The latest news from the bluegrass state.
Silly season now truly is upon us. Arsenal is circling the magic fourth spot that guarantees us Champions League football, and we're still in the hunt for a trophy! In May! Goodness is this still Arsenal? In the next few weeks we'll be bombarded by headlines reading, "Arsenal Set to Sign [insert player here]" as well as headlines reading more like, "[insert rival team name here] Joins Race and Looks Set to Sign [insert name of potential arsenal target here]." Now, the transfer bunker is appealing to many, and for good reason - we've not exactly had a fun previous few transfer windows. We've seen players we loved leave, and players not nearly the same caliber come in to replace them.
Maybe I'm hopeful. Maybe I'm delusional. But I think this summer is when our decade of hard summers will actually pay off.
The signing of Mesut Ozil last summer has sparked something in the Arsenal side. We were competing on all fronts until a string of poor injuries went against us. I don't think we're far away from something special.... and then Puma comes in.
We have not just signed a kit deal - we have signed the biggest kit deal in the history of the premier league. Puma is a huge company and really didn't have a top top class team - until now. Dortmund made the finals of the Champions League last year, sure. One could argue that they're a blue chip team right there with us in Puma's portfolio. I would argue to the contrary though - Dortmund has developed over the last years with a great deal due to the expert stewardship of Jurgen Klopp. But even on the pitch, Arsenal carries the advantage. According to the UEFA coefficients, Arsenal is ranked at 9th, while Dortmund comes in at 15th. That doesn't seem like a lot, but then consider this: Arsenal is third of the premier league clubs behind Chelsea and Manchester United, respectively. United's number, though, is set to drop with their highest coefficient score from the 10-11 campaign being removed from scoring at the end of next season and they are set for at least one season without Champions League. As far as the premier league is concerned, We're right there at the top. Dortmund, on the other hand, at 15th place, carries a coefficient weight of 82.328 - a full 30.6 points behind Arsenal, and more worryingly, a full 72 point gap below their nearest Bundesliga opponent in Bayern Munich. Arsenal, though is only 13 points off of Manchester United.
Ok, we get it: Arsenal top ten, Dortmund still has a lot to prove.. But there's more reason why Puma will really want to get behind Arsenal.
Arsenal is in a precarious position. Top 10 in the UEFA Coefficients, but also top 10 in Forbes' ranking of the 50 most valuable sports franchises worldwide. Manchester United obviously dominates this category at 2nd place overall, with a value of $3.17B, Arsenal comes in at number 10 with a value of $1.33B. To provide a little comparison Chelsea comes in at 40th with a value of $900M, and the likes of Paris Saint Germain, Manchester City, and Borussia Dortmund, aren't even listed.
While Manchester United's value is indicative of their long term success under Sir Alex Ferguson, and global marketing ability of being in pole position at the dawn of the Premier League era, the slide in their UEFA coefficient over the next few seasons will show that success to be firmly rooted in the past. Dortmund, for as good as their football is, doesn't have the same marketing or promotion in the Bundesliga that the Premier League has to offer. They simply can not capture that brand of football into something monetarily valuable. Arsenal though, has shown resilience. Over the last ten years we've heard it over and over again that we're paying off our stadium, and that's showing. We've kept within touching distance of the biggest clubs in the world both on the pitch, and financially, and we just needed a push.
Puma is that push.
Now with that push, there's also a financial incentive for Puma to have some of their major brand athletes on teams that are also sponsored by them. That's where we're getting the Reus and Balotelli rumors, but there's one giant screaming Spanish elephant sitting in the middle of the room: Cesc Fabregas.
I know a lot of you are pretty opinionated on Cesc. People seem to love him or hate him. Either hate him for returning to Barca or the way people said he forced the move... the truth is, we will never actually know what happened. Whether he forced his way out or not, he's a world class player and a force in midfield. Like Arsene said about Ozil's signing, when a player like that becomes available, you have to buy him. Imagine seeing Cesc line up against us in a United or City shirt? World class players that just so happen to love the club don't come around often. For me, we must pull the trigger on him if he indeed becomes available this summer. As we should also pull the trigger on Reus or Balotelli.
I'm not saying we're going to sign him or any of them for that matter, but if Puma is willing to make extra funds available for us to go and get some of their brand ambassadors on the team like it's been rumored they are considering, I'd take advantage of it and land some of the most brilliant footballers of their generation in that trio. There's no doubt about it that on his day, Cesc Fabregas can be virtually unplayable. We know this first hand - remember the Tottenham goal where he took on their entire team, or the shot against A.C. Milan! If he were to come back, I'm sure the ill will would be quickly forgotten.
Now everyone brace themselves - just a few weeks left until silly season full stop. In the meantime we've got two hugely important games, and A CUP FINAL!!!
SHE WORE, SHE WORE, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON!!!
Cheers guys, see you next time.
Branch Manager of Arsenal Kentucky.