A Tale of Two Transfer Philosophies

132“It’s very difficult to buy because, if you ask a player of the medium level, they might ask for £55 million, It’s very difficult to enter the market with these prices and in this condition.”

“No. I’m not comfortable. I don’t like to pay a lot of money. If a player deserves it, then it’s right. But for a medium player, it’s right to pay the right price, not £20 or £30 million over. That’s not right. We must be patient and wait. We need to sign some players.”

Not the words of Arsene Wenger, but the words of new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte in this mornings Telegraph.

“I’ve tried my best, but I don’t think in the short term…You can’t just go ‘We have money’, and throw it away and take any players you want. It is always about the decision, you can sign a lot of rubbish with money or you can make really good decisions.”

“I cannot say, ‘It is only money going somewhere else’. We have money, but we are not in Disneyland and can say, ‘Come on, take what you want’. We have a budget, we work with it. This is for the long-term development of the club.”

Not the words or Arsene Wenger, but the words of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp back in January.

“I personally believe that no matter what you do, it’s never enough. In the Premier League, every club is hugely ambitious. With the cheques that everybody signs, it’s quite scary. But I believe we know what we have to do.”

That one was Arsene Wenger back in July.


This summer there seems to have been a clear line in the sand when it comes to the transfer policies of top clubs.

On one side, you have the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United. Between them they have spent over £300m on players. They are paying what selling clubs are asking for. Turning up with their suitcase full of cash and walking away with the player they need. Even if they are paying over the odds. Between them they have spent more than a third of the Premier League’s total outlay on player.

You then have the other side of the fence, where the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool & Spurs sit. Between those 4 clubs, they have not yet breached a combined spend of £200m. They are refusing to be held to ransom by European clubs who want a share of the Premier League TV money.

So why do England’s top 6 clubs have two very differing transfer policies? The answer is management.

At Manchester City and Manchester United, we have 2 short term managers. Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola rarely spend more than a few years at a club.

Manchester United is Mourinho;s 4th job since leaving Chelsea in 2007. Guardiola has been well quoted in the past that he never really wants to stay more then 3 years at clubs.

Both come into clubs with short term plans.

Spend big, win big, move on.

It has proved successful, but it has also proved expensive.

For both, they have been lucky that they have joined clubs where nothing needs to be built around them. The likes of Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid & Chelsea are designed for short term managers, come in, win, leave.

It is what has given them both the philosophy of spending big, spending quick. I would be surprised if any manager in world football has outspend Guardiola or Morunhio in the last 6 years.

It is the way they both work.

Than you have the likes of Wenger & Klopp. Both have built a legacy at the clubs they have spent the majority of their time at. Arsenal & Borussia Dortmund. They spent sensibly, and built the clubs up ensuring that they were not only successful during their era, but giving them the best chance of being successful in the future.

Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino seem to of be of a similar ilk. Even though both have already been through a few clubs, they now seem to want to build a legacy at both Chelsea and Tottenham respectively. They are in it for the long term.

And that is the line in the sand. If you are a short term manager like Guardiola & Mourinho, you are spending big, on short term solutions, with a short term goal of winning the Premier League and Champions League quickly, before leaving.

If you are in it for the long term, you always have one eye on the future.

What Conte has said about transfers is completely correct.

Napoli are demanding £55m for Kalidou Koulibaly. A player whom a year ago no one had heard of. John Stones went to Manchester City for £47.5m. A crazy amount for a player dropped by his club side last season, and did not play a minute at the recent European Championships.

You feel had Mourinho still had have been at Chelsea, Stones would be at the club, and probably Koulibaly too. Mourinho pays the money, no matter the price.The transfer window is a crazy place at the moment. European sides are basically naming their price, in the hope a club pays. It all depends how desperate, how short termist, the club is. Manchester City and Manchester United have thus far paid the price. Other clubs have basically turned round and said “don’t take the piss”.

Of course, this does not justify Arsenal’s lack of spending. Conte talks about the medium player who he values at under £30m. There have been plenty of said players move this summer who would have improved us. Shkodran Mustafi is one.

Just because we do not, and correctly should not, pay £55m on someone like Koulibaly, it does not mean we should not be paying for players who are worth what the asking price is (or a little bit more). And if someone like Antoine Griezmann is gettable at £90m, we should go and get him.

In the last year, Arsenal fans have said that we should have gone and the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte. Their philosophy fits in with Arsene Wenger’s. They would have been perfect for a club like ours. They are in it for the long haul.



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