It may be easier for Edu to explain Arsenal sales because Kronx understands ‘dead money’

Of the £8m Arsenal could eventually receive from Fulham for goalkeeper Bernd Leno, only £3m of it is fully guaranteed. The rest is subject to Leno achieving a set number of Premier League matches, and Fulham remaining in the Premier League for the next two seasons.

This number disappointed many Arsenal fans, but few might be surprised.

The club is in the process of getting rid of players it considers redundant – and in most cases, they have struggled to get big fees for them. In some cases, players were paid to leave prematurely.

Technical director Ido agrees that was part of the strategy.

He said, “Try to avoid another year with the problem inside – in the locker room, expensive, not doing great.” the athlete Last month. “Cleans. Get it out. Even, I’m sorry, if you have to pay. Better leave.”

“I know it hurts, I know it’s weird to go to the board and say, ‘Sometimes it’s better to pay a player to leave than to keep it.’ But I consider it an investment. Sometimes people say, ‘It’s expensive.’ I say, ‘No’ It’s an investment.”


Goalkeeper Bernd Leno left for Fulham after four seasons with Arsenal (Photo: Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

One might imagine those conversations with the board were tough – but perhaps at Kroenex, Arsenal’s US owners – Edu finds a sympathetic ear.

Through its ownership of other sports teams, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) has already demonstrated a willingness to make costly and highly critical decisions in the pursuit of sporting success.

Five years ago, the KSE-owned Los Angeles Rams tied quarterback Jared Goff to a four-year contract extension to begin in 2021.

Not only did Goff help them reach the Super Bowl the previous season, only his third in the NFL, but he also felt that the league’s quarterback market was about to soar. The idea was to secure a long-term salary for Goff that seemed, in relative terms, affordable.

Even in Premier League terms, the numbers are staggering: $134m (£110.9m, €131.7m) over four years, with a $57m guarantee.

After two frustrating seasons, the Rams admitted they were wrong to stick to this huge contract. They decided to trade Goff and try to sign their better midfielder. The problem, in a paycheck-defining league like the NFL, was finding someone who would take their hefty paycheck.

In the end, Gauff was traded to the struggling Detroit Lions after 2020-21 season Matthew Stafford – considered a quality player, although seven years older at 33 – but only after the Rams also agreed to give the Lions great value first choices. The round in the 2022 and 2023 NFL drafts.

It was an extraordinary drastic step. Swapping NFL quarterbacks is uncommon, but the Rams’ willingness to forgo draft picks has attracted particular derision. Shedding Goff’s contract also saw them leave a record $22.2 million in dead money.

In the NFL, “dead money” is a term used to describe money that counts toward a team’s maximum salary, but is intended for players who have already been traded away or have left the team. In fact, it’s the money they made or paid to players that are no longer in the books.

The deal showed that the Rams – and thus, by inference, the KSE – were willing to “waste” money trying to achieve sporting success. It has succeeded. Earlier this year, Stafford also led the Rams to the Super Bowl, winning it unlike Gave.

There are echoes of this story in North London.

Arsenal don’t have to stay under the salary cap, but there is a financial fair game to worry about, and the economy wracked by the COVID-19 pandemic to contend with. Like the Rams, they stick to long-term contracts they eventually regretted – Mesut Ozil’s extension in 2018 and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in 2020 is perhaps the most notable. Edu oversaw the termination of these two deals, resulting in millions in “dead money” in the process.

When Edu sits down with the board of directors (which includes both Stan Kroenke and his son Josh) to make an argument for releasing a player from his contract prematurely, or selling one at a price that appears below its market value, how much help does he give him? Whether the Kuwait Stock Exchange has achieved success through similar means in the United States?

There is, of course, an important contextual difference to consider here: Goff’s controversial trade was designed for the Rams to help them win the Super Bowl – the biggest prize available in American sports. It was a short-term decision with a short-term goal.

The Rams correctly felt they were just a better midfielder away from glory. Arsenal are still struggling to return to fourth place in the Premier League, having not played Champions League football since 2016-2017, and are trying to implement a long-term strategy.

The Rams were in a “win now” mode – Arsenal, currently, is a “wins tomorrow” club.

Kroenke Rams Super Bowl win


Stan Kronk lifts the trophy after the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl in February (Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

There can be no doubt that Arsenal are not a great seller. Of course, the price that can be obtained for any player is dictated by the market more than anything else. If there is a greater benefit, the fee increases. A multi-club auction can see a player price go up sharply.

Arsenal’s case is simple: they sold the wrong players at the wrong time.

Their hardest case has been players who are past their prime, still highly paid, and underperforming.

It’s also often obvious when a player isn’t part of their plans. Leno can be said to be such an example: he was paid well, and there was only a year left on his contract. He would have preferred to stay in both London and the Premier League, which greatly reduced the list of potential suitors.

Arsenal have also signed first-team USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner, 28, from the New England Revolution in MLS, making it clear that they want to move with Leno. They may have initially hoped for around £12m for the 30-year-old Germany international and nine matches. In the end, Fulham didn’t particularly come close to that number.

Lucas Torreira is another noteworthy case.

The Uruguayan midfielder is ready to move, and since he has not played for the club since July 2020 and has spent the past two seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid and then Fiorentina, he is actively looking for a move ahead of the World Cup.

At the moment, the most realistic buyers are Galatasaray. Torreira is undecided on their offer, but if the deal is executed in the said amounts, Arsenal could incur a loss of close to £20m for a player signed for £26m four years ago.

In Edo’s defence, he was largely getting rid of the players the club had acquired prior to his appointment in the summer of 2019.

He believes the change is in Arsenal’s ability to generate revenue through the transfer market he is at.

“Next summer, take a look at the ratings of the players we have, the age of the group we have, and the salaries we have today,” he says. “Now, as part of the plan, we are creating value for our players today.” Edu clearly feels that in order to sell better, Arsenal first had to buy better. They do it now.

Next summer, then, could be an interesting window.

So far, Kroenkes has shown sympathy for Edu’s argument, and a willingness to write off losses to improve the team.

However, they cannot do so indefinitely.

Sooner or later Arsenal must start extracting value from the playing staff via the transfer market. It is a necessary step in their development.

(Top image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

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