I do not remember the last time I had a week so busy. However, this was also coupled with the fact next to nothing Arsenal-related was happening. The big news is probably Diaby leaving the Club after almost ten years. The Frenchman was recently listed as a free agent come July 1st. As @Arseblog rightly pointed out it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll go, it just means he’s out of contract, he can still be offered a new one, but nonetheless I think he will be released. Which is very sad. Diaby is a brilliant footballer, he just couldn’t catch a break with injures ever since that horrible Dan Smith tackle left Abou’s ankle in tatters.
However, I’m not here to talk about Abou Diaby. Maybe I could have, but I feel I’m not the right man. I’ll leave you in the very capable hands of @7amkickoff instead. I’ll also list two of my favourite pics with Diaby below. As someone rightly noted, after this Abou is only a Katie Hopkins headbutt away from becoming a national hero.
Today, in the wake of all the transfer speculation, I wanted to concentrate on something else, namely: what factors are involved in purchasing a player. Of course it’s my own opinion, I do not possess the knowledge to exhaustively describe the whole process. I also won’t talk about things like “sorting out agent fees” because, frankly, it’s of little interest to both me and you, my dear readers.
Finally, I think we should all be looking forward to our summer acquisitions. I’m sure Arsene will make additions, even if those won’t be the ones we want/expect him to. I’ll elaborate on that last point a bit later. So here goes my vision.
Should be an obvious factor, but one which is nonetheless overlooked by many Arsenal fans. It’s understandable: we all want the best for our Club and as such are looking at the best players, who are, most of the time, either not up for grabs or out of our financial reach.
Yes, we are the mighty Arsenal, however we aren’t able to compete for players like Bale and Pogba. Not because these guys will necessarily be averse to the idea of joining us, rather because their sellers will likely have their heads turned by the likes of Real and City.
We do not have the financial muscle to compete with these giants. Simple as that. We might scream all we want how the players’ price tag rarely reflects the true value of the player, but it’s the harsh reality of today’s transfer market.
This makes me appreciate Arsene Wenger even more. For years (for almost two decades, actually) he has been able to find brilliant players for low to reasonable fees. He has shown he can splash the cash on players he really likes and badly wants to have on his team, but his general philosophy remains the same: buy and develop or buy a ready-made product for reasonable money:
“Santi has been voted man of the match (FA Cup Final). I think he has not cost £150m. Coquelin was one of the best on the pitch. You have to always look at the real quality of people. I am not against spending money. I have shown that recently. But I want a good rapport between price and quality.”
The Domino Effect
I haven’t tracked this pattern for longer than two years, however it can most definitely be said Ozil and Sanchez were acquired due to Arsene’s ability to see two steps ahead and bide his time. Oh, and count Welbeck in. He may not be as flashy or lucrative, but the principle is the same with him.
Ozil was bought after Bale’s addition made the German surplus to requirements at the Galacticos (Mesut Ozil. Surplus to requirements. How funny it sounds). Suarez to Barcelona made Sanchez to Arsenal possible. Falcao to United gave us the opportunity to snatch up Welbeck on deadline day.
In other words, sometimes being reactive pays off more than being proactive. If you are just keep your eyes open to what’s happening in the transfer market, you can reap the benefits.
The Arsene Wenger effect
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it also pays off having a brilliant manager. Players not only want to play for certain clubs or for paychecks, they also want to be under the tutelage of certain managers. Arsene Wenger is one of these managers.
The phrase almost every our new player drops, the one about how happy he is to have the opportunity to work with Arsene Wenger, has become a punchline. Players are people, not robots (surprise, surprise!) and they too want to hear how needed they are, what plans Arsene has in store for them. All it sometimes takes is a conversation in German or the promise to play you in your preferred position:
“I thought: ‘What he is telling me is what I have missed at Real: transparency, trust, respect. He told me exactly how he sees me [as a player], how he wants to use me, what he expects from me and what he hopes I will contribute.”
Few managers can say they possess the charisma to attract players single-handedly. Arsene can. Appreciate it.
We may not expect it, but it surely will be good
Carl Jenkinson, Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joel Campbell, Park Chu-Young, Andre Santos, Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Eisfeld, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla, Nacho Monreal, Yaya Sanogo, Mathieu Flamini, Mesut Ozil, Mathieu Debuchy, Alexis Sanchez, David Ospina, Calum Chambers, Danny Welbeck, Gabriel Armando de Abreu, Krystian Bielik.
These are the players we’ve bought in the last four years. I didn’t go back further, as we were heavily pressed on the financial front and, barring occasional good players (like Koscielny, Vermaelen, Sagna, Arshavin and Ramsey) bought absolute poverty.
However, let’s return to the list at hand. I noticed two (really simple) patterns:
- Few of these players truly flopped
- Few of us expected Arsene to sign these exact players
But, I hear you say, are you calling Gervinho, Santos, Park Chu-Young and Yaya Sanogo successful transfers? What are you smoking?
Chill, I’m not saying these guys were great. However, there are two further things you have to keep in mind:
- All these unsuccessful transfers (bar Sanogo) happened four years ago, in one window
- None of them cost us much
Gervinho is our most expensive failure. He cost 10 million. Santos is 2nd, cost 6 million. And even their uselessness is debatable. Both had good spells at the Club, they just didn’t adapt in the end. In an era where clubs are willing to offer 50 million on Kane or Sterling, where Balotelli and Falcao (flops if there ever were any) cost 16 and 20 mil respectively, I think you can forgive Arsene a couple of not wholly successful players for such meagre sums.
Sanogo and Flamini cost us nothing. Campbell (and the jury is still out on him) cost us 1 million.
The point I’m trying to get across? Arsene makes bloody good acquisitions. Especially when he has the money. Look at our last three years. Bar Sanogo and Flamini and maybe Podolski, ALL of the players Arsene bought are invaluable. They are all successful. All have a future at the club, whether short-term (due to age, like Cazorla) or long-term.
Finally, expect the unexpected. I do not remember the last time Arsene bought a player which was hyped up by the fans and media alike, but, as I’ve demonstrated above, Arsene has a penchant for making bloody good transfers. If Arsene buys someone, he’ll be a success.
You may shed a tear or two upon reading this article. If my logic is anything to go by (and I think it is), we won’t buy Martinez. Or Benzema. We may not even buy Schneiderlin or Cech.
But we will buy players. And these players will be good players. So take a seat and grab the popcorn. The show is about to begin.