say it ain’t so Fran???

With all the contract signings this past week, I think something has become clear; something I don’t want to say, but I think might be true. Indeed, something I don’t like, do not want to believe, but something I might understand.  I don’t think it’s all that good for either party; but I am resigned to it.  Merida is leaving.

There is no reason for Merida not to sign his contract.  But we all know how Arsene is when it comes to contracts -he draws his line and doesn’t move.  And once Arsene states publicly the line is drawn, negotiations are over.  So whatever Merida is waiting for, it ain’t gonna happen.  I fear what’s about to ensue will only make things worse….

The problem: there is no spot for Merida in our lineup.  We have Fab, we have Nasri (don’t forget he played a similar role before coming to Arsenal), we also have Ramsey in the pipeline, just to name a few.  Arsene also has too many midfielders in the reserves.  As a result, finding a place in the starting XI has become as difficult as finding one at Barca.  Right now Merida wants to play and I don’t see a spot opening up.

The problem II: the Arsenal need a midfielder, but not Merida’s type. This hurts his chances even more.  Imagine the purchase of another midfielder, a veteran at that.  Even if the player is young, like Matuidi, they’ll be expected to step into the XI immediately.  This pushes Merida farther down the pecking order.  And when you don’t fit the need of the team, you’re expendable.  The caveat of course is that Merida is still developing and has so much potential who knows what he can be…but until that time comes…

So why play Merida?  Besides his wonderful talent.  I don’t mean to sound harsh, it’s just a question of minutes.  Seriously, why play Merida if he’s only going to leave?  Why continue to blood the young man when others need the time and have signed contracts?  Why sacrifice Ramsey for Merida?  This is a problem that can only spiral as time goes on.  The longer Merida holds out, the less incentive Arsene has to play him; the less playing time, the more incentive for Merida to leave.   Nobody is at fault here, it just is what it is.

So what to do?  Well, Merida can sign, but that doesn’t guarantee first team ball.  Even if he does sign, would he have to demand a transfer just one year in to the contract?!  Lets be honest, Merida is carrying most of the risk here. And that’s where the negotiations come into play.  Take Song for example, he was an easy extension.  Arsenal need Song, so he had leverage.  But Arsenal was good for Song as well: starting XI, central part of the team, Arsenal make him an easy to be a member of the competitive Cameroon national side.  Rosicky knows he won’t go to a better team, but we need him for his experience; even Bendtner had a role.  But not poor Merida.

Another risk is that Merida becomes one of Arsene’s invest develop and profit projects, i.e. bought young and cheap, sold high, but still young.  If this happens, Merida loses a year of first team play, a year of experience and has less say over where he ends up since he’s locked in a contract.  But if he leaves for Atletico Madrid now, at least he can have some power about where to go.  And he’ll get to start on an atletico team that needs him.

Either way you cut it, Merida has a big decision to make.  As much as I would love to see him fight for a space at Arsenal, a space I still think he can acquire if he continues to develop, I think he’ll leave.  I really hope I’m wrong, but he might have to.


1 Comment

  1. […] in Arsene Wenger himself.  So I’m going to assume Merida is in fact out the door.  GOA actually called this when the first reports surfaced.  Atletico Madrid (AM) had all the right incentives to dislodge rational thought for the young […]

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