Why the worst case scenario (Fab to Barca) isn’t bad.

So after writing about the major changes Arsene tried to make this summer I began to think bigger. I started to wonder what major changes could Arsene have made?  From there I began to think of the unimaginable -what if Arsene truly rebuilt the team from the ground up.  What if Arsene sold (or sells) Fab? I realized the Arsenal will be okay.  If only because the loss of Fab means a change in tactics from the 4-3-3 to the power and pace we once had.  In fact, the team might have been stronger.

Walk with me.  Assuming Arsene sold Fab this past summer for £35m, two things happen. One, Arsene has a warchest of £74m (Ade(25)+Toure(14)+Fab(35), not counting whatever amount the Board gave him (at least £13m, but more likely in the realm of £20m).  Second, Arsene can rebuild the team in a completely different style and change back to the 4-4-2.  This means other players we have are unnecessary and can be sold. Why does this imaginary world -which I don’t want to occur -matter?  Well, if Fab does leave, which I don’t think he will, we need to think about the upside.  And sometimes it’s good to think about how substantial changes will affect the Outfit, if only to reassess our views on the team, the players and our strategy.

So, back to the begining, if Fab is sold, how does it affect the players on the team?  Starting with the forwards, only RVP would be safe.  Any two of the following could be sold: Vela, Bentdner, Walcott (yes, him too), or Eduardo.  Moving on to the midfielders, only Arshavin, Nasri (currently under utilized) and Song are safe (lets consider Song a CH/MD).  And any two of the following could be sold: Diaby, Wilshere, Denilson, Ramsey, Rosicky or Eboue.  The final four are pretty easy,  Sagna, Clichy and Gallas are safe.  Senderos, Gibbs, Traore and Sylvestre can be sold.

Now lets be clear, just because a player can be sold doesn’t mean they should be sold.  And just because we are unhappy with a player, doesn’t mean they should be sold (a la Diaby).  Since selling Fab means changing how we play to a 4-4-2, certain players may become more valuable, again a la Diaby.  And with new players brought in, the needs of the team changes.  So, Fab is now gone, what do we need?

Arsene would look to buy 1-2 midfielders, a center half, likely a right back (Eboue likely leaves) and maybe a big striker.  But now, he has £74m from the sale of Ade, Toure and Fab, plus he can sell two of the forwards, two of the midfielders and at least one defensive player.  That’s £74m for the starting XI, plus what, another £25m (£99m total) he can generate from the sale of existing personnel, not to mention any other funds the Board (£13-20m) provide: £114m-121m.

So who comes in?  Start with those we tried to get this summer.  First, we get Melo because we can afford to push out Juve at £21m (and we throw in Eboue).  Next, we swoop for Sakho, again we can afford the price, £15m.  Chamakh at 10m?  No problem.  There’s £46m and our team height just increased by a foot.  For rotation sake buy Matuidi at £8m, Vermaelen at £10m and some young right back like Van der Wiel at £8m,  and all of a sudden our defense isn’t a problem and our midfield is solid (Melo, Nasri, Matuidi, Arshavin, and two or all of the following: Diaby/Ramsey/Wilshere/Denilson/Merida.  Total price?  £72m.  Power is no longer an issue; pace is still overwhelming and we are physically stronger than just about any team I can think of.  Our technique is still stunning as well.

Plus we have money in the bank: whatever original kitty the Board gave Arsene plus any money from selling Senderos, Sylvestre or any of the midfielders or forwards.  At least £2m, but more like £25m.

This would be our big game day lineup in a 4-4-2:
Alumnia, Clichy, Sakho, Gallas, Sagna, Arshavin, Melo, Diaby, Nasri, Chamakh, RVP
bench: fabianski, Van der Wiel, Ramsey, Eduardo/Vela, Matuidi, Song, Merida

Off bench: Vermaelen, Gibbs, Traore and Wilshere plus whomever wasn’t sold.  Funny part?  You can see how we might miss Eboue to help provide cover on the right back and midfield.  But moving on.

One might question, why Diaby?  Because Melo and Diaby can play together, Diaby can charge forward while Melo hangs back.  Nasri and Arshavin play the creative midfielder roles on the wings.  RVP can stay as he is, but Chamakh plays the target man.  Plus, if we need to get more defensive we have Song and Matuidi on the bench; or, if we need to get more offensive, we have Ramsey and Merida.

Obviously this is pub fantasy, arm chair managing and impossible since we don’t have the money and Melo is gone.  But it raises an interesting point, what if Fab does leave, or what if we receive an offer we can’t refuse?  What’s the magic number?  Is it £40m like some claim?  What about £50m?  How do we say no to £50m?  Or, now that we are shopping, what player do we need to really fit into our 4-3-3?  Should we change back to a 4-4-2 and if so, should we sell Fab?

Whatever happens, the Arsenal will be okay.  If only because we have Fab and he’s fabulous and if we sell Fab it doesn’t mean we’ll fall out of the top four.  It just means a change in tactics to the 4-4-2 and the power and pace we once had.  A change that might be okay.

-the student.

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