A recurring them in recent years for Arsenal has been a reluctance to spend on big players. While in previous seasons this miserly approach has drawn several plaudits, in the current scenario it is the subject of much scorn. In the era of the mega rich owners (read Sheikhs, oil barons and oligarchs) football has taken on a whole new face. These are the days of inflated transfer prices, behemoth player wages and general all round excessiveness.
In this regard Arsenal as a club have lost ground as compared to the Manchester clubs and the boys from West London aka Chelsea. This can be proved by the fact that Arsenals record transfer fee for a player is 15 million pounds for Andrei Arshavin. Though recently the fee paid for Santi Cazorla is said to have eclipsed that. Still a mind bogglingly low figure when compared to what City, Chelsea, United and even Liverpool have dished out on recent seasons on players. The wage structure at Arsenal is also rather low compared to some of these clubs. This approach may have worked wonders in the early seasons of the Wenger era but times have changed since then. Unfortunately the club hasn't moved on since then and still lays stay stuck in a bygone era. To further exacerbate matters is the debt incurred from building a new stadium. For years now stories of a mythical 'warchest' of transfer funds has circulated in the press, but to no avail.
The question is can a club as big as Arsenal afford to still follow this approach and expect to win silverware? The answer in short is no. It is time for the club to stand up and be counted in the transfer market. All early signs in this transfer market seem to be pointing to that with some big name players like Rooney, Fellaini and Higuain being talked about. But yet again news is filtering in that Arsenal are losing the battle in signing Higuain and Fellaini due to the fact that they aren’t meeting the transfer fees of each player. One cannot stress the importance of signing these two players. Both are world class performers with stellar records, both are worth every penny, yet the club have gone back on the policy of saving as much as possible in signing these two players. This approach is fraught with stupidity. Recently Ivan Gazidis has gone on record to state that Arsenal can spend 25 million on players and can afford to pay 175k a week wages. While this may look like positive talk, that is all it will remain until further action is taken. Making tall claims is one matter, walking the talk is a whole other. Many critics have simply dismissed this as a mere PR stunt to get fans to buy more season tickets since the time of renewal usually falls in this period.
The transfer market is a highly competitive world where a dog eats dog approach is the only way to survive. Arsenal FC in recent years have sadly been lacking in that department and have not been able to keep up with that cut throat competition. A year ago Arsenal were on the verge of signing Mata from Valencia but ultimately lost out to Chelsea due to reluctance to pay a few extra quid. When a player sees this he must know that this club isn’t right for him if they aren’t willing to spend top dollar on him. Since then Mata has been a stellar success at Chelsea. The same mistake is being made with regard to Fellaini, Arsenal are looking to skive off paying a few extra million pounds to secure the services of one of the best DMs in the business and a presence the club has lacked since the departure of Patrick Viera. Another marquee signing Arsenal missed out in 2003 was that of Ronaldo who was slated to join the club but for the reluctance to go that extra mile and pay a bit more. Imagine what could have been.
It is time Arsenal shed this miserly image of themselves and start spending money. Having two billionaires as majority shareholders of the club further stresses the irony of the situation. We now live in an era where football knowledge may be power, but ultimately money talks. Get with the plan Arsenal. Next season is building up to be one of the most crucial ones in recent history for both Arsenal and Wenger. A big name marquee signing will clearly be seen as a statement of intent to other rivals and could potentially herald the resurrection of a stagnated club.
Mean Lean's Response
"To further exacerbate matters is the debt incurred from building a new stadium"
I think you pretty much looked at a large part of the answer in the face and walked straight past.
If you look at the accounts before our recent Emirates deal and assuming the rumour's are true, the Puma deal we were lagging way, way behind our competitors. It is absolutely no coincidence that we have made a transfer profit in every season since we moved to the Emirates, it was no coincidence that Arsene spent money during the Highbury years and it will be no coincidence when we break our transfer record this summer with front loaded commercial deals in our coffers.
When you do not have an owner pumping in hundreds of millions of their own cash or unlike Bayern and Manchester United earning huge sums of cash commercially then competing at the highest level isn't really realistic, especially when you are unable to keep hold of your best players.
We have had cash reserves built up from transfers and like everyone, I would have liked to have seen some more of that reinvested into the squad but given the precarious CL places I can understand the caution applied from whoever applied it. But that was then, let us close a door on the last few seasons because there is no reason why we should have to work that way any longer at least not to that degree.
If we make a transfer profit, lose our best players etc this time round then I will agree with all the calls of lacking ambition, let us see what happens now that the playing field has massively reduced, not leveled I must add but reduced. I have faith that the manager has the capabilities to bridge that gap himself.
Time will tell but my guess is that with or without Arsene Wenger, we will be making big strides in the coming future.