Summer 2012 needs to see a change in direction in Arsenal’s transfer policy. Out must go this incessant desire to collect 15-16 year olds from around the world and expect and hope that they will develop.
Arsenal have many youngsters in the reserves or on loan for whom the time is ripe for them to be given their chance.
Kyle Bartley will have played the better part of two seasons for Rangers, the time is for Kyle to come back and be given a real chance at Arsenal. In addition we have seen Ignasi Miguel this season at left-back, 2012 must see play at centre-back.
In midfield we need to allow Frimpong and Coquelin a real chance. Wenger needs to play these two guys next season regularly. Arsene needs to learn the art of developing and bringing young players through the ranks. This means resting your regular players.
In addition to these two, is the precocious talents of Henri Lansbury. This youngster has Arsenal running through his veins, he has spent the last two seasons on loan at Championship teams and he was a vital member of Stuart Pearce’s England under 21 team. If Wenger fails to keep Lansbury and develop him, then Wenger can be discounted as manager who develops and gives youth its chance.
Another youngster who will be given his chance, next season or more likely this season is Connor Henderson. His progress has been hampered by severe injuries for the last two seasons, but Wenger believes in the young Ireland winger.
The final person that needs to be given an opportunity is our other summer signing Joel Campbell. Campbell will develop into a good striker, only through Arsenal’s folly in applying for a special talent work permit for Ryo rather than Campbell, has the Costa Rica international had to ply his trade in France,
These seven youngsters along with Szczesny, Gibbs, Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain will be the basis of Arsenal for years to come. They will fight for Arsenal and feel Arsenal, every defeat will mean something to them, they will give heart and soul for the club.
This is the promotion from within that we failed to undertake for many seasons. Too often our talent has been releases, only for them to flourish elsewhere.
The club then needs to invest in three top quality players. A central midfielder, a creative player and a world-class striker. The argument that buying these players will curtail the advancement of the players mentioned above is utter rubbish. Young players will thrive by training and playing alongside top players. The youngsters will develop better and faster in a winning team.
This summer needs a clear-out of our deadwood, and we have a lot of deadwood, we need to promote and give young Arsenal players the chance to flourish and we need to invest in three world-class players. This is the mix that Arsenal need to overhaul our squad and put us on the right track.
Arsenal has suffered some terrible bad luck with defensive injuries this season. We lost Sagna, Gibbs and Jenkinson all with a 17 days in October, but the loss that has hurt us most was the loss of Santos in December. Santos was an attacking full-back and gave us extra attacking options something that has been lacking in recent weeks.
With the loss of Santos and news that Gibbs had a further setback, Wenger stated that he will look at a full-back for a loan option as we do not wish to drop points because we are short of full-backs. This statement was made mid-December. Arsenal have an extensive scouting network and great contacts throughout the world. We are now mid-January, having dropped 6 points this year and still no sign of any defensive re-enforcements, neither at full-back nor central defence and there will not be anybody arriving either.
Once again Wenger makes a statement of new recruits and the result is zero activity. There are two reasons for no players coming back.
By the end of January Vermaelen, Sagna and Gibbs will all be back in contention for the starting line-up, so Wenger will try and patch-up the defence once more against Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers in the league and hope we do not drop any more points.
The second reason why Wenger will not enter the transfer market, is that there is no room in the squad for an overseas player. In fact unless Wenger sells one of Almunia, Squillaci, Arshavin or Rosicky, there is no room for Henry in the squad! So unless we have a minor clear-out there will be no new signings this window. The maximum number of non-home grown players is 17.
Arsenal Squad 2011-12 (Non-Home Grown Players)
The Arsenal board and Wenger have constantly talked about the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules and how the Arsenal model is the model other clubs are striving for (financially if not trophy wise). Arsenal are of the opinion that our prudence in the transfer market will eventually ensure we are a successful club both on and off the field.
Let us look at the Financial Fair Play rules. This state that a club over a three year cycle can only lose €15M. What is excluded from the profit and loss are non-football related items. Any profits from our property ventures or income from hotels that some clubs have are disregarded. Any interest payments that relate to the football infrastructure, i.e. stadium or training ground development are ignored.
The next aspect to look at is how are transfers treated. When a club buys a player, say Gervinho for £10.7M, this £10.7M is charged to P&L over the duration of Gervinho’s contract (4 years). This means that for the next four years we will charge the P&L £2.675M per annum. This summer we spent £48M on players and our standard contract is 4 years, so for the next 4 years we will write-off the transfer fees at £12M per annum.
In terms of sales of players, the transfer fee is taken to P&L less any value in the balance sheet. So when we sold Clichy for instance, his book value was nil, so the P&L is credited with £7M for the year 2011/12. Our sales this summer amounted to £73M. As all the players had a balance sheet value of nil, the 2011/12 accounts will show a profit of £73M.
Looking at the accounts for the year ended 31 May 2011, Arsenal’s football profit is £16M per annum before player trading, this position will not change until 2014 when our sponsorship deals with Nike and Fly Emirates expire. This means we can spend £16M per annum on transfers before falling foul of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, in effect our purchases this summer mean we have used ALL of our allowable transfer expenditure for the next three seasons.
However, due to our profit on sales of £73M this summer we can spend a further £100M on players and still be within UEFA’s rules.
So assuming we have no transfers out (highly unlikely with the contract position of our players), Wenger has £100M to spend on players this January and the club will stay within the UEFA Financial regulations.
If we take another look at the accounts as at 31 May 2011, when some season ticket money have been received, but before any transfer money and also before the £25M sale of Queensland Road and before new sponsorship deals with Bettson, Indesit, Citreon, Thomas Cook, O2 and Carlsberg were agreed, Arsenal Football Club had £160M in cash at the bank. Yes just to repeat that £160M in the bank.
Anybody who tells you the club does not have money is lying, we have more money that nearly all the clubs in the Premier League.
Wenger has the resources to go out and buy players in January and still stay within UEFA’s financial rules and I expect he will. The last two times we bought players in January was when we competing with Aston Villa for fourth place and we bought Arshavin and when bought Adebayor, Diaby and Walcott we were in fight for fourth place with Spurs.
Well the transfer window closed last night and unlike windows of the past, Arsenal were doing business all the way until it slammed shut. Four players were confirmed last night as having signed, with Park announced the day before. It was clear from the start of the season that Wenger had to act to change our fortunes and only time will tell if Le Professor has bought correctly.
The first three signings, Park, Santos and Mertesacker were players that we should have secured before the season started.
A centre-back was a priority all summer, several names were linked and we made two bids for players, Jagielka and Cahill. Everton wanted £18M for a 30 year old defender with little international experience, so Arsene moved his attention to Cahill. An offer of £6M plus Bendtner was made, this was ridiculed by Bolton who wanted £17M for a player in the last year of his contract and with a handful of international caps. Rightly so Wenger made a move for German international Mertesacker and secured a player who is one year older than Cahill, but has 75 caps for one of the top nations in world. The fee £8.8M! The Neanderthals in the British media say he is too slow and we should have gone for Cahill or Jagielka or Dann. Mertesacker was not bought to win the 100M at the forthcoming Olympics, he was bought to defend, to make challenges, win headers and tackles. A player does not represent Germany 75 times if is he no good. This was a great move by Wenger. My only question is why could we not have bought him a month ago?
When Clichy left, no Arsenal fan shed a tear, we knew in Gibbs we had an adequate replacement, in fact Gibbs will go one to become a great left-back. However, we thought Wenger will buy Enrique, we needed cover and competition at left-back, but Arsene though Traore was capable to cover at left-back. This was surprising as Traore had been converted into a left sided midfielder by Arsene. Wenger soon saw the light and on Sunday night news broke that were in talks with Brazil international Andre Santos. We secured a strong, attacking full-back for £6.2M, this is good business, his record at Fenerbahce is one goal in five games. Santos has again been slated by the blinkered British media as non-entity, who is he, if he was any good he should be playing La Liga or Serie A. I believe Santos will be the player to bring the best out of Gibbs. Another great purchase by Wenger but one that should have been concluded once Clchy left.
Search for a striker should have started in May when Wenger allowed Bendtner to leave. It ended with the acquisition of South Korea captain Park Chu-Young for a fee around £2.6M from Monaco, though in the process we upset Lille!
Having sold Nasri and Fabregas, much to Wenger’s surprise, though everyone else knew it would happen, Wenger had to move in for a midfielder or two. Rumours were abound with bids made for Hazard, Martin, M’Vila, enquiries for Vargas and Montolivio, but these were young players, big money was required and a bedding in period. So Arsene looked closer to home, he turned to Chelsea and Everton. Inquiries were made for Arteta and Benayoun and after some brinksmanship the players were brought in one on a four year deal and the other on loan (due to work permit complications). Arteta and Benayoun will bring experience, graft, inventiveness and goals to our midfield. Both players will be good signings for Arsenal.
Interesting Arteta took a pay-cut to join Arsenal, what is that about, Arsenal are massive payers overall, but when it comes to our top players we are reluctant to offer big money.
Now that the window has closed and Wenger has his squad for the season, we can now focus on getting our season started and start to move up the table. A good run of results could see challenging by December, but we need to keep players fit, stop picking up silly red cards and start to take our chances.
On the departure front, youngsters Joel Campbell and Henri Lansbury went out on loans, whilst Gilles Sunu joined Lorient on a permanent basis. Niklas Bendtner was unable to find the “big” club to play for and has joined Sunderland on loan. Bendtner will do well at Sunderland as he will be playing regularly as the main striker, this could work well for Arsenal as his value can only go up. Worryingly for Arsenal fans is that Almunia is still at the club as is Squillaci.
Arsenal cannot stand still however, new contracts must be offered to van Persie, Walcott and Vermaelen otherwise we will be in for a nightmare summer in 2012. Arsenal must re-evaluate their transfer policy and in particular the way we complete transfers, I am referring to the two that got away Ricardo Alvarez and Juan Mata. Arsenal also need to re-asses their wage structure, not every player in the squad is worth £50K -£60K a week, we need to reward some players with £100K plus a week contracts.