The pressure is on the Arsenal Academy to prove it really is cutting edge. by Willem
Arsenal’s budget has been a hot topic of speculation. Most rumours seem to point to a budget of between £40 or £50 million without CL football and revenue from players sold.
As always there has been speculation about which players Arsenal are targeting and what positions should be strengthened.
We are thin across the back line, Nacho is moving on in age, Bellerin is an uncertainty in terms of how he will return after a bad injury, as is Holding. We don’t have a real back-up for Bellerin. AMN’s development is wasted at RB, he should be moved to midfield, which is his best position. To say Mustafi has struggled is kind. Sokratis has a good mentality but in terms of the rest of his game, including decision making, he can’t be said to be a great CB. Kos is too old to rely on going forward.
We have lost Ramsey and should try to sell Ozil given the manager’s lack of faith in him. So, we are in dire need of a creative attacking midfield engine who can also score 10+ goals per season. And finally, we don’t have any real threat from the wings, meaning we have trouble giving adequate service to our strikers. So, in short other than the striker position, we need to improve across the board.
Clearly, £40 or £50 million is not going to address the above. Fans love doing the lazy math, and depending which fan’s point of view we can “easily” raise another £75 million by selling players (Ozil, Mustafi, Nacho, Xhaka, Iwobi, Mikhi, Jenkinson, Chambers, Elneny etc). But in practice you can’t add that money to our budget because it will take time to sell players and selling is not our strength So, you can’t make an offer for £60 million for a top winger or CD or creative midfielder and risk spending more than your budget whilst you have not yet sold any of your outgoing players. At the same time, you can’t really risk waiting until you might have sold your outgoing players before you move on you desired targets. If you don’t manage to sell Ozil can you afford to bring in another creative engine? Of course, our targets are likely to change depending on the budget. A bit of a conundrum.
One thing is clear, what ever the budget is, we cannot compete financially with the other top 6 teams. This means we have to look at our academy and we have to bring our young players through much, much faster than we are doing. And we need to create a strength in developing our young players. This cannot be done by shipping them out on loan spells. Ajax have a young team and don’t loan their players, generally because they believe they have a better system to develop their players. Spurs have greatly benefitted from not shying away from giving young players big responsibilities. We have to trust our young players and give them minutes over the Lichsteiners and Elneny’s and Mikhi’s. We have to stop thinking they are too young, or we have to change our academy and they way and speed with which they bring along their players.
If we don’t have the funds to buy our way to a proper transition, we have to increase our emphasis on developing our young players. Nelson could have helped us, and his own development, if he had been given major time on the wing this season in the PL. I also find it hard to believe Chambers could not have done a better job than Lichtsteiner or Elneny. Bielik should be brought back to the first team. We can address quite a few of our needs by bringing through our young players and learning from Ajax by giving them major time in the PL and supporting them in that way in their development. It is better to miss out on the top 4 because your young players were still developing (but getting better) than because of Lichsteiner or Mustafi making consistent mistakes which contribute nothing to your future or their development.
To ship out our young players on loan as a matter of routine, whilst buying average and inferior mature players in the market, means (to me) that your youth system in not working and that you believe other teams can develop your future stars as well as you can. If this is true you will not get back into the top 4 as long as you can’t compete financially.
So, as fans, I think we should spend as much time talking about and putting pressure on the club to play our young future stars as we should about daydreaming about unlikely offers for the likes of Zaha (or other players) who will likely cost more than our entire budget, whilst we don’t know what Nelson (Bielik, ESR, and others) could do for us.
Willem van De Vorm