Yesterday I touched a little bit on how targeting Ousmane Dembele would impact on Arsenal’s summer 2019 budget. It is well worth discussing this further.
The starting point on any discussion around who we want to buy, and how we can afford them, is to firstly look at the state of the squad to truly establish what we need to buy, and what is a priority and what is not.
The way I see it, the below will be the basis of the squad going into 2019/20:
Bellerin Sokratis CB LB
Lichtsteiner Koscielny Holding Monreal
Nelson Ozil LW
Iwobi Mkhitaryan SmithRowe
With debating the decisions I made too much, I will quickly touch on a couple of the players that a few people bought up on Twitter when I posted the above up.
Firstly on Petr Cech.
His contract runs out at the end of the season and I think he is well worth another one.
When you are second choice goal keeper, you have to be good enough to play a 38 game Premier League season if the first choice picks up an injury. I am not sure if Damian Martinez, Dyan Iliev or Matt Macey currently have that ability.
Keeping Cech around will be good on the training ground and also allow us to give Matt Macey (who I expect to step up to 3rd choice keeper next year) some cup games allowing the club to truly assess whether he is a long term 2nd choice.
Buying a new keeper is also not a priority. Keep Cech for a year and if no one else steps up; buy a new number 2 in 2020.
There is a debate to be had over Nacho Monreal and Saed Kolasinac. Originally I had Kolasinac in the squad, but after discussions, was encouraged to change my mind.
Like Cech, Monreal’s contract runs out at the end of this year.
Despite being 33 (soon) he is still our best left back. Give him another year, cash in on Kolasinac, and buy a youngster with potential. Keeping Monreal around will ensure we have someone reliable and who we know competing with the new man.
The last one people mentioned was Mo Elneny.
Whilst I am not his biggest fan, we need 5 central midfielders, and with Ramsey off that leaves Elneny.
It would be a pointless exercise selling Elneny to then buy someone of similar standard to be 5th choice. The other option would be to promote someone from the youth team – but in my opinion there is currently not a central midfielder knocking on the first team squad door.
Keep Elneny for a year and see if any of the kids are able to step up in 18 months time to become a first team squad member.
So ultimately, we need a left winger, a left back and a centre back.
Due to increased sponsorship revenue, and some amortised transfer fees set to full off the books, we have around £50m available to us next summer. As I have explained before, this does not mean we have £50m available for transfers. It means that we can increase club costs by £50m. This then covers amortised transfer fees, yearly wages, agents fees, signing on fees, bonuses and any increase in contracts of current players.
I would expect us to also sell Calum Chambers (who has struggled at Fulham) and Shkodran Mustafi. The transfer fees for these players can go into the pot, but it must be remembered this is a one time increase in revenue, and not something you can rely on next year to cover costs.
With Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck and David Ospina set to leave on a free transfer, we would free up around £20m in annual salary over the 5 players. That can be added to the £50m we already have free giving us a total of £70million to play with, prior to income from sales.
So what can we get for £70million?
Well first up is my man Osumane Dembele.
If we secured him for £85m on a 5 year deal, his transfer fee be have have an amortised value of £17m a year. Add in a salary that would cost around £11m in a year, it would cost the club £28m over the next 5 years – that will be about 40% of our budget spent.
We could then sign a left back for £30million over 5 years. I think you could secure someone like Ben Chillwell or Ferland Mendy for this. If you assume you would pay either about £100k a week, that comes out to £6m in annual wages (by the time you add NI, pension, etc). That is then £12m spent.
Finally replicate the above on a centre back. This is where Svan Mislintat would earn his money.
Sign a powerful centre back for £30m, I back there is someone out there who could be uncovered. A similar wage structure as above would also cost us £12m over the year.
So that would be around £52million added to our annual expenditure.
By the time you add other costs (agent fees, signing on fees, other bonuses, etc) that’ll be pretty much the transfer budget done
Any fees from selling Mustafi / Chambers is then a Brucie Bonus. Money that you could spend on youngsters, or leave in the bank for another day.
It will take a few transfer windows to get the squad into a fully competitive state. Last summer we added Lucas Torreira and Bernd Leno as long term first teamers.
If next summer we add a new CB, LB and LW to the squad, it would be another huge step forward.
Looking forward to 2020, we will then need another centre back and perhaps a Mesut Ozil replacement. We might also look at upgrading on Granit Xhaka.
A top squad is not built overnight, in one transfer window. Manchester City owners have been at the club for 10 years and spent £2.7bn. Anyone who expects Arsenal to suddenly become champions after 1 or 2 windows is being unrealistic.
3 top signings next summer and we are good to go.