenke out, Gazidis out, and replaced by Usmanov, Dein and any big spending manager(even Joe say), after all Usmanov’s comments are not in opposition to the views of Stan, Ivan and AW, but in fact are in total agreement. But like a bold toddler the AAA/WOB have it seems decided to ignore the reality, and instead are going down the route of shouting louder, stamping their feet more, and repeating “I will scream and scream till I get my way”, although some of the older ones are repeating “we got rid of Wright, Mee, Neill and Howe and we will get rid of Wenger”. it seems Trumpism is alive and well among AFC fans, lots of stupid soundbites, but no substance, but unlike in the USA with Trump, there is far less chance of the AAA/WOB gaining any power or influence at AFC. Thank God.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I was offline for a few days due to connection problems, so I did not get to comment on the sad passing of Johan Cruyff. On Thursday I was recording a music show for an online radio station, with a few friends, included in our little group was my mate from Holland, who is first and foremost an Ajax fan, then an Arsenal fan, during our recording he got a phone call from his wife, so left the studio to answer it, he came back in visibly upset, and he asked to make an announcement, which of course we all agreed he could, he began to tremble, and as hard as he tried, he could not hold back the tears as he announced, “one of the true greats of football has passed away”, he could not bring himself to say the name, so knowing his passion for Ajax, Hollond and the beautiful game, I said “Johan Cruyff”, and he nodded. The rest of us in the studio all agreed Cruyff was indeed one of the greatest of all time. My mate composed himself and was able to talk a little about his hero’s passing.

    It was only about six weeks ago my mate had given me a DVD about Johan Cruyff’s career, one I watched over and over and had marvelled at the man, the player the ico, but my mates reaction to the sad news of his passing really brought it home to me just how Cruyff was viewed by the dutch and especially Ajax fans. The nearest as an Arsenal fan I’ve come to experiencing the loss of an idol, was the early passing away of David Rocky Roecastle, but as big an impact as he had made at AFC, it was nothing in comparison to what Cruyff had done for Ajax, Holland, Barcelona, and football in general.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 4h4 hours ago
    Happy Birthday to Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta, who turns 34 today! #afc

    Liked by 1 person

  17. So moral of the story is most WOB bastards want us to spend like City in order to brag to their mates about all the cups their team bought, fuck the long term health of the club. Then they have the unmitigated gall to tell us we don’t have the club’s best interests in mind. It would be sad of it weren’t so hilarious.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. A5 @ 2:10pm – Surely you jest. In the eyes of the English and American press, who really set the tone in these matters, Elneny can’t be all that if he wasn’t a super signing from the stables of Portuguese super agent, Jorge Mendes who brought to the PL really big players like Ángel Di María and Radamel Falcao, of course all at astronomic fees. Now if Elneny was a Mendes midfielder like Fábio Coentrão, João Moutinho or even James Rodríguez then the press may really get excited. “Cognitive fluency” my friend, that is how the press rolls. Don’t forget.

    As Fins often reminds us on these pages, there was a recent manager in the PL who employed Jorge as his agent and who, not surprisingly, bought the Mendes “mules” at thoroughbred prices.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. the biggest laugh is when the AAA/WOB say that they would not mind Arsenal struggling for years after Wenger leaves as it would be at least be something different than finishing top 4 each year, and that we’d have the excitement of new players being bought to try and get back in the top 4, and of course changing the manger every 2 to 3 years would give us optimism that things could get better. Really these guys don’t seem to have any self awareness at all.
    there is very much this idea that changing the squad and manager every few years is all part and parcel of the modern game, and any club not joining in the media led merry go round, is outdated and not showing ambition.

    The club which completed the most ambitious stadium project in recent years, and has the second most expensive player in the BPL, shows no ambition, funny how soundbites do not reflect the actual facts, but who needs facts when headlines and soundbites get you clicks, and banners get you media attention(might even help the lad lose his virginity)

    Liked by 1 person

  20. What Mourinho did to that Gazprom squad was amazing.

    Mata was quite good, again in a game against AFC, during the recent encounter in Manchester. Annoyingly so. Mata, KDB, a Hazard who wasn’t mad keen to get out ASAP, would’ve been quite a scary crop of players all at the right age to play with each other, someone with more then a season in their legs to put the ball in the net ahead of them or even a Lukaku would do ahead of those three..

    *doffs hat to the Specialist*

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Xhaka and Elneny the Arsenal midfield next season, oh how the “Basel rejects” soundbites will be used.

    Xhaka needed so that AFC will have had a player for each letter of the alphabet

    Like

  22. The Groaners inability to see that car crash unfolding reminds me of the comments that Fabregas and Nasri haven’t been replaced.

    Cazorla played wide for two seasons and is Ozil really that invisible? The mind boggles.

    Like

  23. CFC goalie making noises about leaving them for someone like Real Madrid, seeing as CFC will not be in next season’s CL, but as we know this can’t be right, as the AAA/WOB have told us over and over that getting in the CL means nothing to players

    Like

  24. arsenal U17’s playing in a tournament in Holland this weekend, won their two games today, and play Ajax tomorrow.

    highlights of their 2-1 win over red bull salsburg

    Like

  25. Granit Xhaka would seem an odd target for Arsenal, knowing our problems with refs and all, the lad has been sent off 3 times already this season in Germany, and 6 times in just two and a half seasons. You know the way the idiots say Flamini is a liability getting sent off all the time, well this lad could be the Flamini replacement that actually does get sent off all the time and be a real liability.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. one of the best lines I seen from a WOB today was “you bring your deluded facts”, anyone else notice the flaw in his argument, they really don’t get irony, and I know I have to keep reminding myself when viewing their ramblings that their accounts are real, and not just parody accounts. they are as funny as fuck.

    Like

  27. PG, behave yourself, you are in the “coop”! Not the Co-op, may I add!

    Well done, Shotta.

    Eureka,

    26 февраля 201623:43 (обновлено в 04:22)

    Алишер Усманов увеличил свой пакет в “Арсенале”.

    This was lifted from the Daily Mail – 18,695 shares, that is 30.04% of the Arsenal shares. Mr Usmanov’s spokeswoman, further firmly denied that her employer was the purchaser of the Everton shares.

    On the 24th March 2016, it is reported that Mr Usmanov was in private talks with Mr Putin, before the opening of a major conference on technology.

    No wonder, a warmy glow with the Arsenal Board of Directors.

    In 2016, it is reported that Mr Usmanov was not resident in Russia, and could lose his Russian tax residence status. Over the past few years, Mr Usmanov as a person, has paid over $350,000,000 in taxes!

    AA23 that was, now lives in Alma Ata. He has paid nearly 20 millions in roubles as alimony.

    Facts, facts, no fiction.

    COTG, sort Watford out!

    Like

  28. Danny ‘Clogger’ Rose saved by the erroneous linesman. Shame the Arsenal haven’t got such calls this season.

    Like

  29. Welbeck playing opposite Can the player that crocked him up in an unpunished foul.

    Can fouling all over he place to try and cope finally booked in the 39th. Looks like the official is applying the rules of Assc. Football.

    Like

  30. Not even an erroneous linesman call (an error you or I would make but poor from the pro) can save England from going behind. Should be 2-0

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  31. another big signing for Arsenal Ladies, with England International striker Jodie Taylor joining, she had been a rumored target for a few months now.

    JODIE TAYLOR SIGNS FOR ARSENAL LADIES

    Jodie Taylor has signed for Arsenal Ladies from Portland Thorns in the American National Women’s Soccer League.
    An England international, Taylor was a key part of the Lionesses’ World Cup campaign last summer. She featured in four games during the tournament, scoring England’s opener in the quarter final victory over hosts Canada.

    Born in Birkenhead, 29-year-old Jodie has enjoyed spells with clubs in Australia, Sweden and England as well as the United States. She has represented Lincoln Ladies and Birmingham City in the FA Women’s Super League, winning the FA Cup with the Blues in 2012.

    Arsenal Ladies manager Pedro Martinez Losa said: “Jodie is someone that I know well from my time in the United States. She is an excellent player, who has been at the top level for many years.
    “Her movement off the ball, her ability to work for the team and her ability to score goals will make her a great addition to our team. She is a fantastic character too. I am very pleased to welcome her to the club.”

    The deal is subject to the completion of regulatory processes.
    Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160324/jodie-taylor-signs-for-arsenal-ladies#e6FF1lTfSyJWO8Gp.99

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  32. although its something I’d be opposed to, I’d laugh if Usmanov was given a place on the AFC board and with him and Stan having over 96% of the shares, they force through the sale of the rest of the shares, putting an end to 300 shareholders having their ego’s stroked by being able to attend the AGM, also the likes of Piers Morgan, not mention tim payton and all the AST, could no longer spout about their superiority cos they are shareholders.

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  33. England have put together some decent phases of football here but the Germans have an extra gear, and when it clicks in, they are immediately vulnerable. I fancy more goals.

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  34. Danny playing well – Mesut quiet so far

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  35. Nice to see an international friendly with both sides having a serious go at one another

    Like

  36. Chris.@CentralRamsey
    it’s getting to the stage where Arsenal fans want us to be like Chelsea and forget about why Arsenal appealed to us in the first place

    Like

  37. Good finishes from all players but the Tottenham donkey took the shot of welbeck’s feet there to save Ze Germans.

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  38. Told you he was a donkey

    Can you imagine the meltdown if Walcott hoofed it over.

    Not sure if playing no defenders has worked out for Germany, England take the lead. There’s a reason the BFG played so many games for them when they won the WC, and why no big club has ever gone in for AAA pin up Hummels etc, Boateng (no idea if he’s on the pitch haha!) I think was the only one who could plug the BFG sized hole for the Germans

    Like

  39. Extraordinary game – great finishing from England – Germans crumbled

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  40. Please tell me Danny is not injured. Ice pack on his knee….hopefully a precaution….
    Noticed Dier trying to do Ozil a bit of harm

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  41. The Tottenham love in on the AAA sites this tonight even exceeds the Bale/ Redknapp wankfest

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Thanks for the article.

    I have never believed Usmanov is going to be the Abramovich type owner. In fact, he’s basically denied he will be. Every statement from him or R&W might have been critical of the board, but fully in agreement of the strategy (even if they didn’t say so in as many words)

    I think last season Wenger even had some harsh words for Usmanov after he expressed doubts about a title challenge or something, where Wenger said you are either in or out, you can’t be both in this club. Maybe that had its effect on Usmanov because this might be the first time he’s said something without being critical.

    Or maybe he’s just learned that his negative media propaganda is not going to lead to a successful hostile takeover, and the best way to either get a seat on the board, or at least protect his investment, is to stop hurting the Arsenal brand at every step.

    I also learned something new today about Dein’s dismissal from eduardo’s comments. Thanks for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. As for the usmanov vs kroenke arguement, think the WOB have some perception that AU would put more pressure and accountability than Stan does. In addition to extra spending……. Not quite sure where they go with these comments. Maybe they will now champion that Nigerian businessman who has made noises?
    The fact is, Arsenal have a history of being a pretty conservatively run club. In the early years as a supporter, I remember us losing our best players, and Spurs getting the glamour signings. They can moan all they like about Wenger, Stan or whoever, how things were so much better under George Graham etc…..but we are in a much better position now regarding resources than we ever were.

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  44. Don’t get that Granit Xhaka thing either Ed. reminds me of all that fuss over Loric Cana a few years back….which came to nothing.
    We now have two first team players who can play that role very well, then potentially chambers as well as some youngsters.
    unless Wenger is shipping out Coq…..which would seem unlikely, doesn’t make sense to spend all that money on this player……but who knows.
    But, then , the press tell us Wenger won’t get a new contract unless he spends a shed load of money,……right……
    I am sure he will spend this summer, but probably on none of the names mentioned…..Wenger gets the press every time.

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  45. Mandy

    I get the Xhaka thing. I think Elneny is more of a Ramsey-Cazorla hybrid (full of running, able to keep possession under pressure) rather than an Arteta-Coquelin hybrid. A defensive minded, tough tackling midfielder who can also play long balls over the top. Coquelin is improving in that regard, but I think Xhaka might be better at it. If I’m honest, I think that sort of midfielder is vital to us matching the likes of Barcelona in Europe.

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  46. Plus, the money for transfers is just going to get crazy from next year. 30 odd million for a 23 year old midfielder might not seem like too expensive a buy a few years down the line.

    Of course, bringing through the youth will continue to be important. Maybe even more so as the transfer market gets more expensive and the talent gets spread thinner. I expect Hayden, Toral and maybe one or two more to be given a first team chance next season.

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  47. I watch the German football and the thing that I don’t get about us wanting Xhaka is that he is a bit of a thug, six sending offs in 2 and a half seasons, with his last one a real headless kick of an opponent well away from the ball(20 to 30 yards from it), lots of bookings too, does that sound like a player Wenger would want. Maybe his overall game is so good that it out weights his flaws enough, but I very much doubt it.

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  48. Piers Morgan ‏@piersmorgan 11m11 minutes ago
    I’ve been told on very good authority that Wenger’s been offered a new 3-yr contract by Arsenal.
    If true, utterly outrageous. #afc

    I might remove the ban of smiley faces for the day?

    Liked by 1 person

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