Analysis – Money is certainly not the problem at Arsenal…

Money is not the problem at Arsenal by Johnbo

As Arsenal fans, we know there are many issues with the Kroenkes, but what is the most common criticism of their reign? Spend the money! I myself have often accused them for a lack of spending, however, upon researching this article I can see that this is an unfair critique on the whole.

Arsenal have been one the biggest spenders over the last decade, and actually should have spent a lot more if it wasn’t for our shocking ability at selling high valued assets, with the club consistently favouring the self sabotaging policy “let’s allow players to walk away for free”.

That policy has had a huge knock on effect when it comes to reinvestment. Add to that, Wenger’s frugal approach to transfers. Then we also have the wage bill, which until very recently, was also one of the highest in Europe.

It’s hard to get exact figures, but over the last 10 years, the order of Net spending looks like (gross spending in brackets in pounds):

1 – Man Utd  903M(gross – 1.4B)

2 – Man City 825M (gross – 1.4B)

3 – PSG 790M (gross – 1.2B)

4 – Barcelona 546M (1.4B)

5 – Arsenal 490M (865M)

6 – Juventus 471M (1.3B)

7 – Milan 363M (743M)

8 – Everton 360M (765M)

9 – Villa 356M (589M)

10 – Chelsea 347M (1.4B)

As one can see, we’ve spent a lot. 5th on the list and if it wasn’t for our pathetic selling ability, our spending would have easily surpassed the billion mark. It’s interesting to see that there isn’t really that strong a relationship with spending and success when looking at the top end of football.

Top of the list Man Utd have been an absolute mess for years, and it’s now 5 years without a trophy, and nearly 10 years without a league title. Barcelona’s spending has left them in financial ruin. PSG have dominated the domestic game in France, which is hardly a stretch, but consistently fail in Europe, which is similar to Juventus, although they’ve dropped off domestically the last 2 or 3 years.

We all know how terrible Arsenal have been in the league and Europe. Milan have been in the doldrums until winning their first league title this season in just over a decade. Everton have only gone backwards. Villa have spent a lot to barely become a mid table side.

Only City and Chelsea can boast consistent success from their spending. The most successful has to be Chelsea given their successes in Europe as well as domestically.

Although bigger finances will give the opportunity for more success, it’s really down to the culture, structure, and planning at a club that makes success possible. Man Utd proved that point more than any other club. On the flip side, so have Leicester, who have been very smart.

Looking at Arsenal, it’s actually quite easy diagnosing our problems. The Kroenke’s do not understand football. Arsenal have a very similar setup to Liverpool, even down to the owners, but they have a far better structure in place, and obviously now have a world class manager, hence their recent success.

That tells me that, like Liverpool, we can win the biggest trophies under the Kroenkes, but that it’s harder to do so as you really need others below them who are running the operational side of the club to get it spot on. Things have improved since 2018, such as the culture, planning, structure, etc, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Josh Kroenke seems to have taken on more of an interest in Arsenal than his father, Stan, and maybe part of that is wanting to prove to his father that he can become a success at Arsenal. Josh could become key for us, because Stan has had no interest in what happens on the pitch. If we can FINALLY get the operational side of the club running properly, as well as bringing through a more ruthless culture in regards to not accepting failure, then success is possible.

This is why I have been supportive of Arteta, and others currently running the day-to-day, because there has been a lot of focus put into what happens off the pitch. They haven’t got everything right, no one ever does, but there has been improvement on the whole. And as we saw last summer, when Arsenal outspent every club on Earth, yet won nothing, and didn’t qualify for the Champions League, money wasn’t the issue. Some of our most expensive players have actually underachieved as well.

People will say that the Kroenkes have been here for years, and we have only gone backwards, but it’s only recently that they’ve had full control of Arsenal, and I put a lot of blame for our regression at the feet of Wenger and Gazidis.

Smart planning, and management will get Arsenal back to the top, but will that happen under the Kroenkes?


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  1. Great article

    I believe Kroenke is just waiting until Guardiola, Klopp, Tuchel, Flick or Nagelsmann becomes available. If Arteta can’t make Arsenal finish fourth and one of those top managers is hireable at the end of next season, I bet Kroenke will act quickly

    1. Yeh because we are known for acting quickly aren’t we!;)

      SK had his opportunity for Klopp and Guardiola but he chose MA (cheaper and less demanding)

      1. Kroenke got some chances to sign those world class managers, but he chose to stick with Wenger at that time

  2. Problems are often relative. Man Utd won 13 titles under Sir Alex but have not won for 9 years. Man U fans believe the sky has fallen down.
    Leeds last won 3the title 30 years ago.
    Everton last won the title 36 years ago.
    Forest/Villa last won the title 40 years ago.
    Many fans are saying how great Spurs are doing yet I heard Spurs last won the tile in 1961 when JFK was USA President. The huge club that is Newcastle last tasted League title success in 1927 when Al cpone was making millons in Chicago..
    Westham have never won the title.
    City and Chelsea have bought all their titles through financial doping. Arsenal has spent big it is true but Sheiky and Chelski have way out spent everyone else.
    Arsenal is actually doing really well right now.
    These days top 6 in the PL means you have a successful football club. It means 38 PL games in the best league in the world. It means a probable minimum ten European games. It means capacity crowds , massive TV viewing audiences, huge TV rights and sponsorship deals. It means a fabulous stadium. It could be a whole lot worse. Ask that lot down the road who last won the title when the average house price was 2,450 quid. decades ago.

    1. Where is Liverpool in all this shit you wrote
      You are certainly a master of Cherry picking to suit your delusion

    2. Last time Arsenal won something I guese you were still Wyoming?
      Anyways I guess you might be happy with the relative sucess of the times (slow progression from 8th to 5th and then Top 4 eventually), but other fans want a perceived success(Top 4 fight every year to title and european contention slowly), me included. Now I believe any club’s manager should try hard to close the gap between the higher version (perceived success) and the lower version (relative success) and not bring down the higher version to the level of the lower version. Have a good day sir!

  3. I had same thoughts as you, however, between 2004 to 2014, what was the net spend at the time, if you check well am sure we must be the team that had best tally, that’s because at the time we were selling a good crop of players from the legendary invincible season and buying trash and below standard players, that’s why from 2015-2021 we have run out of good players that are fascinating to other club, we were left with average players, and those that were a bit above average we had to pay them ridiculous wages to keep them, then it became another issue, no one wants to buy average players one high wages.

    There is a cause and effect which started from 2014, and now it a new phase, and if we want to build another elite team with players that could be fascinating to elite clubs we have to invest like we did last summer, which I believe if we inject another £150-£209m, in the next 3 -5yrs we would have healthy teams and players that could be sold for reasonable amount in excess of £50/£100m , a fee that is able to give a turn around to teams like Liverpool coutinho case

    1. Everyone keeps saying Liverpool sold players etc do you believe in any way that this group of management could have Been do what klopp did in Liverpool let’s stop living in decept, arteta inherited a team not even as bad as what klopp inherited he had his own version of coutinho in Auba and we all knew how it ended. Let’s not allow this narrative to fly as if arteta inherited a bunch of under 17 kids, the Same players reached Europa league final and won many Fa cups.

      1. “arteta inherited a team not even as bad as what klopp inherited ”

        This is fake news and you know it

        1. It’s laughable.
          The fact that Frdrick had no choice but to use kids on his last match say it all

        2. Liverpool had players like

          Emre Can
          Lucas Leiva
          Kolo Touré
          José Enrique

          Arteta had players like

          Bellerin, Hector
          Chambers, Calum
          Kolasinac, Sead
          Lacazette, Alexandre
          Leno, Bernd
          Maitland-Niles, Ainsley
          Martinez, Emiliano
          David Luiz
          Mustafi, Shkodran
          Ozil, Mesut
          Papastathopoulos, Sokratis
          Pepe, Nicolas
          Tierney, Kieran
          Torreira, Lucas
          Xhaka, Granit
          Guendouzi, Matteo
          Saka, Bukayo
          Smith Rowe, Emile

          Please let’s stop been bias by thinking klopp inherited world class players while Arteta inherited deadwoods

          1. Thanks for spelling that out so that it can be stopped being used as an excuse – like we need another;)

          2. Thanks for spelling that out so that it can be stopped being used as an excuse – like we need another;)

          3. Pretty much nailed that argument Gun down. Why do some people go to such extremes to defend this current regime?

      2. We couldn’t have sold Auba for more than £40m despite his contribution to FA cup success and his golden boot award a year earlier due to his age and wages.
        We bought a prime Auba , we knew his sell on value would drop since he was already 28 when he arrived. He isn’t same as Coutinho and sterling in Liverpool rebuilding process

        1. I am not referring to Auba in terms of age but an asset he is a world class striker and a golden boot winner he was an asset if managed well could have fetched a lot of money for the club
          Arteta maybe good with kids who are ready to run through brick walls for him but I am yet to see him get a tone for the senior players lacazette, Aubameyang, Willian,Pepe etc we need experienced players to work with the young players I am interested to see an experienced player who will buy this Arteta process

  4. Its the whole lot from the owner that wastes money, to the buying and selling of not quality players, to poor management. It doesn’t matter who the owner is if the manager and his backroom staff are not upto it.

  5. We are, nowadays, last in at the party. We have lost signing fine young players like Dejan Kulusevski and Yves Bissouma to Tottenham. Our dealings are lacking urgency and desire and there constant minor problems be which usually get in the way of signings. In some ways be we are like an amateur club with no urgency or desire. When money is spent it is often not on the players we really wanted. Often deadline panic buying. Remember the Suarez fiasco 40 million and a pound….that’s the Arsenal way and the we pay 72 mill for Pepe and 50 mill for Ben White???? FFS! We even recently used to have players like Alexis Sanchez…top players. Now we always seem to come second to Tottenham in getting the players we want.

    1. You are absolutely right.
      I’ll like to ask: as an English player Ben white cost us 50mil, if Ben isn’t English how much do you think he worths, say he is. Brazilian

      1. Half that, worth 25 million at best. His price is highly inflated by the “English Tax”.

        Brighton actually finished higher up the table without him, and after spending that money on White, our defense isn’t better than the Bellerin, Luiz, and Leno combination.

        It’s not all White’s fault, but for 50 million you would expect an impact, which he hasn’t shown. Not to mention a CB was low on the list of what we needed position wise.

  6. We currently have a poor mentality throughout the whole club….it’s been with us from around 2008.

    You don’t need a team packed full of the best players but you need a strong mindset….we don’t have that.

  7. While I agree in part to the article. If you look at gross purchased in the last 5 years, city has far and away out spent all other rivals. Is it any coincidence then that they have won 4 out of the last 5 titles. As we cannot compete with the purchasing power of city is it then unrealistic to expect our beloved club to be winning the epl year in and year out. I see our current transfer policy of purchasing young and making champions more suited to our financial status then buying champions who in fair are most likely a notch below those purchased by city. In the last 5 years, 5 clubs sit above us in gross purchased, we improve our ability to make and sell players, then the potential to spend more on players increases. Therefore I lam heartened in the direction our transfer policy is heading but I am also mindful that it’s a long way off the current champions.

  8. Jonbo, By any rational analysis , an excellent and very astute piece.
    My own fundamental difference in EMPHASIS from you , is that I maintain as outright owner ( and also when as effective owner, as he already held a majority share issue from many years ago, well back before 2018), Kroenke HAD A DUTY to be daily in touch with his “asset” and SHOULD have made far better and INFORMED decisions in hiring AND FIRING(when they failed so woefully) better financial brains to run the finance side.
    He did not and in my book, the buck stops at the OWNER of ANY BUSINESS.
    Gazidis and Sanllehi should NEVER have been hired and both, having been appointed, SHOULD have been sacked FAR sooner. Reality!!

    1. That’s the reality, you can also add that Edu and arteta shouldn’t have been hired in the first place and keeping this management team till now is even worse than keeping Gazidis and Sanllehi, the kroenke’s never learn from their past mistakes

      1. How is it bad to keep Arteta and Edu?
        Yes both of them are rookies with huge potential (as shown in the last 2yrs that both improve, and learn from mistakes), we are willing to let young players play for us but you are against young coach and directors.?

        I don’t think Edu has done badly, imo he has done better than Sanleigh and the German “magician” that sign us Auba , Mavro, etc

        1. Fabrigas,Wilshire,Ramsey,song and others where once young players who will hoped would become world class and give us titles but it never happened, potential doesn’t always translate to success Arteta has the potential to become the next world class coach doesn’t mean he will become a world class coach for certain.
          What this route will surely buy them is time but I bet the fans will not be patient forever, if they don’t start putting things in other and convincing more fans that success is near them more fans will join the Arteta out brigade

      1. Off topic,

        The player that I see will be our next henry is victor osimhen of Napoli, he’s got strength, speed, power and can score goals

  9. First of all gross spend is a meaningless number. Net spend is what actually leaves the club’s bank account. I’m not sure whether fans don’t understand that or just don’t care whether their numbers make sense. Liverpool’s transfer dealings have been on another level in the past few years, they just don’t seem to get them wrong. That’s less about Klopp and more about data analysis. But I suppose computer systems and maths are subjects that the average fan prefers to ignore. You can only sell a player for decent money if he was a good buy in the first place, why would anyone pay you for failures ? Basically you can spend as much as you like but get it wrong and you might as well burn the cash. Actually burning the cash might work out cheaper as you won’t be saddled with the player’s wages.

    1. Gross spend really translates to the ability of a club to buy a player, any player who they want when they want and not be reliant on transfers for that to happen. Agreed the pool have done incredibly well in the transfer market over the last decade, but that hasn’t translated in as much success as city in the epl. Which have also had there fair share of flops, but there purchasing power is so great it doesn’t matter. Hell they could put out a second team in the epl that would be successful.

  10. I hope the Kroenkes’ don’t spend myth can end..
    I have not love the our owners but as always we have to sometimes take off our bias tinted glasses and try to be honest / balanced and objective..
    The kroenkes have spent a fair bit, the problem has been that the majority our big money signings have been absolutely poor or underwhelming..


    Sanchez was a brilliant buy.
    I feel like we paid too much for Auba but he did well for us..

    Then you have the likes of

    I can blame kroenke for not being hands on but most of the funds he has provided mave been wasted.

    1. So , Odegard , Xhaka and Leno are now in the class of flops like Mustaffi? That’s say it all about you

      1. Where did I say that Odegaard, Leno and Xhaka were flops?
        I grouped them in the £26-£35 million category.

        The first category was those between £40-£70 million category..

        Then Auba and Sanchez on their own as they were the goal scorers..

        What I was saying was that we have to stop this “MYTH” about Kroenke not spending..

        The guy is even willing to take huge losses on all these player by letting them all walk for free or receive embarrassing transfer fees for them..

        We might not all fancy Kroenke but let’s not just make stuff up about him.. Let’s just be honest and objective.. Just because we don’t like someone does not mean we just have to make up negative claims about them..

        Let’s be mature and educated in our thinking..

  11. Epl fixtures is out
    Watch out for October
    If we didn’t prepare well, 5games in august, I hope we are not waiting till end of august for transfer

  12. “I put a lot of blame for our regression at the feet of Wenger and Gazidis.”
    Well OFC you do just as Anders and Jonny boys Articles have done in the last 24 hours .

    All three Articles hardly mentioned the manager we have now or if they did it was to put him in a good light .

    But that does not surprise me seeing who wrote them,seems to me you are getting them excuses in early ready for the new season .

    And to say things have improved since 2018 is just mind boggling
    Culture – myth made up by the Wenger agenda crew
    Structure – as always been there .
    Planning -not even sure what that means .
    What about league position or the football being played ,seemed to have missed that out .
    Overall an Article to deflect any blame form the current manager same as the other 2 .

    1. Agree with you. 8th and 8th and lost out on European football for the first time in 2 decades.

      Now finish 5th and it’s a celebration?

      Isn’t that where Emery finished when he was warned then fired?

      atrocious eye-gouging negative static football from Artetaball. Spent over 100 million on defense alone, and still worse statistically that the Bellerin, Luiz, and Leno combination.

      Didn’t Arteta promise us CL trophy in 3 years? He mentioned “taking responsibility” when he was hired, sent off Guendouzi, Ozil, Auba, so I expect he will take responsibility now as well?

  13. Well we might have Fabio Viera. Maybe the management have woken up. I am so sad Bissouma signed for Spurs. Edu is a ‘Shmuck’. Slow as a snail.

    1. Unfortunately Mr Williams we have a lot of Shmuck running the asylum
      It is depressing to see the spuds nick a player who would have enhanced our midfield but we are arsenal and for the past 15 years we have stopped and watched others act whilst we take a nap
      We pay big on inadequate players and then give them away or reward them with big contracts
      Players who do not have the get up, take responsibility of driving the club forward.
      I am bit sad not see some players come to our club but happy the youth of the team (some home grown players (some bought in) have given back some pride to us.
      They will only get better and stronger.
      As for silent stan and his family
      A big OUT vote

      1. Alanball08
        Can you imagine our team without the ‘kids’. Imagine us without Saka, ESR and Martinelli. The club would be nothing. Willian, Nketiah, Auba, Ozil, crazy contracts for what???? You are right the lunatics are running the asylum. It hurts to see the Spuds nick Bissouma for peanuts.

  14. It is obviously complicated, and there are many factors, but one of our most glaring ineptitudes has been the ability to sell players. And it is not just the selling but rather the way in which we have acquired players which makes the selling more difficult. In other words, when when we spend too much on a player, sometimes at too old of an age, and then give him too high of wages, it is really difficult to get any money back out of them to reinvest.

    You say that we would have had a higher gross spend, which is probably true – but we also would have had a lower net spend, dropping us further down the net spend list. Look at Chelsea for example who according to your list have a very low net spend in comparison to their gross spend because of the system of buying young players, loaning them, and then selling them for a profit in addition to always seeming to be able to sell the majority of their more seasoned assets for good prices (barring this season where several have run down their contracts).

    And then there is the fact that clubs like Arsenal, that are trying to catch back up, usually have to spend over the odds in both transfer fees and wages in order to lure in good players. And even then they cannot attract tier 1 players and in many cases not even teir 2 players. With all of the money that Man City have to spend, they also have the position to get good deals such as paying 51 million for Halaand (which Arsenal could afford as well) – except Halaand would never come to Arsenal since they are not challenging for the top titles not to mention not even being in the Champions league. Instead for 50 million Arsenal get a Ben White or 70 million Pepe (albeit on smaller wages than Halaand).

    Success breeds success and opens doors of opportunity that clubs trying to break into the top tier do not have. In short, current clubs like Arsenal, Man U, Tottenham, have a bigger hill to climb because spending over the odds is usually a necessary component but it also has to be combined with getting the right coach, getting the right back room staff, attracting higher quality players, having an overall, well thoughtout plan, and executing the plan with a little bit of luck thrown in.

  15. Net spend as others have said is what counts not gross.

    Why was Liverpool missing from the analysis I wonder!?;)

    We are an inept and slow machine off and off the field which is permitted by the absent and uncaring landlord SK. Big bucks is only part of a much bigger equation and only takes you so far. As once again as others have pointed it out it’s now how much you spend but what you spend it on and what thought, analysis and planning has gone into that.

  16. Victor Osimhen is the player I think we need now that will be able to go against most defenders in england

    1. Yasarif, you can cry out from the rooftops screaming out the names of players who could propel this team forward, but it’s not going to happen. Despite the net spend the Kroenkes are toxic for this club. Their current underlings Arteta and Edu don’t have the will, energy and perception to make things happen quickly. Undoubtedly we will see two or three new arrivals before season’s kick off, but as often happens it will be a compromise of too cheap, ridiculously inflated as in White or whoever has been left over after the big clubs have taken their picks.

  17. From top to bottom, we have lost the abilities and skills to compete consistently with top clubs in the modern game. Exceptionally poor decision making, the main achilles heel.

    This excellent piece by Jonbo is telling us one thing: splashing more coin is not the solution to the problem. IMO, we need to start by hiring experienced leaders at the board level (leaders who know what is takes to win at the highest level of the game) and of course an elite manager below.

    Just my humble suggestions on how to cure the Arsenal cancer: loads of money in, garbage out!

  18. The nature of the transfer system is bonkers to me. Unless you spend 100s of millions per window you can’t be successful. If you buy a high fee player who doesn’t work out, you not only lose on the field but unless you have oil Money, you are set back years on a bad buy. Everton almost got relegated because of years of bad buys.

    15 teams in the last 5 years in the EPL have spent at least 200 million in total transfer fees. By comparison, 4 in La Liga, 3 in France and 5 in Germany have spent that money.

    The premier league middle table is way more competitive from a talent stand point week in and week out.

    So to say Arsenal are failing is near sided, it’s hard to win in England unless you get every transfer right or have deep pockets.

    1. Jk , Astute reality and welcome for being so!
      So many fans in England impossible to please, unless they win a trophy every year and challenge for the title almost constantly.
      Experienced fans know that neither football, nor life, works that way. The transfer system is, as you say, bonkers but it is also an obscenity as are all player at top level wages. Players hold we fans to hostage and they employ agents to screw us still more. UGH!!

  19. I am saying this now from a long time, is not about the money spend but the decisions that we are taking, like appointing a coach with no first-hand experience and that back him and call it a project. It more sounds like a joke, teams are taking serious decision and we are busy with an experiment

  20. Anyway, it’s beginning to look like Arsenal may after all not head to the direction us Gooners want them to head to in singing new proven top quality experience players during this current summer transfer window.
    But hey are instead looking may stick to their gun to keep on signing new young proven top quality players this summer window.
    As the look set to sign a top 22 year old FC Porto top midfielder Viera this summer. Courtesy ESPN Football News.
    But in addition to Arsenal tire down Nkethia to a new long term contract deal at the club. it’ll gladen my heart and be a delight to me if Arsenal will sign the 23 year old Victor Osimhen from Napoli FC this summer and sign him as their lead-striker to lead the line for them in conjunction with Nkethia most especially in the EPL next season. In which us haven’t won the title for almost a quarter if a century now,

  21. unfortunately you’ve drawn the wrong conclusions from the information you so eagerly provided…you simply can’t apply the “eye test” to these types of financial matters, as what’s not revealed by the raw data is infinitely more important than the numbers themselves

    this is a highly nuanced conversation, where context is everything, so simply offering up such numbers, without doing your due diligence, brings nothing of consequence to the conversation except for providing you with a jumping off point to prop-up your particular, albeit misguided, narrative

    if this club continues to employ a manager who appears to be lagging far behind many, if not most, of his PL counterparts and we don’t spend massively in key positions, so that we can take the training wheels off this rather pedestrian tactical experiment, we will surely run into the same lowered expectational concerns that emerged during Wenger’s latter tenure…what’s on offer here feels much more Wenger Cupian in nature than the formative stages of a bona fide title run…the fact that you can’t see the obvious similarities is rather astounding to me

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