Based on previous expenditure and revenue, we estimate that Arsenal will likely spend around £120m over the next two transfer windows.
That figure could rise if we see a high profile departure, but you would be surprised to see anyone other than the surplus to requirement loanees leave.
The Arsenal squad is in a really good place right now, which means for the first time in a while we won’t need to sell to free up space prior to buying. We also no longer have unwanted, senior pros on high money that we need to shift.
Taking into account the talent and age of the squad, we are in a position where the transfer funds can be spent on 3 or 4 players rather than needing 6 or 7.
We no longer need “squad position fillers”. The players we target will be important to our present and future. And due to not needing a huge volume of players, we can invest big in individuals.
Manchester City show what you can do when you already have a strong squad.
In the last two seasons, they have invested big in a couple of first team players, then also added a couple of younger players for the future (outside of buying youth players who are lined out).
In 2021/22 they only really signed Jack Grealish. Then in January 2022 they added Julian Alvarez; with the Argentine not joining until the summer.
This summer it was Erling Haaland and Kalvin Phillips. The senior pair then joined by Sergio Gomes (as an Alex Zinchenko replacement) and Martin Akanji – the Swiss centre back was signed due to an injury crisis at centre back.
Whilst Chelsea and Manchester United have invested heavily in the last two years, City have spent just £243m (Chelsea: £360m, Man U £330m).
So where do I expect us to invest that £120m over the next two windows?
For the first time in decades, it feels like our defence is in a good place.
We have a talented, young group of defenders, and investment will only be required if there are departures (keep your eye on Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney).
I wouldn’t be surprised if both departed us this summer, and if they do the obvious replacement would be Eintracht Frankfurt’s Evan Ndicka.
Ndicka would be available on a free transfer (although transfer are never free of all fees!). I will further blog on him another day!
The two areas I expect major investment in the next two windows is one midfield and the forward line. This is not exactly a groundbreaking opinion.
In midfield, we need to improve on Mohamed Elneny as back-up to Thomas Partey.
Partey is the best in the world plying as that single pivot defensive midfielder, so do not expect us to go for a big name in this area (no Declan Rice).
Likewise, get the likes of Youri Tielemans and Sergej Milinković-Savić out of your mouths. Neither are defensive midfielders or can play that Partey role.
Both might be an option if we decide to sign cover and competition for Granit Xhaka as one of the two 8s (the other side is covered by Martin Odegaard and Fabio Vieira). Again, a blog on this another day.
What we need to be looking at is a young, talented defensive midfielder who we can develop over the next 2-3 season to eventually replace Partey full-time. Basically succession management.
We should be looking at players aged 20-22. Players that would see joining Arsenal to be understudy to Partey as a step up from playing regular football at their current clubs.
They would understand that they would see plenty of game time as they continue their development, and as long as they work hard and keep improving, they will be in pole position to replace the Ghanaian in 2-years time.
The two obvious candidates are Palmeiras’ Danilo and Moises Caciedo of Brighton.
Danilo would be the cheapest of the pair – fee rumoured to be around £20-25m. Caciedo, with his Premier League experience, would cost double that.
The Brazilian would be available in January, the current Brasileiro Série A season finished in November. Brighton, meanwhile, would unlikely want to see Caciedo leave until the summer.
With the above considered, Danilo is a realistic January transfer target.
In the forward line, we need someone who is comfortable out wide and can potentially play up top.
We are heavily relying on Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka in those wide positions. We need to turn two into three and sign an equally talented wide man that can cover both wings.
That would then leave us with Emile Smith Rowe (and his injuries) as 4th choice winger. The Englishman could also be a cover option at 8. I also wonder if he could do a job as a “false 9”.
Mykhailo Mudryk, like Danilo, is one we have been linked with for a while.
Shakhtar Donetsk are rumoured to be demanding in excess of £80m. This is a huge fee for someone so inexperienced, and one I doubt Arsenal would pay.
At that level of investment, we should be targeting Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. Alternative PSV’s Cody Gakpo will be half that price.
Wilfried Zaha is a name that needs to be considered as a short term option.
I do think we will get a deal done if we want to for Mudryk. As discussed earlier, we do not need a volume of players which will allow us to spend big on those that do come in where required.
Considering what is happening in Ukraine right now, that deal could happen in January.
If in January we end up with Danilo and Mudryk, that will probably be around 75% of our investment for the next few windows.
A 3rd/4th choice central defender (if Ben White continues at right back) will likely join in the summer, whilst Edu might considering entering the market to add a better back-up striker to Gabriel Jesus.
Eddie Nketiah has not really done it this season, and the jury is still out on Folarin Balogun.
A few have made the case for Ivan Toney, and he would certainly be a good acquisition depending on his betting charges.
The forward option will all depend on how much we have spent in midfield and on Partey cover.
If Arteta decides he is happy with Jesus and one of Nketiah/Balogun, further backed up by Martinelli and a new wide forward, he might instruct the team to get him cover and competition for Xhaka.
Personally, I think he will use Charlie Patino and Smith Rowe in this position. And then summer 2024 could be where we invest big on a Xhaka replacement (he will be just shy of 32 come 2024).
But then if Tielemans is a target, would we want to give up the chance of getting him for free just because we don’t 100% need a new 8 for another 12 months?
Plenty to think about, and whilst we might debate personal, I doubt anyone will debate that we will spend much different to £120m over the next two windows.