Arsenal – From a Club who produced talent and sold Big, to a Club who buys Big and sells for Peanuts

£ 887.4m


Repeat it out loud, do it several times. Again and again.

This is the amount of money spent by Premier League clubs this summer, so far.

Considering that today it’s July, 20th and there’s still over  a month to go before the transfer window shuts down, this amount could even double when deadline-day madness kicks-in.

I’m not here to slam the immoral spending of Premier League clubs but you have to admit it, this is just insane and – most importantly – it won’t last long.

One day this unsustainable bubble will burst and several Clubs will fall apart, including some very big ones; of course, the first to pay the price of living it large will be the small-to-medium ones but no club will be safe when TV will stop pouring money – and they will, at some point.

You know when something is wrong when Manchester City splashes up to £ 50m for a right-back and another £ 30m for his back-up; you sense the craziness when promising goalkeepers go for £ 34m or £ 25m and you feel the madness when an average 28-years old Austrian player moves for £ 24m.

On what basis £24m?

In a market where Alexis Sánchez costed £ 30m, how can Marko Arnautovic command a similar fee?

This is what shocks me the most.

It’s not the £ 100m spent on Gareth Bale, it’s the £ 50m spent on Kyle Walker.

It’s not the £ 90m spent on Paul Pogba, it’s the £ 35m spent on Éderson.

It’s not the £ 80m spent on Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s the £75m spent on Romelu Lukaku.

When players like Nathan Aké, Nabil Bentaleb or Marko Arnautovic are purchased for a fee in the region of £ 20m, you see that the market is becoming a joke – a very dangerous one.

It is difficult for us not to have our heads turned by the latest world-record fee agreed for this or that player, especially when our club is involved in a bidding war – I know it’ a feeling we barely know, at the Arsenal – but the highest the fee goes, the more it puts our club’s future in jeopardy.

When talks about a potential arrival of Kylian M’Bappé for over £ 140m emerged, I was both excited and worried: excited by the idea that Arsène Wenger and the club could win the race to the most coveted player in the world and worried that it might prove to be a step too far for us, financially.

Mbappe – A bridge to far?

I know it’s not my money and definitely none of my business but I can’t stand the idea of seeing the Arsenal – its history, its tradition, its name – cancelled because of a crazy transfers strategy.

Now more than ever, we must evaluate our signings based on what the show on the pitch and not their price tag; I don’t want to rub salt in our wounds but we all know how close Arsène Wenger was to close a deal for both Thomas Lemar and N’Golo Kanté from Caen – two illustrious unknown players whose arrival would have been welcomed with indifference, at best.

Two years later, one is the reigning Player of the Year and the second is valued at over £ 60m, with Arsène Wenger still determined to land his signature.

The market is changing rapidly but we should avoid being sucked into this auto-destroying game, for once it will be more than justified not to follow the example of fellow top clubs; instead of buying big, we should buy smart like smaller clubs learned to do: they either mould their own star players through their academies or unearth hidden gems and sell them for big money – two things we were really good at, once.

Today, we’re a club unable to produce top players, who spends big and sells their assets for peanuts.

Leaving for peanuts

Look at how cheap Wojciech Szczesny has been sold to Juventus, it’s the same price we paid for 33-years old Petr Čech two years ago; look at Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs, who could go for a similar fee, or even Olivier Giroud – who could be on his way out for as little as £ 25m.

As it is set-up, the Arsenal are in a very weak position and in danger of being blown away when the bubble will burst.

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3 Responses to Arsenal – From a Club who produced talent and sold Big, to a Club who buys Big and sells for Peanuts

  1. Joaquin July 20, 2017 at 4:00 pm #

    I disagree with this.. about the players mentioned: Szczesny was obviusly going to go away from Arsenal because the club does not want him, simple as that, and he was on the last year of his contract, so his price went a little lower than it already was. Wilshere and Gibbs were the guys we didnt sell, gibbs never became what he was suposed to but a couple of years ago when he was a starter he could have gotten us a good £20M, Wilshere price would have been much higher in the 2013-14 season where he played terrific, but we didnt wanted to sell, same thing with Ramsey and Walcott, if we wanted to sell them the offer would have been very big. Now Giroud, we bought him when he was 25 years old, he wasnt suposed to be this great talent that we would sell high, he was an average forward to help us get by, and he is still that, to sell him for double the price we bought him would be a good piece of bussines.
    The real transformation about Arsenal has been that we changed from a selling club, to a buying club, we dont need to sell our good young players any more, instead they strugle to get playing time for the players we buy: Alexis, Ozil, Xhaka, Mustafi, now Lacazette, but still we ARE producing great talent. I didnt read the name Bellerin here, or Oxlade-Chamberlain, or Ramsey.. all good examples of player we developed and now would cost a minimum of £30M for any team to buy.. not to mention Iwobi, who in a couple of years will be worth A LOT, that kid has got talent, also Holding, who we bough for £3M or something and now is worth about £7M (source
    So stop saying we are not producing young talent, because we are, and we are not selling at high price BECAUSE WE DONT NEED TO.

  2. AndreaR July 21, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

    Thanks for your comment Joaquin, you’re bringing good examples of player we could (should?) have sold but we didn’t – for differing reasons.
    My point is that we should have sold Szczesny – to take one of your examples: given he had no future at the Club, why loaning him out and only sell when he has only one year left on his contract and his value is at its minimum?
    Same for Gibbs: given he wasn’t up to the standards required, why waiting so long to sell? He was a starter two seasons ago but once we got Monreal, his career at the Arsenal was clearly finished as he never really threatened the Spaniard to win his place back. Why have we been so indulgent on him?
    About Jack Wilshere, his loan has been a good idea, excecuted terribly: if we wanted to test his fitness, we should have renewed his contract first because it would have allowed us to be in a much better position, regardless of the outcome of his loan.
    If it worked, we would have had him tied up for another couple of seasons, if it failed we could have gotten some good money. Now that he only has one year left and he seems to be on the move, we will be lucky to get £ 10m – for a 25yo player with bags of talent.

    Every Club must sell well or will face financial troubles, regardless of its size.
    We’re currently unable to do that, this summer is showing it; we’d need to assess this quickly, in my opinion.

    A final word about youngsters: while Alex Iwobi and Hector Bellerín have great talent and might become great players, I’m far from being convinced they will fulfill their potential. It requires consistency and, especially for Iwobi, a well-defined role within the team, somethins he hasn’t.
    About the likes of Ramsey and Chamberlain have been around for years and are yet to show the quality and consistency required at top level. Given the amount of work and money spent on both, I would have expected a better outcome.

  3. Victor Thompson July 23, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

    Andrea, I have been one of Weger`s fiercest critics but I am with you in regard to the prices clubs are asking now for average players. As soon as a player becomes a target for one of the top clubs and a bidding war ensues, the price rockets.

    I also agree with you that the bubble will burst and just like the economic bubble, there will be casualties. I cannot see where it will end at present, Chelsea, City and Utd. seem to be able to pay obscenely inflated prices to get the cream of the crop but it doesn`t always work out. Utd, had a barren year last year and we let them and LIverpool into the top 4 with our poor performances against very inferior teams. That was not on the cards and they are spending crazy money again in the hope that they will improve this year. Mourinho is a solid manager who knows what he is doing so they may well achieve their goals this year. Man City are seriously spending huge sums not only in fees but in salaries that no one else can match. The Sheiks have bottomless salaries but their patience may well wear thin. Pep Guardiola has found it difficult to produce a Premiership team which reflects the money spent. He must be under pressure. On the basis of yesterdays hiding by Chelsea, Conte looks as if he has a solid, well drilled team and they look as if they are certain top 2 finishers. They have already spent £130m and are ready to spend again.

    We have spent £50m on Lacazette and £30m on Kolisinak from Schalke. It is early days yet, but I admit that I had not heard about Kolisinak before now, and I did not rate Lacazette on the basis of the two games he played against us in the Championship when he was with Lyon. I will await judgement before I criticise them but it has not been exciting so far.

    To get back to my point, for once I agree that top 4 is our ambition whilst still hoping for top 2. I do not wish to have Mbappe sign for us for £140m because if Sanchez is only worth £30m which PSG have apparently offered, then Mbappe is worth £25m and I appreciate that Sanchez is in his last year of contract. Surely if any other club thought he was available for £30m they would be in for him. It is like the Suarez shambles when we bid £4m plus £1 for him.

    If the bubble does burst, then the only ones standing will be those whose Sugar Daddy owners have deep pockets. Many others will be faced by being unable to balance the books and they will be part of an underclass of middle table clubs who are competing to buy decent B Grade players who would probably be as well off staying where they are whether that is on the continent or not.

    I want Arsenal to be among the survivors who live within their means and will outlast the Sheiks` toys when their attention has moved elsewhere.

    In saying all of the above, I do not want to see Arsene Wenger to receive Carte Blanche the owners approval if he turns out bad teams. I was moved to see that their trip to China was not a success and If you have any way of re watching the match with Chelsea you cannot have missed the crowds of sad faces amongst the local Arsenal supporters compared to the bigger crowd of happy Chinese Chelsea supporters. If the purpose of going to China was to spur support, then the starting line up would have filled anyone with gloom. They had almost their first eleven whilst we had a mixture of experienced players and some very immature youngsters.

    It was Chelsea`s first friendly and they simply dismantled our rag bag bunch. I doubt if many of our supporters thought that they had chosen well in supporting Arsenal in preference to Chelsea. It was an economic disaster and one which Wenger should have seen. In a time when the media is full of complaints for the salaries BBC personnel are getting, this was a performance ( albeit it was a friendly ) which backfired on them. I am certain we lost many potential Chines followers as a result of the match.

    We have two more matches before we begin the Premiership battle, and I suggest that Weger uses both of those occasions to play his best eleven so that they are used to playing together and a shape is found for the team. Lacazette has been bought for his goals but I did not see many assists for him. That needs to be sorted although Ozil could not have done any more than he did while he was on the pitch.

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