On Taison, Theo Walcott, risk, and wages

Martin Rose

Chelsea have been linked heavily to Taison in recent weeks, and in some regards, it would be a very sensible move

There have been all sorts of stories about Taison potentially joining Chelsea or Manchester City this January, and it has many wondering what exactly these top clubs see in the Brazilian attacker. Taison is an excellent player, but it's hard to see him immediately stepping in as a starter at either of these clubs. With that in mind, I decided to take a stab at figuring out exactly what it is that the clubs may be thinking makes him a good target.

First of all, what type of player is Taison exactly? Chelsea have been (loosely) linked to another player that I think offers a fair comparison in this regard, Theo Walcott of Arsenal. Both Taison and Walcott are guys that are probably best suited for the wings, but both can also play in a more central role, either in support or leading the line. Both are about the same age as well, and a comparison of their relative cost gets interesting.

Walcott's situation should be well known to everyone by now. He's out of contract at the end of the season, and will be available on a free this summer if he does not extend. Rumor has him seeking a deal of around £100k per week, which would make figuring out his annual cost to the club fairly easy. Signing Theo Walcott to a £100k per week deal on a free transfer would give you a hit to FFP of £5.2 million annually.

Personally, if Walcott doesn't extend with Arsenal, I'd have a hard time picturing him settling for just £100k per week. For this comparison to Taison, however, we're going to use that figure and assume that he's making £5.2 million per year.

Rumors yesterday suggest that Taison will cost a transfer fee of just £11 million, and he'd likely be signing a 5.5-year deal. That makes figuring his amortized transfer fee easy, as it comes out to a nice round £2 million per season. Wages would need to be taken into consideration as well, and it's hard to picture an uncapped Brazilian coming from the Ukraine having much (if any) leverage here. In all likelihood, he'll be settling for £40k per week or less, and this is where the real appeal in Taison lies.

Using a £40k per week wage, Taison would have an annual cost of just £4.08 million for FFP accounting. That's saving over £1 million per year compared to Theo Walcott, using our £100k per week figure on the Arsenal man. If these clubs both feel that Taison could be a comparable player to Walcott on the pitch, he'd make sense from a transfer perspective.

At some point, the risks involved with each player need to be taken into account as well. Walcott would seemingly be the less risky proposition, as he's proven that he's a capable player in England and the Champions League.That's certainly true, and an additional £1 million per year because of that decreased risk seems very reasonable.

In some regards, Walcott would be the far riskier proposition though. Look at guys like Florent Malouda, Nicklas Bendtner, and Emmanuel Adebayor for perfect examples of this. All three of those players were on a high wage at a top club, and all three were rendered mostly useless to that club by better players. Common sense would dictate that a move would be best for all three, but all of them resisted attempts to move them because they didn't want to take a reduced wage. Theo Walcott on £100k per week would be a risky buy in this regard, as if he flops, he'd be virtually unmovable.

Taison would fall at the opposite end of this particular spectrum, as there is basically no risk of ending up with an unmovable player. When signing players from clubs like Metalist Kharkiv, you'll never really expect to have to pay a ridiculous wage before the player proves himself in England. At our estimated £40k per week, Taison could flop badly and still be relatively easy to move. Should he bomb, Chelsea would likely eat a portion of his transfer fee. They wouldn't likely end up eating a dime in wages though, as moving a player on just £40k per week is never difficult.

Signings like Marko Marin, Victor Moses, and Taison are very low-risk ways to fill out a squad. On relatively low wages, there is very little risk of not being able to move them at any time the club wants to. On relatively low transfer fees and with prime aged years still ahead of them, there is a fairly good chance that the club will still be able to recover a good portion of their initial investment later on. While not the flashiest names, these guys make perfect squad filler for a club with the financial resources of Chelsea or City, due to having a reasonable cost and being easy to move on a whim.

I think what we're really seeing here is the development of a pattern from Michael Emenalo and the scouting staff. Where Chelsea used to focus on players from established leagues to provide depth on the squad, they're now starting to look to places like the Eredivisie, the Ukraine, Brazil, and Belgium to round out the roster. While they will still be paying comparable transfer fees for the players, the wages will generally be considerably lower. There will be more risk of players failing to pan out, the club seems to be willing to sign 2-3 of these guys, let them compete, and then move the players that didn't make the cut. If the money is there to carry several of these players at once (and it is right now with Chelsea), this wouldn't be a bad way to go about building a squad at all.

If you are one of those that believes FFP is a joke, then you will probably dismiss all of this out of hand. Without FFP, Chelsea are a squad with the monet to focus on established talent and avoid taking risk on players from lesser leagues. That's all well and good, and you are certainly entitled to do so. For those of you that think Chelsea and UEFA are serious about the rule though, it's probably a telling reason that they'd reportedly be targeting guys like Taison instead of proven Premier League talent like Theo Walcott. There is far more risk of the player being a flop on the pitch, but far less risk of being stuck with that flop due to an unmovable wage. I have the feeling it's the start of a trend, and I'd guess we'll continue to see Chelsea looking at smaller leagues for under the radar type buys going forward.


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