This morning I stumbled downstairs in my usual half awake state, opened the fridge, got out my berry smoothie I have for breakfast, then flicked open my social media and news feeds on my phones to see what is happening in the world. Do you now what the first piece of speculation was that I saw?
Arsenal to be given £180m to spend in the summer
I had to rub my eyes a bit. “Hold on. What time of the year is it? Have I accidentally slept through until May?” I thought to myself. Because we usually don’t start to see the old ‘war chest’ stories until at least then, maybe April at the latest. Sounds to me that somebody within the club that leaks these stories has gone a little too early. Maybe a younger member of staff that isn’t accustomed to the fabled Arsenal briefings through the back channels approach has decided that the frustration of the January transfer window needs to be tempered with a nice big “LOOK AT ALL THE MONEY ARSENAL ARE GETTING BECAUSE THEY HAVE SAVED SO MUCH!” approach.
Of course we all know that the chances of a mega-splurge like that are unlikely. Last season we spent a ton of cash and that was shocking to most of us as it was, so the idea that the club will do it two summers in a row feels a little nonsensical to me.
There will be a decent level of spend though; there has to be because we’ve shaved so much from our squad that we will need decent bodies in ASAP in the summer. If Leno, Elneny, Nketiah and Lacazette go as is expected, that leaves us down to 16 players including goalkeepers. Matt Turner will replace Leno, but that still leaves us with a squad of 17 including goalkeepers. If by some hope we make it in to the European spots by avoiding injury, then those extra games will mean we need a bigger squad to rotate. William Saliba would have to come in and I hope he does. That bumps us up to 18. Bellerin, Torreira, Guendouzi, Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Mavropanos, will all have left I think we can all appreciate that and of the youth players on loan I’m not sure how many will be promoted in to the first team. Balogun if his loan spell continue to be successful. Patino and M’Hand perhaps? That would leave us with 21, but I think we’ll need to be active in the market and I would suspect at least another five need to come in. We need to be moving away from Cedric and if we could then we’d need a back up right back. We also need another man in central midfield and that feels like it would need to be a senior player. Then you’re talking about centre forward and in that position come January 1st we’ll need a main man because right now when August comes around we’re looking at Balogun as the only recognised centre forward. I have hope we will be in Europe and that, plus the League Cup and January FA Cup, could give minutes to Balogun, but a striker will most certainly happen in the summer and that might be where the bulk of the money goes. But how much will be spread around?
If we need five players and we spend £80million on a striker, that gives you £100million on four players even if we do have £180million, which I don’t think we have. But assuming that’s right, that’s an average of £25million per player for the remaining four players. I’ve just had a quick and dirty check of Transfermarkt for what £20 – £25million would get you this last season. IT gets you:
- Bryan Gil (Tottenham)
- Emerson Royal (Tottenham)
- Vitaliy Mykolenko (Everton)
- Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)
- Daniel James (Leeds)
Of course I’ve just looked at Premier League teams for now because it’s the best comparison, but what this serves to illustrate is that £25million these days doesn’t always get you those players who are going to kick on. Maybe you get a couple of good squaddies, but that’s about it. Suddenly this ‘war chest’ feels more like we are just replenishing, rather than moving the needle, doesn’t it? Are we just looking at a replenishment jar rather than a war chest?
I haven’t even mentioned Pepe, who will have two years left on his contract and a decision will need to be made on him if we want to recoup any kind of proper cash. We won’t recoup what we paid but a decent fee could be had and if Arteta doesn’t fancy him then he might be moved on in the summer. You’d need to replace that too in those wide forward positions and I’m not sure who you could get for good, but not expensive, money. Because let’s face it, Saka shouldn’t be dislodged. We should be giving him a nice big pay jump to extend his contract – something that is being reported now which is good – but with that comes the assertion that he’s the main man and we need an understudy. But you don’t spend £40million on understudies, so what do you do?
I suspect we will look for young players in their late teens/early 20s who can be versatile and play across the front three. That’s how you attract a player by telling them that you have multiple positions for them and therefore multiple options for game time throughout the season. So I do wonder if we go for a main man striker to lead the line, then instead of getting an Eddie replacement, we look at finding a wide forward who can also play through the middle. People have speculated about trialling it with Pepe through the middle but Arteta seems to have been reluctant thus far. But perhaps the paucity of options now available to him between now and the end of the season will force his hand. For example, we’re losing or drawing a game and the current set up isn’t working. Lacazette is once again chugging around and looking off the boil. Arteta needs to make an attacking change, but maybe Eddie has missed one too many easy chances. So why not bring Pepe on, tell him to keep switching positions with Martinelli for the remainder of the game and see if he can’t be an agent of chaos to cause issues for the opposition defence?
To me that option would be much more preferable than seeing Nketiah miss sitter after sitter in an Arsenal shirt. We’ve seen glaring misses against Everton and Nottingham Forest and I’m kind of done with it if I’m honest. Let’s get our Ivorian back in to the team, playing football and maybe after performing well at the AFCON, he can have a bit of confidence for the remainder of this season. That’s certainly got to be our hope as Arsenal fans. Let’s just hope he can start to deliver some of that output that we’ve been lacking with no Auba, Laca and Eddie as our central attacking threat.
Catch you all tomorrow.