Arsenal yesterday published the exact details of how much money they will pay for the Spanish international Jose Antonio Reyes, despite having initially announced that the deal would remain confidential.
The 20-year-old, who last night passed his medical at Highbury, will cost up to £17.5m should all appearances and targets be met, which would make him the club's record signing ahead of the £13m paid for Sylvain Wiltord in 2000.
An immediate £7.1m will be paid this financial year, £3.55m next year, and a potential £6.79m over the period of the four-and-a-half-year contract, dependent on various criteria including the club's success in Europe.
The announcement by Arsenal to the OFEX market on which they are listed, as Arsenal Holdings, as a public limited company was a surprise. The club never normally divulge transfer fees and in the past have not been required to do so because the OFEX market is not as regulated as the main Stock Exchange which forces Manchester United, for example, to declare all fees.
It would appear, though, that this latest move comes in an atmosphere of greater transparency in football following United's revelations that they paid agents £750,000 in the Louis Saha deal. Tellingly, Arsenal do not reveal whether any agents' fees were paid.
The breakdown of the deal does, however, explain the confusion over how much Reyes will cost. It had been thought that the Sevilla striker, or left-winger, would cost up to £24m ¤10m more than is actually being paid. But that extra money is explained because the fee is ¤15m of which ¤10m is paid straightaway whereas it was thought, and not discouraged by Sevilla, that it was ¤15m straightaway plus ¤10m later. Either way, it is still an astronomic fee especially in the straitened times in which football is operating and considering that last summer Arsenal spent just £1.5m on the goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.
However, the club insisted that the Reyes deal did not affect the funding plans for their new 60,000-seat stadium nor mean that Thierry Henry will be sold to Real Madrid. Indeed, the structure of the payments, and Arsenal's successful season so far and continued participation in the Champions' League, help explain how the club can go ahead with finalising the £250m they need to borrow for Ashburton Grove.
The Arsenal chairman, Peter Hill-Wood, said: "We have an amount for transfer fees in our budget and it won't affect the new ground one bit. What we've done is use the bulk in this transfer window rather than wait to the end of the season."
He added that there was "no way" Henry would be sold, saying: "That is definite. And I don't think he wants to go. He is very well paid by us and though he could maybe earn more in Madrid, he loves both the club and his lifestyle here."
Reyes' arrival means that the manager, Arsène Wenger, will now wait until the summer to pursue his interest in Feyenoord's Robin van Persie. The Dutch club last week made public Arsenal's interest, much to the annoyance of Wenger. It remains to be seen, however, whether he makes an improved offer for West Ham United's Jermain Defoe before the January transfer window closes.