Whom will Arsenal announce first, Rice or Timber?


As the interminable negotiations with West Ham drag on, with each day bringing a new non-update regarding their position on our most-recent £105m offer, it starts to feel like talks will plod forward ever more slowly over time until forward motion will only be observable at the molecular level. How this helps West Ham is beyond my ability to fathom​—they’ll need time to re-invest and integrate the players they manage to sign. In the meantime, we’ve signed Havertz and look likely to land Jurriën Timber. Who’ll be announced first?

Our latest offer to West Ham of £105 seems to have stumbled over the structure of the payments, with West Ham wanting to spread the fee over just 18 months, with us paying a ludicrious 75% of it upfront. It’s incredibly rare for a fee of this size to not amortise across the length of the contract, and I have to wonder how much this might imperil our ability to both sign other players and avoid the possibility (however remote) of violating FFP. Without any other suitors to drive up the fee, West Ham seem bound and determined to get as much money upfront as they can.

It looks like Edu has finally convinced West Ham to accept the fee spread out over three payments in 24 months, which is still a tough not to swallow. In hindsight, we might have considered publicly courting other options like Caicedo to suggest that Rice was simply the highest priority on a list of players rather than the only player on that list. Reports are that Rice is set to have his medical tests on Friday. It’s not official yet, but it looks like a resolution is finally in sight.

By contrast, the negotiations with Ajax over Timber seem to have concluded with a speed that is almost comical. He too is set to have his medical tests by week’s end. His fee is reported to be £38m, and this entire process looks like it will be consummated in just under three weeks’ time, with submitting our first £30m bid on 19 June. We flirted with Ajax last summer, but they were apparently concerned after already selling the fidget spinner and Lisandro Martinez to Man U. Still, the speed with which this signing took place is similar to that with which the signing of Havertz took place. Frankly, it makes West Ham look a little shabby.

With both players set for medical tests by week’s end, whose signing will be officially announced first? I suppose Declan Rice, as the marquee signing, will make us wait, with Timber joining Havertz as opening acts for the Declan Rice Experience. Beyond that, I won’t try to make any more-specific predictions. It feels like announcing anyone on a Friday might end up anticlimactic as people turn their attention away from news and toward the weekend, but I’d be happy to be wrong.

Whatever the timing and sequence, it’s amazing to think that the transfer window has only been open three weeks. We’re averaging a player-signing per week. If we keep this up, we’ll have a chance at catching the record Chelsea set last summer by late August.

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19 thoughts on “Whom will Arsenal announce first, Rice or Timber?

  1. palladio43

    You actually pointed out one important fact, i.e., that we should have pursued other options just as publicly as we pursued Rice during this interminable journey. The then falls on Edu and Arteta. They made it appear that Rice was (and still seems to be) Arsenal’s potential saviour if not God’s gift to mankind. Had they gone after Caicedo with the same level of intensity they might have: a) possibly signed Caicedo for no more than 75 or 80M (No more than, he says!!!) or b) forced or convinced WH to accept 80 to 90M.
    I recall you opined that, possibly, the MC bid was a favor by them to Arteta to try to identify a max cap on bids and, when they withdrew, that would “force” WH to accept Arsenal as the only game in town. Could it be that it was WH that encouraged the MC bid in the successful effort to force Edu to up his bid to 105M with few attached strings? Having proven to be desperate enough to bid that high (well beyond probable value) Arsenal now have little choice but to dance to every tune that WH plays or, as I like to paraphrase: “When WH asks Arsenal to jump, the question from Arsenal is not “why” but instead is now “how high?”.”
    We have reaped what we have sown (BTW Question: how many cliches can I cite in a single posting?) and are now “paying the proverbial piper (Aaargh, another one!).
    All I can say, in the end, Rice had better have been worth it because, as I wrote earlier today, nobody will remember this affair unless he helps bring us years of PL and CL glory and, hopefully, cups, or, alternatively, they will recall his failing and his cost, e.g., Pepe or, maybe, in the case of Chelsea, Mudryk.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Rice is being talked about as a “titan” of the future, and maybe those talking know than I do. He’s now somewhere in the top-five for most-expensive transfers of all time, so I hope we get what we’re paying for (I won’t try to match your idiom-count). In the end, we did get WH to come down from their initial 120m fee. I don’t like the fee structure but I have to think that those who make their living dealing with these matters know what they’re doing. I hope.

      West Ham were in the driver’s seat even if we were the only club Rice was willing to go to. They could have walked away, exercised their option to keep him until 2025, and see who’d bid next summer. Still, while we didn’t get taken to the cleaners here, I do wish we had held our cards closer to the vest. The proof will be in the (Rice) pudding, I suppose…

  2. A Simple Truth

    Not sure of the exact details, except those provided by numerous journos supposedly in the know, but it looks as if we went full amateur hour in our dealings with the Hammers…at first it appeared as if we wanted to spread out our payments to the maximum allowable period, 5 years, which certainly wasn’t surprising, whereas the Hammers were looking to have everything done and dusted within an 18 month timeframe…if the present rumours are to be believed, the “compromise” has us conceding 3 years and them a whole f’ing 6 months…maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me that we just had our already shrivelled balls handed to us once again…the sad part is, above and beyond the obvious, all our false bravado and empty posturing has prolonged this process for such a lengthy period that it’s opened the door to further criticsm directed towards the club, for how it conducts business, and the incoming player, thus tainting his pending introduction…of course, time will generally heal those wounds, but why the fu** would you want that to be the circumstances surrounding such an unprecedented signing

    as for the players involved, I’m not sure Rice has the kind of “pivot” profile that best fits MA’s tactical predilictions…that said, I’m assuming that this hire will allow Havertz to primarily concern himself with getting into more advanced spaces, albeit both he and Ode will have to come deeper during times of slower build-up, as Rice isn’t really know for unlocking defences…personally I would have preferred a full rebuild of our midfield with the likes of Caicedo, Barella and Simons, as they’re all energizer bunny-types and positionally versatile…who knows though, maybe Havertz will find his Bayer form at the Emirates, thus making the logical questions surrounding his acquisition moot…as for Timber, really like his profile, but still not sure I would have paid that sum for someone who appears to be a cover piece at both the RCB and RB positions before redressing our most pressing needs…maybe it was a necessary maneuver after our late season cock-up that was largely blamed, rightly or wrongly, on our lack of depth behind Saliba

    1. palladio43

      A Simple Truth (nice name BTW).
      Sadly I agree with you as to everything included being handed a plate of meatballs, hopefully not the result of an unanesthetized castration. There were options available and one can now only hope that Arteta’s fixation on Rice did not steer him from the path of truth and righteousness (or whatever gets you to winning prizes). I suppose that, if rumors are correct, 4 payments of 25M each may still be better than one of 100M (assuming the money earns about 5% or more in the bank), but it is, as you have indicated, too large a sum anyway. While Mudryk may become a star, what that should have taught Edu and Arteta, if not Josh K,. is that you can buy decent, if not good players, for far less than a single star, and maybe even come well out ahead, but player-wise and money-wise. Only, it would appear the Saudis do not have that concern.

    2. Jon Shay Post author

      I’m not thrilled with the structure of these payments but West Ham were apparently refusing to budge after coming down from their demand of a 120m fee. In the end, if the Kroenkes are willing to pay out, it shouldn’t really matter to us whether it’s across five years as is usual or 18 months…unless from those gossamer notions around financial prudence and our own cob-webbed recollection of Wenger’s austere approach. It’s strange to suddenly feel so flush that we can barely cock an eyebrow at how this has turned out.

      As for tactics/role/formation, it looks like a complete revamp of the entire midfield with Xhaka one foot out the door and Partey checking his watch. I don’t see a one-for-one swap of Havertz for Xhaka and Rice for Partey. Havertz has been at his best as more of a false nine and Rice has been more of a 6. With front-footed, progressive defenders like Magalhaes, Saliba, & White (and Timber wherever he’s meant to play), maybe we’ll see something more fluid with Rice adopting to more of a b2b/6 role. His role at West Ham forced him to focus extensively on shielding the defense, limiting his ability to get forward to join the attack. His attacking stats don’t reflect a lack of ability necessarily, maybe more a lack of opportunity.

      Adding Timber makes sense to me. Saliba’s injury was but one of numerous factors in our cock-up. We don’t have pockets deep enough to go two deep at every position, so having someone like Timber, who can cover for Magalhaes, Saliba, and WHite seems a sensible compromise (and is part of why I might preferred Caicedo to Rice due to his versatility. Then again, perhaps Timber could be trained up to play as more of an 8. If so, signing him would be a masterstroke.

  3. A Simple Truth

    on a side note, I would suggest City’s involvement in the whole Rice affair had more to do with making him the highest priced homelander, thereby deflecting unwanted attentions away from Grealish, than Pep having a genuine interest in the player himself

  4. Bertie Mee

    What a pessimistic, negative sentiment from the two posters here. Another way of looking at it is that Arsenal have the transfer clout to outlast ( and appeal more than) a team that just won the treble. So a little credit please to the progress made in raising the profile of the club and tge qualit6 of signings we might have access to.
    City paid £100 million for Grealish last summer and believe me I’d rather have the honesty and ambition of Rice than I would the dishonest antics of Grealish who spends most of his match lying on the ground.
    Prices for players are ridiculous are their awards but please don’t pretend that anyone on here has the slightest idea of how to conduct negotiations for top football players . It is arrogant and misinformed when we shoukd be focusing on how far this club has come

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      well-said, Bertie. It appears that the report of your death is greatly exaggerated…or internet access in the heavens is better than expected. Whatever the fee ended up at, what’s perhaps more notable is that one of the most-coveted players in Europe was consistent in his desire to only switch to this club, spurning interest from Man City & Bayern.

  5. greenjanner

    I agree. Two more negative takes on a fantastic and ambitious window for Arsenal, it is hard to imagine. Deal done. Over the line.

    A great player? A lot of very experienced football people think so. Man City were willing to pay a very similar fee.

    Just enjoy it. While we are on a wave, make the most of it. After decades of failing to build on success, and I speak as a fan who watched the first Arsenal Double side, it is so good to see ambition.

    West Ham and Chelsea have each just lost their best player to Arsenal.

  6. A Simple Truth

    just to clarify, I’m f’ing elated that we appear to be sitting at the parent”s table once again, but that certainly doesn’t mean that common sense and/or critical thought should be wantonly discarded simply because we’ve entered the market with a fat wallet in hand…furthermore, I’m happier than a pig in shit that we’ve raised the profile of our acquisitions, as I truly believe that our learn-on-the-fly managerial approach can only achieve the desired results if we bring in the type of players who can succeed at the highest of levels in spite of our tactical and selection-based shortcomings…maybe just maybe, our novice skipper will now have the requisite cajones to tinker with our one size fits all tactics in the business end of the season…of course, I hope that Rice, Havertz and Timber hit the ground running and take their respective games and our team to the next logical level, but what I’ve witnessed thus far, from the aforementioned players, suggests otherwise…with that said, I want nothing more than to be proved wrong…Cheers

  7. greenjanner

    I hope that you are. Doubtless you will be distraught if we fail to win the Treble.

    Seriously, you don’t like Arteta and Edu, do you?

    1. A Simple Truth

      like I’ve stated before, I have nothing personal against them, I just wish we had aimed substantially higher with our managerial appointment…let’s face it, if it was understood that there would be this level of backing from ownership, there’s little doubt in my mind that the overwhelming sentiments would align with mine…who couldn’t come somewhat good with the young pieces he inherited, the ability to go scortched earth with periphery/”problematic” players, an unprecendented transfer bounty and the flexibility to change courses as you saw fit, without any ramifications…just thought we deserved a tad more than a learn-on-the-job skipper considering the patience we’ve shown since the ribbon was cut and the “plan” was supposedly set in motion

      1. Eoin ó Conchobhair

        How much higher, though? It’s hard to come up with a list of available candidates for sporting director and manager who know this club and its ethos better than Edu (an Invincible) and Arteta (someone who saw the rot that was spreading under Wenger’s fade from glory).

        There was always going to be a nadir as we moved from the Wenger years. I feel bad for Emery who seemed like a sacrificial lamb (much like Moyes at Man U). We needed someone who didn’t see themselves as bigger than the club (see Mourinho & Conte at Spurs) and who had a vision for how to play.

        Arteta wasn’t a fashionable choice (some people wanted Henry, Conte, Tuchel, or Pochettino), but he’s starting to show that he’s the real deal.

        To borrow from Wenger, “we don’t sign superstars, we make them”. I for one like the idea that we might be seeing the emergence of a very good, maybe even a great, manager in Arteta.

    1. A Simple Truth

      do you really want me to name every manager who was a better option than Arteta at the time of his hiring or in the years following??? if you can’t think of any that’s a you problem not a me problem

      1. Jon Shay Post author

        slow your roll, there, AST. GJ asked a open-ended question, and I don’t think he expects an exhaustive list. I remember there being some calls for us to go after Conte and Tuchel…

  8. greenjanner

    It is not a problem for me. I was just curious asto you would have preferred? Obviously, you have no wish to make any suggestion. Curious on a debating blog.


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