It's a pretty slow news day, so instead of starting off the morning with a series of links for you to digest, how about a community discussion? This issue came to my mind because I was reading a day or two ago about Manchester United's reported interest in Jose Enrique. I was very upset at the prospect of our prize left back leaving, and I got to thinking: I'd be upset to some degree or another if any of our players left. It's only natural. We get attached to the players we know. (Here's where I make a lame joke about Donald Rumsfeld.) And while it may be understandable to latch on and not want to let go of our own guys(we do cheer for them on a weekly basis, after all), the way we react when players are let go isn't always completely rational. I'm all about trying to get more rational and less emotional when it comes to player and transfer evaluation, so I started thinking about the following question:
Which players on the current roster would you absolutely not sell? I don't mean players that would be a bad idea to sell. I mean players that are considered franchise cornerstones. You wouldn't want to sell Mike Williamson for a whole host of reasons: he doesn't cost a lot in terms of wages, he's English, he's 27, there's not a lot of quality depth behind him, and most importantly, he's shown every sign of stepping up his game this year. He's an integral part of the team. He's just not a guy that you would build around, which is why he's not on my list. This exercise should reveal who we believe are the true untouchable players on the club. I've provided my list after the jump; feel free to leave your own in the comments.
Might as well start with the most obvious choice. Carroll is a physical presence that's one of the strongest players in the league in the air and whose striking ability won't allow defenses to give him any space. A striker like that who is only 22 is exactly the kind of guy you want to start a team with. Andy Carroll fits my criteria perfectly.
Hatem Ben Arfa
Am I drinking the Kool-Aid on this kid? Maybe. After all, he's only made 4 appearances in black and white stripes, and one of those was famously 2 minutes long. Even coming off of injury, though, I'm willing to take a chance that HBA is the type of playmaker that opposing sides have nightmares about. It's possible that I'm buying into a bunch of potential that will never be realized here, but I believe it's a risk you take with such a prodigious talent. Hatem Ben Arfa is not for sale.
Question: Would you sell the next Michael Essien? Of course not. Tiote already has a commanding presence in the defensive midfield, and his superb ball-handling skills catch the notice of every team that rolls through town. There's the matter of a lack of discipline in challenges that's earning him a hard-to-shed reputation, but there's reason to believe he can cut that out and still be effectively aggressive. He's not on his mentor Essien's level yet, but the comparison is an easy one to make.
Jose Enrique Sanchez
Jose Enrique is a lock-down defender with the quickness to keep up with the paciest of wingers and the dribbling and long-passing ability to go up the field and start counter-attacks. He's emerged as one of the top left backs in the Premier League this year, and I believe that the vast majority of top flight sides would be happy to insert him into their Starting XI, which is enough for me to say, "Hands off."
There it is. Only 4 players make the cut. It may seem harsh to say, but if a club comes calling for Kevin Nolan or Fabricio Coloccini and the price is right, I make the deal. Not so much with these other guys. I've got more HSOs on this subject, but at this point I'd like to pass it off to you and see who you think your franchise cornerstones are. Are you inclined to protect more young prospects, or do you think Alan Pardew would be crazy to turn down £18 million for one of the above mentioned? Let me know in the comments.