Football finance expert Kieran Maguire believes Premier League side Arsenal had no choice but to allow Derby County to default on a transfer fee instalment for Krystian Bielik, speaking in an interview with Football Insider.
The Rams, who have been in administration since last month, were due to make a £1.4m payment for the 23-year-old as part of the deal they had negotiated with the Gunners for his services in 2019.
This deal was reported to be as high as £9.5m, but with owner Mel Morris unable to fund the club anymore and 20 staff at the East Midlands side already being made redundant because of their financial situation, the gesture from Arsenal regarding the payment was seen as a classy move by many.
22 questions about Derby County away kits from over the years – Can you get full marks?
This was despite Mikel Arteta’s side having spent over £100m during the previous transfer window on the likes of Ben White, Martin Odegaard and former Sheffield United shot-stopper Aaron Ramsdale, with their revenue streams and worldwide brand allowing them to invest heavily in their first-team squad despite failing to qualify for Europe last term.
However, financial expert Kieran Maguire has since revealed the top-flight club would have found it impossible to try and force the East Midlands side to cough up the next instalment for the Polish international in their current situation.
He said to Football Insider: “I think Arsenal are being pragmatic here.
“The administrators don’t have the money and you can’t enforce a pre-administration debt during a period of administration.
“So they effectively had no choice. What they have done is fine, but they could only have got bad publicity if they’d tried to enforce the payment.
“A football club owned by a US billionaire picking on a club in dire straits, that is not a good look.”
As per The Telegraph, the Championship side still owe around £8m to Arsenal for this 2019 transfer, a cost any new owner at Derby will need to swallow.
Serious injuries have limited Bielik’s game time during his two-year spell at Pride Park so far, making just 33 league appearances and suffering two anterior cruciate ligament injuries, the second of which has kept him out of action up until this point.
So thus far, the central defender, who can also play in midfield, has failed to provide value for money. However, he is scheduled to rejoin first-team training again after the international break and from there, he could become an extremely important asset in adding quality and depth to a depleted squad.
Whether manager Wayne Rooney opts to play him as a central defender or in the middle of the park remains to be seen, but with injuries and suspensions likely to creep in throughout the 2021/22 campaign, he may need to be utilised in both.
Some of the older professionals in the backline including Phil Jagielka, who still looks very fit in all fairness to him, could use a rest at some point.
But coming back to the point on Arsenal, they have still operated in a classy manner. Instead of doubling down on their demands and taking legal action against the Rams, their exemplary conduct has given the Championship club’s administrators one less thing to think about, allowing them to fully focus on finding a new buyer for the club.