“We don’t sign superstars, we make them” – Arsene Wenger, 2007.
In recent decades, Arsenal have been at their most successful when creating superstars rather than “going big” in the transfer market.
Under George Graham the team was built on youth team graduates – the likes of Tony Adams, Rocky Rocastle, Michael Thomas, Paul Davis & Paul Merson – alongside journeymen Englishmen bought from the likes of Stoke City, Wimbledon, Watford, Leicester City and Crystal Palace.
And the success of the Wenger era is built on buying the likes of Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Freddie Ljungberg, Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, Kolo Toure, Lauren, Gilberto Silva and more.
This summer, Arsenal have refrained from bringing in well established senior pros and focused more on younger, hungrier talent.
No Willian, David Luiz or Stephan Lichsteiner bought in on the cheap. No big Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil, Nicolas Pepe Thomas Partey, or Alexandre Lacazette.
Takehiro Tomiyasu became the clubs 6th major signing of the summer, joining the club on deadline.
Signed from Bologna and just 22-years-old, he is the exact profile of all the other signings this year – young enough to have potential, old enough to have experience, and making a step-up from lesser club.
Tomiyasu has been joined by Ben White (23), Aaron Ramsdale (23), Martin Odegaard (22), Albert Sambi Lokonga (21) and Nuno Taveras (21).
These were added to an existing young core that includes Kieran Tierney (currently 24), Gabriel (23), Emile Smith Rowe (21), Bukayo Saka (19) and Gabriel Martinelli (21).
Every players signed was aged between 21 & 23. If Gary Neville thinks Arsenal’s transfer strategy is “a little bit all over the place” then it probably explains why he has failed as manager.
As always with Arsenal, there are some fans that have criticised this strategy.
They have complained that Arsenal have not added any senior quality. That we should have been focusing on established players aged between 28-30.
Focusing more on senior players has been our strategy in recent years.
“Short term fixes” is what I call them.
Bringing in senior players on big money to help us in the short term. It has failed, cost us a lot of money and actually made us worse.
The age profile of Arsenal’s first team squad makes interesting reading:
The 27 players in the squad have an average age of 24.5 years old.
We have added the talented younger players to go alongside more experienced players – 11 of the squad are 26 and over.
The likes of Aubameyang, Lacazette, Partey, Pepe, Xhaka and Leno will have a huge role to play showing leadership and experience (a debate for another day).
Mixed in with the 11 aged 26 and over, another 9 are over 21 with the remaining 7 being under 21.
It should be a squad with enough experience and quality to finish top 6 this season. It is also a squad youthful enough that it will grow and improve as we seek a return to the top 4.