Arsenal’s French/French-African players

From Jamie Coleman

Dear Myles

In your recent reply to Brendan, you state that “Arsene FC” exists as partly “a vehicle for the misguided ideas of a dictator who has been in power for far too long and who will never stop pumping multi-millions of your money into French clubs and into the pockets of average French and French- African players.”

I thought the final part – that Arsenal as a club has been flooded with “average” French and French-African players was something worth examining at length, as it\’s one of your refrains, and I\’ve also heard it a lot from non-Arsenal fans.

I\’ve always had a gut instinct that this is wrong – and often comes tinged with various sorts of racism – but thought it would be worth working through.

I have split French players of non-African descent and French players of African descent throughout, as your assertion seems to assume this is important and I\’m including as one group both French nationals with African ancestry and players of Francophone African descent here as I\’m guessing that’s what you mean – ie it allows you to lump Diaby and Chamakh in the same grouping – even though that’s something one could easily take issue with as a monolithic grouping for a variety of reasons.

This has been done mainly with the Transfer League table numbers, so youth team and some minor deals may not have been recorded and of course much of what makes a player average or not is too subjective to map.

However, I hope it causes you to stop and think. Even beatniks shouldn\’t be allowed to talk absolute nonsense.

So, of the 100 first team players I can find details on 31 or 31% of the players Wenger has signed have been French and/or French/African Of those 23 or 23% have been French/African

Here is the full list:

Non African French – 8

Pascal Cygan Remi Garde Gilles Grimandi Mathieu Flamini Laurent Koscielny Emmanuel Petit Robert Pires Sebastian Squillaci

French/African – 23

Samir Nasri Patrick Vieira Nicolas Anelka Thierry Henry Lauren Slyvaine Wiltord Kolo Toure Gael Clichy Emmanuel Adebayor Alex Song Bacary Sagna William Gallas Abou Diaby Francis Coquelin Guy Demel Emmanuel Eboue Armand Traore Lassana Diara Mikael Sylvester Marouane Chamakh Gervinho David Grondin Kaba Diawara.

31% is a decent chunk of the playing staff.

But now to the paying them too much money part of your assertion.

This is tricky as it\’s utterly subjective and decided by how they played while at the club, how much they were being paid, which seems hard to accurately assess, and how much money we received for them – ie you might argue Adebayor or Nasri were overpaid while they were here based on their actual performances, but they earned us and them a great deal of money when they moved on. You could hardly say they were average.

So I\’m going to go on and say that of the 8 non-African French players Wenger has signed, 4 of them (Mathieu Flamini, Laurent Koscielny, Emmanuel Petit, Robert Pires)  would be thought of as successful – ie worth what they were being paid – and 4 of them Remi Garde, Gilles Grimandi, Sebastian Squillaci, Pascal Cygan) were not obvious successes and you could argue no better than another player who could have been playing there.

However, many people would point towards the important roles that Garde and Grimandi had at the beginning of Wenger\’s term. So at worst it\’s a 50% and at best 75% success rate.

Of the 23 French/African signings I would say that 13 or 57% would be said to be unambiguously worth what we were/are paying them while they were playing for us – ie they were/are generally well thought of, were amongst the best in the league in their position and/or have gone on to earn more money elsewhere.

Patrick Vieira, Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, Lauren, Sylvain Wiltord, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Adebayor, Alex Song, Bacary Sagna, Samir Nasri, Francis Coquelin, Lassana Diara.

Leaving 10 or 43% that weren\’t.

William Gallas, Abou Diaby, Emmanuel Eboue, Armand Traore, Mikael Sylvestre , Marouane Chamakh, Gervinho, Guy Demel, David Grondin, Kaba Diawara.

However, I\’d say that that there are 3 (Guy Demel, David Grondin, Kaba Diawara  ) who, whilst not being obvious successes, were not overpaid while here, which seems to be the thrust of your problem, which when moved over would swing the percentages to: 70% worth their money while here and 30% not.

As I see it, there are a total of 9 players our of 100 that can be said to be French and/or French/African and as I see it not worth the money they are/were being paid.

And there\’d be arguments over Traore – was he overpaid? – and Gallas – can\’t imagine he dropped money when he went to Spurs etc. William Gallas, Abou Diaby, Emmanuel Eboue, Armand Traore, Mikael Sylvestre, Marouane Chamakh, Gervinho, Sebastian Squillaci, Pascal Cygan.

However, 9 out of a 100. To put that in context

Moreover there\’s a list of 15 players that are absolutely unambiguous Wenger successes (financially, if not solely based on playing levels while at Arsenal ) Patrick Vieira, Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, Lauren Sylvain Wiltord, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Adebayor, Alex Song, Bacary Sagna, Samir Nasri, Mathieu Flamini, Laurent Koscielny, Emmanuel Petit ,Robert Pires.

So why do you persist in claiming this is Wenger and Arsenal’s hamartia? (fatal flaw)

Signing French and French/African players has been massively to Arsenal’s benefit over the course of Wenger’s time here. Could it be that although of the current first team squad of 31 (According to 8 or 26% are French and French African

They also contain 4 of the worst 8 French and/or French/African/Francophone African players that have been signed over the entirety of Wenger’s time here? Marounne Chamakh Gervinho Sebastian Squillaci Abou Diaby

And to be honest I\’m not absolutely giving up on Gervinho and Diaby has obvious extenuating circumstances.

I think your assertion to Brendan was a cheap, jingoistic shot, with little to back it up.

I’d love to hear what you think.

Myles says :

You could do a Ph.D on this, Jamie.

Are you an accountant or a statistician?

My comments were about Wenger’s recruitment since 2006 and I should have made that clear.

Arsenal’s trophies were all won with great players in the team.

I don’t care what nationality a player is or what colour he is.

It’s probably true that many of the world’s greatest athletes come from the West African gene pool that was dispersed round the world by the slave trade.

But a powerhouse athlete is not always a superb footballer like Desailly or Vieira or Thuram or Pele.

Wiltord is a donkey who was lucky to play in a great team.

Gilles Grimandi was better as a footballer than as a talent scout.

Anelka had the worst attitude I’ve ever seen from an Arsenal player and watching him being outsprinted by slower players made me feel sick.

Anelka didn’t care enough, while Gallas cared too much.

When Gallas saw that idiot Clichy throw away a season’s  work by  30 people at Birmingham, he turned his back and threw the biggest wobbly in the club’s history.

As captain, Gallas should not have done what he did. But it’s easy to say that now. What Gallas did, he did in the heat of the moment. A huge moment.

It’s an emotional game and his reaction was very emotional.

So was mine.

How can you put Gallas in the same category as Eboue?

How the hell can you put William Gallas in the same category as Chamakh, Sylvestre and Traore?

And you accuse me of talking nonsense?