Should Arsenal copy Porto and look to South America?

The Ultimate Business Model by Alexander

While we’re bombarded with new outrageous transfer targets on a daily basis I wanted to take a break from speculation and have a look at something a bit closer to reality.

It’s pretty much well known that Arsene Wenger likes to spend low and develop players – this has been his philosophy for many years. Sometimes this policy works wonders, producing world-class players in the form of Fabregas, van Persie, Nasri, Henry, Overmars, Petit, Vieira, etc. However there are many more instances when this doesn’t work. You only have to look at the number of ineffective players sitting on the squad list to realize this.

According to most people, the big problem is when Arsenal do develop world-class players, they’re sold when they reach their peak – often to direct rivals. Many people believe Wenger has to sell these players due to the pressure of the board, who want to cash in on their biggest assets to line their own pockets. We believe this is where Arsenal falls down as a football club, as surely selling all of our best players means we sacrifice any chance of rivaling the best clubs in England – let alone Europe – for any sort of silverware.

Step up FC Porto, the most successful Portuguese club in history. Porto haven’t done too badly over the last 10 years. They’ve won their domestic league 8 times, their domestic cup 5 times, the Portuguese Super Cup 7 times, they won the last Intercontinental Cup and they have thrice been crowned European Champions. Not too bad at all really.

What’s even more surprising however, is how they’ve sold a staggering amount of world-class players over the years: Rodriguez (£39m), Moutinho (£22m), Hulk (£48m), Falcao (£41m), Bruno Alves (£19m), Lopez (£21m), Quaresma (£21m), Anderson (£27m), Pepe (£26m), Carvalho (£26m) and Deco (£18m). And that’s not even including ‘lesser’ players such as Paulo Ferreira, Maniche, Bosingwa, Gonzalez, Cissokho and Raul Meireles, whose combined sales alone equate to over £90m.

The other notable Portuguese side, Benfica, have also started emulating Porto’s policies, recently selling Javi Garcia, di Maria, Coentrao, David Luiz and Ramires, yet still competing with Porto on a domestic level. These trends sound familiar, right? Of course, this is exactly the same thing Wenger has been trying to do with Arsenal all these years – and to some extent he has made achievements – finishing in the top 4 of one of the best leagues in the world, every year.

Yet as many fans say, 4th place is no trophy, so if it works for Porto why doesn’t it work for us? Well, a number of issues come to mind. The Portuguese League isn’t exactly the most competitive. Apart from Benfica, other clubs are just too small to rival Porto. Due to this gap in quality and finance, other teams don’t have the resources to spend millions on established players to challenge for the title, and the high risk of buying lots of unproven potential future stars and watching them turn in to Bendtners and Denilsons would be too costly for a smaller club. Compare this to the likes of the Manchester clubs, Chelsea and to some extent even Tottenham and Liverpool who manage to spend ridiculous amounts of money on players every season and it’s no wonder Arsenal aren’t echoing Porto’s success in the Premier League.

Another factor may be that most of Porto’s developing starlets are scouted from the South Americas, where there seems to be an abundance of talent and where Porto obviously have a very good scouting setup. This coupled with the fact that a lot of coaches of the smaller clubs in the Americas undervalue their emerging stars makes this an excellent hunting ground for young players full of potential. Arsenal’s scouting networks have the strongest bases in Western Europe, where unfortunately promising young players are already being overpriced by worried coaches.

Compare the list of Porto’s superstars against Arsenal’s recent acquisitions from Southern America and you can see something doesn’t quite add up (think Santos, Denilson and to some extent Joel Campbell). I’m no expert but I believe this is probably because Arsenal’s scouting network isn’t very well developed in that area of the world yet, the only exception to the rule being the excellent acquisition by the name Gilberto Silva.

Porto show that it is possible in football to make money as well as win titles. They are the perfect business model. Arsenal are close to replicating that model, on a much larger scale, in a much tougher league, and in a much more complicated transfer environment. But these things take time and practice. Imagine if all the clubs in the Premier League had the same amount to spend on players every season. Who spends wisest? Who do you think would be top of the table?

Alexander Walsh

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83 thoughts on “Should Arsenal copy Porto and look to South America?

  1. VM

    Some exciting news has just come
    in regarding Fellaini. We have
    conflicting news from our
    sources, so we will only confirm it
    once we receive confirmation. But
    from our most recent
    conversations with one of our
    sources. Marouane Fellaini is now
    an Arsenal player. The fee is the
    £22m release clause, an he has
    signed on a 4-year-deal. But again
    we CAN’T say for sure, until we
    hear back from our other sources.
    But at the moment, it seems that
    Fellaini is a Gunner!

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. VM

    How many times? Fellaini, Higuain, Cesc and Cesar. That’s all we need.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. SB

    @VM agree although we could raid the financially strapped sporting lisbon for rui patricio instead of cesar but theyre both quality and also would u add a defensive signing too again from cashless sporting marcos rojo only 22 and has like 17 caps for argentina?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Gunnerscott

    Give arsenal credit, they know they have to spend, beats the last few yrs. now to land our deals

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Nature

    Wenger will look at the lower league that is the french shit 1

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Ks-Gunner

    we should !!! we could !! we can !! we will!! and so one….and the end results is zero…..

    we are falling behind year after year….this season and the last one the 4th place was only archieved due luck and other teams failuare….

    are Arsenal always about to rely in others bad luck in the coming years……

    i am tired of listening to Ivan lies…and i also am despepointed in Wenger for co operating with the board for the sake of the 7.5m he earns….

    common Wenger if it is the moeney u desire…keep on doing what u are supposed to do archieve … PROFIT….

    but if u care about competing once again u have to swallow that pride of urs….demand money from the board and acutaly spend it wisely on new players….as the current team is far from winning anything….

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Wily

    Nice read…but its expensive and disruptive for an english title chasing team to dismantle and rebuild the spine of its team every year atleast not with the mancity and abromovitch millions in the game.bt arsenal needs to scout in north america and get the players at a tender age to school them at the academy.good read though.

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  8. vyash

    wenger has eyes on all young targets but the board dont support him

    also the like chelkiit and man shit stole them buy their money

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. VM

    According to Twitter sources, Arsenal have agreed on the upfront payment for Marouane Fellaini.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. mr lean

    read wenger wants a proper number 9,rooney and a GK,check rob shepherd on twitter

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. kimbono

    sure lets start buying south american kids because they are better and develop quicker so we can sell them for big money

    arsenal fc is pure business no ambition

    all about money not success

    what dont people get we are in the highest paid competion in the world

    a team like southampton can afford cavani and still be financially safe providing they stay in the premier league

    we are guaranteed to stay in the premier league for atleast 20 years and even more thats a shytt load of money and shytt load of safety

    yet we act like we are wigan

    why are we so cheap?? why is kroenke milking aresenal for every single penny is has?? and why wenger just watching letting this happen??

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Uduak

    Never compare the portuguese league with the epl.estudiante,benefica, and other low teams.i bet you if arsenal was in ppl it wud hv been 10/10.we still manage to defeat porto most of the time with our less fancy squard.

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  13. King

    @VM I knew your source was bull crap until you mentioned Twitter then I knew it’s a joke lol

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Previgo

    Yawns…article eh..
    But i woul love that ecuador left winger.. The guy is a beast.. He terrorised argentina

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. jim

    the place we should start setting up academys in are china and india, if even a small% of their population were geared up and raised to play fotball with good facilities etc the odds will be we will find a few wonderkids, argentina has a population of 41 million and is geared to play football, now imagine what countries of 1 billion people would produce

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. King

    @VM and Leo are probably brothers :) They make up stuff everyday and cite “sources” or “media reports”.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. ren vassilliou

    When We hear from the horses mouth than we will believe.. until then let’s sit and wait..

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Alan Frank

    As a football fan and living in England I want the premier league to be the best league. The one thing Wenger does almost always is buy great players from abroad and improves the premier league, so if we do buy all our players from other premier league teams this summer I will be very disappointed as it in not improving the league as a whole. So please buy from abroad.

    We’re not Man U who take all the best players from smaller clubs and hardly ever do anything to improve the quality of the premier league.

    Plus I watch a lot of foreign football but there is that unknown of how a player will do when they arrive in England and I find that really exciting and for this reason I personally would rather see players comming in from abroad than from other premier league clubs.

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  19. Haxxxan

    arsene wenger will always look at the french market.
    the two players he named recently also belong to france. sanogo and grenier.
    german and spanish markets are nowadays producing the best players.

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  20. leo

    we need to improve our academy look at ajax (95% of their players are fro europe) we need to get overmars & bergkamp we have players from south america like pedro,bothelo,denilson & wellington they haven’t progressed much & some of left

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  21. J

    Joel Campbell is a good player so is Carlos vela who we sold in Velas case he Neva got a real chance you can not expect to become real class playing here and there you need a constant run in the team we had Ramsey playing on the wing last season I mean against city and chelsea that must scare any team we play lol the point is players need a chance the ox gnarby even miyachi guys like diaby and Ramsey get chance after chance even Sagna come to think jenkinson would do a better job true arsenal fan all we need is a gk rb cb dm st and to give our younger players a chance if the ox was playing left Walcott playing right Gibbs and jenkinson fullbacks it would not only be good for us but for England to

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  22. arsenal forever

    just fukk the board why we didn’t announce any sign ?
    arsenal fan don’t renew ur season tickets till an announcement in official arsenal website
    south America players better than France players
    I don’t know who told the donkey (giroud) he has a talent and he can play football?
    we should sell him for stoke city for 9 millions and buy higuain and fellainy.
    I don’t like to insult France players but they are no longer good like Spanish and German
    l like to see talents like messi and rivaldo and ronaldo and falcao in arsenal shirts so we should invest some money in south American players

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  23. AidanGooner

    Brazilians speak Portuguese- making it much more easy for them to go to Portugal and adjust than coming to England. Having said that- there are dozens of Brazilians who would get in our first team squad, Argentinians too, and talent throughout the region so why not increase scouting- obviously they can be incredible players to watch too. Brazil like to hold on to their top talent for as long as possible- for example someone like Neymar would have had the government subsidising the wages Santos were paying him to help keep him in Brazil for longer. Obviously, clubs like Porto are showing it’s possible to scout great players there nonetheless though.

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  24. Ergs

    We can’t get South Americans they have work permit issues and we have never brought through the ranks any good south american player!!
    FU*CK bringing in foreign Youths i want more English players coming through our academy’s to help the national team aswell.

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  25. Bosscielny

    FC Porto are the masters of the transfer market. Impeccable strategy regarding player movement.

    They’re also doing it while winning things. Class club.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Pete

    If we are going to choose a continent to breed stars from: why not Europe? More specially English. If we bring through top quality talent from north London the players will:
    1. Play with heart and soul
    2. Never leave due to love for club
    3. England might even get past the quarter finals!

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. mozein

    i hope dis felliani news is valid cos d news is fast gaining momentum……..fingers crossed……coyg

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  28. napersie

    fellani story may be true cos everton manager matinez jst said dat he hope baines is offered a new contract and that they will keep hold of baines from david moyes… I didnt hear him say anything about fellaini

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  29. Robert

    Does anyone believe FOOTBALL AGEN JIM?
    According to him, arsenal have signed Fellaini and Cesar. Looking through his previous tweets, he tweeted about previous signing (other clubs) 3 weeks before they were confirmed in media.

    I am spectacle but I hope this is true. Two good signings and I hope Higuain will be next!

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  30. BEACHESnCream

    It isn’t 100%, but my sources have said that Higuain has already passed a medical, and is set to be unveiled alongside Fellaini in a weeks time. Again, it isn’t 100%, but its coming from an extremely reliable source who had told me Monreal’s transfer occuring a week before he was officially announced.

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  31. ThirdManJW

    I imagine that the main reason Arsenal doesn’t have a larger scouting network in South America is due to work permit issues. I think I’m right in saying that’s why Joel Campbell hasn’t played for us yet.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Andrew

    To Wenger just sign a world class striker but they don’t come cheep and you will not be able to haggle.

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  33. Pete85

    I think if you post that we have signed someone and it turns out to be bullshit you should be banned from the site

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  34. Hardy

    While other teams are signing class players

    our staff is on holiday

    no wonder who is paying for each of these staff member holidays

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  35. Ben

    this is something I think we should do, it’s not only Porto and Benfica, Shaktar Donetsk and now Chel$ki are starting to scout in South America. Think of the talent there is in Brazil, could be flair on the cheap

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  36. Andrew

    Shit Gomez could be going to Spuds does that mean Bale FC is off.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Robert

    It’s @AgentJim_ apparently he used to be an agent but he still has contacts.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. Ian Hawthorne

    Sorry VM and JIM but I don’t believe a word of it and you are seriously winding your fellow gooners up because I believe Fellaini and Higuain are essential purchases and will be gutted if we don’t get them as I think that these 2 players alone will give us a squad capable of challenging again and anyone extra is a bonus.
    BUT DON’T WIND YOUR FELLOW GOONERS UP
    Are you tottenham fans in disguise
    If Fellaini was already an Arsenal player we’d be splashing it all over SKY SPORTS NEWS or ARSENAL.COM as these are the ONLY true sources

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Andrew

    What I would give for players like Fabregas, Henry, Overmars, Petit and Vieira in our current squad. :-)

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. SB

    i checked that agent jims timeline and hes announced more than 10 deals thats happened this month before they were officially announced

    hes announced weve already signed cesar and fellaini and higuain looking very very likely, im not saying believe him but my god i hope hes right

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  41. jimmy

    i checked through agent jims tweets and hes been right about 90% he also said we’ve got 2 signings again fallaini and cesar interesting, dunno if to belive it or not but im proper excited COYGGGG!

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. Andrew

    No we shouldn’t copy Porto we play in the EPL we need players from Germany and Spain.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. mr lean

    @Andrew evening mate a quick question for you,do you know of trust this @Agentjim source ?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. mac oseno

    lets pray these rumors become true and by the way where does agent jim got the information before arsenal.com and sky sports?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. Nova

    Good news! We have just signed Cesar and flainni but wenger is waiting for til 25.06.13 merk My w

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  46. Neil

    Worst rumour I’ve heard is that we are in for Torres. Check newsnow arsenal transfers.

    I’m sure it’s not true.

    If he turns out to be our big name signing I give up.

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  47. Neil

    Chavs have just signed Shurrle.

    Anyone still saying the window isn’t open yet?

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  48. essex gooner

    Guys, try not to get to worked up over this gossip over fellaini apparently agreeing a deal with us, remember last season when we thought we had Nuri sahin in the bag, guaranteed to play for us, well look where he went…Liverpool, just shows how transfers can be done right under arsenal’s noses without anyone suspecting a thing. Keep that in mind…

    GOONER FOR LIFE

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  49. Andrew

    @mr lean
    Evening mate no I don’t but one thing I am pretty sure off is all the transfers will be done before the Asia tour.

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  50. Ahmed

    there s mentality game going on this summer. EPL big clubs r watching us and if we sign big players earlier, that might drive some of them crazier and start splashing money they were hesitating before. SO LETS ACT NORMAL AND DO OUR BUSINESS AS LOW PROFILE AS LATE.

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  51. Robert

    @mac oseno
    Apparently he used to be an agent and he still has contacts. I’m not saying I believe him at all but if you check out his twitter, he has been right most of the time and a couple of weeks before actually confirmed. VERY sceptacle still but we will soon find out. COYG!

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  52. mr lean

    @Andrew read today wenger wants a proper number 9,rooney and a gk add fellaini to this and what a great summer,that should put everybody in a positive mood if it comes true

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  53. Ahmed

    guners, you know what I have missed the most..ARSENAL MATCHES even if we weren’t winning. feel like 1 year break but I would be more excited when I see those big players in red and white at Emirates.

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  54. Andrew

    @mr lean
    It would put me in a good mood but we need a creative midfielder the likes of Fabregas.

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  55. Ian Hawthorne

    Quick question for Nova.
    Where did you hear this?
    Not f***ing agent jim again
    Til I see it on Arsenal.com or sky sports it is BS

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  56. Neil

    My apologies.

    Agent Jim does exist.

    His name is ‘Football Agent Jim’.

    That’s why I struggled to find him.

    Anyhooz…not buying it.

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  57. Fellow gooner

    If Wenger buys big this time as promised i’ll trust him in whatever he says next. I’ll make him my hero! But if he fails to do so and allow us to struggle again to compete like in previous seasons, i’ll give up on him totally and i’ll tell him he’s a failure no matter what he has achieved in the past. Hope he knnws this already.

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  58. kron

    Porto wouldn’t do well in the Prem… So No. You can’t have to many actors on one team.

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  59. ban10

    work permit is the problem
    remember ronaldinho was going to be our player but didnt get a work permit in england
    even wellington silva used to be a great prospect even performed well in the reserves but his work permit was revoked.
    Germany is the best hunting place for us now bcoz the next decade belongs to germany as the previous decade belonged to spain

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  60. Arsenal1Again

    @ Alexander the author of that article up the top.

    Henry and Nasri were not examples of buying low, lol.

    As for Porto winning some trophys, what would they have won in The English Premier League, lol.

    Yes, staggering list of players sold, but not as staggering as Viera, Henry, Petit, Van Persie, Stapleton (another one who went to United), Nasri, Overmars, Fabregas, Brady, lol.

    Along the way we let slip through our fingers Christiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, YaYa Toure, the latter two had trials at Arsenal.

    Porto have done nothing at all we Arsenal want to emulate. We don’t want to win the Portugeuse league, we have a better stadium, we generate more income, we have better player, better fans, a much more successful club, have exciting prospects …. nope, you can go back to supporting Porto like you obviously do. You seem to know litle about Arsenal and a lot about Porto. lol.

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  61. Stuart

    You’ve only really scratched the surface with this article.

    In short, most of Portos players are not actually owned by Porto but by third parties. This is a common factor with South American players.

    Third Party Player Ownership is banned in the Premier League. Remember the Tevez saga where they had to buy out the ownership of the player from his agent? This also explains why we never landed some of our possible targets. The agents sign these players up on contracts hen they are young and pay them a wage whilst promoting them about to clubs and loaning them out to be showcased in the hope they one day in the future are spotted by a big European club and can be sold for £20-£30 Million.

    You’re not comparing apples with apples if you compare Arsenal to Porto as we have to buy our players and pay their wages, Porto do neither.

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  62. Carlos

    ahem…
    Benfica/Arsenal supporter here..
    BENFICA 32 titles
    Porto 27 titles….
    BENFICA>porto

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  63. toumazis

    NO NEED 2 get players from south america we have players here they already proof how good are they example BENTEKE FELLAINI the young left back of southampton and so many others.

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  64. Josh09

    Agent Jim has said Rooney is our number 1. To be honest I don’t mind with Cesar and Fellani agreed deals either Rooney or Higuain will top it off for me. For our defense we need to promote Miquel and keep Vermaelen

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