Put up or shut up, Arsenal.
It’s kind of getting to be that time, isn’t it?
On Monday, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez informed Arsenal and Juventus (and any other club in the market for a top striker) that wantaway front-man Gonzalo Higuain can be snapped up for a cool £25.5 million.
For Arsenal – who have spent the last few weeks pacing back and forth concerned over how much the Argentine striker might cost them – the time has come to act or forever hold their peace.
The notoriously frugal club had a Hulk-like, puff-your-chest-out-and-let-opponents-recoil-in-fear-moment last week when Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis announced the club’s intent to discard its traditionally conservative transfer market policies in favor of big spending to attract top name talent to the Emirates.
When asked whether Arsenal could afford to spend £20 million on a transfer fee for a single player, and offer salaries of £200,000 per week, Gazidis said: “Of course we could do that. We could do more than that.”
The words were music to Arsenal supporters’ ears. But what would be a declaration of intent without a caveat?
Gazidis went on to explain that while the Gunners are prepared to shell out the dough, whether or not they actually do so will be up to manager Arsene Wenger. “It is going to be the players that Arsene believes in,” Gazidis said. “He is pretty blind to price tags, he looks at what he sees with his eyes and makes judgements based on that, not on reputations and prices.”
Suddenly for Arsenal fans what felt like a Rolling Stones concert was just elevator music. Gazidis’ statement that Wenger is “blind to price tags” is a ridiculous assertion, tantamount to say, Roman Abramovich claiming that he gives managers a long leash or the Abu Dhabi United Group saying they maintain transfer thresholds.
But the fact remains that if Arsenal really are to compete for a Premier League title, they need to break through the £20 million transfer fee barrier and compete in the wage market. And there’s no reason why that can’t happen. From the club’s new deal with Emirates airline, to the £150 million kit sponsorship by Puma to the Premier League’s massive new TV deal, the Gunners have bank to spend.
So will they step up and sign that top striker they’ve been pining over?
It’s looking mighty close. Wenger & Co. value Higuain at £20 million and while they may not need to get all the way up to Real’s £25.5m valuation, putting £3-4m more on the table should get the job done. The interest of Juventus, however, can not be discounted as reports have the Bianconeri already having offered £18.7m for Higuain’s services.
If Arsenal are convinced Higuain is the man to take them forward, and all indications are that they are, then it’s about time to step up and put their money where their mouth is.