Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was audibly heckled during the club’s recent 2-1 league defeat to Chelsea for not spending enough money on new players, which when you tackle the net spend debate is certainly true, but isn’t the main problem over the past three or so years been his lack of success in the transfer market on those he has spent money on?

Supporters won’t want me reminding them in too much depth of the club’s failings in recent times, but having made approximately £83m on the sales of Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri alone in the past two years, it’s fair to say that there should be enough money in the bank to go on the odd splurge.

In a situation straight out of supermarket sweep, Wenger did go on a mad trolley-dash on deadline day last summer bringing in Per Mertesacker for £10m, Andre Santos for £6.2m, Mikel Arteta for £10m and Park Chu-Young for £3m. This was preceded by the £10.6m move for Gervinho and the £12.6m swoop for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in January. That all comes to the rather hefty total of £53.1m over the course of two transfer windows and the space of seven/eight months.

This highlights the main problem with shouting at Wenger, as the fans did at Stamford Bridge, to ‘spend some f*****g money’, he has done, but it’s the quality of those players that he’s brought in where the real problem lies, for not only are they a significant drop down on the major departures of van Persie, Fabregas and Nasri, they have come at a significant cost so as to prevent moves for players that are up to the required standard. The club clearly has deep pockets and resources to tap into, but when Wenger does, the success rate of his signings has been very poor.

This summer the club sold van Persie to Manchester United for £24m and brought in Santi Cazorla for around £13m, Olivier Giroud for £13m and Lukas Podolski for £11m – two of them were proven and experienced internationals while the other had just helped steer his former club side to a the domestic league title in France somewhat unexpectedly. All three have shown glimpses of their ability, but they’ve had to adapt to a new environment, culture and style of football, and when they have struggled, it’s been noticeable than it perhaps should have been because they’ve already become such central figures, thus exposing the team’s support cast and ropey past dealings in the process.

The departure of the Dutchman wasn’t the only major one out of the Emirates, though, with Barcelona signing Alex Song for £15m, a player that simply hasn’t been replaced. This just smacks of being cheap for the sake of it, but it also points to the complete lack of a coherent long-term plan on Wenger’s part, because had Barcelona not moved for Song, then the club would have started the season with a recognised holding midfielder of sorts, but when he left, there was no move for anyone else, rather statements about how the injured duo of Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby would fill the gap.

This gamble on Diaby’s fitness, one which just hasn’t paid off by any estimation, has seen Arteta play a deeper role than we’ve previously become accustomed to seeing him in, while Santi Cazorla has then dropped deeper, having less impact in the final third, to cover his fellow Spaniard. The result is that the side lacks any sort of presence in midfield, which has come to cost them in games of importance, picking up just one point out of a possible 15 on offer this term against the league’s top three. It’s all about just ‘making do’ rather than making a statement of intent, and when you have the finances available that Arsenal have, that’s simply not enough.

Even going back to the £10m spent on Laurent Koscielny or the £15m on Andrey Arshavin, these are players that have displayed their ability on a number of occasions and have promised much, but in practice have delivered very little. Of Wenger’s dealings over the past few years, only Arteta and Cazorla have firmly established themselves in the side, become key players and represented value for money and that’s a worrying downwards trend which has more than contributed to the club’s gradual decline.

When you factor in the net spend debate, which of course deserves recognition, for Wenger has aligned himself far too closely with the bean counters on the board in the pursuit of some ‘Socialist’ model within the Financial Fair Play framework, Arsenal haven’t spent enough. However, that shouldn’t detract from closer inspection on the significant amount of money he has had to reinvest, even if he’s just been balancing the books at the same time.

Arsenal, to use the words of those eloquent fans, have been ‘spending some f*****g money’, but it’s just that when they have dipped their toes into the transfer market, they’ve come up short more often than not, wasting it on players that simply aren’t good enough to match the club’s ambitions. Suddenly, the Frenchman’s reluctance to move for anyone this month doesn’t seem so strange.


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  • Richard
    1 year ago

    Unfortunatly AW has become Reactive instead of getting the buying done early and paying the market price, instead its wait untill the end and see whats on the S**t shelf that is cheap, until we get a real Major shareholder instead of “Stingy Stan” Aw will not be under and pressure to achive something/anything and given any other direction but his own. Personnaly I think the Yanks have played him for a fool, taking his ideals and using them to their own ends (profitability over success)

    Reply
    • chris from Cambridge
      1 year ago

      Sad but could well be true.

      Reply
  • zdzis
    1 year ago

    You got a lot of things wrong, my boy.
    1) Specify which of the players acquired over the last two summer transfer windows were of insufficient quality. Only Santos and Park never really made it – that’s less than £10m wasted. Have you looked at the other clubs? How much money does Fergie waste?
    2) You’re totally off the mark on Song and Arteta – there was never to be any straightforward replacement for Song, and Diaby definitely wasn’t supposed to play Song’s role. Quite the opposite – it was Arteta who was summoned as a more defensive-minded player, while Diaby was responsible for providing the link between Arteta and Cazorla.
    3) Arsenal have been spending below their means, which in itself was very shrewd. Yes, they did spend a lot of money the summer of 2011, but this was caused mostly by the sudden departure of Nasri. Last summer, our bill fell well below £50m, by some accounts even below £40m, and we got all we really wanted.
    You can easily fault Wenger for failing to reckon with problems such as Diaby’s recurring ailments or the necessity of introducing new players straight into the first XI, but his transfer policy is very logical, and in monetary terms, very sensible. He committed one huge error, though, and that was relying on players who did not want to align themselves with the club for too long. Fabregas has been on the cards for ages, but Clichy, Nasri and RVP were the ones that really stung.

    Reply
    • Richard
      1 year ago

      I’d hate to go Xmas shopping with AW, it would be worse than my misses who sees what she likes in the first shop, then looks in all the other shops only to go back to the first shop and find that somebody had bought what she wanted. She then has to go round the other shops again and eventually buys something that sort of does the job but not nearly as well as what she really wanted.Sounds like anyone you know.

      Also footballers careers are shortish and they would rather win something rather than go on a crusade, if they can double their wages at the same time so much the better, What Gooner fan would decline a chance of doubling their income for doing the same job and having more able workmates to share the load. We havn’t seen the end of our top top players leaving until our monetary policies and objectives drastically change.
      I don’t like Fergie but I can’t knock him either as he’s got a winning mentality unlike Aw who reminds me of the “thinker” statue

      Reply
    • chris from Cambridge
      1 year ago

      You omit to say that top players have left AFC NOT only for money. But because they knew from the inside that Arsene’s dreams were unachievable.

      Reply
      • chris from Cambridge
        1 year ago

        Read RVP’s statement carefully.

        Reply
  • ConcernedGunner
    1 year ago

    If Arsene Wenger spent on the proven premiership footballers, i.e. Demba Ba, Victor Moses, Dembele – we wouldn’t have a problem, however he insists on spending the same or more money on players who are unproven. This may be ok if we didn’t rely on these players, but we do. Gervinho is clearly a disaster – after well over a year he should’ve settled down, but hasn’t.

    Reply
    • chris from Cambridge
      1 year ago

      Yes indeed … there is a reason why proven EPL players cost more. Somebody tell Arsene.

      Reply
  • Charlie
    1 year ago

    Profitability over success is only the case while the club is in the Champions League. If they fail to qualify this season, as I expect, profitability is suddenly in jeopardy again.

    Reply
    • chris from Cambridge
      1 year ago

      Unfortunately Kroenke has the other sports club businesses. First one will be making excellent cash flow then another. He can carry under performers for a while. He will milk the fan base AS LONG AS HE CAN.

      Reply