Has Kroenke spent?

For the decade after Arsenal’s Invincibles Arsenal supporters were told “we don’t buy superstars, we make them.” This was the sales pitch for Arsenal’s seeming lack of activity in the transfer market. We might not get the big name transfer in but fans could hang their hat on the fact that their club weren’t like Chelsea or Man U, we didn’t just buy players.

In Wenger’s autobiography he broke the news (which wasn’t really news) that after Arsenal moved to the Emirates stadium Arsenal needed to sell players to break even. This had been apparent in the books and something that the peerless Swiss Ramble pointed out every year when he did his analysis of Arsenal’s finances.

From 2007 to 2012 Arsenal’s net transfer spend was -$59m. In other words, Arsenal generated $59m in profits from player sales. At that time, Arsenal’s biggest rivals for the top four were spending like crazy.

Net spend 2007-2012:

  • Man City – $589m
  • Chelsea – $311m
  • Liverpool – $182m
  • Man U – $160m
  • Arsenal – (-$59m)

In 2013 the Premier League announced new foreign and domestic television broadcast deals, taking the TV total from $4.5bn to $7.2bn. And immediately the floodgates opened for Arsenal. There had been few changes at the club. Kroneke was still majority but not sole owner. The stadium hadn’t been refinanced. Arsenal hadn’t struck a deal with Deutsche Bank. All the clubs were just awash with new money and Arsenal decided to spend. That summer Arsenal signed Mesut Özil for a record fee but unfortunately everyone was spending.

Net spend 2013-2016:

  • Man City – $547m
  • Man U – $459m
  • Arsenal – $280m
  • Liverpool – $119m
  • Chelsea – $87m

Chelsea’s net spend is a bit low here and we’ll get into that in a second.

But after that glut of spending the TV deals went buck wild again, jumping to $11bn in 2017 and then $12.5bn in 2019, which is where we find ourselves now. And since then Arsenal have joined the mega-elite clubs in net spend:

Net spend 2017-2020:

  • Man U – $297m
  • Arsenal – $269m
  • Man City – $232m
  • Chelsea – $222m
  • Liverpool – $191m

Kroenke’s Arsenal are spending money in the transfer market and have been fairly liberal with transfer spend since 2013 and especially since 2018 after he took full control of the club.

The historical view that Arsenal don’t “spend some mucking funny” is still somewhat true:

However, when we look at the last four years, the club are spending in the transfer market:

But net spend doesn’t tell the whole story. I have included both the purchases and sales figures in the above chart. Arsenal’s purchases since 2017 total more than all but the few big-spending clubs (Man U, Man City, and Chelsea) but despite spending nearly a billion dollars on new players since 2017, Chelsea’s net spend ($295m) is closer to Arsenal’s ($263m) than Man U ($465m). This is entirely down to their incredible player sales scheme. They have sold more in player value ($544m) than even the much lauded Liverpool ($314m). Most of their player sales aren’t to China, but instead to the Spanish market where they have made a killing on Hazard, Courtois, and Costa and have even mostly recouped their initial outlay for Morata ($20m loan + 38m transfer).

And Chelsea don’t seem to be ready to stop with this model: Fikayo Tomori was just sold to AC Milan for $32m. The Chelsea plan to buy and loan hundreds of players before selling them off for a profit, along with excellent recruitment, and the ability to offer top wages along with almost guaranteed trophies, has proven to be quite successful. They seem to have grown from a club which require a sugar-daddy owner to a mature football club which mostly uses business smarts to build title-winning sides.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are spending the money. The problem isn’t money spent, but rather who the money has been spent on and Arsenal’s inability to sell these players when they no longer want them. Since 2016 Arsenal have purchased the following players which they either can’t/couldn’t sell and let go for free or seem to keep loaning the player out:

  • Mustafi – $45m (left on a free)
  • Torreira – $32m (loans)
  • Guendouzi – $9m (loans)
  • Sokratis – $18m (left on a free)
  • Saliba – $33m (loans)
  • David Luiz – $10m (left on a free)

That’s not even getting into the problem Arsenal had with salaries: paying obscene fees for Özil, Kolasinac, Lich, David Luiz, and Willian.

Kroenke can’t be accused of “not spending the money”. Arsenal are finally spending the money that they make off the fans. The problem is that they are spending money poorly.


(Source: transfermarkt.com)


  1. I’m generally hopeful about the transfer strategy that’s being followed this summer and it gives me hope things will improve in coming years – buy young. To quote Musashi – “if you know the path broadly, you will see it in all things”. It seems to me Arteta/Edu have learned their lessons with Luiz and Willian and now we’ve brought in Tavares (21), Lokonga (21), White (23) and linked to one more of Guimares (23), Aouar (23) or Odegaard (22), resigned Balogun (20) and we may see Azeez (18) stick with the first team. Lautaro Martinez is only 23, so if we can push out the boat for him when he’s being offered at a discount, I’d be all for it. All of these players will have strong re-sale value in the future and I can’t see us losing money on any of them. Even Ben White, if he turns out to be just an average English CB, will still be worth 40-50m in three years time and we’ll have amortized any loss in value.

    Our problem selling players is largely down to stigma – if you’re a fringe player on an 8th place team, just how good can you be? Even still, we will still make an eventual profit on Guendouzi and I’m thinking we may sell Saliba for even money given how well he’s done in Ligue Un.

    That said, I’m not too worried about our selling Torreira, Lacazette, Bellerin, Nketiah, AMN, Willock (if he goes), Reiss-Nelson or one of our surplus CBs… my thought is a lot of teams are in financial distress and they’re trying to be responsible in the transfer market, but once the deadline starts getting near they will panic under pressure from their fan bases pay good fees for most of these players. At least I hope that’s the strategy from our end.

      1. Isn’t extending Xhaka more about retaining value until next year when we might be able to sell him for what he’s properly worth to Roma? And don’t presume that this isn’t a negotiation ploy with Roma. I think Xhaka will be sold by deadline, Mourinho likes him and as the weeks go by I would expect Roma to come back. Prediction – deadline day will be insane this year. Lots of last minute panic when teams a) become desperate to make at least some money on the transfer market vs. zero money, and b) fan bases will be apoplectic at the lack of activity from some clubs. Chelsea, Barcelona, Madrid – all need to offload surplus players. There are clubs in France and Italy in dire financial shape. There will be a lot of bargain deals for anyone with money and patience.

        1. “Isn’t extending Xhaka more about retaining value until next year when we might be able to sell him for what he’s properly worth to Roma?”

          Jack, he will be a year older and on bigger wages with a longer contract! Plus he’s already slow and barely able to keep up the pace. If are signing him to retain his value, it’s like spending $20 to save $5.

          It’s widely reported we wanted $20m for Xhaka. Roma offered us $15m. Now we sign him to a new deal and lets just say we keep his current salary ($5m a year). We now need Roma to pay us $25m to get the $20m we wanted last year because we’ve sunk another $5m in salary into him. Meanwhile.. we don’t get in the players we need to compete for the top 6.

          I may be using this wrong but isn’t signing Xhaka to retain his value the sunk cost fallacy?

          “I think Xhaka will be sold by deadline.” Arteta explicitly said Xhaka will be with us next year. I think you’re in for a surprise when it comes to deadline day.

    1. “and linked to one more of Guimares (23), Aouar (23) or Odegaard (22)” linked is doing all of the work there. I prefer inked to linked. But yes, we have inked some choice aged signings this summer.

      As for the rest of your thoughts, man, I hate to break it to you but Martinez is not coming to Arsenal. Also, we will not sell Guendouzi for a profit, his contract expires next summer. Unless there’s someone absolutely batshit crazy who needs him in January he’s leaving us on a free. Saliba is also going to be sold for a loss. He will have one year left on his deal next summer and there’s a real chance Ligue Un will go bankrupt. Can’t see anyone willing to pay $30m for a CB in the last year of his deal.

      I agree somewhat about stigma but I also think that a lot of these players just aren’t that good.

      As for the others on your list I’d be willing to bet that they almost all stay with the club or go on loan. At best one of Torreira, Laca, Bellerin, Nketiah, AMN, Willock will be sold.

      1. I thought I read that the Guendouzi loan to Marseilles came with an obligation to buy, and we made a profit, it just won’t be realized until next year.

        I get your point on Saliba, but only if you exclude the possibility that he’s sold to a Premier League team after another solid season. I choose to remain hopeful. Best case scenario actually is he gets brought into the fold.

        I wouldn’t even mention Martinez were it not for some more reputable sources like the Athletic saying he’s actually open to the move because he’s on low wages at Inter and the teams that would normally go for a top Argentine prospect like Juve, Real or Barcelona are not buying this summer. Why not try? Inter need the cash to hold onto Lukaku. If he is willing to come I would strongly consider shopping both Aubameyang and Lacazette to subsidize the £60m asking price.

        I think the next 3-4 weeks might be really interesting and could set the path for our next 2-3 years.

        1. Guendouzi’s deal has an option to buy and if that’s triggered, we may just about break even or make £2m on his transfer after all the loan payments.

  2. Xhaka will be worth the same next summer as this one once the financial effects of covid have eased.

  3. The biggest failing of the club has been no strong technical director. Arsene’s later years showed he’d lost touch with buying and selling. Way too many overpaid, older players. When Don Raul axed Sven, we lost a shot at an experienced TD. He wasn’t perfect, but he had the ability to give us a professional approach to buying and selling. Now we’ve let two very inexperienced guys – Arteta and Edu, take the helm. They are learning on the job, it appears.

    To Jack’s point, the age profile has definitely improved. And yes, the Covid market has made selling very difficult. But Willian, Luiz and now Xhaka are all costly mistakes with expensive older players that hobbled us. We are moving in the right direction, but not fast enough. Unless we pull a rabbit out of a hat in the next few weeks with a great attacking signing, this is largely the same team that finished 8th, and will likely wind up in that same midtable realm this season.

    1. Well, Sven was just head scout at Borussia so it would’ve been a new experience for him calling the shots too. He recruited Torreira, Guendouzi, Leno, Sokratis, Lichtsteiner, and Aubameyang to the club plus the loan for Denis Suarez. Not bad, but also not great. How does that stack up against Edu’s record?

      The club has bought the following players since Sallnhei was dismissed, and so we can consider them bought under Edu’s primary responsibility, as opposed to his one year working under Raul.

      Ben White
      Nuno Tavares
      Thomas Partey
      Gabriel Magalhaes
      Pablo Mari
      Alex Runarsson
      Loan for Odegaard

      If we include his time with Raul, that would also include:

      Cedric Soares
      Loan for Ceballos

      Of these, I think we can say Marinelli and Tierney have been a massive success, Runarsson and Willian have been massive failures, and the rest are in between or too early to tell for sure. What I can say for sure is that transfers are like the NFL draft: a bit of a crapshoot and the more cracks you have at the roulette wheel the more likely you are to experience both ends of the spectrum.

      1. i wouldn’t say martinelli has been a “massive success”. he had a massive moment in a solo goal that happened primarily because of a slip by n’golo kante. he’s been okay but hasn’t exactly ordered a place in the team the way that smith rowe and saka have. those guys have been massive successes.

        martinelli took a very nice penalty in the shoot out against mexico this morning. maybe he comes back with a gold medal.

        1. Success is always a matter of perspective. I hope we can at least agree that he’s far outstripped initiatl expectations of him, coming as he did from a lower division Brazilian side at the age of 18. The solo goal was great but he is no flash in the pan. He has 12 goals and 6 assists over 49 appearances and his transfer value has quintupled since signing with us, all before he turned 20.

          I don’t count ESR and Saka because they weren’t transfers but yes, massive successes there as well.

  4. one thing is certain. we can’t say that stan hasn’t spent money. be it his own money, funds wenger stacked, or money loaned against the club, he’s had to authorize the release of funds.

    i didn’t get to speak on xhaka on the previous thread so i’ll do it here. i’m in the camp that’s been very critical of xhaka, however i’m thrilled that xhaka is staying. arteta came in soon after the game where xhaka flicked the fans off. i’m sure xhaka wanted to leave and was rumored with a move to berlin. i don’t believe arteta ever wanted him to leave but told him he wouldn’t stop him leaving this summer if a team came for him. roma made a derisory offer and arteta, not wanting to lose the player, had no incentive to bargain with roma. they would either pay the full price or the player would stay. good on arteta.

    as for xhaka, he’s played the best football of his career in 2021. while i don’t think arteta has created a strategy to hide xhaka, it’s clear the swiss is playing within himself, not trying to do too much, and he’s comfortable in the league. he’s in his prime. why on earth would you sell a player in their prime for a ham sandwich?

    with that, if lokonga comes in and moves xhaka to the bench, i’m all for it.

  5. Agreed Doc – there will be hits and misses along the way for anyone. I think the strategy was different for Sven. He had the “We are one player away from CL” directive – so we looked for older, experienced players to fill in the gaps and get us back to top 4.

    I think it goes beyond either Sven or Edu. KSE haven’t gotten experienced, capable people into that role. They have a benign neglect approach to things that keeps us in this groundhog day situation. I agree there are some signs of improvement, but real owners bring in highly experienced and capable operators. KSE seems more like they are winging it with Mikel and Edu and hoping for the best.

    1. Absolutely right. Sven was trying to plug the gaps that were opening up in the masonry, hence the likes of Sokratis and Lichtsteiner. But the wall just kept tumbling down. Now we are trying to rebuild it from the ground up. It’s a massive job.

      1. Sven wanted Soyuncu and I’m sure he would have preferred a better backup RB but the budget was the budget. He’d actually done an excellent job in the winter at retooling the squad including Ozil’s new contract at near zero net spend. That team was in a ‘win now’ mode, based as it was around the 28-31 year olds in attack.

        That wall didn’t so much crumble as was taken a sledgehammer to by Raul by trying to force out Ozil and Ramsey.

        We would have had top 4 that season if we weren’t playing these games with our own players, which in part also would have affected Emery’s ability to motivate the team. Bringing in Denis Suarez instead of playing ESR was the point at which Sven gave up on the club promoting him as had been agreed and walked.

        I got what Sven was doing. I don’t quite get what Arteta and Edu have been doing. I hope it works out and I’ll see it all made sense after all.

        1. The plan Seems quite clear to me. They are investing in up and comers and building a foundation for the next 5 years and beyond.

          1. I’ll just say that buying players in a specific age range does not constitute a plan by itself. It’s also hardly something new. The majority of our signings over the years have been in that age range.

            Arsenal squad avg age (transfermarkt)
            16/17: 23.74
            17/18: 23.84
            18/19: 23.90
            19/20: 23.29
            20/21: 23.38
            21/22: 25.18 (as of now)

          2. I think your table shows quite nicely how much older the squad has gotten. What it doesn’t show is the average age of the players we’ve bought because the average squad age includes every registered player. But you’re right, it goes beyond just the age range. Players are being brought in to play a specific role within a specific system. They are also being recruited to mesh with the team ethos and with their teammates as much as possible. I can understand your scepticism though.

    2. I think this is how KSE operate. At least of late. In both the NBA and NFL they seem to have had some progress by handing over the reins to young(ish) coaches and GMs.

      The fact that they allowed Edu and Arteta to restructure the entire scouting and coaching staff may seem worrying for the lack of football experience, but I think KSE and especially Josh Kroenke sees it as the smart way to go.

      Personally I think such upheaval was mostly unnecessary and I doubt the intentions of those doing it, mostly because they’ve shown a clear disregard for what I see as the club’s values. It’s definitely not how I would go about a rebuild. But time will tell. The publicly stated target to ‘be competitive’ if I remember Edu’s words correctly, was the 2022/23 season.

  6. It’s worth pointing out – a manager/TD duo that is targeting young players is not a duo worried about their jobs. If Arteta and Edu had fears about their jobs they would be loading up on veterans. I think besides spending £75m this summer already before any sales have been made, Kroenke has probably given assurances that there’s an understanding that a long term rebuild is needed. That’s encouraging too.

  7. Tim

    Another great post. Your cranking them out quickly in the last couple days which we all love. However, don’t burn yourself out because we need you in this for the long haul.

    I agree completely with your post. To characterize Kronke as cheap or not willing to spend is just plain wrong. He has authorized the spending of plenty of money. The problem is the people whom he has hired to figure out where to spend the money have been mostly misfiring since the middle of last decade. The critical players in the squad that Arsene left were very clearly past their prime and it should have been just as clear that a rebuild was needed in 2017/18. Usually you expect a rebuild to take a couple seasons and then the results start to improve. However, we are in the 4th season since Arsene and our results are going downhill rather then starting to rebound and we are still talking about the need to kick start the rebuilding process which should have been kick started 3-4 years ago. That is bad management. Everyone seems to want to blame Arteta and Emery’s tactics and strategy for the relatively poor results but to me you make the strong case the biggest problem by far has been terrible money management and squad building. We have done a very poor job of recognizing and acquiring the players the club needs in order to improve.

    1. “He has authorized the spending of plenty of money.”

      Just to be clear: he has authorized the club to take on massive debts. He’s still cheap as fuck.

  8. Tim: “Kroenke can’t be accused of “not spending the money”. Arsenal are finally spending the money that they make off the fans. The problem is that they are spending money poorly.”

    So can we now retire the talking point — which entertained us so long and richly after Chelsea’s Champions League victory — that Chelsea is all about big spending and plucky little Arsenal is hobbled by doing it the right, frugal way?

    Not only am I stunned that Stan is spending “some _____ money”… I am surprised that the board is letting the head coach and TD make personnel decisions that destroy value or add none — from Ozil, to Willian, to Guendouzi, to Saliba, to Torreira…. It is one thing to move on players. Arteta has developed quite the skill in showing potential buyers that they are worth significantly less. I mean Im all for Torreira going, but has he kicked a ball for us in pre-season? Who’s going to pay $5 for him?

    I hope the rumours that we are willing to pay for Aaron Ramsdale 10m GBP more than we sold Emi for are untrue; but it wouldn’t surprise me if we pulled a financially dumb caper like that, in what is meant to be a bear market.

    The current Chelsea model is both financially and footballistically successful; and as we can see, they’ve moved beyond the sugardaddy business model. But I’ll never forgive them for distorting the league, and robbing Arsenal of probable success in the early noughties. Wenger had some 2nd place finished to a really stacked Chelsea than.

    1. Buying Ramsdale for 30m on top of the Runarsson purchase and the Ryan loan shows poor planning. Especially if Leno doesn’t renew and we go back to looking for another good GK.

      Rejecting Wolves’ offer of 25m for AMN and then not using him and sending him out on loan to WBA must also rank up there with decisions that are indecisive, at best, that cost Arsenal real money.

      Like I said above, I don’t really get what these people are doing. It seems all a bit haphazard and/or driven primarily by other motives.

      1. We seem indecisive. Where is this grand rebuilding strategy?

        Xhaka’s going, then he’s not
        Laca’s going, then he’s apparently not
        Hector’s going, then he’s apparently not
        Eddie’s going, but there’s no movement we can see*
        We make a big noise about improving to the 3rd best defence, but splash 50m on a defender. Meanwhile we loan out our great CB hope, after never playing him a game — even a lowly one — for 3 years
        Nelson, Kola, AMN — players we clearly dont want — are still around*

        The only success we have is in strong-arming out the ones the coach refuses to work with.

        *portends a slew of deadline day loan deals

        1. It seems to me that those are all players they’d rather move on from but the offers just haven’t materialized.

  9. Shard @ 1:14PM

    I can’t believe any rational team would offer $25M for AMN so I am skeptical about the truth of that rumor. That said, I completely agree that I don’t get what we are doing on the transfer and squad building front. There does not seem to be a rational plan in place and the results seem to argue there has not been a well thought out plan since about 2015.

    1. The Guardian reported Wolves and Arsenal were in talks. They quoted a 20m GBP figure.

      1. Shard.

        We hear rumors all the time. We can’t even get that much for Xhaka. Based on his career to date, AMN profiles as a jack of all trades utility/role player rather then a high ceiling prospect and you don’t have to pay a lot for players like that. If any team is willing to offer that much we would be crazy not to take it.

        1. Bro… as an ex-journo Im here to tell you that there’s a difference between reporting and rumours. It’s why Tim is careful with his sources, which include the Guardian. Dont dismiss the report just to be contrarian.

          If you think about it, 20m GBP isnt that much for a young England squad prospect who can play in several positions. Heard of Ben White, by any chance? Like Ainsley, he’s a squaddie. The problem for AMN is that England is very rich in his position.

          Shard’s point, which I agree with, is that that was reasonably good money for AMN, and if he’s not in our long term plans, we should have taken it.

          1. In a vacuum, I would agree. 20M for Ainsley is good value. But quite aside from the whole “we have no idea what actually happened because we weren’t there at the table” thing, there’s also the whole “maybe we shouldn’t just bite the hand off the first club who throws a few quid our way” thing too. It’s a delicate line to walk but we have to have some backbone when it comes to expecting value back for our players. We are in a strong position on Ainsley, he’s under a long term contract with us and we have reason to rush to sell him. His value is only going to increase, especially if he finds a bit of form with us or with someone else. Leicester and Wolves are smart clubs and interest from those quarters portends well for his future.

          2. Doc, how is his value going to increase if he’s not playing ? I don’t seem him getting any significant minutes with us, and there are no loan offers either.

            The big problem with AMN is, he’s not really good in the position he wants,and he doesn’t want to play where he’s decent. I don’t see his value increasing at Arsenal. As such, I see the 20 million we allegedly turned down as money lost.

            The only way we extract value out of him, is if Arteta can convince and coach him to play at right back, which seems unlikely atm.

          3. AMN is overrated by Arsenal supporters. I think he’s properly rated by the market, however.

            That 20m turned down for him is such wasted money now.

          4. Villa just bought Danny Ings for GBP 25m (Not a rumour 😊).

            Doc, I agree with you that we dont know what went down behind closed doors; but agree with PRVHC that we cant improve his value if we’re not playing him.

        2. The club has to find a way to get him minutes. If it’s not with the 1st team then it’s out on loan. You saw what that can do for a player’s value with Willock.

  10. I realize the preseason results are not all that important but we have been playing a lot of our senior players and its been very uninspiring in terms of results. We have only scored 4 goals in 3 games and taken 1 out of 9 points with a record is 0-2-1. Perhaps just as concerning is the fact that the players who are supposed to be our leading scorers this year including Auba, Pepe and Laca have all been used and none of them has scored. I suspect hoping for a return to golden boot level production for Auba and a major breakout for either Pepe or Laca may not be a great bet.

  11. Superb piece Tim. Bang on the money.

    You have clearly identified where the problem lies and the reason for our fall from the pedestal on which the Invincibles stood. Our buying, selling and contract management have been criminally inept since the mid noughties. In truth, Wenger achieved miracles during the years of financial penury. Sadly, despite an encouraging recent focus on bringing in young talent to complement the homegrown talent, I have no great faith that we have the skills on board to achieve the ruthless clear out that Arteta referred to earlier this year.

    Hard times.

  12. How is operational money spending?

    Seriously, in the US we have owners spending what is called a luxury tax, look up Golden State Warriors and how much their owners go into their OWN pockets to have a winning franchise.

    Same with chavs, but not AFC, nor any of stan the maNs teams- ever!

    Yes, AFC are spending poorly, but do not confuse the two types of spending as the same.

    Our contracts and and salaries are a mess and have been for a very long time.

    1. “Our contracts and and salaries are a mess and have been for a very long time.”

      And the Kroenkes’ solution is to hire a rookie manager and a guy with no European TD experience to fit it.

      1. In fairness they tried Raul first. And Gazidis was a part of the reason they were a mess and he was no spring chicken.

      2. I’ve also read where David Ornstein has spoken to several transfer targets and their agents– who have been impressed with the sophistication and presentation of the project Arteta and Edu are using to recruit new signings

        Today, Ben White’s agent Alex Levack was shown in a Sky Sports video praising Arsenal’s ‘fascinating and sophisticated scouting operation’.

        I’m over listening to anecdotal opinions on inexperience. Rather, accepting what I read from those closest to the club, what new signings and sometimes their agents are saying– about Arsenal’s depth of due diligence this Summer.

        1. The proof of all that will be in the results at the end of the season. So dont go giving Mikel and Edu podium places just yet. We have no European football. Therefore evaluations will be much harsher than that offered by Ben White’s agent, who got a nice windfall on the sale.

          At this point, based on the past 2 seasons, the opinionators have 100% of the 👉🏽available 👈🏽evidence.

          1. I’ll challenge those opinions– from the perspective of the last two seasons with Arteta/Edu operating under restrictive circumstances, with makeshift or no offseason or preseasons– plus a learning process. This Summer (even with Euros) is really the first offseason/preseason afforded Arteta. Also looks to be the first TW that the pair have been substantially backed– as opposed to making piecemeal signings to paper over damage from previous regimes.

          2. JW1: “Also looks to be the first TW that the pair have been substantially backed– as opposed to making piecemeal signings to paper over damage from previous regimes.”

            That’s not true at all. Arteta got significant in and out churn, moreso in the last 2 of the 3 windows he has overseen. He and Edu had some decent guys like Gabriel and Partey, but they also brought in the likes of Runnarsson, Willian and Cedric. He has, in large measure, gotten what he wanted. The notion that Mikel has scratched by since he took over doesnt stand up to the evidence.

          3. Excepting for Gabriel none of the other three were ‘for the future’– but to paper over cracks left by Raul/Unai. In the end the cost of those three are at the small end of the scale. Willian, while drawing a good wage, did come on a free.

            Cedric has been serviceable. Willian, not high on my list, still lead the team in assists last season. Runnarsson being a £2M error.

            The churn ‘in’ being quality in Gabriel (£21M) and Partey (£32M). The churn ‘out’ being more akin the ‘Bring out yer dead’ scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail.

            Making out that Arteta/Edu have been operating under normal circumstances feels just a bit revisionist.

            Firmly agree with you– seasons-end results will be proof– either way.

        2. JW, I like your posts and your optimism, but surely you’re taking the Michael when you quote Ben White’s agent – the guy who just got fifty million pounds for a CB that most of us thought was a joke when first rumoured – as independent verification of how good our scouting is.

          That’s like quoting Putin as a character reference for Lukashenko

          1. White’s agent– was the latest of a number of individuals to have weighed in on Arsenal’s processes this Summer. David Ornstein has reported very much the same info from several sources who commented to him first-hand. Have a great deal of respect for Ornstein’s writing and reporting. Though I’ve also criticized pieces in the comments at The Athletic– with respectful responses in exchange.

            Get where you’re coming from though.

            Then, I’ve also followed the decade-long development of Arsenal’s StatDNA holding (as much as has been written)– wrt the methodology and depth of video-driven analysis applied. Arteta, is the first Arsenal manager to embrace the use of system’s capabilities at the level required– in an integral fashion.

            In a longer view? It seems that the pieces are just now falling into place for Arsenal. That Arteta and Edu are just now on the cusp of finishing-up pouring the initial solid foundation for the club’s future.

        3. I am definitely a rank amateur in my opinions – guilty as charged. That said, I think there were some clear signs that our management team has not managed the roster well.

          Saliba. How does he lose 6 months of his career in exile? That’s a disastrous move.
          Nketiah not being loaned.
          AMN not being sold last year.
          Resigning Auba to a massive contract (This one is debatable, but the age curve doesn’t seem to be in his favor, and we should’ve known that.)
          Spending 50m on a CB when your defense is 3rd in PL, but your attacking is bottom third.
          Waiting literally till deadline day to sign Partey, rather than just biting the bullet and getting him in earlier so he could train/get fit.
          Extending Xhaka
          Letting Laca run down to his final year.

          Now we are again waiting till deadline to make moves, leaving no time to get players up to speed.

          Sure, every window has its challenges and we had lots of squad issues, but there are still many, many squad management decisions that could/should have been managed better.

          Prepping well for player purchases is all well and good. But it’s just one aspect of technical direction. So much else has been like the Keystone Cops. I don’t think you have to read the tea leaves much to figure out this is the work of guys learning on the job.

          1. There’s an excellent (recent) piece on Auba in The Athletic relating to the depth of analysis on how the club came to the decision to resign him and to that length of a deal. If you don’t have subscription, there’s a slimmed down version of it in the Mirror. My posts with links tend to get caught in the spam filter– but if you want to see the Mirror piece– google:

            ‘Jamie Vardy’s inadvertent role in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s bumper Arsenal contract’.

            I can’t address all of your players/points– and even agree with you on some them. But I’ll leave it here, with this perspective–

            I’ve been following the club since the early-00s.
            I’m not happy with much of the last 5 seasons at all.
            Have foreseen a good number of the machinations behind the scenes at AFC the past 3 years or so– in the run-up to AW’s departure in 2018.
            The signs I’ve been keen to see happen are just recently STARTING to occur.
            Personally– I’ve wiped the slate for Arteta and Edu at season’s-end in May.
            Yeah, I’m a silver-lining optimist. I’ll offer no apologies for that.

            I’d rather have the belief that this is the start of what I’ve been hoping for– and perhaps be disappointed. Than to find reasons to be dejected over a team I support– before a match has been played this new season.

            With so many other things IRL with potential to disappoint?
            I’m choosing to hold fast with hope.

  13. The first attempt was experience, hence Raul + Unai. But it turns out mercenaries are just not the same as someone who genuinely cares. Ideally we would have both.

  14. Tim

    I agree that Arsenal fans over rate AMN but if the rumor about a $20M offer is true then someone else also overrated him. There is a significant segment of the Arsenal fan base that over rates all of our players especially the younger ones. Think back to the hype and the belief that we were building a group of can’t miss superstars with Bendtner, Walcott, Diaby, Denilson, Merida, Frimpong, Afobe, Aneke, Aliadiadare, JET, The Hoyte brothers, Traore, Ox, Wilshere, Jenkinson, Iwobe, Akpom, Sanogo. I am sure I have forgotten several others because the list from the past is almost endless. Back then hope was fueled even more by the media and the fans belief that Arsene could do anything and he could build his own superstars. Now I see fans who believe the way to drag us back into the top 4 is to build the team around players like Nelson, Willock, AMN, Martinelli, Nketiah, Balogun, Azeez. If Arsene at the height of his powers could not develop any of those players into stars then what chance is there it will work now when the top 4 is a lot more competitive then it was in the Wenger era. In don’t follow other teams blogs or the hype around other teams younger players but I think most clubs fan bases probably do the same thing and over rate their own players. Hope springs eternal.

    1. What a depressing list, Bill. There’s a story behind each youth player who doesn’t fulfill his potential. I would say it’s mostly a mental/maturity thing because nearly everyone on your list had the physical tools to be a top flight player. There is a common thread with Wenger’s management though which is that he relies greatly on his players’ self-motivation to improve and sustain excellence. That’s how he himself was and how most of his early great players were. It’s perhaps a generational difference that formed a chasm between his expectations and the reality of what the next wave of youth needed from him. I see that as a major issue with players like Ox, JET and Aneke to name a few. We had guys like Justin Hoyte coming back from summer holidays and giving nonchalant interviews stating he didn’t really try to work on anything over the summer. These guys clearly needed more direction and more structure. Ox even said as much before he was sold to Liverpool.

      It’s also true that our academy just wasn’t very good for a while there and major changes came starting with the departure of Liam Brady way back when. Some of it is on the scouting department which also wasn’t very high performing. We signed players like Sanogo and Jenkinson from outside clubs, and I’m not sure how realistic either of them ever were as starter caliber players. Jenko at least was a self starter and had spades of motivation but the technique and composure was never really there.

      And then some of it was down to our terrible management of player fitness and injuries. Wilshere was a self starter AND had the tools but could never stay fit. His career fizzled out despite profound faith from Wenger and being given chance after chance because the accumulation of injuries meant he never got his first step acceleration back and that was the basis of a lot of what made him special.

      The only real success story from the guys on your list was Iwobi. He became first choice on the left wing and we sold him for a big profit. Sure, Everton over-paid, but that’s part of football.

      Will it be different with Saka, ESR, Martinelli, Balogun et. al? I’d say it already is because all of those guys are part of the 1st team and two of them are automatic starters. Arsenal have been a lot better at developing and integrating academy players in recent times, they scouted Matinelli, they’re keeping these guys fit, and they’ve also been a lot more ruthless at selling players who don’t make the grade instead of letting them hang around for too long. It’s pointing upward from an academy standpoint and I think Per Mertesacker and the club at large deserves credit for that turnaround.

  15. Doc. I understand that there is a story around each player who does not live up to the hype but the fact that everyone on that list underperformed and basically all of the talented youth players from the last 15 years did not live up their potential clearly demonstrates just how incredibly difficult it is to build a team based on home grown youth players. Look around world football and in the especially PL over those 15 years. I don’t think Arsene did a worse job of developing youth because basically none of the top 4 teams during that time have been built around home grown youth players with the possible exception of Spurs with Harry Kane. How many other Harry Kanes have we seen in the PL over that time? The point is I am not trying to throws stones at Arsene but to make the point that developing a top 4 team built around our academy youth is a very low percentage squad building strategy and expecting players like Saka, ESR, Martinelli, Willock, and develop together into a team that is a consistent top 4 team is probably not going to work.

  16. The hit rate for youth players living up to their potential or expectation level is very low and that is not just for Arsene or Arsenal. For every Harry Kane there are 99 Nick Bendtner or Danny Welbeck’s or Benike Afobe’s. If you bet on a positive outcome for a strategy that has about 99% disappointment rate then you are going to be disappointed 99% of the time. For us to bet that Saka, Martinelli, Pepe, Balogun Nketiah, ESR are going to succeed where Nik Bendtner, Benike Afobe, Chuba Akpom Theo Walcott all underperformed and this current generation will somehow develop into high scoring players and carry us to consistent top 4 finishes seems like a very very low percentage strategy

  17. sorry bill but i don’t recall anyone suggesting arsenal should try and build a top 4 team around kids. i don’t know where you might have heard it but it wasn’t here. sure, there have been moments where gooners have been frustrated with senior guys saying we should just play the kids. however, i don’t believe any of those frustrated fans believe that arsenal can get into the top 4 with kids.

  18. one of the reasons i didn’t like raul is that the big teams in spain have a poor record recruiting the right players. look no further than the players barcelona have bought exclusively from arsenal. besides henry, which of those players were good buys for them? vermaelen was the most egregious. this guy was rotting on the arsenal bench, wanted by nobody. up comes raul and offers arsenal like £25 million for a kid who had obvious flaws to his game.

  19. Josh

    Fair enough. However, many times I have seen someone suggest that we should just stop trying to buy senior players and build the team around our youth players and I think there are a lot of people who really believe that.

    A lot of the younger players are signed to contracts in ours and others academies in their early to mid teens and trying to figure out which players will make an impact in the first team 6-8 years later is complete guesswork. Trying to decide which players will live up to their potential is just about as hit or miss when players are in the late teens and early 20s. If there was a workable accurate formula that you could use to predict which players would be the rare ones who hit then all the big teams with the most money would buy the teenage players who were destined to be stars and they would not have to spend hundreds of millions every year to buy the proven senior players. However, when is the last time Barcelona, Real Madrid, Man City, Bayern have developed a star player from their academy. It just does not happen very often. They recognize that trying to build their own players is mostly guesswork and a very low percentage strategy. The idea that any single club like Arsenal can somehow identify the right group of players at a young age and then develop those players so they will meet or surpass expectations is just not very realistic.

  20. I suspect there are plenty of people who believe in the future some combination of Pepe, Saka, Martinelli, Balogun, Nketiah are going to score enough goals to make us into a top 4 team. Pepe probably has the highest ceiling in terms of goal scoring from that group but building your long term strategy around a significant breakout from a player who has been with us for 2 years and averaged 7.5 goals/season is very risky. Anything can happen but as far as those other players in that list developing into productive scorers I think history teaches us the odds are not very good.

    I think we had the right idea trying to buy a significant difference making player with Pepe. If he had worked the way we hoped it would have made a huge difference. Unfortunately at least so far it looks like we picked the wrong player. Arsene made a good choice when he sold Giroud and reinvested the money to buy Auba. To me our future success will depend mostly on our ability to do a better job of identifying and acquiring the right players.

  21. JW1

    We just fired/let go Sarah Rudd, the lead analyst for StatsDNA, so what’s up with that, you think?

    1. Bit of a surprise. Perhaps not. Little about StatDNA sees light of day. Likely has it’s roots in the 2018 hiring of Mikhail Zhilkin (data scientist, gaming dev/behavioral analytics background).

      Though, timing of Ms Rudd’s departure seems correlative to a hiring announced on July 31st. Arsenal hired Kevin Balvers from Malmo to become their first Football Methodology Analyst.

      Arsenal own the StatDNA model outright. Sarah Rudd being the original guru of that model. Circumstances now point to a gradual change in the longstanding direction by Rudd– in the application of data from the model.

      Zhilkin’s hiring and contribution since, seem to indicate a point on the StatDNA project timeline– where Rudd’s involvement and influence began to dissipate. The appointment of Arteta, then Edu, the first Arsenal regime to embrace the capabilities of the model? Probably a catalyst in further dev and change to Rudd’s data application strategies.

      In all honesty, this is conjecture on my part Shard. Though it’s a situation I can relate to on a professional level. In several career settings over the past 25 years– I was a guy you brought aboard to build a model from the ground up. Within a year or two, I’d have constructed and implemented just what was called for when hired. Within another year or two– the processes will have been developed and refined. In each case, the next steps might have been within my capacities– but actually called for expertise that didn’t reside in my toolbox at the time. In each case those employers progressed to corporate entities whose expertise took them to another level.

      I suspect that’s what has occurred with Sarah Rudd’s departure at Arsenal.

  22. bill says:
    “I suspect there are plenty of people who believe in the future some combination of Pepe, Saka, Martinelli, Balogun, Nketiah are going to score enough goals to make us into a top 4 team.”

    what makes you suspect that, bill? i don’t think anyone suspects that. anyone! sure, some may hope for it, like hoping they’ve bought a winning lottery ticket, but that’s not a strategy any management team at any professional club is implementing.

    likewise, anticipating players who will make it in the first team isn’t an exact science but it’s not complete guesswork either. there is a deductive reasoning process that goes into who the club selects and develops. do they get it wrong sometimes? yes, but there is a process.

    the primary purpose of any academy is to produce players for the first team. everyone knows the majority of those players will fail for a myriad of different reasons longer than this thread. however, someone has to be part of the next group of future professionals.

    arsenal may have players that graduate from the academy that won’t make it at arsenal but still have professional careers at other premier league clubs. some will have careers in different leagues. some of these players may choose to leave like gnabry or get released and then grow a foot, like harry kane. players have injury problems, family problems, social problems, emotional problems, work ethic problems, lack talent, lack size, lack speed, lack direction, have a bad reaction to a coach that doesn’t appreciate them, etc. bottom line, it’s hard to be a professional player, especially at a club like arsenal. that doesn’t mean your approach at academy level can be exclusively a guess job. you still have to try and develop players.

  23. i just watched the gold medal game. congrats to brazil and especially gabriel martinelli for winning a gold medal at these olympic games.

    since i’ve assumed the role over the past 7-ish years as the center forward resident genius, i’d like to introduce a player i’ve become familiar with somewhat during the last season but more intimately during the olympics. brazil has a forward named matheus cunha. he’s 22-years old, 6-foot tall, plays for hertha berlin, and seems to have all of the ingredients to be a good center forward. he reminds me of roberto firmino but with more flair.

    i watched him play the last season because guendouzi was at hertha and he’s always looked like a baller, especially in big games. however, the olympic games have given me an opportunity to deep-dive on this player’s potential. he’s a good player who can also give arsenal depth as a cam; like i said, he reminds me of firmino. he certainly knows where the back of the net is. brazil played a 4-4-2 with he and richarlison as the front 2. with laca to mentor, i think he’d be a shrewd signing. he’s available for about £25 million but leeds are very interested in him. i think edu should be making phone calls to disrupt that move. is anyone else familiar with him? i’d like to hear thoughts.

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