According to reports Arsenal are closing in on deals for Kieran Tierney, Dani Ceballos, William Saliba and Everton Soares.
Whether we get any or all of these deals over the line is not yet clear, but what all 4 targets show is a clear shift in Arsenal’s transfer policy.
When we moved from Highbury to the Emirates, the tagline was “this will enable us to compete for the best in the world”. The following years saw Arsenal sell their best players and replace them with younger, cheaper alternatives.
This lead to an outcry from many fans that we had been lied to.
Arsenal were hamstrung with high repayments and a dip in the London property market caused by the recession. We had the Russians and Arabs at Chelsea and Manchester City changing the landscape of football. Suddenly a player who would have been available for £15million was being singed for £25million (think Shaun Wright Phillips).
Perhaps feeling the pressure from fans, Arsenal changed the policy of focusing mainly on talented young players in 2012.
That season Santi Cazorla (28) Lukas Podolski (27), Nacho Monreal (27) and Olivier Giroud (26) joined the club. Senior, experienced professionals at their peak.
The issue with signing these sort of players is they have very little sell on value. You buy them, give them a 5 year deal, and end up keeping them until they either leave on a free, or leave in the last year of their contract for a nominal sum.
Arsenal spent £52million on the quartet, and have recouped just £19.8million.
The year after we went big, breaking our transfer record on Mesut Ozil. A player at the peak of his powers. Then it was Mathieu Debuchy, Alexis Sanchez, David Ospina, Danny Welbeck and Gabriel Paulista.
3 seasons and the majority of our signings were established senior professionals, rather than exciting young talents.
2015/16 it was Petr Cech and Mohamed Elneny, the next season Lucas Perez, Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi.
Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan followed as we continued to sign players over 25.
Last we saw some change, with Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira joining the club, although we still signed Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sokratis, 2 players who were in their 30’s.
Of the 20 senior signings Arsenal have made since, just 9 are still with the club. Their total cost was nearly £400,000,000, and the 11 that have left raised just £38million.
6 of those players who left did not raise a single penny in incoming transfer fee, with only Olivier Giroud making a profit over £1million. Arsenal made £5million from his sale.
Arsenal are at a deficient of over £360million, and many of the 9 still at the club would generate little in transfer fees.
The policy of chasing senior, experienced players has cost Arsenal a lot of money and is the key cause we are in the situation we find ourselves in today.
Arsenal have an ageing squad, a high wage bill and very few players they can generate to raise further funds.
Compare this to Liverpool who, in recent years, have bought low, sold high, rebuilt and won the Champions League.
Despite moving from Highbury to the Emirates to compete for the best it is clear and obvious to all that trying to sign senior, established stars has done more damage than good at Arsenal.
If we do secure Tierney (22), Ceballos (22), Everton (23) and Saliba (18) it will see the club addressing the ageing squad issue and returning to the policy of buying bright, young talent.
All of these players will develop further at Arsenal and could potentially be sold on for huge profits, allowing the club to reinvest again.
Younger, hungrier players is the order of the day at AFC.