A lot is being made of the club having only around £40m to spend ahead of next season’s kick-off, and for a club of Arsenal’s stature that is hard to believe given their transfer record being broken twice within the last two years.
As a purported move for Yannick Carrasco has gone quiet and the club edge excruciatingly slowly towards a deal for Celtic’s Kieran Tierney (with demands apparently on the table), their approach to such negotiations is puzzling given they need not be limited to their comparatively paltry spending power.
Starting off at £40m isn’t exactly ideal with The Gunners aiming for the Champions League, but it was not so long ago we were led to believe that a summer overhaul – in the shambolic defence or elsewhere – was taking place at the club as the autopsy from the shocking end to the season began.
But while there seems to be noise (and little substance) surrounding incomings at the club, the same can’t be said for departures that aren’t the result of expiring contracts.
David Ospina is, to date, the only ex-Gunner to move this summer for money – and that was for little over £3m.
This is not an unfamiliar problem for Arsenal, and their sub-standard transfer kitty is aggravated significantly by their inability to accrue decent sums for players through sales.
The handling of the Aaron Ramsey situation is a prime example. Few would have batted an eyelid had he left for £40m. Arsenal would be begging for half that amount to invest into the team. Even if letting him go in the first place turns out to be the right call, failure to recoup any fee at all for a player of that quality suggests a severe lack of business knowledge exists among the Arsenal executives.
Proof that this is an Arsenal problem can be demonstrated through other clubs’ activity. Liverpool managed to flog Dominic Solanke for £19m despite playing just 27 times over two years. Chelsea, meanwhile, consistently churn sizable fees out of departing players – notably selling David Luiz to PSG for nearly £45m in 2014.
The circumstances may not be Unai Emery’s fault, but his apparent incapacity to work the other side of the rebuilding job that he has been employed for at Arsenal will harm his chances of bringing in the personnel he requires.
If he can’t get players off the wage bill (Mesut Ozil, for example), that’s on him. And if the difference between putting an extra £5m on a player here or there is down to an incompetence of being ruthless in order to fulfil the team’s needs, Emery sets his club and himself up for eventual failure.
So if he can’t get clubs to pay up for his players, he may well end up paying the price with his job.