Transfer myths and targets: pt.1 poor Arsenal, Chelsea buys all the talent

Arsenal don’t have the money

Wrong. Arsenal Supporters Trust estimates that Arsenal have over £50m in the bank that they can use on transfers alone. Moreover, the club is profitable, the club made £12m in transfers this season (despite buying Cazorla, Podolski, and Giroud), have just announced a new naming rights deal with Emirates (which on top of the massive cash up front includes handing the upper tier advertising hoardings back to the club for a few million more quid a year), EPL television revenue is on the rise, the club is set to announce a new deal for shirt manufacturers, and Arsenal are restructuring their salary scheme by trying to clear out a lot of player salaries.

If Arsenal don’t have the money to make a big name signing (£50m+) then someone is cooking the books and perhaps Arsenal ought to be investigated by HMRC and someone should serve jail time. Seriously. This idea that Arsenal “don’t have the money” needs to be taken out to the woodshed and beaten to death.

But also £50m is a bit of a hobgoblin because Arsenal fans, as a whole, don’t necessarily want a £50m signing. There are several roster positions where a £10m signing, or a record transfer deal (£16m+) would strengthen the squad. Why don’t Arsenal sign these players?

All Your Players Belong to Chelsea (or Man City)

Perhaps the most pernicious of falsehoods is the one that says any top quality player Arsenal could ever be interested in is immediately taken by one of the two big spenders. If that’s true then how did Arsenal miracle the signing of Saint Cazorla, statistically the best player in the Premier League?

It is true that Chelsea and Man City have the financial power to “gazump” any Arsenal “swoop” but in practice plenty of top quality players make moves to teams under the watchful gaze of the Red Eye of Abramovich/Mansour.

For example, I tipped Arturo Vidal to be a top player two years ago. At the time, he was in among the best in the Bundesliga and had a season where he basically carried Bayer Leverkusen which is extraordinary for a defensive midfielder. In many ways, it was no special insight, watch the kid play for 10 minutes and you can see that he’s a special talent who leaves everything on the pitch. Juventus snapped him up for just £9m and he played an integral part of Juve’s 49 game unbeaten run.

Meanwhile, in Ligue Un there were a number of top talents that were perhaps slightly less easy to spot but who are still top quality. While Chelsea and Arsenal were infatuated with Hazard and Gervinho, Newcastle snatched Yohan Cabaye for a song. He’s a versatile midfielder who can play any of the three Arsenal CM positions (more defensive-ish, less defensive, and not-at-all-really defensive). If you need any proof of his importance, Cabaye’s absence this season has been a major reason why Newcastle have struggled.

There are also several examples of players who got away. Stefan Savic, for example, is doing very well at Fiorentina. He had a trial at Arsenal, then signed for City. Despite several high profile mistakes while at City I thought he looked a real talent in the few games I saw him play. He was shipped off to Italy in a sign and trade deal and has since revitalized his career as an integral part of the Fiorentina defense. He is dominant in the air and wins an average of 4 aerial duels per game (72%  rate) and passes the ball like an Arsenal center back. He is still error prone but all defenders are at age 22, it’s whether they are still error prone at age 25 that it becomes a problem.

Another center half who is doing well in new digs is former Chelsea player Michael Mancienne. He won the Chelsea Youth Player of the Year award in 2009 and all the papers tipped him to be the next John Terry. After a half season of tumult, Mancienne has settled and is playing the best football of his career and now many of the English red tops are tipping him for an England call up.

And, of course, in the League there are many examples of players going from team to team without “just being purchased” by the two big spenders. Mousa Dembele is a great example of a player who made a move without attracting bids from Chelsea or Man City. While City were looking at Jack Rodwell, and Chelsea were huffing and puffing about Obi Mikel, Tottenham looked down the road in London for a midfielder to replace Luka Modric: Mousa Dembele.

Dembele has been, frankly, outstanding for Spurs this season and for me is the only player in the world right now who reminds me of Patrick Vieira: he is one of the best pure passers in the game (91% from the field and 57/62 – 92%(!) long passes), a fantastic tackler/defender (2.9 per game and 1.8 INT), dribbles as well as any Arsenal midfielder (1.9, Diaby averages 2.1), and has the engine to play box-to-box. It’s not as if Arsenal couldn’t have used him, the Gunners sold Alex Song this summer. It’s also not as if he is (or was) a huge fan of Spurs either; from what I understand, he wanted to play for Arsenal.

There are so many examples of top quality players moving from team to team and not being “gazumped” or “swooped” or “tapped” by Chelsea and Man City. Even players in the Premier League, in positions that both clubs need, such as Dembele.

So, why is it that Arsenal seem to keep missing out on these players and who are the players that the Gunners might miss out on in January or this summer?



70 thoughts on “Transfer myths and targets: pt.1 poor Arsenal, Chelsea buys all the talent

  1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

    What’s perplexing is that we had one of the best scouting networks.. and it wasn’t just limited to France though it’s easy to think that. Freddie, Cesc, RVP were non French buys who turned out to absolute gems and probably one of the top 3 players in their positions. So what’s happening now? Do we not have the old scouts anymore? Are they plying their trade somewhere else? I’ve never even heard of Dick Law until a year or two ago.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      You may consider :

      1) That the PL is more technical now with many teams able to afford better (continental/technical) players because of the better distribution of TV money.

      2) Where we had an advantage in the early days in the French ligue, it is less so now as market knowledge is open (plus frankly, many teams have followed our lead). Also our mining of the French ligue in Wenger’s earlier years coincided with a golden generation in France.

      3) There are two teams with unlimited resource that can both out spend us if we enter a bidding war and pay higher salaries. They are also mining for top young talents worldwide as are a number of other richer teams on the continent. In essence, the playing field is more lobsided against us.

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

    I don’t think we missed on anyone because somehow it seems that we were never looking for them in the first place (except for Xavi Alonso, perhaps).
    What I believe happened was that Wenger was still trying to prove that he can still unearth Messi and Henry, therefore signing Vela and Bendtner, and it backfired.
    It also went along with the “we don’t have the money” argument.

    And if you look at it now, it’s a bit different. We are not exactly signing Falcao and Cavani, but still there haven’t been too many Denilsons coming in.
    So that gives me a little hope that perhaps this January could be different.
    Although I wouldn’t count on it the way things are going, to be honest.

    Another interesting thing is that apparently we also “missed” on Pep.
    A friend of mine (insert sarcastic smirk here) who works at Barcelona DMed me to tell me that he personally spoke with Pep’s brother this morning and he signed with City. They also wanted to announce the news yesterday in Zurich, but will probably wait a little more.
    This is probably some type of secret and I’m probably not such a good friend for sharing it, but who believes rumours these days, amirite?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      You’re comparing apples with pears. Henry wasn’t cheap but he was not fully developed like Falcao. He developed for the most part at Arsenal.

      Pep is not proven outside of Spain. Any incoming regime would add turbulence to the team and may carry more risk at the moment.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        He was “developed” into a player who scored 26 goals and 11 assists in his first Arsenal season. Boy that was some steep learning curve. Miraculous even. Almost as if he wasn’t developed at all but rather came to Arsenal fully developed but being misused. Almost.


  3. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerNC

    I can’t speak rationally about Dembele. And if Chelsea DO sign Isco, I’ll be so angry. We’re not going to sign anyone are we? This is it. We’re Liverpool, aren’t we?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      We should have gotten a replacement to Song but we should have let him go in the first place.

      That said, Dembele is not the best or only option.

      In France alone, there is a wealth of strong midfield enforcers. Aside from MVila,, there is also Capoue, Sissoko, Gonolans, all French speaking and all within our grasp if need be.

      Crucially, all also give us the strength and competitiveness we may need as an added element in midfield.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1SG_Gooner

    I have to agree about Dembele, Tim. A decently priced release clause was there for the taking. One of the worst misses by Arsene.

    I have seen number of Spurs games this season and although lot of times their play can be crap too (like ours) they seem to have much better depth in the squad and AVB will get his chance to mould a team according to his ideas. They definitely seem to be clicking better than us. Somehow it seems that the Spurs players are very keen on playing for their manager (maybe they see the chance to overtake us) while our players seem to have lost their motivation to play for Wenger (like a teenage who stops listening to his nagging father). AVB is young and ambitious and frankly, sooner or later all these new managers will overtake Wenger with their new ideas. I don’t see any reason to fear a managerial change. If Wenger and his team is getting stale we might as say our goodbyes nicely and move on to a younger manager. It is a natural evolution of the club.

    Also, I feel that transfers at Arsenal are nowadays handled by people who just can’t make up their mind about players. By the time they make a decision, the player has already been snapped up. Maybe there is some truth to the myth that Dein was a very decisive and skilled negotiator who could get Wenger the players he wanted.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

      We could’ve done with Dembele. Were we even considering him at all? We complain about our midfield – too tired, too similar, not enough thrust. How much better would we have been with Moussa?

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Why bother about Dembele?

      The point is we should not have let Song go. A far better player who had 3 years left on contract and was looking @80K per week.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Retention has been our key issue. not buying. We have spent 96m over last two seasons.

        That is the biggest myth, that we don’t spend.

  5. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1vladiziv

    broke my heart again with the Vidal mention… one of my absolute favorite players..
    and I can’t stand Juve.. and that they got him for so little.. uufff..

    Dembele is another strange one.. by all accounts he was more than willing to come over to Arsenal..

    would love to hear your opinion on Milan Badelj.. doing really good at Bundesliga..
    He was really good while at Dinamo Zagreb, but Croatian league is not much of a competition..
    I was a little surprised he’s doing so well.. thought he would lack a bit of pace in tougher leagues..

  6. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1ChitownArsenal

    Good shout, the money is there, and albeit to a lesser degree in the past, has been there. I think a few years ago, when we were 1-2 players away, we probably needed two 15MM pound quality signings to take us over the hump. Now, it seems we need a 30MM signing, to reinstall an RvP or Cesc into the squad, and we need about 3-4 15MM pound quality signings. Note, I say 15MM pound quality, which means you can pick up this kind of quality for half that (as demonstrated with purchases of Sagna and Koz back in the day). We need our star, our talisman if you will. A player that teammates will see with them on the pitch and have their confidence increase dramatically as a result. On top of that, we need more players to not only obviate the need for Arteta, Cazorla, Jack, etc. play every minute of every match, but we need players to push Arteta, Podoloski, Ox, Theo, Cazorla for their regular spots. Not enough competition for spots breeds the complacency we feel we’ve been witnessing. Spend some bleeping money, Arsenal.

  7. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

    Fantastic tackling numbers (4.2), great interceptions (3.4), fouls less than 2 per game, 80% passer from distance (110 completed is huge).

    Is dispossessed a little too easily and is dribbled by the opposition too easily. Good player, probably not top quality. Would do well as a DM in a PL team that thrives on long passes.

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1SG_Gooner

    Sometimes I feel that Wenger has lost the desire to compete for the league. Maybe the breaking up of the team with Fab, Flamini, Nasri and RVP was too much for him to bear. Maybe he sees himself as the sacrificing team manager who is keeping the ship steady for the incumbent. Maybe I am in cloud cuckoo land…

    Basically, I am trying to rationalize the lack of initiative to improve the squad with players who can make a genuine difference. Not Super Stars, not “top top top quality” signings but some exciting talent who can fill the role in key areas like a Defensive minded midfielder or a powerful box to box mid who can take the game to the opposition.

    Lastly, shall we lay to rest the myth that our academy is producing world class talent. We are definitely no Barcelona or even Southampton. If we really wanted to save money on transfer fees and salaries, we should have been having at least 40-50% of the squad coming in from the academy. I hope this happens in the future although it doesn’t seem to be the case right now.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Gunners...ahtheGunners

      Here here. Wenger even admitted as much in last week’s press pre-game press conference that “we cannot compete with Southampton’s academy” or something to that effect… Why? The goal should be we populate at least half of our roster with academy products.

      We tried to purchase young talent and build our academy by offering them ridiculous salaries when they were 16 and 17 but that didn’t work and instead saddled us with a lot of deadweight in the form of Bendtner, Denilson et al, and every summer it seems we release a boatload of players that make you wonder if only they’d had a chance what might they have done. What happened with these supposed development agreements we had with Anderlecht and the spanish club we sent Vela too? Since Kroenke owns Denver, can’t we be sending three or four of our best youth to the MLS every year to get some physical seasoning? I dunno. I think you’re right to point out that our academy is actually a bit of a mythical success.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        MLS..with all due respects isn’t the place for physical seasoning, the games are played are far slower pace and are less physical.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      We have lost competitive advantage with the Academy over the last 5 seasons.

      there are many teams with good resource (better) that are mining where we are.

      It is not easy copying what Barca have done in La Liga principally because they have an uneven distribution of TV income and a leg up against their rivals when it comes to pillaging youngsters.

  9. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Geoff

    Dembele & Dempsey.

    Two fantastic signings. Both naturally inclined to drive forward and hurt the opposition.

    I would have been thrilled to see them with us and was gutted when I heard they’d signed for that mob. That’s why I fear we will finish below them this season for the first time since football was televised in black & white.

  10. -6 Vote -1 Vote +1DAWA

    Arsenal FC is deceit. EPL playres are expensive,so said Wenger. But other clubs are buying players from EPL at a reasonabe prices eg Moses, Dembele, Demsey, Ba,etc while Arsenal will go and buy what look a bargain deal at higher prices eg Geevinho, Santos, Park, Giroud etc. It takes these players time to understand the EPL and by the time they gel, they want to move to another club for pasture new. I agree with you that the Club should be investigated.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        If we get him at 100% mark up, it will still be a decent bargain, and likely he won’t score against us in the rematch.

        come on Wenger you have ten days or less now.;)

  11. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Steve Nash

    I think what bothers me most is that we are dragging our feet again. For example, Chelsea decided that Torres wasn’t doing enough on his own, they needed a striker and bang! Day one of transfer window and they pay (cheaply) one of the form strikers in the Prem in Demba Ba. Liverpool haven’t had a striker since they sold Carroll, so bang! First day, they buy Sturridge. It’s not rocket science. I’m not sure how Sturridge would exactly have fitted in at Arsenal, but both would have made the squad stronger, and enabled us to play the City, Swansea, Chelsea games in a week, with a little rotation. I’m not saying I wanted either of those specific players but I respect Chelsea and Liverpool’s immediacy in dealing with their problems. It’s the 8th Jan, and we still haven’t moved.

  12. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1ignatzuk

    On competing with other clubs: I have often used the “can’t compete with the oligarchs” defence when discussing Arsenal’s transfers, and I think it’s reasonable. That there is a small tier of rich clubs above us with effectively unlimited funds is a real thing, it has undermined everything we’ve tried to do over the last five years, and it does limit our transfer options. Nobody should argue that it means all the good players are out of our reach, but it does mean that we’re fishing in a smaller pool and that we have to work harder to convince the top talent that they belong with us, where they will get paid less.

    On missing out on players: I agree with you about Dembele, and there will always be players that we can look at and think we might have missed a trick. But not actually that many, and when you look at the circumstances you often find good reasons why a deal wouldn’t have been on the cards. Vidal went to Juventus, hardly a poor or small club. Cabaye is an excellent signing for Newcastle, but wouldn’t add anything to Arsenal IMO. Speaking of transfer myths: you didn’t bring him up but Alonso went home to Spain, to Real Madrid in a deal worth 30 million in fees and £80,000 a week, so if anyone really thinks we only missed out on him because of a couple of million in transfer fees they need to think a tiny bit harder.

    Cazorla by the way is not a good example to bring up if your argument is that we tend to miss out on the good deals. What a piece of business that was! But also look at the special circumstances that it took for us to land him: Malaga imploding because they went bust. Basically an oligarch had already snapped him up, we caught him on the bounce when it fell apart.

    I’m not disagreeing with your main point: there are players out there that can improve us and we now have the funds that we didn’t have before, so we can hopefully now start to land some of the bigger fish. I’m looking forward to hearing who you think should be on the list of targets.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        20m was difficult for us then.

        It may be market reality now in fending off the also runs (Spurs) less we become one.

        but we will still not be competitive against City or Chelsea when it comes to price tolerance. They can afford to go up in price in a bidding war, not to mention offer higher wages. It’s as the Americans would call it a “double whammy”.;)

  13. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    “So, why is it that Arsenal seem to keep missing out on these players and who are the players that the Gunners might miss out on in January or this summer?”


    Your post this morning offers a nice companion piece to Arseblog’s, in which I sensed a loss of belief that we’ll sign the players we need to strengthen the squad this January. As for “why” we won’t, I’m afraid the answer is rather depressing: Wenger has lost it. If Wenger is indeed in total control of transfers (as he and the board suggest), and if we have the money (as you and others have pointed out), then what other conclusion can we reach as to our transfer insipidness other than that Wenger has stagnated?

    Some have argued that a manager as experienced and astute as Wenger can’t help but see the glaring deficiencies in the team. While that may be true, it’s his response to these deficiencies that is most worrying. That is, Wenger’s response to the loss of experience and quality is either to promote a younger, less experienced and less talented player, or to buy what we don’t need, or to play someone out of their best position to compensate for the loss. What forays he has made into the transfer market of late have been nothing special, apart from Cazorla.

    Most infuriating is Wenger’s persistence with players who are really not up to scratch, or aren’t able to play. Diaby is Wenger’s favorite and perennial excuse not to buy a player like Cabaye or Dembele. I can’t think of a better example of Wenger’s increasing ineffectiveness as a manager. That’s not a scouting issue; that’s a flagrant disregard for what’s staring him in the face, and Diaby is not the only example in this team.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Cabaye does not offer a better solution for us but the dependance on Diaby was a massive mistake.

      As was the loss of Song.

      We will need to again reinforce an area but this time one that we did not in particular fight hard enough IMO to keep. The chase of Sahin would atest to the capability gap.and offer an insight to the type of player Wenger wants that Song was.

      Wenger does not simply want someone who strictly shields the defenders. This is a fast antiquated approach. Rather he needs someone like Arteta who can transition us quickly when winning the ball back. In that, we have lost Song’s ability to quick release the ball over the top and spot runners (Walcott?) ahead.

      That said, I would agree that at this point, any sort of back up will be welcome.

  14. Vote -1 Vote +1Nikki

    Tim, why do I vaguely remember that you have covered this myth things, including the academy and scouts, before.. Anyway, is our lack of activity comes because Arsene, as the lead man on transfer, to busy preparing for the matches and training? Honestly, if we can’t conclude our business in the space of now until Man City game, I don’t believe we could finish it until the end of the month. I really hope I’m wrong but I just thought that Arsene as the lead man in all thing Arsenal is just too busy which make us slower to act than any other clubs.

  15. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1CTRed

    Dembele, Dempsey, Sigurdsson, Vertonghen, Lloris, and now Holtby in summer. All studs that Arsenal had a shot at and let them slip away. As stated earlier in this post the Chelsea deal for Ba and Sturridge to Liverpool move were done quite smartly.
    Arsenal appear to be asleep at the wheel.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Why do we want Sturridge? We are negotiating for Walcott. There are better replacements.

      We are out of the running for BA even at the low price. Chelsea will offer higher wages.

      See below for Spurs. As I remember, head to head we are competitive against them last we met. It is a bit of consistency we need. Again the players they have brought in (bar Dembele and Lloris) are not necessarily better than what we have or can get. And with the position of keeper this is not a current priority.

      The one area we could have reinforced was the ‘Dembele position’ but in that, IMO we should have simply kept Song, a far better player.

  16. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Limestonegunner

    Sharp analysis, Tim. I’m curious about the case for Cazorla’s status as the best player statistically–perhaps you have covered this before and I missed it.

    Interestingly, despite the individual quality of Arteta, Wilshere and Cazorla the midfield hasn’t been dominant in keeping possession or creating good chances reliably. I think you must be onto something about the partnerships. Additionally, there is clearly some imbalance and I’d say it is physical presence and dynamic energy–Diaby and Dembele type qualities.

    I was sad to see Dembele go to Spurs–that does look costly. Why are Spurs proving so attractive to players right now? Playing time, AVB, the sense of being on the upswing? Arsenal would typically pay more and have the CL football. Somehow we are slipping back and we certainly need to find a way to reverse this cycle and recapture a feeling of dynamism throughout the club.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Steve Nash

      This is a really good point: Why are the Spuds so attractive to players right now? Is it simply because they are getting in their first, and playing for Spurs is better than playing for Fulham/Lyon? No one can argue that Lloris, Dembele, Vertoghen and even Dempsey would have made our SQUAD stronger, but they all chose Spurs and none were prohibitively expensive, nor can any be described as unearthed gems that no one knew about. But we seem to not even have been in the running. I can’t believe any of them would have signed for Spurs over us, if we had been in for them.

      1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Those are good players at reasonable prices. So is Michu.

        That said, apart from Dembele, I think the positions mentioned were not priority in the summer.

        With regards eg Dempsey, Wenger has to project a year down the line at opportunity cost to see who else may come on market. Bearing in mind we have had incredible issues trying to shed unwanted strikers, the last thing he should be doing is loading up another player to make up numbers. Whoever he brings in must give us a different capability to differ our approach up top and preferably should also give us an upside (where Dempsey will likely face steep depreciation)

        There are a number of strikers still on market which may offer better value this Jan than last summer. Higuain is possibly coming on market. Leandro Damiao may see some price shavings.So if we moved for someone prematurely, it may instead work to our detriment. There is no guarantee that we would successfully embed Giroud either if we had to fit two new strikers in at the same time.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Its not that midfield has not been dominant but they don’t seem to :

      1) Start quickly

      2) have durability

      When you consider Jack is just back from recent long term lay off and both Spaniards are over played, you can understand why.

      The Swans game, we racked up 60% possession second half. But a miserly 46% first half.

  17. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Limestonegunner

    The speed of others’ deals is worth comment too. We hear rumours and it takes forever for an announcement. One or two days of rumours and Spuds sign Holtby. Some say Arsenal are very indecisive and it is affecting our ability to close deals–so I am sure we are going to hear some interesting thoughts from Tim on our scouting, but perhaps there will also be some reflection on this apparent problem.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      I’m not sure why there seems to always be panic every transfer window.

      By and large, we tend to do business relatively later in the window.

      We pulled in 9 players two summers ago @54m and 3 last summer at 39m.

      There seems a recognition we need to reinforce this January.

      Just because there hasn’t been any concrete gossip does not mean things are not being done behind the scenes.

      I suspect the first issue this month is to renew Walcott’s contract (or not). Thereafter, we will be in a better position (free hand) to play the market without detriment to that contractual issue.

  18. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Ickenham Gooner

    Really really really looking forward to your piece tomorrow.

    I remember your analysis of Vidal and recall thinking I hope we buy this guy.

    It had a similar level of praise to your M’Vila assessment a year or so later and assuming that Vidal is no longer an option, it would be interesting whether you still think he would be as good an acquisition. If so, is he as good as Vidal?

  19. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

    It seems the daggers have been put away for now due to a run of good results in the last 5 league games and also because many fans are waiting to see if we bring in anybody during the Jan transfer window. The general sense of discontent and the disdain shown towards the manager will only get worse if January comes and goes without us adding to the squad – and perhaps rightly so. I can’t imagine what will happen if we end up going out to Swansea in the FA cup or if we have the same kind of display against Chelsea and Man City at home that we did against Utd. At this point, I just don’t know what to expect from the team or the manager but I do know the next wave of vitriol towards the club & the manager is just around the corner. The club must know this and it boggles my mind to think that the manager or the board may not do anything about this, if not for anything but out of loyalty and pride.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Yeah but the club should make sensible decision not react to vitriol and senseless reactivity.

      We need two players. Bottom line. But there is reason to bite at the right time rather than jump the gun which would be foolish too.

  20. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1TRoberts

    I’m sleeping right now, so consider this a dream sequence and in dreams, anything can happen. so don’t shoot the messenger:
    1. Arsenal will purchase either ZERO players in this transfer window, or he’ll pull an Eisfeld out of his hat (does he even wear a hat?) and that will be it.
    2. Arsenal will probably pull out the Swansea game, but struggle mightily elsewhere in January – causing fans to become irritated to an even higher degree (especially after they lose to Brighton in Rd 4… eeek!).
    3. Arsene will start the January LANS: Abu Diaby, against Liverpool and he will limp off after 20 minutes :( .
    4. Arsene has deliberately refused to bring in transfers this January, in an effort to stack as much money for the Summer transfer window. That is when deals are easier to find, more players leave the books for good (thus freeing up more funds), and, wait for it…
    5. Arsene Wenger announces that he will resign as the Arsenal FC manager (half the world screams in agony as explosions of ecstasy fill the other half) and take an offered position as Director of Player Personnel. In this position, he will work closely with the new Arsenal FC manager: Josep Guardiola* in acquiring a whole slew of players to come into Arsenal, compete for positions, and have the whole of the summer to train together – thus melding as a team ready for the trials of the coming BPL season.

    * ‘Pep’, signed on to Arsenal with a 4 year contract, even though Arsenal failed to qualify for Champion’s League play, securing only Europa** play (in it’s last run) by finishing 5th in the BPL (one position behind *gulp* Chickens on Basketballs).

    ** Coincidentally, Arsenal FC go on to win the Europa League, Meh?

  21. Vote -1 Vote +1Philbet

    You had an implosion a few weeks back after Bradford and here we go again, I thought football was about results on the pitch not about transfers, if you think Wenger missed Cabaye you are delusional, he is no better than what we have, if by siting the fact Newcastle are missing him in having a bad year that may be accurate but to suggest he is Arsenals missing link is rediculous,
    To moan that Spuds are recruiting and we are not is frankly incomprehensible,(not withstanding the fact that there transfer fund is bloated by the £38Mill they extracted from Real for Modric), its the results on the pitch that matter not who a club buy !!! Getting off over transfers is a pretty juvenile attitude and a huge dose of reality should be consumed.Try supporting your club not critisising it
    Also note Spuds only recently signed Adebayor and now low and behold the whole world knows they want to unload him,alot of he others are unproven or have risks attached Sturidge was unhappy at Man City and unused at Chelsea,on my book that makes him a £10million gambol.
    he would be third or fourth choice striker at Arsenal.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Nikki

      Well, the result on the pitch showed that we are far from competing in the PL, knock out of League Cup, draw with Swansea in the FA Cup, and odd is again us in the CL. No, Wenger did miss Cabaye because he would really help us in the midfield. Even if we take your account that he is on par with what we have, which I don’t agree with, it would mean that we could rotate our midfield without worrying of a lack of a quality replacement.

      You do realize right now Spurs has a higher position than us right, it is a result of their recruitment strategy. Sturridge might be a gamble, but if at the end it’s him or nothing then it’s him that I would choose. Why? Because at the moment we hardly have a second choice or even a third choice, which we desperately need. Lastly, a constructive criticism is actually a form of support and you should distinct it with abusive criticism. What you do, blind support, is just like watching your lover killed your parents and you do nothing about it and help her hide the corpses because you support her even though you know she do the wrong thing,

    2. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      You cannot get results on the pitch without having top players, not over the long haul anyway. And you get top players, like Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Sol Campbell, Freddie Ljungberg, Jens Lehmann, Lauren, Kolo Toure, Gilberto, and Pires in the transfer market.

      As for Cabaye, I was using him as an example of a top level player that Chelsea and City failed to buy. As for this Arsenal team, I think he is better than many of the Arsenal midfielders (Diaby, Ramsey) and versatile. He would walk onto this team, if he could walk right now.

      Spurs actually took in £59m in transfers and you know how much they spent? £63m. Arsenal took in £50m and spent just £38m. The team is getting weaker every year because the players are being sold off and unlike at the turn of the century, they are not being replaced. That money is going somewhere else.

      And finally, I strop when I want.

      1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Again the misnomer of top player.

        Henry, Viera, Pires, none were top players when they came to us. neither Llungberg, Lauren or Kolo Toure.

        They all made their career with us.

        What’s changed is that whilst Wenger had near free reign in the French market bringing players in at a time when France was experiencing a golden generation, it is less so these days with market knowledge being widely accessible, and plenty of teams aware 9+ with means) to buy these players up at a young age.

        IIn essence, the operating environment is more difficult.

        Compound this with the change in the PL (You only have to look at the likes of Swansea or even bottom team QPR)…particularly the fact that most teams now have very technical players from the continent and beyond, the advantages we had have been eroded even more so.

        Now add two teams that can spend at will.

        Get the picture.

        Simply saying we are not spending on top players is nonsense.

      2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        For not being top players it’s amazing how quickly Bergkamp settled in, how quickly Vieira became vital to a double winning team, how quickly Henry scored 26 goals and 11 assists and how quickly Pires became an assist machine.

        Arsenal did NOT develop those players, they were top players when they came to Arsenal. Maybe people in England had never heard of them, but that’s down to their ignorance and not because these players lacked quality.

        What’s changed is Arsene Wenger’s approach to scouting. Not everyone else’s approach to scouting.

      3. Vote -1 Vote +1ignatzuk

        I love a good strop.

        There are a couple mistakes to avoid in all this, however.

        One is that it’s too easy to rate other teams’ players more highly than our own. If someone playing for another club is looking impressive we instinctively covet them; and conversely if one of our chaps is not living up to expectations, they are lower than dogshit. Meaning that sometimes what looks like a missed opportunity is not so much. For example, we both rate Dembele but if forced to choose, would you have him over Arteta? It’s not such an easy call if you ask me.

        Two is the fact that hindsight is 20/20. It’s all too easy to point out after 5 months who is succeeding at other clubs and struggling at our own. The trick is to work out all this before the season starts.

    3. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      Please. Please tell me you see some connection between “transfers” and “what happens on the pitch.” Baffling how you separate these two issues so stringently.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Tactically, Wenger has as per usual shown his limits.

        He is in general brilliant in the market where he is a bit more dogmatic on field.

        In early part of season, he did not use Walcott to some detriment to us because of contract issues. Later we had a string of games whereby the use of Arsharvin may have given us better edge.

        Again last game, he neglected Rosicky at the expense of Ramsey wide where the Czech would have likely presented us better dynamics/experience.

        All through, his substitutions take too long as his general ability to recognise that a tactical change is needed.

        Against the Swans, we played a 4-1-3-2 in part as experiment in part to placate Walcott ahead of forthcoming ‘crunch talks’.

        This left us narrow with Gibbs flank in particular swamped by Tinedelli and Dyer.

        The statistical diff between first and second half possession numbers is particularly telling (and something that may interest you). 243 passes first half. 260 second. not much diff. BUT 46% possession first half against 60% second.


        We (finally) pushed Walcott wider in the second in part helping Sagna. When Podolski came on, this gave us more impetus pressing higher. We still had some fundamental issues defending (marking wide men) second half not rectified but why we had to take so long to turn things around is again perplexing.

        None of these issues will be sorted by spending albeit they may be cushioned with a couple of good signings.

  22. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurasian

    My feeling is that Wenger doesn’t like to do the obvious deals because he wants to prove himself as smarter than everyone else.
    When everyone is crying out for a particular player who seems to fit the squad and be happy to come, Wenger loves to be the guy who decides that actually, they are not quite good enough. Sometimes he gets it right (Ryan Babel didn’t turn out to be the next Thierry Henry after all), but too often he misses out on a player who would have helped us – Cahill, Samba, Ba, M’Vila, Hazard, Yaya, any damn keeper during the Almunia years.

    But our manager is a damn hipster and those signings would be too “mainstream” choices for him. Once everyone jumps on the bandwagon, the player becomes too popular and Wenger would prefer to pull a rabbit out of a hat and surprise everyone with a clever signing. He doesn’t seem to get it that sometimes players are popular for s reason.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Nikki

      Nah, i don’t think so. Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud actually a mainstream choices. Oxlade Chamberlain also a mainstream choice. Between Mertesacker and Samba or Cahill, actually Mert has a more pedigree then both of them. The rumour said that Wenger want Lloris, a mainstream choice, but the board doesn’t agree with him. So, maybe what Wenger need is someone to complete or smooth the deals for him. Personally, Wenger do like to sign the “mainstream” choices, but trying and completing the deals is a whole different matter.

    2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Hazard, Ba, Cahill…we cannot compete against those clubs for the players mentioned.

      As an example, Mata. Yeah 22m but if we entered the fray, Chelsea would push the price to 34m which they can tolerate. We can’t.

  23. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    Well, it’s being widely reported that Walcott is on the verge of signing a £25m deal.

    That’s probably good for morale? For keeping the media from trotting out the “selling club” line until at least the summer? For ensuring that mediocre defenders everywhere quake in their boots? All or none of the above?

    I’m a bit ambivalent on this one, but I think mostly I’m pleased, so long as Wenger doesn’t cave into the player’s demands all the time (the new contract returns a bit of power to the manager, I suppose). Walcott still has a lot to learn as a center forward.

    I guess the main downside I see here is that Wenger is likely to use this as an excuse not to buy a forward this January. Which will be monumentally stupid.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      What’s there to be ambivalent. If he is scoring goals for us, better keep him.

      The only issue I would have is if it would in future dictate his playing position to our detriment.

      But I suspect when the business is done, Wenger has a better hand to go back to business as usual and likely we will see movement into market.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

        I suspect that a high salary offered by the club would be a bit of a ‘payoff’ to Walcott so as to placate him for the heartbreak of NOT playing through the middle much in future (at least not all the time). I cannot imagine Wenger would bow down to the will of some kid about who his central striker ought to be for the next 3-5 years.

  24. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    You don’t need the AST to tell you that there is 50m quid in the kitty. We went through this at tedium some time back when you asserted we had 114m+++ or more.

    Personally, I think we may have more than 50m.

    Considering we have spent 54m two seasons ago and 39m last summer, 50m, isn’t terribly much in the scheme of things when you might want to factor the fact that Chelsea can also afford to keep most of their players on far higher wages than us.

    Therefore competitvely, we are not at the level that you think we are in being able to go into a bidding war with City or Chelsea.

    This is a BIG myth.

    Yes,we do have decent money to spend and yes we should be fending off the lesser likes of Spurs etc when it comes to marquee signings, BUT we have to be aware that we need to manage the redsitribution of income within the squad gradually. Shocking the system will exaccerbate greater complications for contract negotiations coming up in the near future.

    Do we have enough to spend on 3 good quality players between 8-15m? yes.

    Should we be bringing in 2-3 players in January? Yes.

    Are we able to push the upper limit of our spending tolerance a little to say 22m? Probably.

    But Can we push Chelsea or City? No.

    Do we need to? No.

    C’est La Vie.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1FCArsenal

      To add to what you are saying, football isn’t as simple as having £50+ million equals capability to buy the biggest names.

      It may be the wage structure doesn’t complement the type of transfer fees we can pay.

      Change the wage structure you say? This would likely lead to numerous pay-rises in the team ranks and then your £50 million might be eroded away.

      You cannot take one number and make something of it.

  25. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Alex

    The article seems to assert that Arsenal should be the only club capable of finding a bargain in the market. I’d be interested to know which other managers you think operating in Europe have a better track record than Wenger? That isn’t rhetorical I’d really like to know if you think there is someone else out there getting better value in the market.

    It seems to me that buying players is an inexact art, there are so many factors at play you can’t ever be sure if a gamble will pay off. If we take the Dembele example – we can’t know what factors in arsene’s mind may have made him doubt the move, if he was considering it. With hindsight we can look back and ask why we didn’t move for certain players we liked the look of who have turned out well, but what other utter failures may we have wanted the club to take also?

    Surely then rather than looking at individual purchases the only fair judgment is manager v manager track records.

    That still leaves us with the question of why the club isn’t spending its cash reserves but I’ve always assumed that there is a strategic timing question behind keeping that powder dry to have maximum impact. I probably have another year or two of patience before I lose my faith that the spend will come.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Spot on.

      Everton and Swansea have been excellent with meagre budgets but neither operate in Europe nor does Spurs.

      With regard Dembele, likely it is a question of opportunity cost in that there are plenty on the market with similar or better capability so it seems daft to fixate purely on Dembele as many once did with say Melo (Remember him?)
      OTOH, we are very very much at risk with regard Arteta’s position and we are one injury away from disaster. That Wenger counted on the oft injured Diaby is a dubious exercise in judgement at best. Coquelin is a developing player and will need time. Therefore the real question was why Wenger was unable to hold on to Song for 80K per week.(A player by every margin better than Dembele)

      Posters here by and large seem to be missing the point that we have no problem buying (we’ve spent 96m in two seasons over a dozen ++ players). Where we have a massive issue is in retention.

      In that regard we are unable to match salary to the likes of Chelsea or City (Or United) let alone enter a bidding war with them.

      The argument put forth by TIm is therefore to me spurious at best (with all due respects)

  26. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

    There are a lot of factors in why a player and a club would choose each other. But even so, let’s say a few players who went elsewhere would have wanted to join us, and we were interested. No doubt a Cabaye or a Dembele would improve our squad. But the question is, would they improve it enough to push us to the title? Or a CL success? Or would we be spending money on their transfers and wages and then stay roughly where we are? (3rd or 4th) That’s a tough call to make, but I think it’d be the latter, Of course some doubt whether we’d even get 4th now, but Wenger probably believes we can, and I don’t think he’s wrong about that,.

    The question then becomes will we spend enough on the kind of players who WILL push us further up? I believe we will, but not before next summer at the earliest, and maybe only beyond 2014. Which of course might also mean that Wenger won’t be here if he doesn’t extend his contract. Most at that point (if we do buy) will say that it was Wenger holding us back. But it would have been his efforts at saving the money and keeping us in the top 4, the new deals fully coming into effect, the wage structure tweaked to our needs, and maybe FFP also coming in, which altogether will contribute to that (if it happens)

    So am I saying Wenger is saving up money for his eventual successor? Not really. Just that, as a club, we might feel that we might get more bang for our buck once we’ve saved up enough to really push us on. Which does make some sense. Of course the trust factor at Arsenal is low these days, and the one factor that could ‘destroy’ us, is this perception. And while perception is important, I do believe that must not be the reason to spend. Can we find someone to improve this squad? yes of course. This is where most fans stop.. Can we find someone who will improve the squad enough to push us a level up? Much harder to say. And if the answer is no, is it better to maintain status quo and look for such a deal in the future, or just go for the current option? I mark that as a judgment call, where we take the low/high risk option depending on your outlook.

    Also, we may have money. More than Spurs or Juventus or anyone of the sort not funded by oil, not subsidised by Spain, or not named ManU, but the oil money has harmed us more than most. Those clubs don’t raid the likes of Spurs very often. They go after our players, make use of them such as they can, and then discard them to Spurs. As pointed out above, our issue isn’t spend. It is retention. The mega bucks aren’t offered to the likes of Bale (yet anyway). They were to Modric and he left (and voted the worst signing.. hehe) Why? Because Arsenal have had better players, and despite losing them, and spending less in the transfer market, have managed to maintain that. So far. Consistency is hard to achieve, and despite all the wastages in our spend, we’ve managed that. It can’t go on in perpetuity, and I don’t think it will.

    One reason I am positive is because the age profile(low resale value), and ‘name’ profile of our purchases has risen over the last two summers. Indicating that we are gradually getting more ‘spendy’ with our money. So, as of now, I feel comfortable with how Arsenal is run, micro-level gripes/frustrations aside of course.

  27. Vote -1 Vote +1Jon


    I am generally a huge fan of your work and your augments are usually sound, or at least well-reasoned, but in this case there is a major disconnect between the title of your article, and what you subsequently go on to argue. In the title, you seem to be implying, fairly, that it is a myth that Arsenal can’t compete with Chelsea for good signings. You then go on to support that by showing that there are good players out there who could be signed or could have been signed.

    But not one of your examples discusses a player that Arsenal wanted who Chelsea also pursued, and we won. In fact, all the evidence I have, which is admittedly limited, is that envy time we try to compete with Chelsea directly for a player, they DO in fact buy all the talent. We were in a serious bid for Mata, who signed with them. We had been in the early running for Hazard, who signed with…them. I am not saying we were in for Ba, but there was talk, and yet, he signed for…yes. I would like to see any example in the Abramovich era where we were in direct competition with Chelsea or City and the player chose us. Otherwise, I think it is not a myth that we are second class buyers who do get out bought by Chelsea.



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