ARSENAL technical director Edu rattled every financial director in football when he claimed that paying unwanted players to leave is “an investment”.
That’s quite some economic policy from a club which has delivered more golden handshakes than King Midas in recent months.
Among the beneficiaries of Arsenal’s generosity have been Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac and Sokratis — £150million of signings enjoying a kiss-off for outstaying their welcome.
Yet the grim reality is that rewarding failure is the lesser of two evils for all those clubs who have married at haste and been forced to repent at leisure.
Practically every team in the Premier League has had their fingers burned by a big-money signing who has dramatically failed to live up to expectations.
Danny Drinkwater, Eric Bailly, Tanguy Ndombele, Nicolas Pepe, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Cenk Tosun, Felipe Anderson, Dennis Praet, Ross Barkley, Christian Benteke… and they’re just the tip of the scrapheap.
But trying to offload those underachievers has become practically impossible now that the bottom has all but dropped out of the transfer market.
European clubs who were once happy to sign our cast-offs at a reduced price now expect to get them on loan with a vague promise of maybe paying a nominal fee some time in the distant future.
Or, better still, for absolutely nothing.
Yet even then many players are happy to sit on the sidelines wringing every last penny from their contracts.
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So the only way to get rid of these ‘killers’ is to take a leaf out of the Edu playbook and pay them to clear off.
Barcelona have tried to buck that trend by flogging Frenkie de Jong to Manchester United or Chelsea for £70m while withholding the £14.5m the player is owed in deferred wages.
But that bullying approach is doomed to failure because, one way or the other, De Jong is going to get his money before he agrees to leave.
For in this game of football poker, it’s the players who now hold all the aces.
Which brings us neatly onto Cristiano Ronaldo, currently throwing a hissy-fit because he doesn’t want to slum it in the Europa League with Manchester United.
Problem is, he still has a year of his £480,000-a-week contract to run and United don’t appear to have been inundated with offers.
New boss Erik ten Hag insists the 37-year-old GOAT still figures in his plans despite missing the pre-season tour and storming off after being hooked in a reserve game.
Which leaves United caught between a rock and a hard place.
One the one hand there is the risk of undermining Ten Hag’s authority by allowing Ronaldo to cash in on his petulance with another lucrative moment.
But the alternative is being lumbered with a sulking prima donna overshadowing everything the new manager is trying to achieve.
Either way, there is only going to be one winner. And it won’t be United.
GAME TRULY PEATYFUL
ADAM PEATY well and truly let the cat out of the bag when he shrugged off defeat in the 100 metres breaststroke, with words to the effect of: ‘I’m not bothered, it’s the Commonwealth Games.’
Cue horrified faces in the BBC studios, where they have been desperately trying to convince us we’ve been watching elite sport for the past week or so.
Fair play to the likes of Michael Johnson and Sir Chris Hoy for keeping a straight face as they assess the efforts of a Samoan sprinter or a track cyclist from Tuvalu.
But even their best efforts cannot disguise the fact ‘the Commies’ are the track-and-field equivalent of the Europa Conference League.
Which is why missing out at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre was never going to devastate serial Olympic champion Peaty.
EVERTON fan Paul Stratton achieved a lifetime dream when he scored a penalty in front of their Gwladys Street End.
The ‘portly’ 44-year-old took the kick after replacing Dele Alli late in the pre-season win against Dynamo Kyiv.
It was a reward for his work delivering supplies to victims of the war in Ukraine.
A fine gesture by Toffees boss Frank Lampard — marred only by the realisation that Stratton was his best player!
THE highbrow world of chess does not usually make SunSport pages but I could not ignore the recent match in Moscow between a computer and a seven-year-old child prodigy.
According to reports, the match had to be abandoned when the boy picked up a piece to make a move and the robot responded by reaching across the board and crushing his finger.
Apparently it is known as the Vinnie Jones defence.
CHAIRMAN Bruce Carnegie-Brown got a suspended six-month ban by the MCC for inadvertently upsetting the blazer brigade.
The Lord’s boss failed to cover his microphone when he joked about tardy members “taking an age to empty their colostomy bags”.
Considering it can take 22 years and cost up to £80,000 to become a full member, it seems just about everyone is taking the p*** at the home of cricket.
Source: The Sun