When Mikel Arteta was appointed Arsenal head coach in 2019, not only was he tasked with turning things around on the pitch, but off it too.
Tough decisions have been made, patience has been required and money has been spent, now three years down the line, the Spaniard’s ideal squad is coming together nicely.
You get the sense that last summer was a significant step in the right direction. £150m invested in six new talented signings, all of whom were aged 23 or younger. At the time, chief executive Vinai Venkatesham told club staff that the aim was to “fill our squad with some of Europe’s most exciting young talent, with players from both our academy and further afield, that can grow and develop together under Mikel to take us where we want to get to.”
The 2021/22 season wasn’t perfect by all means, but to come within touching distance of fourth place and qualify for the Europa League is still a relatively positive outcome for the youngest side in the Premier League. The base of a very exciting team has been built, and now it’s time for the next phase of the project.
That is expected to come this summer, which Arteta believes is “more important” than the previous one. “I think now is the moment we have to go to a different level,” he said in March.
“We have been able to get the squad balance in a much better shape. Financially, we are in a much more stable position with the money we have spent on certain players touching the pitch for a certain amount of minutes. That balance is much better spread out across the squad, and now is the moment to raise the quality.”
Since then, Alexandre Lacazette has departed north London, thus creating more space in the squad and relieving pressure off the wage bill a little further. Additionally, several other players are likely to leave over the coming months including Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Pablo Mari, Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira and Nicolas Pepe.
These potential exits will come in handy for the finances, with it set to be another expensive period for the club. However, following on from the record-breaking 2021 window, owner Stan Kroenke could be prepared to provide even more funds as Arteta looks to secure the missing pieces to his dream Arsenal squad.
Marquinhos has already completed his move to the Emirates, in a deal worth around £3.5m. USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner is also expected to finalise a transfer next week after a £7.5m fee was agreed for his services back in January. Meanwhile, the £34m arrival of FC Porto midfielder Fabio Vieira is close to being completed, football.london understands, and the incomings aren’t likely to stop there.
Various reports suggest the Gunners are accelerating talks to bring in Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus, in addition to holding a strong interest in Youri Tielemans, Raphinha and Lisandro Martinez, who has already been the subject of a rejected £26m bid from Arsenal according to The Athletic.
If Arteta is to get his wish and successfully secure all of the aforementioned names, The Mirror claims that it could see an ambitious £215m spending spree take place depending on the final fees that are agreed in the process. For Mr Kroenke, this shouldn’t be much of a problem considering he’s one of the richest businessmen on the planet, but when you look at his overall history of investing in transfers, it would still be a pretty big deal.
Whether or not we reach figures like the one above remains to be seen, but I’m sure the funds will be there if they’re really needed. As well as outlining the club’s transfer policy last year, Venkatesham also confirmed that KSE “sanctioned very significant investment in support of our strategy.” Let’s see if they do the same this time around.