The media has been reporting to fans that Arsenal didn’t have any money for signings on deadline day, but is this true?
On Thursday night, as most Arsenal fans prepared for a busy final day of transfer action, they were shocked to hear from club oracle David Ornstein that despite the sale of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool, Arsenal had “no money for major signings”.
Arsenal have no plans to replace AOC & no money for major signings, but only way Sanchez leaves is if #AFC get massive money & replacement
— David Ornstein (@bbcsport_david) August 30, 2017
At first this seemed to make no sense.
After all, Oxlade-Chamberlain was being sold for the largest fee ever brought in by the club. Other players like Szczesny, Gabriel and Gibbs had also already left for decent money, and Sead Kolašinac was a free transfer.
So all this left was the Lacazette transfer, which even the most liberal estimates gave as around £50m, less than Arsenal had brought in from the other players.
So how could the transfer budget be gone if Arsenal had a negative net spend?
Was the original budget negative?
Did Arsenal go into the window needing to sell just to balance the books?
To further confuse matters, Oxlade-Chamberlain was supposed to be staying at the club until very late on. So if the plan was to keep him, any money brought in by his sale should have been an added bonus the club could use on other players.
However, it seems that the truth is that the problem isn’t transfer fees, it’s wages.
Per Financial Fair Play guidelines, you can only increase your wage budget by £7m a year, barring exceptional circumstances like abnormally large commercial deals (not including TV rights which are excluded from the calculation) or a big transfer profit.
It seems that neither of this mitigating circumstances increased the Gunners’ budget sufficiently to account for the wage increases they were already facing.
Players leaving on loan have been roughly balanced out by players returning from spells away, Lacazette and Kolašinac got big money deals to join, and Giroud, Bellerín, Koscielny and Coquelin all received improved deals during the season.
Also, the hope is still that Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil will sign new contracts, so some of the budget has to be held back for that eventuality.
When Arsenal do manage to get some high earners off the books, the situation will change.
This was evident when it seemed that Alexis Sanchez could be on the way out.
Suddenly, Arsenal had the funds for a £92m bid for Thomas Lemar, which only broke down later when personal terms needed to be agreed.
However, the one part that still sticks with me is that Oxlade-Chamberlain, per various reports, had been offered a £180,000 a week contract with Arsenal. If Arsenal could afford that contract, they should be able to afford the same for a new player.
If I’m being generous, it’s possible that they made the offer thinking that Alexis Sanchez would leave, freeing up some of the budget, given Alexis’ current deal is so much higher than Ox’s was. Perhaps they even expected other players to depart before the deadline.
But there’s no evidence to suggest that’s the reason, so your guess is as good as mine.