Crouching Puma, Hidden Gunner – Predicting Arsenal’s next signing

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With Puma taking over as Arsenal’s official kit partner in a record breaking deal this summer, change is definitely on the agenda for a club looking to splash the cash on a number of players in the coming transfer window.

We all know the money is there – a reported £170 million has been saved up by Wenger and the club – but is there any way to predict what players us Gooners will see this warchest spent on?  I personally think there is.

A new kit launch is a big event for any club, but the launch of the first kit from a new manufacturer is even more important.  This is the year everyone wants a refresh.  Old “Wilshere 19” tops will finally be thrown out; that away kit with the greasy stain can be chucked in the bin; and an overly trustful blogger who foolishly paid 60 quid for a “Nasri 8” shirt just before he signed for Manchester City can spend some of his hard-earned cash on an item of clothing that doesn’t display the name of someone he despises.

But I digress…

Arsenal know that this is the best time for flogging new shirts, and so do Puma – a company who aren’t paying us millions of pounds just to stick a cougar over a tick.  Puma want to turn Arsenal into their main shop window; one which oozes their lovingly crafted kits, freshly sewn training gear, and brightly coloured football boots.

And of course, you can’t have a rival company advertising it’s own products in your store, can you?

And here is where Arsenal’s future transfer dealings come into play.  Sports companies don’t just rely on clubs to showcase their products – they need players too.  Nike were quick to sign up the majority of Arsenal’s squad while they were our kit partners; with Wilshere, Walcott, Gibbs, Chamberlain, Vermaelen, and Szczesny being just some of the players using/advertising Nike products at the club.  These guys are mainly used for Arsenal’s “Boot Room”, an online store used for selling Nike’s latest footy boots and trainers all over the world.  Puma would have to fill up this store with their own players once our deal with Nike ends – but they may struggle to do so.

When it comes to Arsenal players sponsored by Puma, the list is fairly underwhelming.  Giroud, Sagna, Rosicky and Arteta are the only first team players sporting the German manufacturer’s gear, along with Santi Cazorla, who was snapped up by Puma shortly after rumours of their involvement with Arsenal surfaced.  This list lacks any of Puma’s biggest revenue generators, and could prove problematic for them in the future.  It won’t look good when the likes of Ozil, Ramsey, and Koscielny walk out wearing our new kit, complete with Adidas boots laced on their feet.

To rectify all of these problems, both club and kit partner need a big name signing to sell shirts, and one who also has strong ties to Puma and their brand.

I have therefore put together a list of the players that would generate the most revenue through shirts sales and Puma products for both sports giants, as well as rating the chance we have of signing them – with 0% meaning we have no chance, to 100% meaning they are a dead cert to sign.

Enjoy:

Rui Patrício – Goalkeeper

Sporting CP’s current number one – this Portuguese keeper would be an excellent replacement for Fabianski/Viviano.

The 26 year old has performed extremely well for his club over the past 15 years, but he might be ready for a new challenge.  Patrício wouldn’t cost the Gunners too much, although persuading Sporting to hand over their favourite keeper might be a tough task.

Rui is currently one of the two major goalkeepers signed by Puma – the other being Gianluigi Buffon – and would help them to showcase their new goalkeeping gloves for the coming season.

Chance of Signing = 25% 

Radamel Falcao – Centre Forward

The star striker Arsenal fans have been crying out for – this Columbian forward can rip through defences at will.  Signed by Monaco in 2013, the 28 year old recently suffered a serious knee injury that left his World Cup hopes in tatters.  Obscenely high wages and question marks over fitness might put off Arsenal from making a move, but Puma would welcome their potent forward moving to a high profile club.

Chance of Signing = 15%

Mario Balotelli – Centre Forward

Speaking of potent forwards – this is a guy Arsenal fans know all too well.

Famous – or infamous depending on which paper you read – for his adventures at Manchester City, this Italian bad boy is never off the newswires.  A marketer’s dream, Mario has become the centre of Puma’s advertisements.  A return to the Premier League would cause the English press to explode with joy, as well as generating a heap of publicity for Arsenal.

With rumours of Puma willing to pay up to £15 million towards his transfer fee, Gooners may be celebrating Balotelli’s goals in the near future.  Why always him?

Chance of Signing – 30%

Ibrahim Afellay – Winger

With Barcelona facing a transfer ban, this deal might be a non-starter.  Nevertheless, this 28 year old Netherlander has been on Arsene Wenger’s radar for years.  Technically brilliant and bursting with pace – Ibrahim has struggled to get any playing time for Barcelona since signing for them in 2011.  Frequently loaned out, this tricky winger will surely be looking for a permanent move away from the Camp Nou, and is a cheap back-up if Arsenal’s inevitable Draxler crusade doesn’t go to plan.

However, Afellay wouldn’t shift many shirts, and he isn’t one of the poster boys for Puma – making this deal unlikely at best.

Chance of Signing – 5%

Marco Reus – Forward 

Strong ties to Puma, scores goals for fun, fits in with Arsenal’s German revolution, and has all the characteristics needed to play for a “Wenger” side – there is a lot going for this German international.

Although a lot of clubs – including Manchester United – have been heavily linked with the 24 year old in recent months, I wouldn’t rule out an Arsenal move just yet.  It would be in Puma’s best interests to have Reus join up with the Gunners to help promote their merchandise, and this could potentially lead to funds being provided to help Arsenal meet Dortmund’s asking price.

It is difficult to predict how this one will play out, but if clubs get pulled into a bidding war, Puma might just give Arsenal the edge.

Chance of Signing – 25%

Cesc Fabregas – Midfielder

Photo via thesportreview.com
Photo via thesportreview.com

Now, time to get a little bit excited.  Puma’s main man – the guy who appears in all of their promotions – is none other than our old captain; Cesc Fabregas.

Puma have invested a lot of money into the Spaniard, and he is the driving force behind their European advertisements.  However, the 26 year old is far from the main man at Barcelona, and has struggled to hold down a place in their starting eleven.  In fact, he is the only one of Puma’s stars that isn’t one of the central figures at his club.

A move to Arsenal would change all of that; shirt sale records would be broken, playing time would rocket, and Puma would have bagged the leading man for their new advertising campaign at the club.  He would come pretty cheaply too – Arsene Wenger has confirmed Arsenal had a buyout/first refusal clause inserted into his contract, allowing the Gunners to re-sign their captain for a fixed price.

I wouldn’t get too excited though.  Unless Barcelona see their transfer ban lifted, we’d have no chance of re-signing this former Gunner.  Not only that, but it isn’t clear whether Fabregas would even be open to a move away from the Catalan club, or whether Puma would want to remove a key brand promoter from one of the biggest clubs in world football.

I’d keep an eye on how this one develops – you never know what could happen when this kind of marketing potential is at stake.

Chance of Signing – 40%       

I’m quietly confident we’ll see one of these players join our ranks in the summer.  It just doesn’t make sense for the club not to seize this opportunity to make our new kit launch a major success.  Although deals for non-Puma players such as Julian Draxler seem the most likely, it would be mad not to expect another “Ozil-style  buy before the end of the window.

Now to finally bin that Nasri shirt…

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Photo by Calcio Streaming