Mike Ashley To Trim The Herd Further For Incoming Transfers?
Despite the flood of TV money gushing in, a healthily packed stadium and free SD advertising, Ashley still feels the need to balance the books.
Hence a further trimming of the sparsely populated herd must take place if new recruits are to arrive.
The biggest savings would be on the wage bill as realistically none of the fringe players will bring any significant fees.
Best scenario for Ashley would be the moving on of Ben Arfa and Steven Taylor. Both seem to be available around the £5m mark and both being substantial earners. Likewise Gutiérrez is in amongst the top salaries but will probably not bring in much fee wise.
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Potentially all three could bring in an extra £10m to the pot (sorry Ash but you have been called worse) plus take a massive shaving off his wage bill.
But will there be any takers?
Only Taylor seems to have any chance of seeing first team, or even bench, action this season. He also seems the best option for receiving a decent fee. Old Arry seemingly keen to take him off to friends reunited down at QPR.
Conversely Ben Arfa’s star has fallen so sharply that only a loan move is realistic, despite all the talk of Milan or Merseyside. Likewise Jonas will most likely only leave on a loan.
What really is going on between Ben Arfa and the club we may never truly know? Was it really just for telling Pardew the obvious? Although it is telling that no other club seems willing to touch him with a bargepole.
In an ideal world of course Benny would knuckle down, make amends and play his way back into the side. Coincidently, I’ve just read he scored a fine solo goal (Monday) in the reserve fixture against Reading … so miracles may happen?
Mbiwa apparently seems unwanted too but will be a difficulty to move on due to his current wages, especially back to France. Although along with Saylor is relatively safe unless another centre half comes through the door.
Even then Saylor will probably have to be carried out kicking and screaming. It would have been worth bringing back Andy Carroll, if only to do the job.
So who else amongst the peripheral squad can be jettisoned?
Firstly you would probably have to look at Haris Vuckic and Shane Ferguson but neither would command a fee, likely only being released. Both players showed great promise but have suffered unsuccessful loan spells, through injury and/or lack of form.
Although Shane did manage to catch the eye of JFK while out on loan, who was luckily stopped before he could splash out on a player we already had on the books. Fergie did look like a tricky winger who could give the team balance and could whip a decent cross in, if a little on the small side.
Haris however seemed a star in the making, who we apparently stole from under the noses of AC Milan, Chelsea and Man U. Although he is a tank of a lad, he unfortunately appears to be made out of glass and has been blighted by successive injuries.
I fear their time may be up and they have now run out of chances. On the plus side we have some more quality coming up through the ranks in the shape of Aarons, Armstrong and Campbell. These lads may nudge Fergie and Vuckic out of the frame.
Curtis Good can be added to this up and coming crop and I hope once he overcomes his current injury woes will develop into a commanding centre half.
Finally, there is the last chance saloon section
Abeid, Bigi and Sammy, again with the likelihood of not much revenue generated if cast off. Sammy and Bigi especially have fallen off the radar and really have to up their level if they are to be retained a year down the line. As opportunities for the pair will be restricted, a loan spell might be best for both parties, worth retaining for now though.
It is a different case with Abeid who I would like to see given a regular place in the squad this year, possibly given a start in the cups in a central midfield berth. If not given that chance, he will be off to pursue pastures new.
Having just turned 22 and gained not only valuable experience during his loan spell at Panathinaikos but muscle too, having significantly bulked up. Abeid helped his loan club into the Champions League qualifying rounds and gained a medal for winning the Greek cup. He also developed an eye for goal, scoring ten goals in all competitions.
Pruning the squad it appears is necessary for billionaire Ashley to keep his crammed cash books balanced, in terms of transfers in and out. In the remaining days of the transfer window it has been speculated this will only be done so the core squad can be upgraded.
That may be Mike, but why can’t just a little of that TV money be spent on a classy centre half or lethal striker? That’s the question fans want answered. If this revenue is never to be spent, then surely our “debt” to you must have been paid off by now?
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