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?