As Arsenal fans don’t need reminding they are currently in sixth in the Premiership and are four points behind Spurs in fourth. Yet many supporters share Arsene Wenger’s confidence that the club will once again qualify for the Champions League.
Many pundits are backing the Gunners too with Mark Lawrenson also confident that Arsenal will see off their rivals.
The penalty for not qualifying would be primarily financial – Arsenal could lose out on £20 million plus of revenue – however it will also affect the club’s ambition to attract big name players, and this in spite of the new tranche of sponsorship money they have secured.
The club are mulling over a bid for Barcelona’s David Villa in the summer. But will he come if there’s no guarantee of Champions League Football? As Spanish paper AS (picked up by Sports Witness here) points out today he could join Atletico Madrid (as a replacement for Falcao who is expected to leave the club in the summer) be guaranteed Champions League football and keep his young family in Spain.
AS journalist Juan Casanez confirms that there was contact between Arsenal and David Villa this winter but says that now that deal didn’t happen there are more options on the table. Atletico Madrid will likely be looking for a Falcao replacement and Villa will be a much cheaper option to Luis Suarez, or even Edin Dzeko. The newspaper says that Atletico sporting director Jose Luis Caminero was in contact with Villa’s agents during the transfer window, with a view to the summer.
Not only are Atletico more likely to qualify for the Champions League, they are also able to offer Villa the chance to stay in Spain with his young family. His wife recently gave birth to the couple’s first son and they have two young daughters, the attraction of remaining in the country is something that AS think will be another advantage.
Arsenal might also find themselves chasing players who are also fancied by Spurs and if Tottenham have the CL slot then they will clearly have an edge over their North London rivals. For example would world class centre backs like Mats Hummels and Fernando Amorebieta join the club? Probably not.
It is worth pointing out that both Liverpool and Spurs have signed world class players without a CL qualification (Suarez being the classic example) but when it comes to top stars, or players in the twilight of their career like David Villa, CL qualification is a given.