Arsenal’s huge Willian contract offer as transfer spotlight falls on Gunners

Arsenal were ready to give Chelsea forward Willian a £250,000-a-week contract before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

It will be interesting to see whether Arsenal follow through with a deal for the 31-year-old Brazilian who becomes a free agent this summer because of the financial implications and current spotlight on the transfer set-up at the club.

Free agents generally get bigger deals but Arsenal may struggle to hit that figure now.

One expert believes contracts for run-of-the-mill free agents could drop by 50 per cent and even better ones like Willian, Jan Vertonghen and Adam Lallana could get 25 per cent less.

Super agent Kia Joorabchian is of course Willian’s agent and no-one can deny he is having an increasing influence at Arsenal.

However, the club have been quick to point out that the Iranian is not technical director Edu’s agent and never has been.

A lot of eyes from the agent world are looking on at Arsenal and how they are increasingly reliant on the likes of super-agents Joorabchian, Jorge Mendes and Arturo Canales.

Ultimately, results will dictate whether it is a successful path with the ownership watching with interest.

Joorabchian is looking to get former Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho into the Emirates this summer but it would have to be a loan as there is simply no way that Arsenal could afford it.

Even then Arsenal would need Barcelona to subsidise his contract. But don’t rule it out.

After new deals for David Luiz, Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari, expect links with super-agents to only get stronger.

It was something that Arsene Wenger always took pride in avoiding. Former scout Gilles Grimandi has been critical of the new set-up.

Former head of recruitment Sven Mislintat fell out with Arsenal’s Head of Football Raul Sanllehi as they had clashed on several occasions, one time notably via WhatsApp over Bernd Leno’s transfer after Mislintat identified and courted the German keeper.

Sky's viewing figures

Sky enjoyed record viewing figures for the Merseyside derby with a peak audience of 5.5m which is certain to have gone down well.

But TV industry whispers suggest Sky are less happy with all of the concessions shown towards the BBC and Amazon who are getting extra games and they are free-to-air.

Of course part of it was done at the behest of the Government, but do not underestimate how important Sky has been to the explosion of the Premier League.

League bosses will be aware they must keep Sky onside especially as the TV station’s director of strategy Jonathan Licht earned praise from all sides for his part in delicate Project Restart negotiations.

Zaha's missed chance?

You have to wonder if Wilfried Zaha – one of the best and most entertaining wingers in the Premier League – may have missed his chance of a move to a big club.

Crystal Palace winger Zaha switched agents last year and Pini Zahavi tried to get him to Tottenham in January without success but now it is hard to see another big club doing a huge deal this summer in the current climate.

Zaha, 27, is a special talent, he should be playing on the Champions League stage, but it will be interesting to see if anyone can afford to get a deal done with the player admitting he does still have ambitions to win trophies.

The tale of Uncle Bird

Jose Mourinho is nicknamed "Uncle Bird” in China.

Tottenham boss Mourinho is hugely popular in the Far East, the pronunciation of his name in China sounds like “Magic Bird” and they have affectionately switched it to “Uncle Bird.”

His latest interview on Chinese sports platform Hupu was incredibly popular.

Mourinho said he would learn Mandarin if he ever worked in China and had already had a “few great opportunities” to move to the Chinese Super League.

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Praise for Antonio

West Ham star Michail Antonio deserves some praise for supporting the Homeless World Cup Foundation’s first ever virtual World Cup Day.

Antonio will join the likes of Nuno Gomes, Steffen Freund, Karen Carney, John Collins and Jason Lee who will all take part in the event on 5 July to discuss previous tournaments.

Foundation chairman Mel Young said: “It is fantastic to have such high-profile football stars involved in our event and giving us their support.”

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