With only a few days remaining before the summer transfer window closes, Arsenal fans are racking their brains to try to figure out what the club’s plans are, or even if there are any at all.
With Arsenal doing little work in the transfer market that is visible to the general public, it is impossible to resist the urge to fill in the gaps in logic as we try to rationalise why Arsenal have appeared so passive this summer.
It doesn’t help matters that what we know as facts doesn’t help explain why Arsenal haven’t done more than sign one player for the starting XI and two young prospects.
Here’s what we knew for certain at the end of May;
- Arsenal had around £200m in cash that was available for transfers and wages if it was needed.
- Arsenal has a world-class stadium and training facility, both of which are situated in one of the most desirable places to live in the world.
- Arsenal has a manager that is capable of convincing the like of Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez to play for a team managed by him.
- Arsenal has Champions League football this season.
When it’s written down like it is above, it’s mind boggling to imagine that a club with such advantages wouldn’t do more with them. It’s especially mind boggling when Jose Mourinho walks into a club with similar advantages and takes no time at all in utilising them to the maximum amount. If he can bring in Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Mkhitaryan within three months of starting work, why can’t Arsenal work in a similar fashion?
Before you proclaim that Arsenal couldn’t afford those players, you’re right, they couldn’t. But Arsenal haven’t needed three big name signings this summer. They needed three players that improved the starting XI, or at least helped fill gaps in the squad that needed filling after injuries. At the time of writing this article, Arsenal have bought one player that meets either criteria. One.
Rob Holding doesn’t count because he was bought with the intention of being the fifth centre-back this season. We’ve been rather fortunate that he looks to be exceeding those expectations already, because if he hadn’t, we’d be in serious trouble. A first-team centre-back should have been bought before Per Mertesacker got injured, as he only has one-year left on his contract and had already been overtaken by Gabriel for a first-team spot. And by the haste with which Calum Chambers was withdrawn from the first team, we can ascertain how little faith the club had in him beforehand, which should have meant that a new centre-back was even more of a priority.
Then there’s the hunt for the striker that everyone knows Arsenal needs so badly. Because there have been no official bids made for anyone that anybody has ever heard of, and all the names linked with Arsenal are being linked with us are because a club/agent wants to use Arsenal to draw interest in their player, the result is utter chaos in the fan base.
We all want to convince ourselves that there is logic and reason behind the way we operate, yet the more that time passes by, the more elaborate we become in our reasoning to explain the club’s inactivity.
Take #madness, for example. If you don’t use Twitter, #madness is the term given to the story, espoused by those who claim to have contacts at the club, that says that Arsenal are waiting on a world-class striker to become available and are afraid of spending money on others in the fear that they won’t be able to afford said striker if he becomes available.
It’s a plausible theory. If you’ve ever lived on a budget, spending money on non-essential items is not easy, especially when you know you can get something else for half the price that is 95% as good as the more expensive one. You become hard-wired into looking for bargains at all times, and it is incredibly difficult to break that habit.
The problem with this theory though, is that whilst it would be fantastic for Arsenal fans to see their club spend £60m+ on a single player, Arsenal don’t need an expensive striker, they just need a good one. Or, play Alexis up front and buy a quality left-winger. There’s tons of them around, just pick one and buy him.
Instead of spending £70m on Antoine Griezmann, would Arsenal be title contenders if they spent that Alexandre Lacazette and Jesé? Or Julian Draxler and Lucas Perez? I would say yes. And deals for all four of those players could have been done in June, never mind the end of August. So why haven’t we done any of that?
This is where the conspiracy theories come in, because putting all our eggs in one basket and hoping for a big name to become available seems like an incredibly foolish move for someone as intelligent as Arsene Wenger to make. There must be something that is causing him to act in such a manner.
Board restrictions? As much as we all love to blame “The Man” for things that happen behind the scenes, we’ve just spent the last three years saying that the board isn’t putting enough pressure on Wenger to spend, and now we’re saying it won’t let him spend what he wants? Hmmm.
As for blaming Stan Kroenke personally, I get it. He’s not an owner that is willing to put his own money into the club for the sole purpose of winning trophies, and because of that, he’ll never be seen as one of ‘us’. But letting a club spend money that has been accumulated by the club themselves is something that he has a track record of allowing occur at every club that he has an ownership stake in. He’s interested in how much a club is worth, not how much cash it has. He doesn’t need the cash. His NFL team just tripled in worth, thanks to their moving to Los Angeles. He’s minted. His wife is even more minted. He doesn’t need Arsenal’s cash, he needs Arsenal’s share price to rise. Big difference.
The fact of the matter is that we can’t say for certain why Arsenal have acted in the way that they have until the transfer window shuts on Wednesday.
Until then, all we can do is sit, and wait. and hope.
But it won’t stop us trying to put two and two together.
All I know is, the answer isn’t five.