If Wenger were a player he would have sold himself

I saw a photograph of Donald Trump, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, and King Salman of Saudi Arabia touching a glowing earth and on the one hand it reminded me of something Dr. Evil would do to start his doomsday machine and on the other hand it reminded me of something The Brain would also do to start his doomsday machine. Somehow Pinky, dressed in the Donald Trump suit, would foil the Brain’s plans and their quest for total global domination would have to wait another day.

But oddly, a bunch of the world’s oligarch’s posing for an odd photo of themselves activating the globe also reminded me that Arsenal have a weird old rich guy who owns them and also have another weird old rich guy who wants to own them. Stan Korenke is the current majority investor and Alisher Usmanov is the guy who wants to be the majority investor. Meanwhile, us plebs sit here and argue over which rich guy gets to touch our globe.

Do you know how much money Arsenaal have? Guys… guys.. it’s ridiculous. Arsenal’s wage bill was £200m last year. That’s just £18m less than Chelsea, £21m less  than United, and £25m less than Man City. Guys… we had the 4th highest wage bill in England.

And when I say 4th highest, this isn’t like in that time between 2005 and 2012 when Arsenal were at the height of their claims of poverty and clubs like City were outspending Arsenal by 150%. In 2007/08 Arsenal’s wage bill was “just” £100m and Chelsea’s was £150. Chelsea’s wages would have to be £300m this season to match the rate of difference between the clubs from 10 years ago.

In fact, Arsenal had the 7th highest wage bill in the world and according to official UEFA documents, spent Euros 250m per annum on wages in the fiscal year ending in 2015. That document is an absolute boon of financial information about our club and our sport. You should spend the rest of your day reading every word.

For example, according to their simple squad cost formula, Arsenal’s squad cost just £5m less than PSG in FY 2015. That makes Arsenal the 7th most expensive squad in world football. I’m sure this will spark all kinds of negative comments but I don’t care. Those are UEFA’s official numbers. Maybe Arsenal’s cooking the books. Maybe UEFA’s cooking the books. I don’t know. This is the data I have.

And the data passes the smell test for me. I mean, do you know how much money Arsenal have spent on transfers since 2012/13? I mean net spend, naturally: purchases minus sales. Euros 257m. That’s £222m for those who count in that system and $289m in USA American.

Arsenal spent £100m in transfers just last season alone and they still have at least £100m in the bank, and the club was growing revenue at a 25% clip in 2015 (p. 71 of that document). Again, dispute UEFA on the exact numbers but I think the picture is crystal clear: Arsenal have money, Arsenal have an absolutely astonishing amount of money, Arsenal’s revenues are growing like crazy, and Arsenal are spending that money.

Arsenal supporters have been conditioned.. no, it’s more of a Stockholm syndrome at this point.. to regurgitate the myth that Arsenal don’t have the money to compete with other clubs in Europe. It’s simply not true. Financial Fair Play isn’t perfect but it has put the brakes on a lot of the financial doping that was going on 10 years ago.

This is why I don’t give a shit who the owner of Arsenal Football Club is next year and let me be clear: I don’t want either man owning Arsenal. In a perfect world I’d have a situation like Bayern or Barcelona but I guess that’s not realistic. But my point is that Financial Fair Play is going to limit how much money an owner can “filter”* into the club. Maybe Usmanov will get one of his telecoms or whatever he owns to sponsor the club with some outrageous fortune, though that could run afoul of FFP rules because unlike the Etihad-City deal – in this fantasy world, Usmanov is direct owner and CEO of both companies, which I’m certain UEFA would not allow. Or maybe he could increase the money we have on hand or pay off the remaining debts, giving Arsenal a whopping £14m more to spend on players.

But again, I need to point out that Arsenal spent £100m on transfers last season and Arsenal’s wage bill is only marginally smaller than Chelsea’s. Not only that but Arsenal lost the League to fucking Leicester two years ago when Wenger chose not to buy a forward and instead spent some loose change on one player, Petr Cech.

Arsenal’s problem is not money. Arsenal’s problem isn’t that Stan Kroenke doesn’t go to games or that he pays himself some token salary. Arsenal’s problem is Arsene Wenger.

Wenger asked us to judge him when the financial shackles were off. Well, not only are the shackles off but the man was handed a jet pack, which he promptly used to launch himself straight into the West Stand.

I don’t hate Arsene Wenger, far from it, I actually idolize the man. I just also think that sport is a highly competitive environment. It’s do or die. Wenger himself would fire any player who was performing at the level at which Wenger is performing. He would have given him plenty of chances. He would have stuck with him for two or even three years, showed the player faith, but then when it became clear that the player wasn’t at the level needed to make Arsenal a top club, he would (and has) drop him.

We have stuck with Wenger. We have shown him faith. We have rooted for him to get better and to make our club better. We have asked him to change. We have done everything that he would do for a player and he’s finished 5th. Finished 5th in the Premier League with the 7th best resources in world football.

Sorry, but Wenger has to be dropped.

*Actual word used by someone on twitter, Usmanov will be able to filter money into the club, in other words, cheat the rules.

Qq

 

137 comments

  1. Financial ranking is a pretty good barometer in football of where you are going to finish at the end of the season. I can remember a time when Wenger’s performance as manager was equated to being worth 2 or 3 places higher in the financial league. Now he’s underperforming our finances. Pocchetino is the new Wenger, Spurs have a low wage bill, young squad and vision.

  2. Leaving aside Wenger for the moment. When Chelsea were taken over by Abramovich, they got CL football and already had a decent team. They then spent crazy, unheard amount of money, enough to even blow ManU out of the water and leave the rest of football gasping. And they did not win immediately.

    Ditto ManCity, despite having the Thai PM take over and give them a base of players. Although a lack of CL history probably delayed their progress, and determined the players they could and couldn’t buy. But still, they were spending at record levels and they took a few years to get to the title.

    After a negative net spend over a decade, selling their best players, Arsenal come back to spending on par with others who have had a head start, and it is considered a travesty that they don’t win within the same window?

    The data is the data. But I don’t believe it paints the overall picture you are painting.

    Arsenal can spend more and can compete..to an extent. We cannot throw the money ManU is throwing, nor match Chelsea or City for every player. We can afford to spend. In fact, we can’t afford not to. But we can less afford to make mistakes on who we spend it on.

    PS.

    1. I don’t think we will, realistically, win the league until the referees stop treating Arsenal the way they do.

    2. If indeed FFP is having an effect it at least means we don’t have to worry about new entrants that much. But how do you account for Chelsea selling their players for insane amounts of profit? Simply, you don’t. ManCity will probably use their global clubs to offload their unwanted wages too.

    3. In the wake of RVP’s letter, R&W’s open letter mentioned that Arsenal had approached some companies for sponsorship where Usmanov was on the board. They said it like it was some kind of outrage. Do the FFP restrictions apply to minority shareholders in a club and companies on which they sit on the board?

    1. 1. The referees didn’t cost Arsenal the title last year, our atrocious finishing did: and that is directly down to the fact that Wenger didn’t buy a striker. The referees didn’t cost Arsenal the 4th place trophy this year, Arsenal’s incoherent midfield which lacked a true ball-playing stopper did: and that is directly down to Wenger as well.

      2. This isn’t about clubs, this is about agents. Chelsea, Man City, and Man U pay the agents, Arsenal do not or haven’t traditionally. For example, Mino Raiola will simply not work with Arsenal because his clients are the very best and they aren’t going to a stagnating club like Arsenal and because we won’t pay him. So, you can say goodbye to Lukaku. But more generally, agents control the players almost completely. There are precious few players who aren’t guided by their agents. And you have seen Arsenal miss out on a lot of young players and top talent because the club doesn’t like paying agents. But more to your question, these top agents find top clubs who are willing to pay top dollar. So, it’s a “you fill my pocket with money and I will help you flog Hulk to China for £80m” situation.

      3. Yes. Of course.

      1. On referees or our own performance issues. They are not an either/or. Both cost us points. What you give more importance depends on how you view it. I’ve been on sports team that have both lost due to and overcome bent refs. The effects aren’t always reflected solely in the points directly but also on confidence and freedom. (In Arsenal’s case, even injury)

        If we have great players, of course we can overcome any ref bias/cheating. But if it comes down to a close battle for the title, or 4th place like this season, I feel we are more likely to lose out because it is an additional obstacle.

        On agents, it is interesting you mention Raiola. I remember a few seasons ago he was basically pleading with Arsenal to sign Balotelli. Now here’s the thing. Arsenal were (probably) right not to sign him. But I think beyond just money in an isolated case, football agency, like much of the rest of football, works on the wink and nudge network. I have no doubt someone like Mourinho will buy an occasional dud just as a favour to an agent, and that Wenger will not do so.

        If you are right that Wenger is too cheap to pay agents and that keeps us from buying at the top of the market, I would agree that we should replace him.

        1. Last season Arsenal created far and away the most big chances and finished them at an unacceptable rate. Big chances are basically the be all-end all of the attacking aspect of the game. If you’re averaging 3 big chances a game and the “corrupt referees” are throwing 3 games a year I think the big chances are going to outweigh the corrupt refs.

        2. If you truly believe Arsene Wenger has the PGMO and the media against him to such an extent that it prohibits him from succeeding, then wouldn’t the logical thing be for him to retire from Arsenal so that the club can again be on equal footing with other clubs?

          1. Yup, except I don’t like giving in to bullies. Besides, I’m not sure it is entirely about Arsene Wenger.

      2. Lol. Blogger has started throwing his toys out of the pram. What a negative spin off! I would like to put a similar spin on this writing sighting many fickle articles over the years but nevermind.

        I do hope Arsene leaves. Arsenal don’t deserve him.

        1. Perhaps he could go to one of the mega rich clubs like Real or Bayern and then you would see how gracious their fans and the board might be if he doesn’t win immediately.

          Oh wait, they don’t want him anymore.

          Arsene is out of contract this Summer. He has failed to achieve his minimum domestic requirement to qualify for CL next year.
          He’s failed to win the league title in 12 years. He’s never won in Europe and got spanked by Bayern 10:2 this season.
          His record against other top six clubs in the league is appalling.

          I can’t for the life of me understand why some Arsenal fans would want him out.

          But he is staying and it is going to be interesting to see how deep his love for Arsenal is by the size of his new contract.
          If he’s smart, he’ll stay on his current salary but I’m not holding my breath.
          If he gets the reported 2 million increase, then the next season will be even more toxic for him and you’ll get another chance to voice your criticism of Arsenal fans, who by my observation are some of the most forgiving fans around.

    2. Yes, we can, absolutely, unequivocally, spend the money that Man U spend. We spent £100m this season. We spent £20m on Perez, £20m on Chambers, £40m on fucking Mustafi. We could have bought Zlatan. Easily. We just needed to pay his agent. Which we refuse to do. We could have bought Pogba. I mean, we have the money to buy Pogba, but again, we couldn’t buy Pogba because his agent hates us, because we don’t pay them, and because Arsene is well known among the agents as a “tough negotiator”: i.e. that he won’t just buy the players.

      Our net spend over the last decade was not negative.

      We have spent £250m over the last 4 years. And you gloss over the fact that Wenger let £200m sit in the bank in 2015/16 so that he could only buy fucking Cech and that garbage legs Elneny. I’m sorry dude but this is really getting on my nerves.

      We spent £100m on transfers and £200m on salaries and we have £100m in the bank. 5th place is a huge failure.

      This team is poorly constructed and there is no vision for how they are supposed to play together: Wenger seems to go from one idea to the next with little clear plan for how the team will play, I mean he tried to turn us into a version of Leicester last summer and now this summer he’s turning us into a version of Chelsea. I’m pretty sure Pep Guardiola’s comment about copying the league winners was aimed at Arsene and he’s right, you don’t build a system based on what the winners did last year.

      The problem at Arsenal is not money. It’s Wenger.

      Gah.

      1. 100m in the bank which disappears the moment you buy Pogba, and leaves you with a whatever it is, 100-200m gap in annual revenue to ManU. Of course we can buy Pogba, or Mbappe. But when you talk about competing I don’t think you mean a one off. Which is why I said we can spend, but are less able to absorb any mistakes we make in that area.

        Of course 5th place is a failure. I didn’t dispute that. I also don’t dispute that not buying a forward and/or a midfielder before last season was a huge error in judgment.

        But I dispute that we should, as a matter of course, be winning or on par with ManU, Chelsea, and City right at this moment, simply because we are the 7th ‘richest’ club in the world.

        1. You didn’t read the link. Arsenal’s annual revenue is 37m more than Chelsea. They won the League twice in three years. Also fired their manager when he finished outside of the top 4. You compare Arsenal to Man U but Arsenal’s revenue is not significantly different than Man City and Chelsea and MILES above Liverpool and Tottenham.

          4 Paris Saint-Germain FC FRA €484m
          5 FC Bayern München GER €474m
          6 Manchester City FC ENG €461m
          7 Arsenal FC ENG €449m
          8 Chelsea FC ENG €413m
          9 Liverpool FC ENG €388m
          10 Juventus ITA €325m
          11 Borussia Dortmund GER €281m
          12 Tottenham Hotspur FC ENG €258m
          13 FC Schalke 04 GER €219m

          We have the resources to compete for top players. We don’t. End of story.

          1. I’ve seen it before. And I guess you didn’t read my initial post where I explained why I think there’s a time lag in converting financial strengths to the field.

            Chelsea and ManCity, despite the table and your insistence that FFP is kicking in, I don’t believe are confined only to those funds since they can ‘filter’ in money too.

          2. They can’t and aren’t “filtering” money in. If you believe that they are then you need to report them to the authorities in England. What do you think this is? A Movie? I mean, come on. Their books are all available in the corporations house. These are very public entities with oversight at at least four different levels (UK corporate regs, UEFA, FA, and Premier League), if they are “filtering” money in then they are some corporate crime masterminds. And in that case, well shit, more power to them. I can’t wait for the movie. I’m sure it will star Brad Pitt as Abramovich.

            Come on. This is conspiracy theory stuff here.

            I’m going to break it to you, there is a conspiracy, it does involve the super wealthy, they do have all the power, and you are a willing actor in it, it’s called “capitalism”.

          3. I’m a conspiracy nut, or I’m cynical. Call it what you want. I don’t dispute that Arsenal can compete with them on finances. I just disagree that we are likely to win this battle of the wallet because I don’t believe the playing field has been leveled to the extent you do with FFP.

            I will admit I do not have anything to base this on since I stopped following FFP once ManCity got Uefa to back off with just a couple of reduced squad spots for a season.

            However, even if we miss out on a transfer or two to the Oilers, that cannot be the case in general. They have more money than us, but not infinitely more. If they follow the rules that is. How often does breaking the rules get commensurately punished in football?

          4. Tim, isn’t it a well known fact that City used their sponsorship deal with Etihad or whoever (not technically owned by their owner, but, you know…) to “get around” FFP to an extent. Those kinda moves are what we mean when we talk about “filtering”, I think.

            Plus, Shard is clearly right that Chelsea and City had years before FFP kicked in to get a “head start” on building massive clubs/squads/teams. Obviously we’re not paupers, but we haven’t had e.g. the legion of on loan high quality talent that Chelsea have stockpiled and then sold off. Indeed, even if there’s nothing shady about how large Chelsea’s income from transfers has been over the last few years (I obviously have no idea, but something doesn’t look quite right), it’s still been a huge source of revenue that they’ve only had because for the decade before FFP kicked in they were busy buying a ton of talent. They had a Lukaku and a De Bruyne and a David Luiz and a Ramires and a Mata and an Oscar and a Schurrle, and a Cuadrado, and a Matic, etc, etc, just lying around, who they could afford, in footballing terms, to sell for huge sums. That’s crazy. They had one of the biggest goalkeeping talents in world football on loan at Athletico until they were good and ready to bring him back. We have been quite stubborn/foolish about refusing to sell some of our assets for large sums over the last few years, but we also didn’t have anything like the stockpile of talent that they had.

            They’ve been clever, and played their hand very, very well, especially in the last 5-7 years. And I’m not saying they’ve cheated in any way (no idea either way). But it’s silly to act like they haven’t had a HUGE advantage since 2003 over almost everyone else, or that that advantage somehow magically just disappeared when FFP kicked in. They stored up their grains for the winter ahead of time. Fair play to them. But we didn’t have anywhere close to the means to store up similar resources (and of course our resources dwarf many, many other clubs who would love to be in our position, and I agree with you that we aren’t making the best use of the resources we have at the moment).

          5. The revenues are based on Gross Profit minus their Net Spend in a year. Surely, if the incomes for clubs like United (who have a huge shirt sponsorship with Adidas) are big then, their net spend is big as well. So, even if the overall revenues come up to a figure close to Arsenal’s, it does not mean that Arsenal can match that kind of spending.

            And you need to look out to other big clubs as well. If there is a problem within Arsenal as you say, then surely other big clubs with similar revenue should not showcase such frugality. When you look at clubs like Juventus/Liverpool having similar transfer spends as Arsenal (100m last year) then it is clear that the incomes aren’t as huge as the bigger clubs with their sponsorship, etc.

            The shackles may be off but, I still feel with the evidence at hand that AFC are prone to careful spending. They also invest in other areas such as sports science, training facility which again takes a chunk out of the money in the bank.

            p.s.: the 40m on Mustafi seems such a waste now.

      2. You say “finished fifth in the PL with the 7th best resources in world football,” as if it’s some kind of scandal, but Man United, Man City, and Chelsea are all ahead of us on that list, right? So three of the six clubs above us are in our own domestic league. So we should be finishing fourth. We finished fifth. For the first time in 20 odd years. At least on this point alone, it hardly seems scandalously bad…

        1. (And honestly, given Wenger’s ridiculous patience with his players, I don’t think Arsene Wenger would fire Arsene Wenger after this season. Just consider one T. Walcott…)

          1. Also, you act horrified by the suggestion that Usmanov might “cheat” by “filtering” money into the club, but then you don’t appear to have any misgivings about getting in bed with the likes of Raiola??

            (Btw, none of these comments are meant to disagree with your basic point that Arsene is “the” problem (though I think we really ought to be using the indefinite article)).

          2. Tim,
            Agents are, quite literally, not talent scouts. We have a legion of our own scouts and analysts, as do all the other big clubs. At least in the vast majority of cases, any player that an agent would “independently scout” for us, we’d already know a ton about and at least have an idea about whether we were interested in said player. We shouldn’t need them, i.e. need to pay them vast sums of money, but the current footballing culture and rules (or lack of rules) means that they are increasingly needed. But they’re leeches in the system.

            Of course not entirely, of course they do a service to the player and by extension the club (sometimes to the club directly). But did Man United need Raiola to tell them Pogba was quite good? No, they just needed him to convince his client to sign for them. But if he wasn’t there, Man United could cut out the middle man and concentrate directly on convincing Pogba to sign for them. Maybe that would work, maybe not, but it’s silly to think it’s a better system to have middle men who will convince their clients to go to the highest bidder, whoever that is. It’s hugely financially inefficient, it tilts things in favor of the super rich clubs (even more than otherwise) who can afford to pay the agents the most, and it doesn’t guarantee the player will go where he’ll be happiest/most productive, since it’s just about the money to the agent. New rules need to be put in place to at least cap this sort of thing.

            I’m not suggesting they’re cheating or breaking the law (though interestingly, Uefa recently started investigating the Pogba deal and the obscene amount of money that went to his agent). But no one can tell me the amount of money Raiola made from the Pogba deal is good for football, or is anything less than a disgrace.

      3. Tim you are 100% correct in your assertion that it’s the manager who needs to be replaced rather than the owner. It was interesting to hear the crowd at the Everton match chanting to get Kroenke out of our club. I felt it was transferred anger toward Wenger. Like you, many fans don’t hate him and can’t bring themselves to make their feelings clear so they direct their ire towards the owner as he’s the only one who can sack him. Wenger will not leave of his own volition. You can tell from the way he speaks that he feels he deserves to lead the team now the financial shackles are off because he stuck with them through the lean years. Sadly it doesn’t look like he has the ability to make a success of it. He has to go. Otherwise next season could get very ugly.

  3. I agree. If you’re going to yell at Stan Kroenke (which I have no problem with at all), just make sure you know the reason. It’s not because he doesn’t let Arsene spend money, or he’s quiet, or some other crap.

    It is because he doesn’t care about winning anything. So he is content to keep giving contracts to Arsene even though it is apparent that he can’t take us any farther. It doesn’t matter who the owner is, if we still have Arsene in charge, we aren’t going to win the league. We need someone who can add more value than he has been doing.

  4. To some extent, I agree with you on the owners stance. Lot of things I read complains Kroenke’s lack of investment towards the club. That is just the wrong stance to takes. I do oppose Kroenke, but for his absolute ignorance towards the club besides its profits. A good owner wouldn’t let Wenger situation stays like what we have now. Taken hostages by ego of particular people. It’s like a patients who refuses to cure himself in the hope that solely by praying, it will cure itself from the disease.

  5. I agree with both of the comments above that Kroenke is the problem only inasmuch as he refuses to fire Wenger. Wenger is the real problem. If Kroenke won’t fire Wenger then Kroenke by extension also becomes the problem. Otherwise, Kroenke isn’t a bad owner, it’s not like Arsenal are run by Venkys.

  6. Barcelona’s former president Sandro Rosell arrested in connection with investigations into money laundering. The Neymar transfer may have something to do with it, as it did with his resignation, and Barcelona paid a fine.

    PSG’s offices and Di Maria and Pastore’s homes have been raided by French police.

    Atletico Madrid are currently suspended from transfer activity. Barcelona had that last season. ManCity barred from signing youth players, and as I recall Liverpool too.

    There’s no way to know, but I have a feeling part of Wenger’s, or more generally, Arsenal’s reticence to deal with certain agents/scenarios is because we try to keep our nose clean. And if you haven’t seen it yet, watch Richard Law’s presentation in Brazil on the transfer structures at various clubs. Arsenal have a team to ensure every transfer is legal and financially compliant (apparently this was set up in the wake of the George Graham scandal)

  7. One of the problems Wenger has created is the wage bill doesn’t reflect the quality of the players. There are too many players on high wages that do not contribute to the team. The squad also has far too many players on the downside of the aging curve and therefore that have very little resale value. And these players cost much more in wages than younger players. For example (all salaries are per week):

    Lucas – 70k, 28 years old
    Per – 70k, 32
    Gibbs – 60k, 27
    Debuchy – 70k, 31
    Santi – 90k, 32

    None of these players had important roles in the team this year (although Santi would have if healthy). All are at least 27 and it will be difficult to move any of them for anything close to what was paid (maybe Gibbs nets something). It’s not just agents that are the problem. The reason Chelsea can sell Oscar for 52mil is that he was 25 at the time of the move. Arsene has been buying squad players that are already in their mid 20s rather than in their low 20s, and he has been holding on to players much past their sell-by dates. It’s ok to buy a top player in his mid 20s. It is indefensible to buy squad depth that is already at peak ability and in a few years will have started to decline, and therefore will be dead weight on high wages and impossible to move. Arsenal may have the money to compete, and the wage bill to compete, but not while it is distributed so inefficiently.

  8. ManU 150MM ahead of us per year. That buys them Sanchez and Mbappe and if they don’t work out, or only kind of work out, then no biggie, they buy a couple other world class players next year.

    They grossly outspent us last year, bought the world’s most expensive player and brought in a ‘special’ manager but still finished behind us.

    If you want to criticize Wenger the models are Liverpool and Spuds. The spuds are behind us by almost 150MM but they ‘lucked’ into a world class forward. (Not luck they developed him, but still unexpected) Liverpool are peers. Both have a tactical system that works. Neither has accomplished anything that Wenger hasn’t.

    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/deloitte-football-money-league-2017-arsenal-top-london-rankings-but-manchester-united-pull-clear-at-a3444086.html

  9. Money wins trophies. This is a fact. Correlation and causation. End of Story. You even admit this fact when you point to the financial doping of clubs like PSG, City, and Chelsea. And these owners wouldn’t be putting money into the clubs if they didn’t win trophies.

    What I wonder is why you approach football with this weird attitude? Let’s look at our club for a second.

    1. 3rd winningest team in the League.
    2. Most FA Cups.
    3. A history of winning that goes back to Herbert Chapman.
    4. A lineage of innovative managers and iconoclasts who win because they fundamentally change the game.
    5. 7th highest revenue in world football. More annual income than Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, and almost the same as City.
    6. A brand-new 60,000 seat arena in London.
    7. Television revenues which are the envy of Europe.
    8. Television exposure which is the envy of all agents and players.
    9. One of the largest global fanbases in all of sport, with a hugely active community.
    10. £100m+ in the bank
    11. Champions League football every season (until next year!)

    Why on earth would this team not be able compete for the signatures of top quality players? And more important, why are so many fans like you and just capitulate this issue? Why aren’t we demanding top strikers at the club? Why do we admit defeat in the transfer market so easily? Why can’t we even sign a guy like Higuain? Why was Martial off the table for us but not United? On and on, we as fans seem to just throw our hands up and say “we can’t compete”.

    When we just throw our hands up and say we can’t compete I wonder, are Arsenal really just losers?

    I don’t think we are. I don’t think we should accept this easy answers from management and ownership.

    Wenger and Kroenke have a vested interest in making the fans believe that they can’t afford top name players: it becomes this built-in excuse for us to keep failing.

    Why do you accept this? They are bullshitting us. Why do we, and I was one of these people for a long time, let this company bullshit us?

    They are LYING TO YOU. To your face. This is yet another thing that pisses me off about Wenger. He’s complicit in this lie that Arsenal are some poverty team. I’m tired of it. I’ve been tired of this lie since I wrote that article about how Arsenal needed to spend to get the squad up to the level of the champions AND THEY HAD THE MONEY TO DO IT.

    You’re going to have to forgive me, I’m not buying this crap from them any more.

    1. Many secrets have you
      Many secrets you have
      But it’s only a matter of time
      Did you finally decide
      There’s nowhere to hide
      And really no reason why

      Strong is your body
      Strong are your bones
      Strong as your bloody lie is uncovered

    2. All the facts you list are true, and I also agree with you that Arsenal need to be at the higher end of table, both domestically and in Europe. Also that this will happen with transfers and competing for players at the higher end of the spectrum.

      I just don’t believe we take that jump in one go, or that we should have been there already. We’ll get there and we’re going to have to do more to get there. But that is too abstract I guess.

      More specifically, we should be able to buy the players we need and get rid of the players we don’t moving forward, because in this intervening 3 year period, we’ve had time to get rid of the legacy wage bill, assess where we stand with certain players, will have too many players as it is, and have just had a terrible season (by our usual standards, not horrendous in the larger scheme of things)

      I don’t care so much about the media deemed superstars. I was happy with Xhaka, and similar level players, or even some players on the verge of breaking out like Kante or Mbappe would have been are ok. What I care about is the quality. IF that needs money, we ought to spend it. If that doesn’t need so much money, all the better. And if we lose money in holding on to the last year of Alexis and Ozil contracts then so be it, but we must not sell them. It makes no sense from a footballing sense, and Wenger even said it might not from a financial sense.

      I don’t think the club pleads poverty anymore. It is a fact that we cannot be as wanton with our spending as some other clubs. That justifiable caution however is no excuse for not using the resources we have to get the players we need.

      I think we disagree more as a matter of emphasis rather than substance.

      1. Isn’t holding onto players who don’t want to re-sign but have high retail value on the transfer market a frankly stupid decision? I don’t understand any argument to keep Ozil, Sanchez and Ox and force them to play out their contracts when you could recoup all or possibly more than you’d paid for them in the first place.

        I don’t think it’s a signal of club poverty that you sell Ozil and Sanchez, rather it’s a signal of a club-first mentality… so long as the transfer fees received are reinvested in players that same summer.

        1. If it makes footballing sense. ie. You can get players of similar quality and value to the team, then sure. I just think it is unlikely that that can happen, and even if it can, there is a bedding in period.

          Normally I’d agree with you, but I’m thinking in win-now mode because I think Arsenal both can and need to focus more on the immediate term.

          1. Agree with Shard on this one. Since they’re on the last year of their contracts no way we’re getting back what we paid, especially if it comes out they’ve refused to re-sign. We might with the Ox of course, but given that Sterling and Stones each went for 50 million, that’s what I’d want for him, and no way we’re getting close to that unless he’s on a longer contract. And then, who do we bring in. Without CL football, the idea we’re signing anywhere close to comparable talent to replace Sanchez and Ozil is absurd (and our rep will be even more in the toilet once they leave). No, we keep them. With them, and one or two more canny buys, we have a legitimate chance to win the league next year, assuming we don’t play our strongest team in Europa until later rounds. Without them and Ox, we will struggle to finish 5th.

          2. Honestly this one is ABSOLUTELY TRUE.

            And I hope the club is really thinking in this direction because whatever happens with those players will tell a lot about what type of club we are in 2017 and what type of club we are likely to be by 2020.

    3. Look money was a problem in the past but not much of an issue.

      Unless you are trying to sign someone for a 100m bucks, then that’s off the table anyway.

      I don’t even think $$ is a problem. It is just Wenger’s mind numbing setup that is the issue.

    4. Probably because Wenger has an economics degree as well as an awareness of history.

      In other words he probably thinks that prices have become over inflated, that we must be in some sort of tulip-mania if teenagers fetch north of 50MM. He is probably aware of this history of speculative bubbles and how they deflate almost without warning. He is probably trying to safeguard the longterm viability of the club.

      The interesting thing about football is how non linear it is compared to a sport like baseball. It’s easy to calculate WAR and hence accurately value a hitter. It’s much harder with a midfielder.

      The people who bought pets.com probably thought it was a sure thing.

  10. Funny how Wenger tried to hint that there were backroom problems which caused Arsenal to underperform. I think it has come to a stage where Wenger is being intellectually dishonest with himself and really not seeing his role in the problem (not his contract situation but the way he is Managing the team/preparing the squad). Nobody is doubting his contribution to the club and his love. However, Arsenal need to move forward as a club and not remain stagnant as it has been for years now. With so much power vested under Wenger, I don’t see the situation improving if he stays. Perhaps distributing the power, like having a Director might help.

    1. You might well be right. But you have literally no idea about whether there are distracting backroom problems or not. So rather than pronounce judgment against someone, accusing them of dishonesty, based on matters of fact about which you have no evidence one way or the other, maybe best to give those that do know what’s going on the benefit of the doubt, or at least to withhold judgment?

      1. You clearly did not understand the point I was trying to make and misinterpreted the term “Intellectual Dishonesty”. I’m not accusing Wenger of lying about the backroom incident, instead, I’m saying Wenger’s mistakes had a huge bearing on the way Arsenal’s season panned out so poorly and he isn’t acknowledging that part. He is conveniently hinting that Arsenal’s season suffered because of that one incident. We entered the season unprepared, desperately short of players, let alone quality ones. For e.g. had he fixed the squad before we started the season, we would have been in a far better position and could have at least salvaged a Champions league position(this includes not buying a quality striker and not using the 1 striker that he bought properly). Chelsea had back room issues as well with Diego Costa, did Conte come up with any excuses for that incident? A benefit of doubt can be given as an exception, not as a rule, as we have been giving Wenger for years now!

        1. Arsenal finishing out of the top 4. That is down to the technical team.

          My contract situation might have contributed to that (horrendous environment)

          Or words to that effect from Wenger. Doesn’t seem to me that he’s not acknowledging his role in how our season went.

          1. Shard – Would you really consider that Wenger’s acknowledgement? Some of us are not naive enough to believe that Kroenke is responsible for this debacle (the context in which the question was asked was how responsible was Kroenke for this situation). So it’s quite obvious it is the “Technical Team”. Now how do you define the “Technical team”, the players, coaches, physios etc.? Where is Arsene Wenger’s accountability here amongst all these personnel? Clearly lost somewhere with no specifics. Technical team is too broad a term and does not highlight some of specific deficiencies that Arsene Wenger himself as a Manager brings to this team. Who is going to address that? Who is accountable for that? Look I have tremendous respect for what Wenger has done, but I think if the club has to move forward, he has to be replaced.

  11. This is depressing.

    I have this inescapable feeling that a perfectly happy Kroenke won’t lift a finger from a ownership point of view to make any positive contribution to the on-pitch success of our club.

    Has he done so with the Nuggets or the Avalanche or Rams or the Rapid?

    Only if his Arsenal investment starts to lose value and affect his net worth (hence his ability to leverage himself to achieve his goals through loans or financing) will he take action. And that action could only be selling his shares or partial divestiture since he obviously could give flying f%$k about winning anything.

    Depressing, I tell you.

  12. As much as I want Wenger gone because I think he is past it and is way too aligned with Kroenke for my liking, I think he will sign on regardless of the FA cup result.

    I do fear for Arsenal because if we dont make the correct transfer dealings we will be 6th next season because other teams will make signings to further strengthen their squads without a doubt.

    We really need to shed (sell/cancel contracts) dead weight like Per, Debuchy, Sanago, Gabriel, Elneny, Wilshere, Jenko, Ospina and Carzola if he is still injured by the start of preseason. These players add zero value to the club while draining resources and wasting roster slots. This will free resources for us to buy 2 quality 1st team players (Benatia/Gonalons?) and maybe promote 1 or 2 youngsters (Bielik). Chambers must be recalled as he looked good Boro with Szczęsny being impressive at Roma.

    If any player doesn’t re-sign by the 1st day/week of the transfer window then we have to transfer list them immediately but only deal with foreign teams. Alexis can be flogged to Bayern in exchange for Douglas Costa plus £20m. Ozil to PSG or Juve at the same amount we got him for. Gibbs and Ox can go within the prem but not a direct rival unless its for above £15m and£25m respectively. Perez can go as well if he doesnt want to fight for his place imo.

    All these sales should be enough for a top striker like Belleti looking for 1st team action to make the world cup next year.

    I think a 24 man squad like this would be enough for next season to challenge for the title and at least reach the Europa semis and put in a deep cup run:

    Szczęsny (Cech)
    Benatia Kos Mustafi (Kolasinac/Chambers)

    Bellerin Gonalons Xhaka Monreal (Ramsey)

    Walcott Belleti Douglas Costa (Giroud)

    (Welbeck, Bielik, Iwobi, Martinez, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Reine-Adelaide, Coq)

    1. I don’t disagree with the general sentiment (summer is crucial or else we’ll be sixth, have to be ruthless, get rid of deadwood, bring in a couple of big signings, etc), but have to say I think if we handled the squad the way you recommend, we’d almost certainly end up sixth, or worse.

      Problems with what you’ve said, as I see it (I realize we’re all entitled to our opinions, so that’s the spirit in which this is offered):

      1. Why do we need Benatia, exactly? I mean, are Per and Gabriel really so bad that one of them couldn’t be kept on to provide cover? And even without both of them (which seems unnecessarily wasteful), we’ve got Mustafi, Kos, Holding, Monreal, Chambers, and Bielik (who I agree has a lot of promise) and maybe Kolasinac in a back three.

      2. Why isn’t Kolasinac the starting wingback, since that’s where he played for Schalke this year? Shouldn’t he and Monreal swap spots?

      3. Who’s going to cover at right wingback if Bellerin gets injured? Seems like maybe it would be a good idea to hang on to Ox if possible…(and surely he’s worth more than 25 million in this market)

      4. So your plan is to get rid of our 3 most creative, skillful players (Ozil, Sanchez, Santi), and replace them with what exactly? Douglas Costa is terrific, but he’s not a playmaker; Xhaka’s a good passer but neither he nor Gonalons are going to be getting the ball in the half-spaces and creating in the final third. Which brings us to…

      5. A frontline of Walcott, Belleti and Costa? So we’re going to have pretty much zero creativity? And despite talk of getting rid of dead weight, we’re not only keeping Theo, we’re rewarding him with a promotion to the starting lineup, despite the fact he’s barely played since we switched to this formation, which clearly doesn’t suit him??????

      1. 1. Per is past it imo (think Terry for chelsea). Thats why even Wenger dropped him last season and bought .Mustafu. Gabriel is not better than Holding and the Benatia signing would add experience as I feel Holding is too green to be a regular 1st teamer.

        2. Kolasinac will need a bedding in period as I dont think he is experienced enough to start being effective from day onxe. Thats why I placed him on the bench.

        3. Chambers and Mustafi can cover for Bellerin.

        4. I was only suggesting their sales if Carzola is still injured and not looking like he’ll be part of the team by Aug. Sanchez, Ozil Gibbs and Ox if they dont want to extend their contracts.

        I wouldnt be opposed to a no.10 being purchased though. Maybe Sigurdson as a low risk punt at £25m and £120k p/w?

        5. Walcott isnt a great allround footballer but his output goalwise is still useful.

        1. No way in hell Chambers and Mustafi can cover for Bellerin if we play a 3-4-3. Even in a back 4 it’s a stretch (Mustafi doesn’t have the ball skills; Chambers has the skills but seriously lacks pace).

          Walcott’s goal productivity does not justify playing him when his overall contribution to the team play is so horrendous so much of the time, and has been for years and years and years. Honestly, we need to be taking a step in the direction of ruthlessly getting rid of decent-but-underperforming players that will never be good enough to win the league, and, now that the standards seem to have gone up among our rivals, won’t even be good enough to consistently make the top 4. For me, that means we can’t justify keeping a player like Walcott in the squad, given his massive wages. Keep him on the bench if you must. But starting him, while letting the likes of Ozil and Sanchez go, would be a massive step backwards. In any event, the more pertinent point is just that in our current formation, which has been working quite well, the positions that Sanchez and Ozil have been occupying are more “inside forwards” (almost dual number 10’s, with lots of freedom in attack and some defensive responsibilities on the flanks) than they are wide men. It’s silly to think Walcott can play this position. If we get a genuine top class center forward (which is an absolute must), then we might still want to keep Giroud and/or Welbeck and/or Perez, but we certainly don’t need Walcott any more.

          Sigurdson the guy who plays for Swansea? He is not Arsenal quality. His purchase would pretty much confirm that in one year we’ve suddenly become a mid-table club.

          More generally, the problem with being so tough on those dragging their heels on signing new contracts is that, if we let all/most of them go, even if we get good prices for them, we’ll have a hell of a time securing comparable replacements for all of them. Our financial resources aren’t endless, we don’t have CL to offer, and it takes serious manpower resources to get most transfers over the line at the best of times. And on top of replacing those you suggest we let go, we also have to address key areas in our squad that NEED improvement: center forward, left back/wingback (if Kolasinac isn’t wrapped up), and, for me, a new center midfield partner for Xhaka. (This is also why I think going in for Benatia is unnecessary; not that I don’t think he’d be a slight improvement on what we have.)

  13. A short note on Mino Raiola since the name is thrown up.

    That deal he did with United for Pogba is dirty. And I am very sure Mourinho gets kickbacks for that deal.

    His stable are just high profile individuals who do not necessary give you bang for buck.

    1. I have the feeling that Mourinho had to sign Mkhitaryan even though he didnt want him, to get Pogba

  14. Let’s quit the holier-than-thou thing over transfers, shall we? All well and good to name clubs that have been caught up in shenanigans, but we are hardly unique in being above board. Besides, rotten clubs (and being robbed of glory by referees) are just tenuously related excuses to explain away the central thesis that Tim puts forward. I agree… all things considered, the manager has enough human and financial resources to meet the fans’ expectations.

    Like I’ve said elsewhere, finishing 5th by itself is not the slam against him. It’s festering, unaddressed problems for close to a decade. Spot on, Tim, about the failure to reinforce two summer windows ago. If you’re Kroenke who’s concerned only with finances, share price and cash flow you’d probably think that was impressively frugal. If you’re the fans, you’d think that was grossly negligent from a footballing point of view. The money didn’t roll over to the next transfer budget, so Arsene, in effect, blew it. After we essentially STILL haven’t reinforced the forward line. We bought forward (likely our third choice) who we don’t use.

    Given we spent a very small fraction of our budget in the Cech transfer window, it amuses me no end to be confronted with the argument that we could only afford Lucas, after buying Xhaka, Mustafi and Holding.

    We don’t know what Arsene has been darkly referring to in his bizarre end-of-season press conference, but the smart conclusion is that someone on the board is finally holding him to account.

    Oh and by the way, Alexis is off. Depending on which story has more credence, he’ll be upgrading his strike partner in the form of Lewandowski, Aguero and Jesus, or Costa.

    1. They only seem like excuses to you because you seem obsessed with it all being about Wenger. I don’t see it like that. I want Wenger to stay because I like him and I don’t see him as an impediment to success. I also said that if he really is an impediment to us getting the top players (which is really what’ll make us win), then I back replacing him. I agreed with Tim that Arsenal can compete in the market, but disagree that our Forbes valuation or revenues automatically mean we should be on top of the pile currently.

      It is not holier than thou to point out that sometimes winning the transfers game means pushing boundaries, when that is the exact demand being made. It is a footnote, speculative at that, but an excuse or snobbery is not what it is. The refs, I am afraid are much more than a footnote if you really want a complete picture of Arsenal’s issues.

      What does holding him to account mean exactly? The idea that he’s never been held to account, or that any conflict means Wenger is being justifiably made accountable just stems from a long propounded and hence reasonable sounding narrative where Arsenal have no structure and Wenger is king of the club.

      Arsenal, perennial top 4 finishers (until now), the guys who grew the club to be the ‘7th richest club in the world’ (which is now held against them) are supposedly amateurs with no direction or idea what to do, and have an out of control manager? How do people buy this? Just because we don’t operate like other clubs doesn’t make us amateurs. It just makes us different. It might have its drawbacks and we need to evaluate certain things and priorities maybe, but to pretend that it is all negative is nonsense. We didn’t get where we are by being rudderless. As you say, we don’t know what went on inside. Something(s) clearly was affecting the team. There is no ‘smart’ conclusion here. Just theories because there is no way to know. What is clear that the conclusion of a few months ago that the team has given up on Wenger is not true.

      You may not believe our transfer budget was that, but that’s roughly the figure that was leaked, and we had failed with higher bids for Lacazette and one more guy who I can’t remember right now, while we were negotiating for Mustafi. If you’ve got another explanation for it beyond the club or Wenger being useless, I’d like to know. And Lucas hasn’t played enough, but has also been unlucky with the timing of his injuries.

      1. I’m not obsessed with hanging anything on Wenger. The facts speak for themselves, and though these things are hard to measure with precision, the bulk of the fanbase agrees with me, to judge from the strength of tide, which now contains more formerly staunch defenders than I can count.

        Man, you’ve been making the same facile defences for 4 years. Rinse, repeat, find a plaster the latest erupted sore.

        We are not unique in conducting our business properly. And by the way, the notion that refs cost us (what? titles? Top four?) was seriously lame.

        You missed the point about having money to spend on strengthening the team, not doing so, and losing it. This isn’t the lotto. It didn’t rollover. So to the extent that he found himself hemmed in by conducting his business badly and overpaying for a central defender at a time he had no negotiating leverage left, it turned out to be gross negligence that he gave more than £80m back. Repeat — it did not roll over to his next transfer budget.

        Lucas, a good player, turned out to be not good enough to displace any of a roster of average strikers. From money unspent, to money not well spent.

        Arsene lost it a long time ago. I love him too, but man, you may be the last soldier in the jungle. War’s over, brother.

        1. I love how people who have never negotiated in this market, and have no idea about the details of the negotiations speak so knowingly about leverage and whether a specific transfer was possible earlier or cheaper. I also disagree that Arsenal overpaid for Mustafi. Look at all the CBs with similar profiles bought by other English clubs and they pay in the same range. You can’t demand that Arsenal match rivals in spending then complain when they do.

          I disagree that the money saved on the budget wouldn’t carry over. It may not carry over exactly to next season’s transfer budget if not deemed so, but it is still money the club has and can budget for.

          I do agree that it was poor squad planning to only purchase Cech and put his faith in Arteta’s fitness and Theo’s performance.

          I also never said we are the ONLY club to do it the right way as regards transfers. For all we know, we might even be doing some shady stuff. As I said, it was a footnote. Maybe it doesn’t interest, or matter to you. But it does me.

          As for refs. They cost us points every season. How many, and what effect beyond the points their constant ‘bias’ has on us, is essentially unidentifiable. Only once, way back in 2008, is when I’m certain they cost us the title.

          Right. As if you haven’t been making the same arguments against Wenger in this ‘war’.

          I asked you what specifically you meant by Wenger being held to account. If you’d rather not debate with me, just say so instead of talking about how I’m outnumbered and just stubborn to not see it your way.

          1. SHARD says >> “Just because we don’t operate like other clubs doesn’t make us amateurs. It just makes us different.”

            And just before this observation…
            “I love how people who have never negotiated in this market, and have no idea about the details of the negotiations speak so knowingly about leverage and whether a specific transfer was possible earlier or cheaper”

            Saith this:
            “….we had failed with higher bids for Lacazette and one more guy who I can’t remember right now, while we were negotiating for Mustafi.”

            Two devastatingly profound revelations, of stuff the average joe couldn’t possibly know. YOUR insider knowledge stems from what exactly, brother? Be careful which cudgels you pick up. Beams and motes.

            Sometimes I think that if Arsene were to maliciously kill his neighbour’s goat, you’d without a doubt argue that the goat was old and infirm and it’s better of dead. 🙂

          2. And oh, the money not being rolled over is not a matter of what Shard thinks, or more accurately, prefers to think.

            It’s a fact.

          3. Lyon confirmed the offer for Lacazette. As I recall they even released a copy of the offer letter.

            If the money is not being rolled over, that to me suggests it is not to do with Arsene. (I never said the money was rolled over, just that it is still money the club has and should be carried forward if needed) It also adds a very strange argument that a manager MUST spend the entire budget even if a) he doesn’t need to, and b) he can’t acquire the player(s) he needs. Seems odd to me, but whatever you say. You’re clearly interested in point scoring more than debating so I’ll leave you to it.

          4. “If the money is not being rolled over, that to me suggests it is not to do with Arsene.”

            Hell yes, it does.

            It’s not his decision to not roll it over — it’s his decision to NOT spend available funds on something the team badly needed… personnel strengthening. And lost the funds in effect. Which is the point.

            You also said this…
            “It also adds a very strange argument that a manager MUST spend the entire budget even if a) he doesn’t need to..”

            … having already agreed, upthread, that he needed to that summer transfer window. Consistency please, Shard. Stop spinning. No way we were only a Petr Cech short of the squad we needed. No way.

        2. “Lucas, a good player, turned out to be not good enough to displace any of a roster of average strikers. From money unspent, to money not well spent.”

          Is this true? I can’t say I’ve seen anything in Lucas to suggest he isn’t good enough to overtake Walcott, Giroud, or Welbeck (of course he’s different than them, so not obviously better than them in every respect). He hardly played, and yet still scored and assisted a number of times, and looks very tidy on the ball and a hard worker.

          If we want to give Wenger a hard time for not playing him more, or buying someone HE didn’t much fancy, then fair enough. But it’s not clear he’s not good enough.

          Also, Arsene typically (there are exceptions of course) uses new signings from other leagues sparingly in their first 6 months, and has done so for years. Then, Lucas really has had a run of injuries preventing him from playing a lot more in the second half of the season. He should’ve played more, he shouldn’t be behind the likes of Walcott in the pecking order every time he returns from injury (this comes back to Wenger having his weird favorites, rather than NOT liking any player, I think). But there are extenuating circumstances which suggest that, if he’s willing to stay and fight for his place, Wenger might be very happy to give him way more playing time next year.

          1. “I can’t say I’ve seen anything in Lucas to suggest he isn’t good enough to overtake Walcott, Giroud, or Welbeck.”

            If he was, he would have. Simple.

            We’re not talking Thierry or Robin here.

            Our summer marquee striker was in the end not considered by the manager to have the ability to displace Giroud, Walcott (who you’ve advocated flogging to anyone who’d buy) or Welbeck.

            It’s not what you or I think… it’s what Arsene clearly did. About the kickass striker that we knew we needed, not a not-as-god squad player. It’s stuff like that… year after year.

            Enough.

          2. “If he was, he would have. Simple.”

            Huh? So there are NO extenuating circumstances that could mean a better player hasn’t overtaken a worse one in one season? Like, this never happens? Like, being a new player in a new league, having lots of injuries, etc, or just plain stubbornness from a manager, can never get in the way of a player winning a starting spot??!??
            Come on, I know you’re a better reasoner than that.

            I’m not talking about Wenger in/out or anything else here (and this is where we might be talking past each other). My original comment was clearly just addressing your claim that Lucas is “not good enough” to displace our other strikers. If you don’t think he is, then that’s fine–we have different opinions–but to claim that his failing to displace them establishes that he isn’t good enough to do so is an odd one, to say the least.

          3. Except that your theoretical “extenuating circumstances” did not apply to Lucas when you look at the actuality. He played some. When he did he was very effective. But to his very PUBLIC (<< key word) frustration, he was not given game time. That's not theoretical, like the speculative reasons you posit. That was stated publicly by the player. He was not being eased in… he simply wasn't being played, and was clearly fourth choice striker (fifth if you count Sanchez)

            It got worse when Welbeck returned, and bench limitations meant that he often did not even make the match day squad. Not eased into games, mind. Left entirely out of the squad when fit, raring to go and had made mark in the last game.

            Look, I like Perez. I think that statistically per minute, he was the most effective of our strikers after Sanchez. I think that we should keep him, one of Welbeck or Giroud, and go big on striker if we can.

            But the whole episode surrounding Perez is bizarre. We needed a striker, who like Ibra (and our own Mustafi and Xhaka eventually, which belies the "easing in/acclimatisation" theory) who was good enough to play regularly.

            And more to the point, displace players like Walcott who you yourself don't rate. What our manager got was another squad player. Which was not what we needed given our surfeit of average.

          4. You’re arguing against an argument I have very clearly not made. I don’t know how many times I can say, explicitly, that I’m not defending Wenger here, just defending the claim that Perez is good enough to displace those other players (or, at the very least, we haven’t seen enough of him to decide he’s not good enough to do so).

            But go on tilting at windmills if you must.

            Also, my speculative reasons are “theoretical” because that’s what they were intended to be: I raise them not to say that they completely explain his frustrating first season with us (though they very clearly are relevant–early days he was definitely being eased in (as was Xhaka) and he has had a bunch of injuries since); rather I raise them in order to point to hypothetical counterexamples to your egregious argument that went like this:

            “If he were good enough [to displace them] he would have.”

            Let me lay its logical structure out for you:
            P1. If player A is good enough to displace player B, then he will (over the course of a season, presumably)
            P2. Lucas did not displace Welbeck, Giroud, or Walcott this season
            C. (based on modus tollens) Therefore, Lucas is not good enough to displace them

            The extenuating circumstances I raise are intended to refute the general principle, P1. For that purpose, it’s irrelevant as to whether I can establish that they apply to Lucas’s case or not.

            Hope that’s clear enough. Have a nice night.

  15. You can complain about the other stuff, but not with the results. Finishing between united and city, I really don’t think that’s a result that sacks a manager. 3 points (city) is quite attributable to dumb luck. Unless city and united should also sack their managers?

    1. Feng, no one is advocating sacking Wenger purely on the basis of the results of the season just ended. Gosh, the piece expressly does not make that argument.

      1. No, but the piece does imply (pretty much comes right out and says) that 5th place, if we’re the 7th richest club in the world (or whatever), is not even close to good enough. But as I pointed out above, there are three clubs in England higher up on that list, which means that, purely from the money angle, we should expect to finish 4th. That’s par. We finished 5th, once, after 20 years of finishing higher.

        I know your position is more nuanced–that it’s 5th place + all the context of years of making mistakes, not addressing obvious weaknesses, etc–and I don’t disagree. But sometimes Tim writes as if it’s really more black-and-white than that (I don’t think his views are really so simplistic either, it’s just fun to be provocative when you write a blog, I guess), and that our money alone means we should be killing it in the league. (We obviously should be doing way better in Europe, but getting Bayern again in round of 16 was genuinely unlucky).

        1. @PFo,

          Of course, the financial rankings don’t translate directly to exact positions on the table. Is Tim really claiming that? I don’t think so. The idea is simply that teams like United, City, and Chelsea have taken turns winning the PL in the last ten years. We spend comparably but have rarely looked like winning the thing, even in a crazy year like last season when the rest of the big spenders fell away.

          1. I agree with the main thrust of what I take to be yours and Tim’s position.
            But:
            1. “We spend comparably”? Really? We now (though not in the recent past) have a competitive wage bill, and in the last couple years have begun to approach the sort of big spending that these guys have engaged in for over a decade (plus, Chelsea’s ridiculous luck/cleverness/shadiness/what-have-you in selling good-but-not-great players for massive profits clearly has helped their net spend in a way that few clubs could hope to match (I’m not whining that that’s not fair, I’m simply trying to put the numbers into a bit of context)). So at best, “we spend comparably” doesn’t tell the whole story.

            2. Reread the last paragraph (well, technically the last paragraph is one line, but the one before that) of this article, and tell me that Tim isn’t at least–for rhetorical effect, no doubt–implying there that a 5th place finish given 7th-best finances is in itself a significant reason to fire Wenger.

      2. A decade of stagnation, even after massive funds were made available, in amounts comparable to the oil clubs. This suggests that Kroenke is not the big problem here. He’s been fine with spending upwards of £100m in a summer transfer window.

        The personnel keeps changing, but the one constant in all this is Wenger. Thankfully, he’s been a good constant and a good man. But when you see the vast potential this club has — in terms of financial and player resources — to achieve more than simply a top four / five finish, it is very frustrating to see it held back by predictable tactics (with very little to no thought about the opposition (remember Fabregas’ words)), a failure to strengthen key positions, and limp motivational strategies. Every year the same mental fragilities, every year the mid-season collapse, every year the plucky end-of-season surge.

        It begins to wear. Again, not because Wenger is a bad manager, but because he’s shown very clearly over the last ten years that he’s unable to take this club to the bar set by its resources.

        1. The financial shackles started to get eased off three years ago. 2013-4, when we bought Ozil. Not a decade ago. Three years, people. But Wenger apparently stagnated the club for a decade (by somehow keeping us competitive against the oilers with a net transfer spend of roughly zero).

          I mean, I guess I can understand holding Tim’s view if you got a bang on the head and just woke up knowing nothing of recent history…

  16. Agree with your post 100%. Arsenal can afford to buy any player in the world except Neymar and Messi. The no. 1 thing holding our club back is Arsene Wenger. He has to go, meaningful or sustained improvement is impossible while he is in charge.

  17. I’m a bit late to the party, so apologies if I’m repeating some things that were already said above. I also want to emphasize that it’s possible, even normal, for two people to look at the same data and come to two different conclusions about it. I’m not here to tell you you’re wrong if you don’t agree with me.

    I don’t dispute that Arsenal is now one of the richest clubs in the world. It’s fantastic that we have mostly “caught up” to Chelsea and others in terms of wage bill. Credit should go to the much maligned Gazidis and others because, as you point out, it didn’t use to be this way. It’s absolutely reasonable to expect that Arsenal’s league ambition should be to win the title, even if the total wage bill is still technically 4th because the difference is no longer very meaningful. We are now starting to be able to dine at the same table as the big boys, even if we’ll never be as big as Real Madrid or Man United, but even so that’s a cause for celebration. The fact that we are doing this through the natural profits of the club itself and without a benevolent billionaire is even more impressive.

    What should not be underestimated is the journey to get us to this point. Our net transfer spend was essentially zero between the years of 2005-2012. Big players, great players, and very good players who are still playing important roles at other clubs had to be sold on because player sales were needed to balance the books and because there was an intense wage gradient between ourselves and other clubs, notably Chelsea and Man City. That’s not pleading poverty, that’s simple fact. We only stopped bleeding top talent when, arguably, there was no more top talent to bleed in 2012. We’ve been building since then, but others have had a head start on us because they were also building since way before then, and the success they were able to have has led to better recruiting and in turn, more success.

    So if the intention of this article, as I read it, is to discredit the idea that finances are holding Arsenal back, then I disagree on the premise that finances have only not held Arsenal back for about 3-4 years now. In my opinion you can’t claim we are on a level playing field with clubs who have spent freely every year since then and before then just because right now our wage bills are basically the same. It takes many years to build a club full of talent from top to bottom and while we are not there yet, we are getting closer.

    A fair evaluation of Arsene’s performance would account for average wage bill per year and net transfer spend per year and compare his points per game earned while adjusting for things like injuries, suspensions, etc vs. other managers in the same league. I know of one such publication, quite dated at this point, but it pegs Arsene as the league’s 3rd-4th best manager, lagging behind only Ferguson and Mourinho, and quite a ways ahead of the pack behind him. From 2004-2009, he earned 0.57 points per game better than expected based on the model’s projection. I would be interested to see a similar study of his performance in recent seasons, which I suspect wouldn’t be so rosy. However, if I were running the football club, that’s the kind of analysis I would want to do before making my decision to fire him.

  18. It’s also worth mentioning that since the financial shackles came off we’ve gone from winning no trophies for 10 years to winning 2 trophies in 3 years. And we’re in a final in a couple of days where we could win another one.

  19. Ormy

    To accuse me of spin when you seem incapable of understanding what I’m saying is unnecessary and rude. You seem to think discrediting me adds merit to your arguments, of which you are so convinced that you don’t even deign to step back and explain/justify/clarify what you are saying. Apparently it is to be accepted as self evident.

    There is no inconsistency in what I said. I said A manager, not THE manager. Because I have no idea how a club loses money it doesn’t spend. If the transfer budget is not increased despite funds left over from last season, that just means it wasn’t sanctioned. Not that a manager lost the money. And in this specific case, I don’t KNOW either way whether it was carried over or not. You claim to, so I’m just going with that. Wenger was wrong to only buy Cech, I say again, since you apparently need me to spell out criticism of Wenger.

    1. No one said the club lost money it doesn’t spend.

      The money Arsene failed to spend the summer before the last wasn’t added to his subsequent budget. It’s a simple point really.

      I remember him boasting that summer that he treats the club’s money like his own. It likely pleased Kroenke to hear him say that, which was probably what he intended. But it wasn’t the best decision for the squad.

      “Use it or lose it” is quite common in business practice. And that’s one thing that Arsenal don’t mess around with.

      1. So my initial statement on this being a strange practice was based on this ‘use it or lose it’ maxim (which I must admit, I have never heard of as business jargon) It incentivizes a manager to spend all the money given to him. Regardless of his feelings of the state of the squad, and the realities of the market, and conversely means he should not save that money for the club to use later if required.

        You say Arsenal operate this way as a matter of course? Now that goes contrary to almost everything I’ve come to read about Arsenal over 10+ years. Any information on how you know this?

        And look. Wenger made a mistake in only buying Petr Cech. I think most people agree on that. I don’t know why you have to go from treating it as an error in judgment to questioning his intentions towards the club by implying that he was only doing it to save money and please Kroenke?and I suppose by extension, selfishly trying to save his job, not through performance but currying favour. He’s been saying he treats the club’s money like his own for years.

        1. CEOs, CFOs allocate budgets to all areas of operations of s business entity. Football is a different type of business, but unspent budget is generally re-allocated elsewhere (someone else might be overspending, and can get a top up), or re-directed towards the cash reserves and profit pot for that financial year.

          You start the next fiscal with a new operating budget. Based on what he had to work with, Arsene’s operating budget did not include the sum he had given up the previous financial year. My position is simple… given the state of the squad (i.e. what it needed), it was a bad move for the squad.

          Yes, it’s plausible that he didn’t find the players he was looking for, but unlike you, I’m not going to give him a pass on that. It had been apparent for some time that the midfield needed strengthening. In fact, it was public knowledge that he had explored a number of midfield signings the summer before, and he did sign Elneny the following January. It was clear that the forward line needed upgrading to a certain level — it has done since Van Persie left 3 summers previously.

          I agree with you that he made a mistake in only buying Cech, but I’m not, as you say, “questioning his intentions towards the club” (why do you do this?). But even if I was, it hardly address the central point, which was that from a business POV, he mismanaged his budget by only signing a goalkeeper. As I said, he actively took pride in giving the money back.

          1. Dude, I am not giving him a pass on that. The not finding players bit was meant to talk about this being policy in general. Not that specific window.

            And while I don’t give him a pass, I don’t see how when you’ve made that mistake, your next moves are also judged on the same rather than what you then have to work with. Basically, you can’t criticize this transfer window on the basis that he gave money back in the last.

            I’m not sure I believe Arsenal operate in the way you say anyway. As I said it goes contrary to everything I’ve read and what they have said about transfers and budgets too. Some source for why you think this is how they work would be great.

            And thanks for the reply.

          2. As for questioning his intentions, I’m sorry, but what other purpose does this paragraph serve?

            “I remember him boasting that summer that he treats the club’s money like his own. It likely pleased Kroenke to hear him say that, which was probably what he intended. But it wasn’t the best decision for the squad.”

            The way I read it, you’re linking the decision to buy only Cech with his ‘boastful’ statement, and that his intention in saying that was to please Kroenke, rather than the best interests of the club.

          3. Of course you don’t believe that. 🙂

            You are trying to argue, simultaneously, that he had not much left over to buy a striker from a budget whose figures you have cited (ca. 100m), AND that Arsenal do not operate like most businesses, and by implication may have rolled over cash from the last budget — based on nothing except an unspecified “it goes contrary to everything I’ve read.”

            You need to pick an argument, and try to be more intellectually consistent. Sorry to be so blunt.

          4. The whole rolling over/not rolling over cash is your bag. Don’t hand it to me. I just stated our purchases this summer were dictated by our budget. How those budgets came to be, what last season’s budget was, and if this not rolling cash over happened was it a one off or how we always do things, I have no idea, but I really would be surprised if it were the case that this is general policy. I did ask you , genuinely, for your source of info on this.

            Arsenal as a club operating differently is generally accepted. It’s even half the problem people have with us. Other clubs would have spent more (even like Liverpool, Spurs), operated a different financial model, other clubs would have sacked their manager etc. Tim even brings it up in this article and comments.

  20. “No one said…” has become my least favorite phrase lately, right up there with the pseudo-intellectual “straw man” trope. Both are devices intended to make one’s opponent sound ridiculous, or delusional, even. I use the word opponent deliberately because that’s the mindset it takes to say this. Please, just stop it. That kind of device is not for a good faith debate, it’s for attempting to discredit someone without actually addressing the points they make. Here’s a thought: think about why someone would say something that may sound off color to you and then come back with a rational, objective argument against it instead of just refuting the validity of the statement wholesale. Send a message back instead of trying to assassinate the credibility of the messenger. Otherwise, what should be a conversation devolves into bickering.

    “No one” likes being called delusional, directly or indirectly. “No one” is perfect but “everybody” wants to be spoken to with respect.

    1. Dr Gooner, Shard started rebutting an argument that no one made, i.e. “I have no idea how a club loses money it doesn’t spend.”

      No one said that Arsenal lost the money that Arsene didn’t spend. Re-read the thread.

      Sometimes it seems to me that a number of people (yourself included) reflexively just rush to defend Arsene, whetever the argument, and so shoot off on unrelated tangents and bend stuff to suit their arguments. And yes (cover your eyes), that is a straw man.

      1. Let’s recap shall we?

        You started off with mentioning transfer shenanigans as holier than thou. Made an argument that Arsenal’s unspent money from last season was excluded from this season’s budget, and yet thought it ridiculous that Arsenal didn’t have the budgets to then buy a more expensive striker than Lucas. You also said that behind the scenes conflict that Arsene referred to is someone finally holding him to account.

        I asked you what that meant specifically and why you think he hasn’t otherwise been accountable, and what other explanation you had for Lucas’ signing other than budgets being what they were.

        Your response was to call me repetitive and talk down to me as if I were simply stubborn or stupid for not agreeing with you. You also countered an argument that I never made, namely that we are the only club to follow transfer rules. When questioned on how you knew specifics of the negotiations on the Mustafi transfer, you responded by counter accusations of how I should be careful what arguments I pick since I couldn’t know about Lacazette or that the club are run differently.

        You haven’t really answered anything of what you take for granted as ‘facts’, but have constantly hit out at me. I have only been trying to understand what you mean about this use it or lose it policy, because it really doesn’t seem like good sense to me.

        This whole argument had virtually nothing to do with Arsene Wenger, let alone defending him. That’s your standard go to accusation when someone presents an alternate view and it is getting tiresome. Why focus on someone else’s motivations rather than their arguments?

        1. Thank goodness there’s a thread. This is a pretty self-serving, and highly selective account of the exchange.

          Exhibit A–> “You started off with mentioning transfer shenanigans as holier than thou”, makes no sense. At all.

          As Van Earl Wright (didn’t) used to say, “let’s go to the transcript.”

          I don’t think this is useful, and will stop before Tim kicks us both out. Plus, you know, work? Peace.

          1. with..pause.. mentioning transfer shenanigans as BEING holier than thou.

            Yeah wasn’t too clear there, but like you, I am thankful for the thread being there, and agree to end on a peaceful note.

          2. Did you notice you said “no one said” again when discussing a comment that talks about how bad that little clause is for productive conversation?

          3. Yes I did. Deliberately so. 🙂 Because no one said that.

            I’m sorry that the form of words “no one said” in pointing out things not said/argued, or pointing out the obvious, upsets you.

            And sorry, you don’t get the reclassify innocuous an response (“no one said”) as detrimental to polite discourse. Dismount, engage.

          4. I meant to say, last para….
            “And sorry, you don’t get to reclassify an innocuous response (“no one said”) as being detrimental to polite discourse. Dismount, engage.”

          5. No one has apparently said a lot of things. Does that grab you as oxymoronic at all? Is it that truly no one, not one soul, has said any of those things, or is it that you saying no one says them strengthens your own personal argument? Think about it. How is that innocuous?

            Let me exemplify how easy and lame it is. You say: Wenger and the board have to take responsibility for the team’s performances this season. I say: no one is saying they should not take responsibility. See how easy and stupid it is? It’s not a valid form of discourse.

          6. That is rather different from seeing an equivalence between

            A. Arsene should have spent his budget, because the club need other reinforcements besides only Cech

            B. Arsenal lost the money that Arsenal didnt spend.

            Doesn’t sound like you read the full exchange.

      2. Speaking of reading threads, did my initial comment above sound like reflexive defense to you?

        Wall, meet head. Head, meet wall.

    1. This is a wonderful article by Bobby McMahon. Lays out the Arsenal financial landscape over the past 10 years clearly and succinctly.

  21. ‘Finished 5th in the Premier League with the 7th highest resources in world football.’
    Thanks Tim for winding people up. I doubt too many people are really so silly as to disregard us being 4th financially in our own League but then again?

  22. Given the number of Manchester United fans on my Facebook feed taking more time to troll gooners that dedicating their Europa win to their grieving city, Europa matters. Let’s embrace it and try to win it. It is a trophy of substance, in my view, and just about where our European level is.

    Instead of traveling to Munch is with zero expectations, let’s travel to new places in hope. Disappointed at missing the CL, but hey, I am cool with us being in this competition.

  23. After all the bickering above (of which I was a part), how about a fun, actual football related question:

    Readers’ suggestions on who we should try to buy at center forward this summer, with only two conditions:
    1) They must be REALISTIC, i.e. we have a realistic chance of getting them (even if a long shot)
    2) They must not be “ones for the future” (or not ONLY for the future), but for right now, 2017-18

    Ok, thoughts?

    1. How about Bas Dost?

      All I know about him is that he’s 27, he plays in the Portuguese League and is one of Europe’s top scores this year with 34 goals in 31 matches for Sporting CP.

      1. I saw some of him when he played at Wolfsburg. I could be totally off base with this, but I recall thinking he was a poor man’s Giroud.

        1. You’re probably right.

          My process was to look at the list of top scorers in Europe and to name the player closest to the top that I think we could get.

          I really know nothing about who would be a good choice from actual research/observation. 🙂

    2. PFo

      This is exactly what I was going to ask, if I hadn’t got caught up in the bickering above. Thanks.

      So. Is Mbappe realistic? I hope so, but think not.

      Here’s some suggestions. In no particular order.
      1. Moussa Dembele from Celtic
      2. Belotti from Torino
      3. Morata from Real Madrid (just read he might be on the move to AC Milan)
      4. Lacazette – I really like him and think he’d fit in well, but lack of CL football will be an issue, and if Atletico get reprieve from their transfer ban, it looks like he’s set to go there.
      5.Henry Onyekuru – The Nigerian kid playing in Belgium we’ve been linked with. May not fit your 2nd criterion. Seems underwhelming but so would have Kante and Mbappe if we had bought them earlier, so who knows? Certainly looks talented and is top scorer in Belgium. 19y/o so won’t count against the 25 man squad domestically. Wears Henry on the back of his shirt. Walcott’s No14 shirt would look good on him 🙂
      6. Aubamayang – Maybe if we really push the boat out, but I don’t think he wants to join us.

    3. Hard to say when you’re out of the Champions League. Griezmann put it well… his chances of signing for United were about 60%… before the Europa final. Ask him today, and he’d probably rate them higher.

      We can pretty much rule out any elite striker, the likes of Benzema. We can also rule our Lukaku, who wants to play CL football.

      An experienced striker looking for a big payday on a free, I would say. Someone who was in Ibra’s position last summer. Or a really young ‘un not in the hype mill. The anti-Mbappe. I’m going to go for neither and say Morata is gettable. He’s young enough to risk no CL football for a season. Real obviously have no use for him, being overstocked and still looking to sign Mbappe.

      Sorry, it’s really hard to call, given that we’re in new territory.

      1. And (note the date and time and frame this response) Shard’s calls look very sound.

      2. Monaco insist they’re not selling Mbappe this summer. They’re probably going to sell Bernardo Silva for 70-80million.

        Morata is on Mourinho and Conte’s radar. He’s not coming to Arsenal. We had our chance to sign him and couldn’t.

        Are we back to another summer whining about needing a world class striker? Every club wants one and those who have one don’t want to lose them.

        1. 1. I agree Mbappe isn’t going, unless Madrid or Barca go absolutely all in with a massive (say 120 million pounds?) bid. More likely he’ll stay one more year, lead France to the WC next summer (is it a WC year again?! time flies), then move for a world record fee.

          2. Who’s whining? And who said world class? What we need is an upgrade on what we have. Surely there’s space between “world class” and Giroud, Welbeck, and Walcott (for instance, I haven’t seen enough of Belotti, but I’m pretty sure calling him “world class” at this point would be a bit premature). A forward who’s fast, relatively big, athletic, and pretty skillful, like Welbeck, but who actually scores goals, would do just fine.

  24. At the rate the injuries are piling up we’ll be sending out the youth team for the cup final.

  25. My thoughts on my own question about a striker, for what they’re worth:

    1. Shard: I don’t think Mbappe is realistic. He’s probably not going, and if he is, he’s not going to us. What little chance we had–with Wenger’s personal connection (chatting over the breakfast table, and all that) and the chance to be the main man–was snuffed out along with our bid to qualify for the 2017-18 Champions League.

    2. Equally impossible: Suarez, Aguero, Higuain, Lewandowski, Ibra, Costa, Dybala, Kane.

    3. Only slightly less implausible, but still not happening: Cavani, Aubameyang, Griezmann (going to ManU, for reasons that escape me), Benzema.

    4. I’ve had a soft spot for Lacazette for a while, and I think until recently he was probably gettable (I know we tried hard last summer and the Lyon boss drives a hard bargain, but if we had made an offer he couldn’t refuse…). But now, here again the lack of CL football comes back to bite us. No way Athletico can match the wages we could offer him, but now, sadly, they’re seen as a more prestigious club than us. I have no idea about the details of their transfer ban, but it always seems like the big clubs get out of trouble for this kind of thing.

    5. For the record, I’m not saying we’d want all of the above even if we could get them. And the Onyekuru lad looks genuinely exciting–I hope we act fast and make it happen–but he is very obviously in the “one for the future” category. Of course, he could surprise us all this coming season and be the next big superstar, like Mbappe was this season, but very few of even the most talented strikers become true stars as teenagers.

    So that leaves (well, quite a few, actually, but in particular)….

    6. ALVARO MORATA BABY!!! Funny fact: I did this little mental exercise this morning and came down on Morata being the guy. And the fact that Shard and Claudeivan actually agree about him should be taken as some sort of sign from above. It won’t be easy, especially if Conte is interested (the Man United link seems less likely, especially if they get Griezmann, but you never know with Jose).
    But we could offer him:
    a) the promise of being the main man, an all but guaranteed starter, after frustrating spells of playing second fiddle to others at Madrid, Juve, and Madrid again. He’s not getting any younger. His time to break out is now.
    b) Wages that match, or maybe surpass, what he’s making now (I have no idea what that is, but he can’t be one of their highest earners)
    c) the chance to be supported by genuine world class creators in Ozil and Alexis (in my alternative fantasy world, those two are staying)
    d) The chance to play in the PL, now indisputably the most glamorous domestic league in the world (even if Real and Barca are the most glamorous teams)
    e) if we’re desperate, we could even throw in a release clause that only kicks in if we fail to make the champions league next year (we might be throwing in quite a few of those clauses this summer:(

    Hey, it’s still a long shot, but doesn’t seem properly crazy to me. Surely if he’s considering going to Milan, as someone suggested, then he’d consider us, right? Right? We’d maybe need to pay upwards of 70mill (a total guess), but surely the time is now to address a squad weakness that’s been there since friggin RVP left.

    Quite apart from the plausibility of such a move, I’m interested to hear if anyone has thoughts as to his footballing suitability, or lack thereof, for us–or else (realistic) alternatives that are better options on purely footballing terms.

    1. Apparently, Morata has agreed to join AC Milan this summer.

      Also, I don’t think the Premier League is the most glamorous league in the world. Maybe we need to define ‘glamor’ a little.

      1. I would take a crack at defining glamor, but I’ve got a half-written philosophy paper to finish, so I better resist the temptation to start writing a new one!

        Maybe ‘glamor’ was the wrong word. ‘Prestige’, then.

        1. Why oh why would he agree to join Milan???!!? Surely we could muscle in on that one.

          Come on Arsenal, you better bloody have a plan to buy a striker this summer, and not screw this up for the umpteenth summer in a row, or I might actually become the first human in history to die of exasperation.

  26. In other news: anyone know anything about this Corentin Tolisso fella, midfielder for Lyon????

    He’s been linked with us quite a bit in the papers over a number of weeks now. Of course, I know enough to be suspicious of this stuff, but since he’s not one of the “usual suspects” we’re always linked with, and since his profile (young French midfielder, not super famous, at a French club that we could legitimately claim to be bigger than) makes him sound very much like a Wenger signing, I’m curious about him. On youtube he looks good but nothing exceptional.

    Thoughts? Anyone have proper knowledge about him?

    1. Considering issues of recruitment, it’s important to think about where we are in our cycle: are we a contender next season or are we rebuilding? Is it somewhere in between? There seems to be substantial variance on this view within this very thread and even within some comments, but in my view this is the chief determinant of *how* to spend money as opposed to *whether* to spend money. The money is there and it needs to be spent, no question.

      Let’s assume we are in rebuilding mode: Wenger bids us adieau and Sanchez and Ozil follow him out. It would make sense in this scenario to invest in up and coming players first and foremost. The problem is, buying young talent is like buying a lottery ticket (for you US fans, the NFL draft). If you get enough of them, you’ll hit the jackpot eventually. What a young player doesn’t give you is certainty, and even a seemingly blue chip talent like Mbappe comes with a certain level of risk. The difference in style, expectation and environment when moving from a small mediterranean principality to London should not be underestimated. The danger for the player and the club is that he is always going to be judged against his price tag, fairly or unfairly (see Martial, Anthony for a close analogy). And then we haven’t even talked about injury yet. So unless you have unlimited resources, it doesn’t make sense to pay hyperinflated fees for Mbappe. It would make far more sense to use that money to buy two less highly vaunted but not (much) less talented players, for example someone like Kasper Dolberg. You’ve then bought two tickets to the lottery and are now twice as likely to have gotten what you wanted. This is a strategy the Patriots dynasty has used annually in the draft and it’s part of what has made them so successful for so long.

      If Sanchez and Ozil stay and Wenger signs on for one last hurrah, then it doesn’t make sense to buy into developmental players, no matter how talented. Then, we are in “win now” mode, the urgency increased by the pending free agency of our two best players. To win now, the team needs a veteran leader in midfield and it needs more goals. You go out and you find proven, quality players in positions of need: players who enhance your culture and players who are hungry to win for you. Is Tony Kroos available? Marco Verratti? That’s the caliber of player we should be after. We need a source of more goals too, but quality and leadership in midfield has to come first.

      Personally I feel we should be in the latter mode. Wenger has said that Sanchez and Ozil will not be sold, and the core of the team is good enough to win the PL as long as the midfield is addressed. We’ll have strong competition again next year but our chances are much better than they were in previous years due to the shortening of the financial disparity between ourselves and the usual suspects. There are no guarantees in this sport but a top shelf midfielder who has done it with another club would go a long way to build trust and belief inside and outside the locker room, and is probably the biggest single modifiable factor in our quest to win a title.

      1. 1. I was assuming we were “in the latter mode” (or at least are trying to be, i.e. Wenger is staying, and we are going to try to convince Ozil and Sanchez to stay too, but this will require (among other things) serious ambition in the transfer market). I’m not even sure we have much of a choice, because “rebuilding” would be saying goodbye to the likelihood (of course we’d have a chance) of winning major trophies or being in the CL for several seasons at least, and there’s no guarantee we fully recover from that in this crazy hyper competitive climate (at least in the medium term). That’s where football is different than american sports, where there are salary caps, annual drafts in which you get higher picks the worse your team is, no relegation, no disparity caused by european competition, etc, etc.

        2. I go back and forth, but right now I think the top class striker is actually more important than a top class midfielder.

        1. PS Or at least, it’s more important if we’re not going to go all out to make Alexis into a number 9 (an idea which Wenger appears to have abandoned).

        2. Thoroughly disagree on item 2. No matter how good your striker is, he won’t see the ball if the midfield sucks.

          1. But our midfield doesn’t/shouldn’t suck as much as our center forwards do, provided a) we stick with the 3-4-3, Ramsey continues his upturn in form, and his partnership with Xhaka continues to blossom; or b) Santi comes back, stays healthy (we shouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible), and becomes a central player for us again.

            Look, I agree we need someone in midfield who can dovetail with Xhaka and is genuinely top quality with and without the ball. I just think there are probably more players out there who can fit that bill, and in the end of the day the difference between what we are and what we could be in midfield is less dramatic than it is up top.
            But, hey, these are matters about which two reasonable people could disagree.

          2. PS Since I’ve been so hard on Ramsey for so long, I should clarify: I like Ramsey when he’s good, can’t stand him when he’s bad, and have almost no faith that he can maintain “good Ramsey” consistently enough–through the ups and downs inherent in seasons, including time off with injuries, etc–to justify relying on him to be Xhaka’s longterm partner and therefore not going out to buy someone else. So I think we really should buy someone in that position this summer. I think it should be a priority. But I also admit that his better form in this new formation, surrounded by these particular other players, has just about convinced me that striker is the slightly bigger priority.

          3. I guess I’m not sold on Ramsey’s fitness or the ceiling being high enough on his partnership with Xhaka. It could work in theory but Ramsey, throughout his career has shown far more appetite for combining around the box and trying to get on the end of things than knitting things together in midfield, playing out from pressure and covering fullbacks and passing angles in transitions. You need the latter three qualities from a modern midfielder and he just doesn’t do those things well at all. Nobody on Arsenal does those things particularly well (besides maybe Cazorla) which is why I think internal options should all be situational or backups. I just wouldn’t gamble on Cazorla being fit at all. It would be a nice bonus but not something to count on.

      2. I think the best case scenario here (transfer wise) is to keep Alexis and Ozil.. then bring in a proven super-star striker and a proven central midfield baller.

        I agree with Doc. Central midfield is key… maybe priority number one even.

        Toni Kross, like Thiago Alcantara, are simply not available.

        Veratti? Maybe, but off limit for us. There are rumors Barca will try for him. If that deal happens, they (Barca) may need to move on one of their midfielders to make space for him.. and this is where we can come in hard for someone like Rakitic -though there are rumors that Pep wants him at city.

        I hope Arsenal is monitoring that cycle (PSG/Barca/City) as it could potentially give us an opportunity.

        PS: I would still be very hopeful for next season if we get both Lacazette and Naby Keita only.

  27. PS: The celebration of the Europa league trophy by Man United beggars belief. They just beat a squad with an average age of 22 whose total annual wages are like half of Ibrahimovic’s. And they did it by playing thoroughly negative football, getting through such giants as Celta Vigo and basically throwing league games in the process. Get over your bloody selves! Glory, glory indeed.

        1. The Ajax team should have been applauded off the pitch by both sets of fans for even getting this far, let alone being chided for losing to Mourinho’s deep lying man marking shenanigans. It was never a fair contest.

  28. Tardy comment – looking at that Bobby McMahon piece, a couple of things jump out. First, that FY2016 is the first year since Highbury that the health of Arsenal’s balance sheet did not depend on risky property development or player sales. The second is that the financial stability of the club could yet be impacted by finishing outside the top 4. Showing just what a tightrope Wenger and the board have had to walk for the last 10 years. Whatever you say, whatever your view on how this period has been managed, it has not been easy.

    Stepping back from individual decisions, where we are now – the ownership model, the business model – is mostly a function of the changes that have taken place in the overall economic climate of the league and football in general. Like an organism, an organisation has to respond and adapt to changes in its environment or it dies. Arsenal have done that and up until now at least have negotiated those changes pretty well. I can’t say I’m happy with everything (Like Tim I would love a Barca / Bayern type ownership model) but the fact that we are number 7 in revenue while avoiding the pervasive stink of corruption surrounding other clubs should be celebrated, not used as a stick to beat up the club or high-profile individuals within it.

    1. The amount of money Arsenal keep in reserve is a sticking point when it comes to the financial side of things. Sometimes it’s reported as close to €200 million and sometimes around €100 million. But as someone who’s not an accountant it’s hard to know how much of that money is actually available to spend on transfers and how much is needed to pay the yearly bills or has already been earmarked for future investment. I’ve also read that a certain amount of money is required to be left in the bank because of the debt repayments on the stadium. Sometimes when other people go through Arsenals accounts it has seemed like the club do spend most of what they make when it comes down to net profit. Even then, how much money in the bank is sensible for a club like Arsenal to hold back? In this day and age €100 million buys you one top class player. Does it make sense for Arsenal to keep that much in reserve in case such a player becomes available and wants to join?

  29. Writing from Nigeria (long time reader, first time comment)
    Has anyone looked at Joshua King of bournemouth (Former Man youth player).Has lukaku’s build and athleticism and an improving goal-scoring record year on year.could buy him and the Nigerian for max 30 mil

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