Date: 25th August 2008 at 9:58am
Written by:

There are few available players world wide that can offer a genuine improvement to most of the teams at the top of the Premier League. They already have good players which explains why they are at the top in the first place.

Identifying those players is one thing. Bringing them in it seems is something else. For the fans the solution is simple. Make an offer that can`t be refused but then the easiest job in the world has always been spending someone else`s money. For the club owners and more realistic managers spending has to be based on revenues though even that doesn`t stop some from spending those they haven`t yet got.

For Arsenal fans our failure to recruit an experienced midfielder is a failure to act quickly and positively enough. But to a similar extent the same could be said of all of last season`s current top four. Liverpool need a left side midfielder to balance their midfield. Popularly this is supposedly Gareth Barry yet though all they have to do is to pay £18m they haven`t yet done so. Manchester United need another striker and if reports are correct all they need do is hand over £30m or so and Berbatov is theirs. Still they haven`t yet done so. Despite having enough players to field two teams of international players Chelsea have a need for Robinho. They can have him it appears for something like £35m but haven`t, for the time being at least, handed over what it would take to bring him in. Unless you have multiple options then waiting for the one available player who you can believe will genuinely improve the side seems to be something that all top clubs have to accept.

We now know this week, because their respective managers have told us, that we haven`t bid for Barry but we have for Alonso. Assuming he is our primary target why not then give Liverpool the £18m they need for Barry and we take Alonso? According to one report Real Sociedad have dabs on £5m of the figure up to £13m of Alonso’s transfer fee and 20% of anything above. If that`s true and Liverpool are expecting to cover the entire cost of buying Barry at £18m then they’ll need something like £26m for him. If they can only get say £15m then they’ll have to find another £8m or so from resources they might not have.

Despite that while there is still a small chance of a deal being brokered it then makes some sense to wait to try to get what you really want at something close to a price that represents acceptable value. The alternative is to go for plan B which is in all likelihood a player that isn`t demonstrably better than what we have but would add to the numbers. Plan B might be an option forced on us because we do need the numbers but that means settling for second choice.

Arsenal fans would probably feel our needs are more urgent than others though that has more to do with current injuries weighted in the midfield with Diaby, Rosicky and Cesc all currently out. Yet taking the step to go for plan B too early then loses you the chance to get what you want if a deal is still possible. Similar decisions affect Manchester United and Chelsea in their transfer targets. Frustrating though it is criticising the club and its manager for acting in the same way as our peers fails to appreciate that those that can genuinely improve on what we have are few and far between and even fewer of those are realistically available. Those that are available involve costly and possibly complicated financial deals but while a deal is still possible then they are worth waiting for. It also fails to acknowledge the quality that we already have. If it`s not to be, then a stopgap option may be the only choice, to increase the numbers but not necessarily the quality. Given the sums involved that should only be when our primary target is firmly out of reach.

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