What has happened to Arsenal’s scouting system? by JH
Today I thought of writing an evaluation of our squad so far this year, perhaps I may still, but I must have gotten around halfway through when I realised how different our signings have been recently in comparison to previous years. I do not know if it is a purposeful change in direction from AW or a change in our scouting ability.
Recent signings include the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Petr Cech and Danny Welbeck. When you think of AW and Arsenal in the last two decades, one thing you associate with them is finding gems in places people don’t think to look.
Our past records include the likes of Freddie Ljungberg from Halmstads for £3million, he came on to score on his debut vs Man United. He also scored one of the best ever FA Cup final goals and was a member of our Invincibles. He won two premier league titles, three FA Cups and even won Premier League Player of the year.
Nicholas Anelka was signed for just £500K from PSG. The teenager would go on to win the League and FA Cup double, and win the Young Player of the year award during his time at Arsenal, and his huge £23million sale paid for Arsenal to upgrade all training facilities.
Robin Van Persie was signed from Dutch side Feyenoord for just £2.75 million, he only won the FA Cup at Arsenal, he had not however broken into the first team by this point, by the end RVP was Arsenal 8th top scorer of all time with 132 goals in 278 appearances and he finished his Arsenal career by alienating the entire Arsenal Fanbase and leaving a career (that should have ended in legendary status) in tatters when he forced his way to Man United in a £24 Million move.
Arsenal signed Kolo Toure for £150K from Asec Mimosas, Toure was a key part of the Invincibles alongside Sol Campbell in defense. He left Arsenal with a Premier league title and 2 FA Cups to his name when he joined Man City for £14 million.
Mathieu Flamini was brought in for free from Marseille at the age of 20, despite his tender age, Flamini played in 20 games in his opening season, and when he left after 4 seasons at the end of his contract, it was a bitter blow as he had become the main man in defensive midfield. Flamini always maintained he loved Arsenal and he returned when his AC Milan contract had finished, he has won 3 FA Cups in his two stints at the club, he is also the only player on this list that has never been sold.
Laurent Koscielny was also a bargain buy. Arsenal first offered £4 million for The Boss, once rejected we later returned with an offer of £8.5 million, which was enough to persuade Lorient to let go of their key centre back. Koscielny has gone on to win 2 FA Cups for Arsenal and he is also widely regarded as the best CB in the country right now.
Emmanuel Adebayor was signed for just £3million, the season Thierry Henry had left. Adebayor scored 30 goals in all competitions, he finished without a trophy at Arsenal but with a record of 62 goals in 142 games before leaving for Man City in a £25million deal.
Lauren was signed for £7 million from Mallorca as the replacement for Lee Dixon, he was an integral part of the Invincibles and won 2 Premier League titles along with 3 FA Cups.
There are many more I could add to this list, players brought in from relative obscurity, who where both old enough and good enough to make an instant impact.
Looking into our first team now it is difficult to pick many out that fit into this list, Laurent Koscielny was the last I can think of. Not many knew him, but he came right into the side and eventually became a star. Some people may point to Monreal and Cazorla from Malaga but both were frequent starters for the big spending club at that time. Olivier Giroud was well known at the time of his arrival, having just fired Montpellier to the French title. Of course Per Mertesacker and Petr Cech were very well known at the time of signing. Hector Bellerin took five years to make an impact, Francis Coquelin even longer. It seems Arsenal have become less efficient when it comes to buying lesser known players who can make an instant impact, Riyad Mahrez is the perfect example of a player that we probably would have picked up several years ago.
As the years have past our scouts seem to be picking up less of these players, and whether or not the youngsters we have picked up such as Zelalem, Adelaide, Malen can break into the first team remains to be seen, but it is becoming alarmingly obvious that Arsenal are struggling to find the sort of signings that have made him so successful.
What do you guys think? Have Arsenals scout taken a step back?? Has Wenger decided to just go for proven players? or is it just a case of everybody out looking for the same thing?