The Imminent Change in Transfer & Development Policy at Arsenal Football Club.

young gun signings

 

The match on Monday night between the two Manchester clubs was an interesting one in several respects. Not least the result, which makes me wonder whether Mancini’s claim surrounding United’s ‘fortune’ this season carries more weight than previously thought. City’s performance level was superior for much of the game, and it goes to show what might have been had the services of Aguero been available earlier in the season…

The other more important consideration I took from the game however, and one that has now made its way into the popular press, is how best to build a Championship winning team… For sure, both Manchester clubs have spent vast sums of money on players – City tending to pursue a more direct ‘buy now, gain now’ strategy, whilst United continue to maintain faith in a ‘mixed’ approach of youth development (think Evans, Jones, Welbeck, and yes… Giggs still going as a result of infrastructure put in place twenty years ago) as well as spending on big name players.

It got me thinking about what sort of strategy we should be aiming for at Arsenal, and indeed the way that such an approach is likely to shape events this coming summer. Thus far throughout his rein, Wenger’s development policy has centred largely around two main focus points. Firstly, the purchase (seemingly on a shoe string budget) of unidentified or undervalued talent from outside the Premier League – the likes of Henry, Vieira, Petit, and Anelka are a handful of examples. Secondly, an emphasis on developing youth players both from abroad and from within England – Wilshere, Fabregas, Gibbs, Jenkinson and Ramsey are recent highlights. In the majority of instances, this two-pronged strategy of Wenger bore a great deal fruit for the club in the early period of his tenure. The trophy cabinet certainly did not lie for 7 or 8 years!

The world of football has changed though… No longer can such a two-pronged strategy be relied upon to guarantee success. Yes, we have always maintained a competitive squad regardless of the personnel coming and going, but it seems clear to me that Wenger recognises his own shortcomings (and indeed that of the club in keeping the purse strings too tight for too long). The game has moved into a different stratosphere – one in which large outlays in the transfer market is entirely necessary, not only in challenging for titles but also simply in keeping pace with those around you. Some fans will cry “why has it taken so long to admit and address this?” but as they say, better late than never…

You can therefore hold me to what I am about to say – Arsenal are going to spend big bucks this summer. Looking forward, the club is more likely to adopt an approach in line with the red side of Manchester when trying to build a title challenging squad – a more ‘mixed’ approach based on increased spending whilst not betraying the faith in youth potential.

Besides the reasons already aforementioned, there are other pertinent factors as to why we are going to spend more this summer – a) the lack of youth coming through the club: in years past, Wenger has been able to rely on a flow of talent from the club’s academy to supplement established first team players or to help replace those leaving the club. This summer we have the following names to look to for inspiration – Bellerin, Akpom, Gedion, and Frimpong – not very inspiring!! (Although Frimpong does arguably have something about him)…b) Wenger’s decline in competitive advantage in unearthing talent from abroad – the pool of French players is not as strong as it was a decade ago, and furthermore many clubs have invested in and reaped the benefits from highly sophisticated and widespread scouting networks. Again, the world of football has clearly changed in this respect…

So, if we are going to spend more money, the question is what to spend the money on? (This is the part when we can all pretend to be Monopoly millionaires). We know the Club has in excess of £100 million in cash reserves; I should hazard a guess a good £50 million or more could be made available. A goalkeeper certainly remains a priority, despite the recent performances of Fabianski. Begovic is on the cards, but with Manchester United also showing signs of wanting to secure his services, I would be more inclined to take a look at someone like Julio Cesar – not a spring chicken by any means, but still clearly fit and physically agile. He could fit the bill as far as providing experience and longevity is concerned. His price tag would probably not be extortionate either, which would suit Wenger and the board just fine! The next position is right back – not because we don’t have sufficient cover, but I cannot see Sagna sticking around too long. Either he will leave on his own accord, or his increasingly dodgy knees will pack up on him. Our midfield does not require as much tinkering as many suggest – the central positions are sufficiently covered by a decent blend of youth and experience, although a strong holding player could be beneficial in lifting the workload off Arteta’s shoulders. The final piece on the puzzle, which a number of you may disagree on, is a world class out and out winger (and I’m not talking about a Walcott or Oxlaide-Chamberlain type here). I have always been a big fan of Nani, and I had hoped that the spat he had earlier in the season with Fergie could have morphed into an insurmountable problem – it seems however that the two have largely kissed and made up…

Before we get ahead of ourselves however, we need to maintain focus on the remaining League games. The home match against Norwich on Saturday ought to be 3 points in the bag. Norwich has played poorly since the turn of the year, and I am predicting a victory by at least 2 clear goals for the Gunners. Our remaining fixtures are far more manageable than those of Chelsea or Tottenham, and based on current form my prediction of several weeks ago remains true – we will finish inside the top four, if not in third spot. Thereafter, let’s hope for a summer of transfer fireworks and a serious challenge for the title in 2013/14!

Joshua @ RL

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Categories: General, Premier League, Transfers

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Good reading but… “throughout his REIN”??? I might argue with the redundant “already aforementioned” too. These are mere quibbles; as I said, very instructive reading!

    • Hello Gabriel! Thank you for highlighting those errors – quite correct! In future I will endeavour to eradicate such linguistic blunders! 😉 Hope you enjoyed the ‘content’ at least. All the best. J

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