The world’s worst kept secret is that Arsenal have a bunch of money in the bank. How much is available to spend, to lavish on the wealthy players and their wealthy agents or to put into the pockets of billionaire owners? The answer depends on who you ask and what their agenda but there is no doubt that even after last summer’s £35m net outlay and even accounting for the increased wages to Ramsey and others, the Gunners still have a sizeable stash of dry powder in their Arsenal.*
Erring on the side of having a huge reserve, Jeremy Wilson penned a piece for yesterday’s Telegraph which positively plumped for the rather rotund figure of £100m. The article is written in such a way to intimate that Stan Kroenke himself used that figure:
There will be no pressure from Kroenke to overhaul a young squad that was top until February and is in the FA Cup semi-finals, but he will make transfer funds of around £100 million available for key signings, notably a striker and holding midfielder.
There are no direct quotes from Stan Kroenke specifying “£100m on a striker and center mid” and the entire article actually reads more like a PR piece than an interview.
Not that that is a criticism. I find it bold that the club have decided to not only say that they will spend money but to say that they will spend what amounts to a lot of money. The article by Mr. Wilson is too close to the source, too familiar, for the club to deny that they authorized (or even sought out) its publication. And with Kroenke’s name now firmly attached to the figure of £100m and the idea that it will be spent, instead of Gazidis’ previous allusions to spending, combined with a fairly unequivocal assertion that Wenger will be free to spend that money, I feel confident that Arsenal will see perhaps two major signings this summer.
And Arsenal need at least two signings. Kroenke (or a spokesperson) has already outlined the need for a striker and a defensive midfielder and Arsene Wenger’s attempts to sign both of those positions this summer are strong indicators that those will be the main areas of concern.
There will be a lot of competition in the striker market with Chelsea possibly releasing all three of their main forward options and diving headlong into a major spending spree named Diego Costa. Still, there are some interesting options (possibly) available for Arsenal should we hunt for value. Josip Drmic has already been mooted as an Arsenal target as well as Bayern’s Olivier Giroudzukic and (does Wilson read my blog?) Porto’s Jackson Martinez. And there are still other players like Heerenveen’s Finnbogason who has very quietly put together back to back 25+ goals seasons in the Eredivisie. And of course, there is Arsene Wenger’s magic touch, which turns up gems like van Persie or Cesc Fabregas who are not already on everyone’s statistical radar.
In the defensive midfield position, Wenger tried to sign both Lars Bender and Luis Gustavo this summer and all signs point to Arsene getting Lars this summer. Defensive midfield is one of the most contentious positions among Arsenal fans with many casting a wistful eye back on the days when Arsenal could play a 4-4-2 owing to the dominance of Patrick Vieira. I haven’t seen a player of Vieira’s ability available but perhaps Arsenal don’t need one? Looking at Ramsey’s numbers he feels more like a Vieira, what with leading Arsenal in tackles and passes and having tidied up his possession ad dribbling. Ramsey also seems to have that winning mentality that Vieira has: how often have you seen him score the winning or tying goal for Arsenal when we really needed it? So, perhaps just a replacement for the ageing Arteta is in order? That is a much easier player to find than a Vieira.
The other three positions that Arsenal will be looking for are right back, center half (at least one), and keeper (backup). Those three signings will be hugely contingent on what happens with Sagna (right back and 4th center half), Vermaelen (captain backup half), and Fabianski. I suspect all three of those players are going to leave Arsenal this summer. That brings my total players needed to five.
Thankfully, with new sponsorships coming on board all the time Arsenal’s powder room is looking rather full. And with Kroenke now talking about handing the keys to Wenger it looks like we might be in for a season of player acquisitions unseen be Who would you spend the money on?
Sponsor Deals Running Out
Did you know that the contracts for two of Arsenal’s main sponsors, Carlsberg and Citroen, expire this summer? Neither are huge contracts, Carlsberg was in the realm of $5m a year, which is bigger than Man United’s deal with Singha, rumored to be just £2m a year but every pound counts these days especially when you’re running a self-sustaining club like Arsenal.
Whether Gazidis and the board can secure bumper new contracts, as they did with the shirt and stadium sponsors, remains to be seen but the point is that behind the scenes Arsenal are essentially constantly at work securing new deals. There is a lot to be done to get commercial revenue up to the level of clubs like Bayern Munich and Manchester United but the signs have been encouraging so far.
*YEP I JUST DID THAT.