Arsenal transfer round up June 2022

Fabio Vieira – confirmed signing. Attacking midfielder, played for Porto, left footed. Height: 170cm. Weight: 66kg. I’ve never seen him play. Highlight videos show a player who is very left-footed and loves a chippy through ball. His stats were outstanding, 6 goals and 11 assists in just 14.8 full match equivalents. Sofascore (which uses Opta stats) says he created 14 big chances (tied for 6th best in the league) and they also say he had 14 assists.

Raphinha – strongly linked. Played for Leeds the last two seasons. Left footed but mostly plays on the right. Dribbles a lot but has one of the worst dribble percentages in the league (he’s 2nd percentile in dribble percentage and 88th percentile in dribbles attempted). His carries numbers are poor as well. Strange link since we already have a left-footed wide player who dribbles a lot. But I’m guessing he’d replace Pepe? Sofascore has him tied for 9th with 10 big chances created last season.

Jesus – strongly linked. Played for Manchester City. If you haven’t seen him play, I don’t know what to say! Would start as Arsenal’s false nine on day one.

Marquinhos – Confirmed signing. Arsenal panning for gold.

Matt Turner – Confirmed signing. Backup keeper, Arsenal looking to sell Leno. Video is circulating of Turner refusing to sign a shirt because the fan is wearing a Spurs shirt, so he’s already a legend.

Saliba – Confirmed returning player. Won YPotY at Marseille. Statistically he does everything that Ben White does, but better. I don’t care that the leagues are different or if you think that France is a lesser competition, I’m literally going to ignore your dismissive opinion, especially if you didn’t watch any French football this season. You don’t like it? Well then how about don’t be so dismissive? Come with a different analysis or don’t even bother talking. His stats are insane and on top of that I watched many of Marseille’s matches this year and he’s an incredible player on and off the ball. Does still have a tendency to try dribbles that I wouldn’t recommend and also has a tendency to lunge in when he’s dispossessed. Also, tends to do better in a back three. Made a goal-saving tackle on Mbappe.

Lisandro Martinez – Strongly linked but Man U are now interested. Played for Ajax at both LB and LCB. I watched quite a few Ajax matches this season and I can’t remember him. His passing stats are incredible. Created 6 big chances. I’ve long wanted Arsenal to sign an Argentinian player, I think our last one was Nelson Vivas. That didn’t work out too well but Lisandro is highly rated.

Youri Tielemans – RIGHT FOOTED midfielder, mostly played on the right for Leicester, scores goals, created 6 big chances last season. His numbers are worryingly poor – especially in terms of passing (his long ball passing numbers are 18th percentile) – but we all have to trust that the Arsenal brain process have figured out where he will play and what we can do to make him better and to make the team better.

Other players possibly returning: Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson, Lucas Torreira, Pablo Mari (Arsenal want 15m), Hector Bellerin, and Runarsson. I think Arsenal have to be looking to sell all of these players. Maybe we could keep AMN? Though I’m not sure his loan spell at Roma can be considered a success. Started the first 5 matches at Roma before being dropped. Did play three Europa Conference League games before again being dropped. But hey, he’s a winner now, having won more trophies than Harry Kane.

Qq

60 comments

  1. Hey, long time reader. Could you write a post on players/position we need addressing during the transfer window. Just a suggestion, thanks.

    1. I have done that quite a bit, actually. Here’s a recap:

      striker (at least one)
      backup keeper (done)
      midfielder (looks like we are getting at least one, maybe two)
      left back (seem to be doing this as well)

      I’m happy so far with the business I see us doing, though I’d like for us to get a 20-goal a season striker.

      1. Surely right back is just as important, if not more so, than left back?
        I’d argue Cedric’s last month (and Arteta’s decision to play him over Nuno and Tomi) cost us CL.
        Cedric is a total utter liability and needs upgrading far more than Nuno IMO. Who, alongside some learning experiences, had many positive contributions and will only get better with age. As this was technically his first full season as a pro. Cedric on the other hand.. dear me, not even at mid-table level.

        1. I see Cedric as a replacement level RB, above average offensively and below average defensively. You can get away with playing him in a lot of games, but he’s not a player you want to have to rely on in crunch time games over and over again as happened this season. I do think the penalty on him vs Spurs was harsh. I also think it’s not his fault that he was thrust into the starting role as he was. He gave it his best go and played hard every time he pulled on the shirt. I have a lot of time for players who do that even if they’re not the ideal solution in their position.

        2. There is Ben White who plays more than adequately at RB. And I suspect Saliba as well.

          LB is tougher because we only have one injury prone main option or shoehorning another injury prone RB there.

          I suspect LB/RB is going to be our lowest priority this window, because if we find no one, there is always AMN to fill in there for one last season.

  2. 8 of Fabio’s 14 assists came in 3 games against the 15th 16th and 18th (last) placed teams. On the other hand he scored against both benfica and sporting. So he has some big game performances too.

    All in all he seems very talented but it’s a bit of a strange signing since he’s played so little top flight football in his career.

    Lisandro looks like a smaller left footed Ben White. Rafinha and Jesus together would be very interesting. Still concerned we’re not going to score enough goals. But chance creation was a real problem last season and I’d be happy if Arsenal address it.

    Also, are we sure Saliba will be here and involved once the window closes? I’m still not.

    1. I think with Fabio (I don’t want to call him Vieira, is that weird?) it’s a case of getting to him before his price becomes prohibitive. It’s a calculated risk. He’s also another warm body who can fill up some minutes so Saka and Odegaard are not our only palatable creative options in every single game. Even if he plateaus out at where he is now, that’s a useful squad player with sell on value. He’s going to make and score some goals. What I worry about is durability with such a small player in the PL.

      What I find strange is why Porto agreed to sell him below his release clause value?

      1. I don’t think it’s strange. I called him Fabio for the same reason.

        Yeah, I’m not negative about the signing. But there are some question marks and the fee is on the higher side.

        If you believe reports in Portugal the release clause was 40m euros and we paid 35m + 5 in performance bonuses. English reports state the same price but a 50m euro release clause.

        Of course, Jorge Mendes is his agent and it seems Arsenal used him to find them a player. So any discount might be his doing, possibly foregoing his fee from Porto (and/or holding a threat over their head) Fabio only signed a new contract in November so it’s possible a move there was a gentleman’s agreement for a summer move anyway.

        1. It’s widely reported that Mendes gets 10% of the total transfer fee. He’d agreed a deal with Porto that if the player was sold above a certain fee (I think £25M) the 10% arrangement kicked in. There’s a similar deal for the guy Wolves are looking at from Porto.

  3. 1. I don’t understand why folks are open to AMN staying. We’ve watched him for years; he’s not young anymore. When he can be bothered, he’s alright. Are we softer on him because he’s a local boy? He’s never shown any real sustained quality, and certainly not desire. We should be able to get some money on him, and whatever we can we should take.

    2. Raphinha looks to be agent talk to me. For the money being discussed, in that position, I don’t think we’re really interested. He also doesn’t seem worth it? I don’t know. It sounds very off. The only way I see this happening is if there’s something in the water with Saka. Like, we know he’s leaving and we’re trying to preemptively replace him. Either way, this does not excite me at all.

    3. I agree with HAH that RB is important. Cedric did fine for a little while, but he’s clearly not it. My guess is with Saliba in the squad, we may see Ben White deputising there more.

    Funny how the Hickey links disappeared!

  4. Interesting that you say Vierra is very left footed as watching various highlight reels and the scouting video over on Arsenal Vision I came away impressed with how good he was with his right. Excited to see him play.

    I hope the links to Raphinha are indeed agent talk. I find his stats so so and it seems like a giant waste of resources to spend that money on a player whose best position is where our best player (who is also much better) plays….

    How are Tieleman’s stars prior to last year? I’ve heard the narrative that he was garbage last year but it was an outlier and I remember being impressed with him in years past.

    All in all, I’m encouraged by who we’re linked with, but very nervous we won’t get center midfield help or additional LB cover so that we’re not relying on Nuno for months at a time.

  5. I do think Raphinha is worth the money. He’s a player who just jumps off the screen for me; he is charged with making everything happen for that Leeds side and he commands SO much attention. You hear coaches talk about the gravity a player has, someone you have to be aware of at all times because he can hurt you from anywhere in the blink of an eye. That’s Raphinha. Of course his dribble stats suck: he’s always being asked to make things happen out of nothing or dribble his way through the other team, often playing from behind and with no space to work with. Put him in a top side where his team is in the lead more often than not, where he will be able to attack space, where he has better passers behind him and there will be fireworks. He’s got ability AND fire in his belly. Watch out for that guy.

    Im not sure the links are genuine but he does seem like a player Arteta would covet, in a vacuum. That said I don’t think he’s actually coming to Arsenal because I don’t see the value given how he would fit. We could put him opposite of Saka, and that would be sweet, but I can’t see the club paying top dollar to put a number one option up there ahead of Smith-Rowe and Martinelli; we have too much invested in those guys. In all honesty though I think he would be a clear upgrade on both of them. Is Arsenal going to be that ruthless? I doubt it. I won’t rule it out but I doubt it.

    1. Someone I haven’t heard mentioned much in the departure lounge is Rob Holding. I would assume if Saliba was integrated into the first team then it would come primarily at his expense. He’s a player with real value and if Saliba is indeed part of our future then we should be listening to offers for Holding.

    2. He could be worth the money if we play him at centre forward and he thrives there, a la Alexis. But 65 million for a wide forward when we’ve got Saka, Fabio, Martinelli and ESR? I don’t know. That kind of money could get you some transformational central midfielders (like Fabian Ruiz or Frenkie de Jong), particularly when you factor in that they’d be replacing Xhaka.

    3. Agree on Raphina – stats aside, every time I watched Leeds the past two years he’s stood out. He’s ferocious. I would love to have him replace Pepe and I think he’s also a player that could conceivably play across the front three. The deal, if it happened, would be to have him come in for 1 or 2 years and then we can sell him to Barcelona when they actually have some cash.

      I have to think that links to Martinez mean we have a buyer on the hook for either Saliba or Gabriel. Sure, Martinez could back up Tierney, although why would he want to do that, when he can go to United, make more money and have the starting job?. To get him we’d have to assure him he’d have a lot of playing time between both playing LB and LCB. So, we don’t need three LCB’s and 3 LB’s. Martinez, to me, means Saliba/Gabriel and Tavares sales.

      I think too the Tielemans deal won’t happen until transfer deadline day. I don’t read about any interest in Tielemans from any other club, so why would we rush the deal? Hold out and drive the price from Leicester down.

      It’s all on paper right now though. Vieira is only just officially announced. Everything else is just dreaming – if we did buy Vieira (35M), Jesus (40M), Raphina (50M), Martinez (35M) and Tielemans (25M)…that’s a +/-185M outlay. That would be stunning stuff and a real sign of ambition.

  6. A few days before Christmas, we beat Leeds 1-4 away, and Raphinha was a clear standout for me. I wrote at the time:

    “Raphinha’s penalty was as good as any I’d seen taken this year. Overall, he was one of the few bright spots for Leeds.”

    He fought, he scrapped, he ran his heart out. He’s a tough, skillful bugger. We bossed them that day, and he never stopped fighting. In this league, I like those qualities. I like him a lot. And if we buy him, I can assure you that he’s going to the head of the queue for penalties.

    A number of players played well against us — the usual suspects from the big clubs, such as Son — but I remember 2 in particular really bossing ours last season… him, and Djed Spence, then of Forest. He’s supposedly going to Spurs. Good young player… I like him too. I say we make a move or him, and let him shoot it out with Tomi.

    Fabio? I’ve never second-guessed ArtEdu on a purchase until I see him play. That’s the fair thing to do. Thing I like about Viera is that he knows where the goal is. On limited YouTube evidence, he reminds me a little of our little Mozart, Thomas Rosicky. With him, Jesus makes sense, because as Tim told us several weeks ago, he’s an elite chance creator fora striker. Perhaps Arteta is setting us up so that teams dont know where we’re hitting them from. If that is the case, we would forgive Jesus a goal return of 15 or less, if he plays for us. We’d have goals from wide, through the middle and at forward. That said, we still need an Adebayor type player, though.

    However — and I dont want to sound like a downer — I cant see why Jesus would come to Arsenal. His next big contract takes him close to 30. We’re out of CL, and have no guarantees of getting back in. Careers are short. Ditto Tielemans, for whom Arsenal would be a lateral move. Repeat… home Im wrong.

    1. Given Arsenal’s tendency to attack mostly down the wings…

      …do you worry about how Jesus would cope with so many crosses?

  7. And btw, would be awfully harsh on Nuno to ditch him. Seeing a lot of talk about that gooners and gooner writers and bloggers. If Arteta thinks that a raw but skillful 20 year old full back is irredeemable, he has no business coaching footballers. We would be mad to give up on Nuno after 1 season.

    There’s something there. Defending and positioning ain’t it, sure, but there’s something there. Few players can say that they scored against Manchester United, even this pale imitation of them. We have to be patient with Nuno. It’s going to test the manager’s mettle and developmental skills, but at £8, he’s well worth our time and patience. Im not sorry not to be seeing mentions of Hickey.

  8. Thanks for the post Tim. Great stuff as always.

    It seems pretty clear the plan is to rebuild the squad with younger players with the long term in mind. I believe its the only realistic hope and its the direction we should have gone after Arsene’s last season. Its easy to say that in retrospect but no one wants to admit the end is here for the current squad. Its sort of like a poker player who has already has money in the pot and knows he probably won’t win the hand but he can’t bring himself to fold. When Emery arrived the squad still looked very strong on paper and the 22 game unbeaten string and 5th place finish fooled us into hoping that with just a couple tweaks we can still pull off a top 4 finish or may be even compete for a title. The ill fated $75M investment on Pepe was an attempt to add a star player who could hopefully put us back over the top. I think Arteta/Edu were seduced into a belief that we still had a chance after they won the FA cup and the new contract for Auba and the Willian purchase were further attempts to tweak the squad but the reality is we were an 8th place team for a reason. It feels like last season the front office accepted reality and began a back to front rebuild. We were so far behind the 8 ball and the $150M spend last summer was just a start and there is still a ways to go. Hopefully further spending this summer will bring us even closer to regaining the top 4. We have a bunch of good players and Saka is potentially better then good but he is not Sanchez or Mo Salah. I don’t think we are going to make the top 4 by surrounding Saka with ESR, Nketiah, Martinelli Odegaard. I think we can probably compete for the top 4 with a bunch of good players who play hard but we lack star power and it remains to be seen if we find a couple star players to build the squad around.

    1. Some of us here .. (ahem).. were constantly saying what Raul was doing to the squad was wrong and umm.. personally motivated. Not many people wanted to hear it.

      You know that youth rebuild you think should have happened then? It was already happening. It just didn’t need to throw everything out before it got started. We had Auba, Laca, Ozil, Ramsey and Miki right at the tail end of their primes. A good enough attack to get us top 4.

      We added a couple of young players. torreira and guendouzi would be hailed and hyped as the greatest piece of business ever if they were signed today. Along with Mavropanos came an older CB Sokratis. Creating a line of succession. Same with the attack and midfield. Iwobi, AMN, Willock, Nelson, Eddie, ESR and Saka all were right there learning and ready to get minutes. In fact Sven finally fell out with/was pushed out by Raul because he didn’t want us to loan Denis Suarez and wanted to give ESR his chance instead.

      Literally all we lacked from a squad build perspective was a good backup/challenger to Bellerin, and even that Licht purchase may have come from hoping Osei-tutu would prove up to the task as much as a lack of funds.

      So all this talk of rebuild is nonsense in my view. We had it all. No club ought to waste talent the way we’ve done. Raul and Mikel both followed the same process. Mikel is just able to sell it better as the ‘face’ and keep the heat off the Kroenkes. No way would we accept 8th if it were Raul and Emery fronting up to the cameras.

      1. Kronke fired Raul as personally as he could. If it is something to make silent Stan open his mouth, it is probably quite something.

        We as outsiders would have no idea what actually transpired.

        1. It was to do with the Pepe transfer. Kroenke sent tim lewis to conduct an audit and has since got him a seat on the board. But as I also said, ‘the process’ is carrying on from then. I think it’s Josh’s initiative.

      2. Hey Shard

        I’m puzzled when you say “Raul and Mikel both followed the same process”, like Arteta is continuity Raul. Maybe you could clarify? To me whether you’re pro or against, Arteta represents the end of the Raul era and the start of something new, a change of approach.

        Raul hired Emery for the short term, but the board hired Arteta for the long term.

        It’s not that there weren’t good players on board when Wenger left and Emery joined (although I don’t think your list is as impressive as you do – I don’t think we “had it all”, key players were not committed, there was a lot of filler and we were weak in key positions). It’s that there was no organising strategy or vision any more, there was internal disagreement as you point out, and that also showed on the pitch when Emery was trying to implement a certain style with players who were not always recruited for that style, did not get it or did not want to play that way.

        As DoF Raul was ultimately responsible for that. He was a total disaster. I dislike him intensely but will spare the full rant.

        Raul was fired after Kroenke loyalist and right-hand man Tim Lewis was formally brought in and did his financial audit. It’s around the time of Lewis’ audit that Arsenal made players take a wage cut for Covid and set about firing 55 staff including a dinosaur mascot, and meanwhile Director salaries went up by half a million.

        This is also the moment when ArtEdu set about the rebuild – reducing the squad size, rebalancing (5 right-sided centre-backs anyone?) and streamlining the mess Raul had left.
        There’s no question that nasty corporate cost-cutting stuff has played a part in what Mikel has been asked to do to the squad. But there’s also no doubt in my mind that we needed it.

        If there has been wasted talent, it’s because not enough care and planning went into assembling that group of players in the first place. If we wasted money, it’s because buying the wrong players is expensive. Either way it feels to me very much like the Raul era is over?

    2. For me Bill the biggest mistake the club made at the end of Arsene’s tenure was to let so many creative players leave and not replace them. There’s encouraging signs this window that more playmakers will be added which hopefully will make for more entertaining football.

  9. Doc

    We have been down the path of believing we have too much invested in players like ESR and Martinelli and we should not buy someone who will block them many many times in the past. The list of players like Ox, Iwobe, Walcott, Bendtner, Denilson, Diaby, Gibbs, Song, Bellerin etc etc etc and it becomes an endless cycle because there is always the next player coming thru the ranks. I don’t think we can afford to fall into that trap again especially now that the competition for top 4 spots has become a lot tougher then it was when we were waiting for Bendtner, Walcott or Ox to take the next step to stardom.

    1. To be fair to Ox he has been part of one of the finest and successful PL teams. And Bendtner was a legend in his own mind

  10. Raphinha is a good player, but his best position seems to be one where we need the least reinforcement. We have some coverage for Saka already. Can’t see where it would make sense to spend a lot of money to get more.
    Nor does he seem like an option for a central striker. If we have concerns that Jesus wouldn’t be what we’re in need of, Raphinha is even less of of a match.
    I’d much rather we spent money on a striker or Tielemans. Just because Raphinha is available, doesn’t make him a good choice.

  11. Know what we lack, peeps? A ball carrier. A Wilshere/Santi redux, a line breaker/dribbler, who can move it from our third to the opponent’s. We have very good ball players and wingers. I want a secure carrier.

  12. MattB

    I thought Ox was one of the most physically talented players I have ever seen. He had power pace, technique and he was good with his left foot. He could be unstoppable when he was in form. He was my favorite youth player from the post Invincible Wenger era. I really believed he was a can’t miss superstar. He an Iwobe were perhaps the best examples in the latter part of the Wenger era why you can’t build your plans around youthful potential.

    Shard

    Auba was excellent in 2017 but look what has happened to Laca, Ozil, Ramsey and Mkhitaryan since then. They were all a lot closer to the end of their prime especially Ozil and Ramsey. Our attacking talent consisted of Guendouzi did not do much for 3 years and only started to look better after he moved to France. Torriera was a bust with Arsenal and his current team in Italy does not want to keep him. Go back and read the post Tim wrote on September 4 2017 at the start of Arsene’s last season and its seems pretty clear that not only were most of the critical senior players past their prime but mental state of the dressing room Emery inherited really was a mess.

    Out of the group of Iwobe, Nelson, Willock AMN Eddie none has really ever been at a level that you would want them playing regular first 11 minutes for a top 4 level team. Saka has been excellent but other then him your comment is good example of how much we tend to over rate our own players.

    1. Emery bottled top 4 with that squad. Easily achievable. As for the younger players. You won’t know unless you give them the chance and the environment to play. You can always then buy in spots that you need to replace/challenge them.

      Or you can dismantle everything, buying so called youth for hundreds of millions of pounds and still not finish top 4, use said youth as the excuse, but claim they are all excellent purchases that just need to play together for as much as up to 5 or 6 years. Sure Bill, that sounds like a much better plan.

  13. management are trying to build arsenal in the mold of man city with two players in each position. their approach makes this a very expensive venture. it’s worrying. arsenal aren’t making much money on the players they’re selling and overpaying for everyone that comes in. i know tim has said in the past that he doesn’t care about arsenal’s money situation. however, it’s just wasteful to lose players for nothing while overpaying for…….mediocrity? we’ll see.

    fabio vieira for £40 million? nuts! what has he done to justify that price tag? raphinha? arteta showed how much respect he has for him in by shifting his best defender from right back to left back. however, as tim has pointed out, the final product is lacking. can he make the kid more efficient? i don’t know if arsenal are really wanting him and leeds certainly don’t want to lose him; they are in a position of power. tielemans is a player i rate, despite his numbers being down last season. however, if given an option, i’d rather have fabian ruiz. he blew my mind for spain in the u21s a few years ago; clearly the main man on a very talented spain team. a midfield of partey, ruiz, and odegaard would be fierce.

    arsenal still need a center forward. i believe gabriel jesus is the better player but eddie is the better center forward. with that, i don’t believe arsenal will get much joy from any of them. they’re almost clones. tim’s already talked about the dumb nketiah contract. i hope artedu gets this right but i’m not feeling it.

    downside, arsenal are losing everyone for a fraction of their true value. emi martinez and joe willock are the only good business that’s happened since arteta’s arrival. mesut, auba, laca, mavropanos, guendouzi, chambers, leno, torreira, and quite a few others. have all left/leaving for a fraction of their value. i’m not excited. once again, we’ll see.

    1. To be clear: there are legitimate reasons to worry about how much money we are wasting and I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this many times in the past. So, it’s not like “I don’t care” about the financial situation at Arsenal. If we don’t achieve our goal (which seems to be top four) we could be in real trouble and if we get in trouble financially, I wonder how Kroenke will react? Will we really keep investing? So far we seem to be spending money like a sovereign wealth fund. But what if Kroenke decides to sell? It’s complicated because I know that Arsenal would still be a big draw for many of these hedge funds and rich guys but those things both are fraught with problems as well.

      So, I do care!

  14. Josh,

    I’ve recently come round to a different point of view. I used to care that the club was well run but that’s because of how Arsene did things. But it’s the Kroenkes now and up to them how they run it. Why sweat it?

    I’m surprised in a very positive way about the amount the owners seem willing to invest. I didn’t see that coming. It feels like early Abramovich ownership of Chelsea and early Mansour ownership of City. The club (if they pull off the rumoured deals) are going big. I can’t recall a time when Arsenal invested so heavily in the playing staff. Frankly what’s not to like?

    I’ve seen some criticism that Arsenal are just imitating City but why not copy the most successful model? If things go right this window there can be no argument the squad is set up to compete. It’s then on the manager to deliver.

    And that’s where my reservations lie. Can he coach dynamic attacking football? Can he rotate and keep everyone on board? Can he deal with conflict and egos in a constructive way? Can he develop the potential out of young bucks? The jury’s out for me but it’s his, he’s been backed like no other and I don’t want to hear excuses in 11 months time.

    What’s a realistic expectation for next season? Well an EL final should be the minimum. And in the league how about closing the gap to the top 2 to single digits?

    Honestly if just Jesus and Tielemans join it will be a really strong squad that a good manager should be fighting for top trophies. I can’t wait.

  15. Shard

    The squad Emery inherited was a 6th place team with arguably our greatest manager in history so unless you suggest it was all Arsene’s fault then its seems pretty crazy to say Emery was at fault for finishing 5th. Several of the key players in that 6th place squad who were already past their prime in Arsene’s last season such as Kos, Nacho, Ozil Mkhitaryan and even Ramsey. were a year further past their prime when Emery took over. That squad probably would have cobbled together a top 4 finish in 2008 but Man City, Man U, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea were all better teams then us by 2018. None of the players we purchased before Emery’s first season such as Torriera, Guendouzi, Socratis, Lichsteiner and none of AMN, Willock, Nelson, ESR, Saka Iwobe, were the sort of players who could transform a 6th place team into a top 4 team. The most effective creative outlet for Emery was Kolasinac overlapping down the left wing and that tells you where the squad really was. Emery inherited a team that looked much much better on paper then is was on the pitch and he did as well as could be reasonably expected to finish 5th. The next season it completely fell apart.

  16. MattB

    I think it was much easier to for a club to be “well run” during most of Arsene’s tenure compared with the now. Arsene was the same person in 2017 as he was in 2007 but his effectiveness in running the club had clearly slipped by 2017. I don’t believe the problem was Arsene changing as much as the situation he faced was much more difficult in the latter part of his tenure. Its not going to get any easier in the coming years.

    I do share some of your optimism and I believe the front office and ownership is really committed to rebuilding a top 4 team and I think they have a plan in place. The problem is Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs are all ahead of us right now and they are not going away. ManU is tprobably going to spend liberally and now we potentially have Newcastle coming up the ranks. That means potentially 7 teams fighting for 4 spots and we are probably 6th on that list in financial firepower with Spurs close behind us. I doubt there has ever been a time in English football history and no other league in the world currently has that sort of competition at the top of the table. I understand your statement that there are no excuses but the reality is we could do absolutely everything right and still end up missing the top 4.

    1. Bill,

      If we miss top 4 we give someone else ago. Simple as that.

      Arsenal highest net spend since 2020:

      https://www.football365.com/news/liverpool-sneak-top-ten-net-spenders-in-europe-since-2020-after-sadio-mane-sale

      Where we differ in our views is that top level sport is about ambition. Ambition doesn’t mean you’ll reach the top but it means you’ll strive to. If Arsenal are investing the sums they are I’d reason their ambition is to be back at the top.

        1. Couple points, sorry for spamming this thread today…

          Net spend is important. But it’s not just about net spend since 2020, in fact that could be misleading because 4 year contracts, so if we are selling on players you would not expect to see any money recouped from our increase in spending for at least another 1-2 years.

          Stretching it out though, over the last decade our net spend is £489.7 million, which puts us 3rd in the league behind United and City, and we certainly did not get our money’s worth on that investment. If that money had been better spent we wouldn’t be rebuilding now.

          Also net spend can mislead because it hides overall spend. E.g. over the decade our net spend is around £150m more than Chelsea, so we should be better than them, right? Except they have spent £1.4 billion to our £850 million.

  17. MattB

    We started in 2020 with an 8th place squad which needed a complete rebuild starting from ground zero. We needed to spend a lot just to sort of catch up. Like you I am surprised the Kronke’s have authorized as much spending as they have but net spend is artificially elevated or decreased by the amount of selling.

    Like many of us it seems to me that we have done a poor job of selling for the last 6-7 years starting with Arsene getting very little for Gnabry and Wojo.

    1. “We started in 2020 with an 8th place squad…”

      Bill, not quite accurate.

      Mikel took the 5th place squad of 2018/19 and turned it into an 8th place squad in 2019/20 and 2020/21.

      He turned (at worst) a top 6 club into a top 8 club for 2 seasons. Took us backwards. Now, armed with arguably the biggest spend in Europe, no European grind, a huge churn and his preferred squad, he’s brought us back to where Emery left us, without once achieving his points total in 3 attempts. By Arsenal’s usual standards, he’s been a failure. Folks can sugar coat this all they want, the facts of the matter are clear.

      No top to bottom rebuild was necessary, nor was it done. Dont confuse churn with rebuild. A lot of that churn was loans, deferrals and keeping salary while nominally moving players. In any case, a club cant churn out everyone every time the manager changes. Sure he has his blueprint, but he’s going to have to work with much of the same staff. In fact, Arteta’s lone success, coming in halfway through a season, was with 99% inherited players.

      Why the level of owner support? Sunk cost. In for a penny and in for a pound. They need to chase money with money. I dont question their ambition. They’re not stupid. They know that Arsenal shareholders earn far more with the club in the CL. Do they think, deep down, that Mikel is THAT guy is the million dollar question. They might be less committed to a mythical never-ending rebuild than people think. Given plenty rope, one can either haul the boat in or hang yourself.

      All that said, im giving this team the benefit of the doubt on personnel changes. Proof of the pudding and all that. Plus, I dont think we’re talking enough about this disruption of an unprecedented mid-season world cup. looks to me like some of the planning and depth building revolves around that.

      1. “Mikel took the 5th place squad of 2018/19 and turned it into an 8th place squad in 2019/20 and 2020/21.”

        Claude, not quite accurate. Emery took us to 8th before he was sacked, and we were 10th when Arteta took over.

        This is not just splitting hairs. If we had been 5th in November 2019 and beyond, Emery would still be the manager.

        “No top to bottom rebuild was necessary, nor was it done.”

        I see this is the line now, Arteta is continuity Raul, nothing has changed, there is no rebuild, these are not the droids you are looking for.

        Hopefully by the end of this summer, ArtEdu will have managed out something like 22 players, and brought in roughly another 18, in just 2 years, at a net cost in transfer fees of somewhere around £350-400 million. The only first team players remaining will be Xhaka, Saka and Tierney. Apparently this is not a rebuild, because…

        “Don’t confuse churn with rebuild.”

        Don’t confuse managing people out and replacing them with churn.

        Churn is when you hire and rehire for the same position because you can’t find the right person.

        Churn is going through 5 centre backs to try to replace Kos. It’s spending £75m on Pepe, which was impressive to me at the time, and then shortly discovering Saka is better. It kills you financially and kills team development stone dead. It’s how you end up slowly going backwards. It’s why we’ve gone slowly backwards. It’s the problem that we are now trying to solve with the rebuild.

        ArtEdu’s churn amounts to 3 people who have come and gone – Willian, Runarsson and Mari. They need to hold up their hands on the first two. Willian was a £10m mistake, Runarsson was a £1m mistake. Mari I think was acceptable, as he was only £5m, we needed the cover and we will likely make a profit on him. Everyone else has slotted in and proved their worth.

        When you are trying to fix the problem of churn, you will have to take some short-term losses as you manage people out, and also make an upfront investment to get in the right people who will stay and develop. The idea of course is that this pays off in the longer term.

        One of the regular complaints is that 8th, 8th and 5th is a poor return on investment so far. I’m sympathetic to the frustration, but I also think that misses the point, and misses most of what’s been going on over the last 2 years. But I don’t see how you can simultaneously think that we have spent too much money on a rebuild and that there is no rebuild.

  18. Just read a couple of interviews with the Arsenal manager and some of the quotes are illuminating.

    On expectation management and timeline he’s a bit vague:

    “We knew there were going to be difficulties in this process. The most important thing is to be aware that the difficulties will come, and at that moment still be able to make progress. That is the idea. The idea is to get Arsenal back to where the club deserves to be, but it needs time.”

    “At Arsenal, I feel that I have the support to build up from the bottom in order to get where we want to be. It allows us to work more for the long-term.”

    “There are things we have managed to improve but there are other things that need more time.”

    On the objectives for the team:

    “Our objective in terms of the table is to finish in the top four. At the same time, every competition where there’s a title up for grabs is important and that counts for the two domestic cup competitions as well. We have a third objective however and that is that we want to garner feedback and create a connection with the fans. We want the team to transmit things. We want it to convey energy, desire about winning and also a sense of solidity.”

    On man-management and being demanding:

    “At certain times, you have to provoke friction with footballers, from that friction, you can get something more out of them, something from inside, a greater sense of ambition or maybe even a complaint – a complaint regarding the team can be positive.

    “We know that we have to put pressure on the players, to push them, so if a player is giving 70 per cent, he gives 80 per cent. Then if he is giving 80 per cent, he gives 90 per cent. There is always another step, another push.”

    The Arsenal manager who said all those things was Unai Emery.

    I was also reminded that Emery was the one who dropped Ramsey when his contract extension was pulled, and Emery was the one who first benched Ozil and eventually dropped him from the squad.

    Maybe others are right, maybe Arteta is more continuity Raul/Emery than I give him credit for.

  19. Claude.

    Emery took over a squad that arguably our greatest manager in history had finished in 6th place. The squad Emery inherited from Arsene was 1 year further past it’s prime. The 5th place finish came on the back of the early new manager bounce 22 game unbeaten run and a lot of smoke and mirrors and a lot goals from Auba. However reality set in the next season and we were in 11th place in December and falling fast when Arteta took over. There was a strong consensus from almost everyone in the blog that Emery had lost the dressing room and the squad had mentally checked out.

    The teams results had been mostly trending downward for 3-4 years and we had completely fallen apart and were in free fall by mid season and had basically quit on 2 highly experienced relatively successful and respected managers in a row when Arteta and Edu took over.

  20. Greg and Bill, its not where you are mid season that matters… it’s where you finish. We were near the relegation zone in November and December of Mikel’s first full season, the corresponding time of Emery’s departure. We finished 8th. Where Emery had us in November is totally irelevant. Bill should stop with the pretense that Mikel effected some great recovery, with his misleading “we started 2020 as an 8th placed club”. Who does he think got us there?

    Mikel took us backwards for 2 years, and had a reversion to the recent mean… even though he had the kind of favourable conditions and level of spend his predecessors didn’t. Let’s be frank and clear eyed about all of this.

    1. “We started 2020 as an 8th place club. Who do you think got us there?” Emery! Emery got us there! Arteta had been in post for 12 days and 3 matches!

      Claude, I’m asking you to be frank and clear-eyed about it.

      Of course end of season is what ultimately matters, but Arsenal were 10th when Arteta took over. It’s a fact, and of course it’s relevant. You can’t ignore half a season and pretend it didn’t happen. It’s that half a season and a run of 7 games without a win that got Emery sacked, otherwise we wouldn’t be here.

      If a manager comes in to a club that’s in the relegation zone at Christmas and gets them to a tenth place finish, nobody says “yes but they were also tenth last season so he didn’t improve them.”

      By the same token of course, you can’t ignore the shitty middle third of Arteta’s second season, when he had his own run of 7 games without a win, and as a result we were 15th on Christmas Day 2020. He could have been sacked then, and if he had it would have gone down as a disastrous first job in management.

      But that run ended against Chelsea on boxing day, and since then it’s been relatively linear improvement.

      Then there’s all the data that shows gradual improvement over the last 2 seasons:
      – xG from 1.2 to 1.8
      – shots on target from 3.8 to 5.2
      – win % from 45% to 59%
      – points per game from 1.6 to 1.8
      – league finish from 8th to 5th

      He’s had downs as well as ups but you can’t say he took us backwards for 2 years, it’s just substantially untrue.

      1. Greg,

        First, not sure where you’re getting those xG stats. Arsenal were 1.6 xG/90 last season and we are at 4.87 shots per90. But the more important stat is that our xGD per90 is up slightly from 0.24 in 2021 to 0.34 in 2022. That’s his first two real seasons in charge and represents a slight rise which matches the slight rise in PPG. If we can keep this up and increase the xGD/90 to somewhere around 0.5 we MIGHT get top 4.

        Emery’s 11th place team had the talent to finish well above where they were playing. The reason we were an 11th place team is because he lost the dressing room.

        Mikel Arteta DID take us backwards for 18 months, and I don’t understand why you would even argue against that. It’s a fact that pretty much everyone acknowledges and even uses to say “he needed to tear us down to build us back up”.

        And the so-called progression from 2020 has been far from linear, no matter which stats you cherry pick. I’ve shown and I think Scott Willis has shown that there have been various ups and downs since that supposed revival in 2020.

        Can we please, however, stop this arguing? I can’t even really tell what you guys are trying to accomplish here. None of you seem to be listening to each other and it looks like you’re misinterpreting each others arguments.

      2. Greg, no one wins the league or gets relegated in December. Or we would have been the following year. And Arsene would have 8 titles.

        And btw, Arteta repeated the trick the next year… without anyone’s help. I know that you have great faith in him delivering eventually, but why is it even a matter of debate that he took the club backwards? I can respect the argument that sometimes you need to go back to go forward, but let’s not kid ourselves.

  21. There was a very strong consensus at least on this blog that Emery needed to be sacked and the club was heading the wrong way in Nov Dec 2019. Suggesting now that there was anything positive about our overall trajectory back then seems like changing history for the convenience in the current debate.

    1. agreed. however, it was mostly because emery played cowardly football; a style of football that was not conducive to the qualities of the players he had available. no one is arguing that.

      arteta hasn’t proved to be much better…..and arteta has had much more time and financial backing for a nominal return. he’s only managed to bring arsenal back to where emery had arsenal in his only full season.

      1. If Arteta has brought Arsenal back to where Emery had us 6 months before he was sacked, then you could say he’s successfully reversed the damage that Emery did in 2019.

        To me this is too simplistic (and harsh on Emery). But it’s also too simplistic (never mind inaccurate) to say that we’ve gone from 5th to 5th so nothing’s changed after all that work and all that money. I think that misses most of what’s been going on over the last 2 years, which is a massive amount of internal changes.

    2. Bill,

      Emery needed to be sacked at the end of his first season. It was clear that he wasn’t able to manage Arsenal FC and that he’d lost the dressing room. Things got worse from there as they will do when you have players openly mocking the manager (there are reliable reports of this if you care to look them up).

      I’m not speaking for anyone else but I think that talent-wise Arsenal had the pieces to finish above 8th place in the first season and 2nd season that Arteta took over but that his self-imposed style and inflexibility with that style and his heavy-handed man management hurt the team. In addition, I think it took 18 months of absolutely dreadful (worse than Emeryball) football before we started to even see the seeds of the supposed “good stuff” we have now. And finally, the club has dumped absolutely massive amounts of cash into this team over the last few years with many of those decisions not just sanctioned by Arteta but glowingly received and subsequently defended.

      And yet, I remain of two minds here.

      I can also see that we’ve improved (over the stuff we were putting out both under Emery and early Arteta) and that the management team is at least pursuing what I think is a mostly sound purchasing strategy. I sometimes even enjoy watching Arsenal play football now. I also think we needed to get rid of Auba, Ozil, Willian, and others though those were all self-inflicted problems, some of them Raul’s fault, some Arteta’s fault, and all of them Kroenke’s fault. And I have to give them credit for somehow getting the fans largely back on board. I still don’t quite know how they did that but it’s there.

      And finally, when I look at the stats I struggle to see huge improvements at Arsenal, so I’m overall quite skeptical (probably by nature) while remaining hopeful that we could possibly turn it all around. I guess we will see in May 2023 whether or not all of the machinations of the club and manager have panned out, until then, I find this entire line of argument about Wenger-Emery-Arteta (which seems to worm its way into EVERY thread) quite tedious.

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