I recently watched a clip of Jamie O’Hara claiming that Jesse Lingard should not join Arsenal.
His reasoning was that “Arsenal would not be pulling up any trees in the next season” and would “not be spending big money”. He then went on to say “he should join Tottenham” as they were miles above Arsenal.
It was click bait at is finest, designed to get Arsenal fans calling in to abuse the journeyman former footballer.
Laura Woods held him to account pointing out that Spurs were only a handful of points above Arsenal. That they could be losing their best player and have a manager who players do not want to play for.
Click bait aside. There is a serious conversation to be had
When Arsenal are linked with players from those clubs above us, you often see fans of those clubs and rival clubs saying “why would he want to take a step down”.
Why would Wilfred Ndidi leave 3rd place Leicester City for 9th placed Arsenal? Or Lingard pick Arsenal over 4th placed West Ham? And so on.
The reality is Arsenal could sign any player they wanted from these clubs. And are still more attractive then any side in the Premier League outside of Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.
The saying goes “form is temporary, class is permanent” and that is exactly why Arsenal will still be the destination of choice for many players.
Form is Temporary
Last season West Ham finished 16th, They have finished top 10 3 times in 20 years and not finished higher than 7th since 1999.
No player in their right mind would pick West Ham over an Arsenal based on the Hammers having one decent season.
There form this season is likely a temporary peak before their return to the lower-mid table positions they have spent the last decade in.
Next season they are just as likely to get relegated as finish top 4.
Whereas the opposite is different for Arsenal. We are more likely to finish top 4 than get relegated.
Leicester City are a different proposition.
They finished 5th last season and are looking to back that up with a top 4 finish this. 6 seasons ago they finished champions.
But in 3 of the last 4 seasons they finished no higher than 9th – their lowest is 12th.
Arsenal finished above Leicester 3 out of 4 times, with a lowest position of 8th.
No player is going to pick (or not leave) Leicester based on them finishing above Arsenal a couple of times.
Players are driven by 4 things:
1) Playing for the club they love
2) Winning trophies
3) Earning big money
4) Playing for a “big club”
The more of those factors you can offer, the higher up a food chain you are.
Regardless of current league position, a player is more likely to win a trophy at Arsenal than Leicester, Everton, West Ham or Tottenham.
It might be “only the FA Cup” but a player joining Arsenal in 2013 would have 4 FA Cup winners medals hanging on their wall.
Only Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have won more in that time than Arsenal.
2013 was the year Harry Kane made his breakthrough into the Tottenham team. Over 200 goals and 300 appearances later, he is still waiting to win his first trophy.
If you are driven to win trophies, you join Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal.
They are the 5 teams that are constantly their at the business end of competitions. Making semi-finals, finals, winning trophies.
In the 4 years Arsenal have finished outside the top 4, we have won 2 FA Cups. I the 2 seasons we finished trophyless we made the League Cup and Europa League finals.
In the last 8 seasons we have won 4 trophies and finished runners up 4 times. That is top 2 in a competition every single season.
We might be 9th in the league, but we still have more of a chance to win a trophy than most of those teams above us.
Like it or not, how much a team can pay a player still has a huge impact when they decide who ti sign for.
Take Manchester City.
Back in the late 00s and early 10s, they could only offer players one of those things. Big money. So the money they had to pay players to join them was astronomical.
They can now offer almost guaranteed success which has led to them no longer having to “overpay” to attract players.
O’Hara has said “Arsenal will not spend big money”. Yet we will spend big money and will continue to do so on players wages.
In 2019/20, Arsenal had the 5th highest wage bill in the Premier League.
We pay nearly 100% more on salaries than West Ham and close to 50% more than Leicester City.
Despite Covid19 and finishing mid-table again, those figures will not change soon.
Arsenal’s wage bill is unlikely to dramatically drop, and West Ham’s will unlikely shoot up.
Whatever Leicester, West Ham, Everton or Tottenham can offer, Arsenal can offer more.
You throw in that we are more likely to win trophies and you start to see why we are still a ore attractive proposition than those clubs that will finish above us.
“You’re living in the past” is what many say when talking about a clubs history. But it has a huge factor and pull for clubs.
The fact is, players want to play for the biggest clubs.
No matter where they are in the league, the big clubs will always be able to attract the best players.
Whether that be Arsenal or Liverpool. Juventus or Inter Milan. Manchester United or AC Milan.
Look at Liverpool in the late 00s / mid 10s.
They finished top 5 once in 7 seasons, finishing 6th-8th in the other 6 seasons.
Yet they were still able to attract the likes of Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho, Raul Meireles, Mamadou Sakho, Mario Balotelli, Emre Can and Roberto Firmino from abroad.
And despite their poor finishes, they were able to poach the likes of Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, José Enrique, Joe Allen, Simon Mignolet, Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Danny Ings and Nathaniel Clyne from domestic rivals.
They could still knock on the door of those smaller clubs and sign their best players regardless of where they finished in the league.
It is the same for Manchester United, and Arsenal.
The historic big 3 clubs in England will always be a bigger draw for players at home and abroad then those lesser clubs.
Unless a Manchester City or Chelsea turns up firing millions of pounds at players from the tank parked on a rivals lawn; Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal will always have the biggest draw for players.
So when someone says “why would a player join Arsenal”, the answer is simple.
Arsenal are one of Europe’s biggest clubs
Arsenal are one of England most successful clubs
And Arsenal can still pay more than 75% of the Premier League
PS: I would not want us to sign Jesse Lingard. Is he West Hams level.