EXCLUSIVE By Nick Harris
24 December 2009
Arsenal have around £35m to spend on transfer fees and wages in January, and this kitty is a result of clauses in Arsenal’s bank loan agreements that compel the club to set aside a fixed amount of income for Arsene Wenger to spend on players.
Wenger is almost certain to buy a striker next month and one candidate could be Bordeaux’s French-born Moroccan international, Marouane Chamakh. The 25-year-old is tall, quick and versatile, and capable of operating up front, on the wing or as an attacking midfielder.
Chamakh has scored a goal every other game for his club this season, and Wenger, who came “close to signing” the player in the past, has said he would reconsider a new approach “if it is needed in January.”
The most obvious stumbling block is that Bordeaux are still in the Champions League, and Chamakh has said he is “certain” he will remain with the club until summer. However, his contract expires in summer 2010, giving Bordeaux an incentive to cash in now. The price tag would be upwards of £7m depending on how much other interest there is.
Another option could be France’s Andre-Pierre Gignac of Toulouse, 24, also an established international. He would cost upwards of £12m. The prolific Edin Džeko of Wolfsburg, a Bosnia and Herzegovina international, has been linked to Arsenal, but with a price tag of £20m-plus, is a less likely Wenger buy.
The Frenchman, an economics graduate, is notoriously picky about value, but beyond doubt he has cash to spend. Under the terms of Arsenal’s most recent stadium refinancing deal, the club has a legally binding commitment to give Wenger 70 per cent of all net proceeds from player sales to reinvest, at least.
If he doesn’t spend that cash in one transfer window, it must be put into a Transfer Proceeds Account (TPA) for spending at a later date on fees or wages.
“This agreement was put in place when the stadium loans were refinanced,” says a source with knowledge of situation. “It’s there to ensure investment in the team. It’s also there as a guarantee to the lenders, who can be confident that the club’s core asset – the playing squad – remains strong. Under no circumstances can any owner or board members seek to strip assets by selling players and keeping that income.”
Exactly what cash goes into the TPA and when is complicated but informed sources say around £35m is available in January as a result of Wenger not yet spending the receipts of summer 2009 sales, allied with a good set of financial results from 2008-09.
Wenger sold Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure to Manchester City in July for around £41m combined, buying only Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax, for around £10m, in that window. That gave him a £31m surplus, and 70 per cent of that is £21.7m.
On top of that, Arsenal’s better than average financial results leave them on course to generate around £30m towards “player investment” (fees and wages) this season, or around £15m so far. With the £21.7m added to the £15m making £36.7m, and “a few million” deducted for “uplift” in player contracts that have been renegotiated this summer, the upshot is around £35m in the TPA for January.
Contrary to popular belief, Wenger is not averse to spending big in January: Andrei Arshavin, Abou Diaby, Adebayor, Theo Walcott and Jose Reyes were all among Wenger’s January window buys in recent years.