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The disparaging financial commitments of Arsenal

Thursday 26th October 2017
Arsene Wenger, Ivan Gazidis and Stan Kroenke have all claimed that Arsenal is  an ambitious club that wants to challenge for titles and win trophies. However, while their words may say one thing, their actions say another, starting with their disparaging financial commitments from those around them.
' Money can buy success. ' That is a statement that has been at the heart of a rather vociferous debate for some time. With the ever-increasing transfer fees, it is a problem that is increasingly significant. Football is growing in its distance. It is a far cry from the normal world. What happens in boardrooms and meetings and private planes, training grounds, dressing rooms and private mansions is disconnected to the everyday fan. And that is because of money. Money has changed the game. So the question of whether money brings success or not is vital. Is the money spent and the disparity compounded worth the success that is, in theory, more likely to be achieved?

The answer, as history undoubtedly implies, is yes. Many who challenge the superiority of money, and the success that it allegedly brings, point to the miracle of Leicester City (a team owned however by billionaires). But that it is an anomaly, a spike in the trend. It is, in fact, a miracle.

For the most part, money does indeed bring success. The biggest spenders in the last decade of the Premier League have been Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City. Of the 10 titles available, they have won nine of them, Leicester being the odd one out. In the Champions League, a competition that, by nature, should be less predictable, more unstable as it consists of knockout stages, the recent winners have been dominated by those willing to spend: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Real Madrid
All this brings me to the question of Arsenal and their ambition. Owner Stan Kroenke, Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis, and manager Arsene Wenger have all claimed that Arsenal is an ambitious, title-challenging club. They stated that titles and trophies are what the organisation is working, not the lining of the bank balance, as has been levelled against them, and reiterated their commitment to working towards success. But while their words may say one thing, their actions, and their spending habits, in particular, say something very different.

Of the top 20 most expensive Premier League signings (including Naby Keita who will not join Liverpool until next summer, but the deal has already been put in place), Arsenal have three: Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka. They rank 12th, 17th and 20th. Manchester City, for example, has seven. Manchester United have five. Chelsea has just two. Liverpool has two (including Keita). And Everton has just one. Spurs do not have any. Manchester City has actually bought four players for a higher fee than Lacazette, Arsenal's record signing. As have United. Chelsea, meanwhile, has signed two players for well north of Lacazette's value.
Those are rather significant figures. But that is just the upper echelon signings. The richest of the rich. Where Arsenal drastically fall behind their rivals in terms of spending is in the number of players signed for substantial fees. I charted how many players the top six clubs have signed for a reported fee of £20 million or more.

Arsenal has done so on five different occasions -- the aforementioned trio of Lacazette, Ozil and Xhaka, as well as Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez. Spurs are the next least, with seven. Then comes Liverpool with 14. They are followed by Manchester United with 22, Chelsea with 25 and then Manchester City with 28. Other than Spurs, who, throughout the Premier League era, have been a club of slightly less stature than the other, elite English clubs, Arsenal has bought nearly three times fewer players for £20 million or more. Manchester City has signed nearly six times more. That is a huge disparity.

Simply put, throughout their history, Arsenal has not spent the necessary cash to stake a claim to being genuine title challengers. Now, it would not be fair to level all the blame at Kroenke, Gazidis and Wenger. Only Wenger has been at the club for all of that time, and external forces, like the move to the Emirates Stadium, have restricted the financial capabilities of the club. At times, the money simply was not available to heavily invest, irrespective of whether they wanted to or not.
But this summer, Arsenal did have the opportunity to heavily invest in a stagnating squad. They had the chance to plough some serious cash into two or three new players that could elevate the squad to a title-challenging level. They had the chance to show real, genuine, fierce ambition. Instead, they signed just two players, one of which was a free transfer, and actually made a profit.

I'm not sure how the Gunners define ambition, but I'm pretty sure that is not it.
Andrew Dowdeswell

A sport obsessed 20 something who just really wants Arsenal to finally win the league. Please Wenger, what the hell happened to you?!


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