Edu and Mikel Arteta still have a lot to do in this transfer window in the final two weeks, but does their previous business tell us we should be optimistic or worried?
Edu arrived at Arsenal in July 2019 and Mikel Arteta was appointed a few months later.
While Edu was there for the summer of 2019 and Arteta was not, I’ve just included all deals from the summer 2019, winter 2020, summer 2020 and winter 2021 windows together, as that seemed simpler.
Leaving aside additions this summer, as we can’t say yet how they will fare, Arsenal’s transfer business over the last two seasons does not look good.
A total of 13 players have arrived on permanent deals or loan and, of those, only four remain at the club that everybody is happy with and 50% of them are called Gabriel. Kieran Tierney, Thomas Partey, Gabriel and Gabriel Martinelli make up what is a very short list.
Nicolas Pepe is, of course, also still at Arsenal and improving with every season, but let’s not kid ourselves that Arsenal wouldn’t have sold him already, or sent him on loan, had they paid a fee in the region of £35m rather than the £72m Raul Sanllehi, greatest dealmaker the world has ever seen, agreed to pay. Pepe is currently worth £31.5m, his value steadily declining since his arrival at the club.
It’s also worth pointing out that, while Arteta certainly had nothing to do with them, Edu himself probably had little to do with the signing of Tierney and Nicolas Pepe, given they arrived in the same window as him, the Tierney deal had been in negotiation for a long time before that and Arsenal had been after him since 2016.
Martin Odegaard and Dani Ceballos are both back at Real Madrid, the latter’s loan spell so bad we extended it for a second season just to make sure. Mat Ryan is also in Spain with Arsenal said to be trying to sign a homegrown goalkeeper to back Leno up this season and take his place next.
Willian and Alex Runsarsson are still at the club but everybody wishes they weren’t. If new clubs can be found, they will be sold. That is a big ‘if’. Runarsson has already had one move fall through while nobody wants Willian and he still has two years left on his Arsenal deal.
Then, of course, there is William Saliba, who continues to impress in France while Pablo Mari continues to start for Arsenal.
Remember, we paid a loan fee to Southampton for Cedric Soares, who shares agent Kia Joorabchian with Edu, was free six months later and arrived with a knee injury that ruled him out of action until March, just before football was suspended due to the pandemic.
And we got all this for a net spend of £157m. Throw in Ben White, Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Joe Willock this summer and that grows to £239m.
If things don’t look great in terms of incomings, the story of players leaving is a further tale of woe.
Mesut Ozil (bought for £42.3m, worth £4.5m (and worth £45m when Arteta and Edu arrived)), Aaron Ramsey (£5.76m/£36m), Danny Welbeck (£18m/£8.1m), Shkodran Mustafi (£36.9m/£6.3m) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£30.6m/£18m) all left for nothing despite costing the club a combined £133.5m to sign and with a combined value of £73m at the time they were released or allowed to run out their contracts.
That hardly speaks to good management, deal making, or any of the other aspects needed to run a successful football club.
All put together, that’s around £320m spent or allowed to leave for free for a total return of four players fans like, three we are yet to make decisions on because they’ve just arrived, plus Nicolas Pepe (whom I love, but whom many don’t because he can’t control his legs and who we vastly overpaid for).
To put it another way, that’s eight players all with an average price of around what we paid for Mesut Ozil, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, if Arsenal didn’t look as bad as they did before.
It’s also a number that is set to increase with Arsenal closing in on a deal for Aaron Ramsdale, who is worth £10m but Arsenal are going to pay close to £30m for.
Arsenal are also likely to spend around £40m on Martin Odegaard.