Arsenal debate – Did Arsenal pay too much to keep Nketiah in the squad?

Is Nketiah paid too much? by AndersS

Although I have no insight into the salary accounts at Arsenal, I take it for a fact, Nketiah is being paid a weekly salary of around £100,000 a week as reported several times.

To put it mildly it is a very handsome amount of money paid to a young man for “running around and kicking a ball”. In fact, many will say it is an obscene amount of money if you compare it to what nurses, teachers or plumbers are paid. And without a doubt it is an obscene amount of money compared to what most Arsenal fans make.

In that light it is very easy to conclude he is being paid too much.

However, if you use that perspective, it isn’t really Nketiah or Arsenal in particular you can blame. The fact is, no football player in a top league has a salary which can be defended in that comparison. They all make too much, and indeed do many other professional sports athletes, rock stars, movie stars and what have you.

This is not something Arsenal can change on their own, and although you can shout your moral points as loud as you like, it is in my opinion more or less an exercise in futility.

There is no connection between how much a nurse, a plumber or a teacher is being paid, and how much Nketiah is paid.

It is two different worlds, two different markets, and changing that probably requires some wholesale changes to regulation of society, which goes far beyond discussions on JA.

So, I am going to leave that part of it, and look more specifically at, if Nketiah is being paid too much compared to other players.

I have had the fortune to run a couple of small companies with around 25 – 30 employees, and part of that is of course to negotiate employment contracts, including salaries. I have had many one-on-one meetings with employees about salaries. A regular occurrence is an employee asking for a pay rise, based on the amount of extra hours he/she is working. No matter if it is a fair request or not, I always try to put the following across to him/her:

“We don’t pay you for the time you put in, we pay you for the value, you add to the company”. Some look perplexed and may feel unfairly treated, others feel a penny drop, become much more focused and determined and eventually may become very valuable employees with a salary to match.

As I see it, a footballer’s salary is almost solely negotiated with the above in mind. What is that particular player’s value to the club expected to be? To begin with, a top club is in many terms a very big business with a lot of money involved, and any player who can contribute something positive to that club, even a very small percentage of extra value, can be claimed to be adding value worth big amounts of money. Therein lies the basic reason why salaries end up being extremely high to begin with.

How do you then measure Nketiah’s value? Does it match his salary? As a fan, we will of course be very quick to look at his expected main task; scoring goals. We will also understand other contributions in a game, during training etc., and we can generally also understand that by giving him a new contract, we have retained an asset, which may have a resale value, small or big.

It is fair to rate his season so far as rather mediocre, and it is understandable to question his salary with only that in mind. But It is obvious, Nketiah was not given a new contract with the expectation he is now ready to be our main striker. It was always clear, we were going to be looking for a new main striker, and Nketiah would be a back-up, at least for now. Given his age and his record on youth level, I am sure, it is thought by Arteta and the rest of the team, he can develop much more, and maybe even become our main striker one day. Cynics will say that they can already see that is not going to happen. That may be right. Personally, I think the conclusions can’t be drawn already, as we may not have seen the best from him yet.

There is also another angle. Had we let Nketiah go elsewhere, I think we would have been forced to get a new striker from another club, as none of our other youngsters, i.e., Balogun, are quite ready. This means that Nketiah’s value and salary should also be measured against what it would have cost to get an alternative.

As I understand it, Nketiah’s contract is for 5 years, and the reported salary of 100,000 a week is a yearly 5,2 mil each year. Basically, you can say Arsenal has committed up to 26 mil. to Nketiah in these 5 years, unless he at some point is transferred to another club.

In the transfer window there were rumours and debate about whether Arsenal should go for Richarlison. An attacker whose profile with his 25 years of age would probably fit with our strategy, and he was available. As it happens, he joined the spuds also on a 5-year contract and with a reported weekly salary of 90,000. You would have to say, Richarlison is a much more established name in the Premier League, and this would suggest paying Nketiah 100,000 is a really bad decision. But the spuds had to pay around 50 mil. in transfer fee to get Richarlison. This means they have committed a total of around 73 mil. over 5 years to have him, if they don’t sell him before.

Holding these 2 players up against each other, I honestly think there is no way of saying yet, who has done the better deal. I am not saying by any means Nketiah is as good as Richarlison. But so far this season, Richarlison hasn’t done more for the Spuds than Nketiah has done for us, and Nketiah is 23 Richarlison is 25. If Nketiah improves some, he can in those 2 years, become a very valuable asset, which can do a lot for us, or which can be sold for a nice profit, even if you include the 100,000 a week we have had to pay. If he improves a lot, it is actually a fantastic decision to keep him. On the other hand, should he never really get any better than what we are seeing now, it is a bad decision.

All things considered; I think it is way too early to be on Nketiah’s back because of his salary. His 100,000 a week should be seen in the light of what it would have cost us to get an alternative, and as there was no transfer fee involved in getting him, it is only logical his salary would be higher. In total, it can easily end up being a fantastic investment, and I will be backing him. If he succeeds for us, it would be fantastic.

Time will tell how it ends.

Anders S


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  1. It wasn’t too much because:

    – He scored some important goals and has a lot of potential
    – He is young, homegrown and pretty skilled

    I just feel his enthusiasm has decreased slightly nowadays, but he still has time till the end of this season to be more productive. Hopefully he’ll play CF in the cup competitions, because he is obviously not tricky enough to play LW

    If he fails to impress the coaches, they could swap him with Balogun in the summer

    1. GAI- this is a totally flawed response.
      “He scored some important goals” and has a lot of potential. Pepe scored important goals and had potential. I know which one I would sooner have in the squad.
      “He is young, homegrown and Terry skilled. So is Reiss Nelson. Should we offer him £110 a week?
      “F he fails to impress we could swap him for Balogun”. And what then? Put Balogun on £100k a week? And who is likely to buy Nketiah on those wages?
      A totalmy flawed reason. As Anders S says- it’s his value that should be rewarded not potential. Paying Nketiah that amount was a wrong decision by Arteta and we will not only be left with this second rate player but every other contract offered to young players will have this as a yardstick in the negotiations. What’s Martinelli going to accept? The first thing he will say is if “Nketiah is on that and I am 10 times the player with 10 times his value to the club then I should be on £1m per week”

      1. Pepe is several years older than Nketiah and isn’t a homegrown, whereas Nelson didn’t make some important goals. Nketiah has all those factors combined, hence the extension

        We won’t need to sell Nketiah, but just loan him out to make him more experienced in 2024. Balogun has a long-term contract, so we won’t need to increase his salary next year

        As for Martinelli and Saka, 150K per week + bonuses should be enough. If they’re unwilling to accept that type of deal, we could sell them

        1. GAI-you are in a wry small minority who believes Nketiah will come good. For £100k a week we could have got someone who is far better. Jesus is proving to be a CF who does not score and he has an able replacement in Nketiah. Been here before have we not? Giroud!! Lacazette!!! Chamakh!!!!!
          Arteta does not trust him to start otherwise he would have by now. Jesus is everything we need but is NOT a natural finisher. Martinelli is a better striker than Nketiah will ever be. He should have been allowed to leave on a free and the £100k a week either saved or invested in a more reliable and proven back up

            1. So let’s not forget that it was Arteta who agreed this £100k a week deal. There were far better ways to spend that money. Nketiah will never make a EPL class striker. How many other teams were banging on the door to take him on a free? Exactly

              1. We didn’t know about what kind of other offers Nketiah had before he extended his contract, unless we were insiders at the club

                1. Lets think about the cost of a transfer fee if we got someone else in as well as much higher wages than £100k if we want a gun forward ! Its a smart move to keep someone who could be sold for say £25mn which helps pay for the new forward everyone is talking about…

                  Also which amazing forward will come and play on the bench as Jesus is going to start every game if fit !

      2. We don’t pay you for the time you put in, we pay you for the value, you add to the company”. .
        I am sorry but what a load of cr*p!!
        The reason you hire someone is because ,to you that person was the best candidate,no?in that case “we don’t pay you for the time you put it “you won’t mind if that person works for 20 hours/week for the same salary as a full time employee ?

    2. What important goals ?
      He scored in three Prem games last season
      Think about Newcastle and spurs away …invincible

  2. We overpaid. Best way to make that deal a genius deal is to sell him asap this next summer window. Which would mean he didn’t leave for free and we get a decent amount for him.

  3. The biggest issue for me is the knock on effects with the rest of the squad if we don’t pay closer to “market rate” compared with the rest of the league. If we start paying backup players so much money, then it can only drive up the salaries of the nailed on first teamers. The crazy thing is that we knew Eddie would be out backup striker next season..
    And if there comes a point where we have either pay exorbitant amounts to players like Saka and GM or risk losing them before they’ve done anything for us – losing these sorts of players could reset a lot of the great work arteta has done, and giving large contracts to backup players doesn’t help the situation.
    It wasn’t sensible – we should have offered him something more similar to other backup players (I’m sure elneny isn’t on 100k pw?) and if he refused, just accept that we’re losing him.
    We should reward improvements and achievements with contracts like this *after* observing significant improvement and/or achievement, not before. To me, this is a positive way of handling contracts, whereas paying on the basis that it would cost more to bring in one replacement is a negative way of thinking (if that makes sense) – there’s more to think about.

  4. The only way to know if he was worth that contract would be for him to play 10 games straight in the PL,barring an injury to Jesus that won’t happen .
    He had a good run of games last season ,and IMO he did not impress .
    We should have moved him on 2 years ago ,but this is the state of football ,when a player of his talent can ask for 100k a week ,is he worth it ? Absolutely not but this is where we find ourselves .

    1. What’s the average Prem wages for a striker in top six club? What’s the average Prem wages for a striker? Perhaps £100k a week is the right level for a player with Edward’s?

  5. Eddie Nketiah maynot be rooting up any trees but am not sure he’s paid too much due to the deal.

    If we were to purchase a decent striker, it would cost us a minimum £25;mil and may end up paying in excess of £80,000 a week in salary.

    That position is worth that salary

  6. Anders We both agree that all Prem wages are obscene. I HAVE MANY TIMES USED PRECISELY THE WORD “OBSCENE”, in my own many posts scorning the obscenity of such wages.

    I started reading your interesting piece and much hoped you would develop that area of wages obscenity but sadly you chose to duck it(it being of far more importance than simply football itself) when you chickened out and chose ONLY to compare relative obscenities of Spurs Prem team ref Richarlison.
    I feel that you missed a great chance to discuss something VITALLY IMPORTANT. People with real life experience and good brains OUGHT to be counted on to speak out, IMO!!

    1. I’m totally agree with you regarding the Prem wages. It’s crazy, but there aren’t many football leagues in the World with general better wages than the Championship, top five I believe.

    2. @Jon fox
      As mentioned, I don’t think it worthwhile to discuss the general problem of wages being too high for footballers, other athletes, rock stars, movie stars etc. etc.
      It is a problem, which I don’t think Arsenal or let alone Nketiah have any chance of changing alone.
      In fact, I am yet to hear a realistic proposition for a change. I would love to hear, what you suggest.

  7. I’m pretty sure Nketiah won’t become a first-choice PL striker (not for any decent team anyway) and I suspect Arsenal knows it. He just doesn’t have the natural ball skills – compare him to Jesus and it’s like chalk and cheese.

    The numbers Anders gave in the middle of the piece have always been my view – £25m over 5 years for a backup striker may be good value. It’s also possible that it was forced – it’s been suggested that we were running close to FFP limits in the last window. And there wasn’t really much on the market anyway at a sensible price (prising a good player away from a club that wasn’t thinking of selling him is always expensive and fraught).

    I expect we’ll see how good Nketiah might be when the cups etc begin – because backup includes rotation in those “smaller” games.

    I also think it’s possible that he may be sold before the 5 years is up, but like Anders, I worry that £100k a week will put off buyers – unless his performances in the cups is good enough (or if someone is desperate enough… Everton?).

  8. What would have been the alternative cost if we had to buy a new striker?

    We would definitely have got less of something else. If Edward N. isn’t good enough we can sell him next summer and buy a new striker. Because next summer we don’t need to buy lots of players, hopefully not more than two or three.

    Some members of the muppet show meant we paid too much for Ben White as well. £30 million for a decent CB and £20 million for a decent right back isn’t bad. Mr. White is a versatile player just like a kinder egg, it’s more for less and great business.

    We’ve got Super Mik Arteta,

    He knows exactly what we need,

    Kieran at the back, Gabi in attack,

    Arsenal on the way to Champions League. 🫶

    1. Yes. It’s too much. I just hope he improved and scores more goals

      So yes we are paying him more than he’s worth but he’s a Gunner so I support him 100% and will give him a couple of years. He’s only 23, so he has a couple of years to improve but I don’t think he will ever be 1st team striker. But that’s okay because we need decent backups

      1. Compared to what? What are the average Prem wages for strikers? What are the average Prem wages for a top-six striker?

        Perhaps it’s too much, but what would have been the alternative cost if we had to buy a new striker last summer? If we had to buy a striker last summer, we would have had less money to invest in other players…

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