Just a brief thought this Monday morning: if both Flamini and Hleb leave (and the Indie reckons the former has agreed to join Milan), they will be doing so using various European legal precedents.
How much are they worth? I’d say Flamini, on this season’s form, and aged just 24, has to be worth something in the region of £10m. And you’d expect to get at least the £11.2m back that Arsenal paid for Hleb – possibly more.
So I’d say, conservatively, we’re looking at £20-£25m that could be used for their replacements should they go. The trouble is, we’re in reality looking at something like £5m – a pathetic amount for two players in their prime.
Part of this is out of Arsenal’s control. Article 17, which has only really come to my attention as a result of this Hleb nonsense, means Alex Hleb can buy himself out of his contract despite having two years left on it. Wenger is rightly up in arms about this. Contracts, already skewed in favour of the player and not the club, are now even flimsier if you fit the criteria Alex Hleb does (under 28, two years left on his contract – I mean who thought this up?)
But I can’t help but think that we could end up looking like right charlies over Flamini. How we all laughed when we nabbed Sol Campbell for nothing, but what goes round comes round, eh? Surely the club hierarchy should have addressed this sooner, even if Flamini was not first choice until this season?
Players come and go all the time and that’s the way it works. But to replace them in this competitive market you need money, and we won’t be getting much of that from these two players if they go. It’s a proper stitch-up.