Arsenal need to spend some money, Arsene Wenger needs to buy some players, Ivan Gazidis needs to push Arsene Wenger to ensure Arsenal but the best players to enable us to put up the best challenge we can for the league title.
Now I have got that out the way, time to say a couple of things that might wind a few of you up, will probably need to accusations of me flip-flopping, and will certainly get me a bit of abuse from the trolls.
Both Ivan Gazidis and Arsene Wenger’s recent comments are bang on the money.
Gazidis told ESPN “it’s not just about spending money but about how you spend your money and doing it wisely”, whilst Wenger followed this up with “if we find the right candidates, we will spend the big money.”
Now when most people read these quotes, they sighed in disbelief. In an era with new TV deals and giant match day revenue, Arsenal’s management team are once more talking about not spending money, and only on the right candidates.
It is Arsene Wengers “nobody better available” from last year all over again (although I am actually struggling to find him being quoted as ever saying this?)
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and interpretation of the quotes, but nine is that both are correct in what they say.
Personally, it has never been what you spend, but how you spend it.
Don’t believe me? Look at last season. Two of the stand out players were N’Golo Kante & Dimitri Payet. Only an idiot would not have put either in their team of the year, and both were named in the PFA team of the year.
But they cost around £16million between them (Kante – £5m, Payet £11m – both approx).
Meanwhile, Manchester United spent nearly £50m on Memphis Depay (£25m) & Morgan Schneiderlin (£24m). Manchester City spent £44m on Raheem Sterling & £55m on Kevin De Bruyne – both outperformed by Payet.
Liverpool £29m on Roberto Firminho. Tottenham £22m on Son Heung-min. Payet was superior to these too.
And N’Golo Kante was easily the best defensive midfielder in the league.
Looking back at the 2015/16 PFA team of the year, it cost approximately £54m. That is less that what Manchester City spent on Kevin de Bruyne, or less than what Manchester United could end up paying for Anthony Martial.
Another great example of it not being what you spend is Manchester City.
They have spent well over £100m in recent years on centre backs. And yet the best two that they have signed in recent years were Vincent Kompany (£6m) and Jerome Boateng (£11m). Last summer, they signed Nicolas Otamendi for £31m. Spurs meanwhile signed Toby Alderweireld for just £11m. City spent £40m on Eliaquim Mangala. Arsenal spent £11m on Laurent Koscielny.
City are a perfect example of a side who seem to care more about the price tag of a player rather than his actually ability.
This summer, Borussia Dortmund have spent around £90m. Liverpool just shy of £80m. But the difference in quality is stark:
If players of the quality of Gonzalo Higuain, Julian Draxler, Riyad Mahrez or Romelu Lukaku are available, but will cost big money, go and buy them. They are the right players. We have shown this with Granit Xhaka. The right player.
Chelsea won the league in 2013/14. They identified two key positions where they needed to make strong signings. Central midfield and upfront. They went and spent £60m on Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas. They were the right players for Chelsea to bring in.
But likewise, if we find the next Riyad Mahrez, the next N’Golo Kante (before we secured Xhaka), the next Dimitri Payet, someone who would improve the team but cost little, we should go for them too, even if it annoys fans that we are buying “another unknown from France.”
Everton signed John Stones for £3m. He is now being speculated at going to Man City or Chelsea for upwards of £40m. Who is to say Rob Holding is not that good?
“Now it is about how well you can identify and develop talent, how strong your club philosophy is, how together you are as a club and what your support services are like in the medical, fitness, analytics and psychology fields.”
That is the most important aspect of what Gazidis told ESPN. It is not all about spending £50m on a player. It is about buying in the right player, and ensuring that the support (coaching?) within the club ensures that the talent fulfils its potential.
Of course, I am not advocating not spending. In my eyes, Arsenal still need a strong centre back to compete with Per Mertesacker, an attacking right winger to displace Theo Walcott. And a striker to offer something different to Olivier Giroud. But I want us to get in the right players, no matter their cost, not just buy a player because he costs a lot.
I do not care what a player costs, as long as he is the right player for the team.