Today, Arsenal FC announced the sale of team mascot Gunnersaurus Rex to an unnamed Chinese Super League club. The transfer fee is reported to be around £20 million and the dinosaur’s wages are anticipated to triple.
The Chinese League has been aggressive in collective talent for its growing league. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has made no secret of his desire to turn his country into a soccer power and to host the World Cup. The first part of this growth of the sport has been to boost the domestic league and that has led to some price shocks in the transfer market.
Recently, European clubs have had to deal with massive wage and transfer offers made to recognizable players who may be on the fringe of getting playing time. Oscar’s move away from Chelsea earlier in the month may have been the most discussed, as his transfer fee of £60million was shockingly high for a player not getting regular time. Even the threat of a move has caused chaos in some clubs. Just last week Antonio Conte dropped key contributor Diego Costa after a reported row regarding a massive transfer fee from a Chinese club that Chelsea dismissed.
Players, however, are just one aspect of the league’s acquisition strategy. FIFA favorite and tattoo aficionado Mark Clattenburg was rumored to have been approached by the Chinese Super League to referee their domestic matches, again connected with a massive salary. With the league looking to improve all aspects of the game in China, it makes sense that a world-famous mascot would be the next target.
Gunnersaurus is the lovable Arsenal mascot whose association with the club is strictly limited to the fact he wears Arsenal gear and has the word “Gunner” in his name. While lacking mobility, the ability to speak, or any sort of soccer skill, the mascot is adored by young soccer fans and John Terry alike.
The transfer away of Gunnersaurus continues the troubling Arsenal trend of transferring top talent in exchange for a large fee, regardless of the impact on the locker room. Arsenal fans are still smarting over the departure of Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie, among others, who found immense success for rivals. Only time will tell if the transfer of Gunnersaurus will have a similar negative impact on club moral and fortunes.
Arsene Wenger has been unavailable for comment on the deal, but sources close to the manager have shared that the Frenchman receive enormous pressure to take the fee with the hopes the money could be reinvested in the club. Rumours are already swirling in London Colney that Arsenal scouts have been scouring the lower leagues to find a bargain replacement mascot that could grow into a top-notch mascot, fit for a Premier League team at a fraction of the cost. The Daily Mail is reporting that Kingsley, the Partick Thistle mascot, is a top target but the asking price may be too high.