A few years back when Arsenal were pictured with the likes of Almunia, Gallas, Denilson and Bendtner as first team regulars, it would’ve been understandable to suggest that Arsenal had lost its attraction as a major club, not just in the Premier League but in European football. Times were hard with little money movement and players jumping ship, however Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger managed to maintain Arsenal’s position in England, before returning to competing for major honours some years down the line.
Admittedly those early years after moving to the Emirates was a major struggle for the club and we largely gave up challenging for major honours with the squad that we had, in order to pay off our financial quotas. However that era has passed and three seasons ago, Arsenal returned to winning ways with FA CUP success in 2014. From the 2013-14 season we begun attracting some of Europe’s finest players again, players who are sure to remain legends of the club. But do Arsenal still struggle to be an attractive option for every player? Ex-Arsenal man and current pundit Alan Smith reckons so. Smith told Sky Sports:
“It’s not often someone turns down Arsenal, especially from a Premier League club and a so-called smaller one, although they are champions. But times have changed. When I went from Leicester to Arsenal it was different. Leicester were always struggling against relegation and the difference in money was there. I saw it as a move that could improve my career and to challenge for trophies, which proved to be the case – we won a lot – but he obviously feels he can get everything he needs at Leicester.”
So although this story surrounds Jamie Vardy’s rejection of Arsenal in particular, I’m sure it can relate to other players both past and present and he makes a valid point. Quite simply If Leicester hadn’t won the league last season, I don’t think there would be any doubt in Vardy’s decision and the Englishman surely would’ve signed for the Gunners. However because Leicester won the league, although they still won’t be classed as a ‘big club’ in Europe, it still currently put Vardy and co in the bracket above Arsenal and clearly from Vardy’s perspective, Arsenal therefore isn’t an attractive option.
The same notion may be applied to other players who have rejected us for another Premier League club such as Chelsea or Manchester City. Do players see those clubs as more ambitious than Arsenal? Is it because Arsenal refuse to enter the same wage bracket as Europe’s richest clubs? Quite simply in order to become an attractive option to all, the club needs to prove to players like Vardy (who wouldn’t even be deemed as world class) that there is more chance of success at Arsenal, than there is at their current clubs.
What could Arsenal do to improve the attraction of the club? Is there still plenty to prove that we are able to compete at the highest level again?