The cries of ‘You spend. We spend’ seem something of a distant memory for Arsenal supporters. For years, supporters cried out for Arsenal’s owners to put their hands in their pockets and spend money.
The summer of 2015 saw Arsenal bring in just Petr Cech ahead of a season whereby Leicester City would win the league and the Gunners would finish second. Had they invested more, perhaps a title could have been within their grasp.
However, the perception of Arsenal’s spending has continued to confuse. Some believe the club continues to need greater investment despite the reality of the club’s outlay on players being significantly higher than many of their rivals. It is a fact that Arsenal are one of the highest spending clubs regarding transfers not just in England but the world.
Recent publications of the money spent by clubs courtesy of CIES Football Observatory detail how much Arsenal have tried to further their squad with heavy spending.
Only Manchester City and Liverpool have spent more than Arsenal on players since the summer of 2012. The Gunners’ total spend comes to a staggering €1.029 billion (£870 million).
Despite this, it is clear that Arsenal have fallen away from their rivals and back-to-back eighth-place finishes stand as clear evidence of this slide.
Arsenal competed in their first season this millennium outside of men’s European competition.
Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery and now Mikel Arteta have overseen major investment but with the reward restricted to FA Cups. Far from the ambitions of Premier League title races and Champions League competitiveness.
Made worse is the fact Arsenal have struggled to make back much of the one-plus billion euros spent on players in this time. Arsenal have recouped less than half of this figure, their sales standing at €446 million.
In short, Arsenal’s recruitment department has spent big on players who in reality failed to deliver reflective of the investment. However, the list, whilst based on personal opinion, would be very long for most fans.
Using Transfermarkt’s record of transfer figures, below is a list of players whose transfer fees can be deemed in excess of the value of their contribution to the club since the summer of 2012. Again, this is based on personal opinion, feel free to leave your own discrepancies in the comment section at the end of the article.
Calum Chambers (£18.21m) Danny Welbeck (£18m) Gabriel Paulista (£13.5m) Mathieu Debuchy (£13.5m) Petr Cech (£12.6m) Granit Xhaka (£40.5m) Shkodran Mustafi (£36.9m) Lucas Perez (£18m) Takuma Asano (£3.6m) Alexandre Lacazette (£47.7m) Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£30.6m) Lucas Torreira (£25.79m) Bernd Leno (£22.5m) Sokratis Papastathopoulos (£14.4m) Nicolas Pepe (£72m) William Saliba (£27m) and Pablo Mari (£12.6m).
Players such as Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sead Kolasinac, Cedric Soares and Willian who cost no transfer fee but have not been worth the invested wage packet have not been included in the below figure. William Saliba’s inclusion is not reflective of the player by any means and the Frenchman remains an exciting talent. He simply has not been given a chance yet at Arsenal to justify his price, yet it remains on the balance sheet and is therefore included.
This totals at £427.4m spent on players since 2012 who did not return performances across their Arsenal careers reflective of the investment.
This is a lot of bad news to take in but stick with this because there are signs to be positive about.
In the previous summer window, Arsenal under Mikel Arteta and Edu have taken steps to change this. The six signings of Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Nuno Tavares, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Sambi Lokonga and Martin Odegaard seek to bring the quality that corresponds to the investment.
This has been done by looking at players who both improve on what is already at the club and have the potential to increase their market value from the point at which they were signed. All six players were of 23 years or younger.
All have so far contributed to the season’s progress in becoming a competitor in the top four race. The hope will be they can continue onwards to help qualify the club for the Champions League.
Arsenal did not sign any players in January to many supporters’ frustration, including myself. However, whilst there were players who moved this winter that could have improved the squad, the club did not repeat the mistakes of the past.
The club did not panic and overspend despite Alexander Isak having an accessible release clause of £75 million. It was considered to be too far above his value as a player and the club decided against the purchase.
The upcoming summer, dependant on Arsenal’s league finish, should open the door to another transfer window of investment to continue the project and squad overhaul. Ensuring success in the window will deliver back-to-back years of positive spending. Sales also need to be improved, but there is hope that the failings of the past are finally being addressed by the people of the present.
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