When Arsenal boss Unai Emery publicly acknowledged last January that any business done in the mid-season window would have to be loan deals, there was surprise from the galleries that bordered on shock.
The necessary days of parsimony due to their stadium build were long over and in the post-Wenger era a rebuild on the pitch now took precedence.
Surely the wasting of a transfer window – in the event the Gunners temporarily brought in an unfit Denis Suarez in what proved to be a thoroughly underwhelming swoop– would be immensely costly in other ways given that the securement of a top four spot was so fundamentally important in May.
Furthermore, and pertinently to the point at hand, Arsenal were named the ninth richest club in the world shortly after the turn of the year, boasting an annual revenue of £389.1m. Yet here they were – once again – playing the pauper.
Consequently, however, a series of factors have become more widely known. A bloated wage bill, from which Mesut Ozil and his £350,000 a week have become the scapegoat, and a lack of Champions League football is a combination that only leads to penny-pinching, especially when their owner Stan Kroenke continues to insist that the north London giants must be self-financed.
Income from the selling of players, meanwhile, has been a relative pittance, yet Wenger spent £137.5m in his final season in charge of the club. Something clearly had to give.
Even so, some optimism emerged back in January, and that derived from a belief among the Gunner fan-base that one tight-fisted window would facilitate something resembling a summer spending spree.
Only once again Arsenal go into a highly competitive market hamstrung. Only once again they are somehow seeking to keep pace with big-spending rivals while compromising on a budget.
Their recent link to Yannick Carrasco is a perfect example of this. The Belgian winger is an ideal recruit for the Gunners, with Danny Welbeck on his way out of the club, Alexis Sanchez yet to be adequately replaced and Alex Iwobi looking unlikely to reach the level one might have expected when he broke into the senior setup.
More so, here is a rare opportunity to snap up an elite talent for an affordable price – £30m is tempting value in this day and age for a proven flair player with age on his side – and the player in question is desperate to return to Europe to ensure of his place in Roberto Martinez’s squad for Euro 2020.
Yet even with all of these stars aligning Arsenal appear no closer to getting a deal over the line.
Elsewhere, a persistent link to Sampdoria’s Dennis Praet is out and out confusing. With Arsenal needing to bring in a quality box-to-box midfielder to replace the departed Aaron Ramsey, what sense is there in squandering what few funds are available on a player who has made precisely seven assists in three Serie A seasons?
Might it be because Praet is attainable and they like the cut of his jib? Might this then necessitate a reshuffling of position for a central area where they are already well-stocked with the likes of Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Lucas Torreira? Again this would be a compromise.
By a conservative estimate, Arsenal are in dire need of seven incoming stars should they wish to upgrade their squad sufficiently to successfully challenge for a Champions League spot. This number includes positions – a centre back and impactful wide-man among them – that, historically speaking, tend not to come cheap.
It would be wrong to expect any club to address these concerns over one window.
It would be entirely reasonable, however, to expect a club the size of Arsenal to at least begin that process without tying one of their own arms behind their back.