The Next Gem: Arsenal’s New High-Impact Transfer Strategy. by AI
Hide all your recent academy graduates! Arsenal are coming for them!
While this may sound like a fictional battle cry from a cliché sword-cutting war movie, I can imagine academy directors, one coffee latte in hand, typing a memo with a similar headline, frowning as they remember their once beloved prodigies representing the London red and white.
Here is a fictional memo from a rival academy boss:
After Player X’s heroics at the Emirates last night, I think it now has to come to our general attention what the Arsenal Recruitment staff are doing with their transfer strategy.
They are scouring through Europe and South America, looking for fast-rising talents. Unlike Real Madrid, they avoid the highest profile ones and go for the lesser known names who are not lower in quality than their Spanish-haunted contemporaries. Take a look at Matteo Guendouzi’s profile. 18-year-old Ligue 1 debutant in lowly French club. Regular player in Ligue 2. Now absolute powerhouse for those smug shirts at the Emirates. Or the similar profile Gabriel Martinelli.
As you may already know, they have extraordinary pull over these young professionals and have a clear reputation for giving playing time. Admittedly, they are pretty good at doing that. I fear that unless we find a way to guard our Guendouzis and Martinellis, we shall all soon furnish Arsenal with the next Cristiano Ronaldos and Harry Kanes for peanuts while we stick with buying ready-made starters at unsustainable prices.
Do you know how much one of the new lattes cost now? 25 million pounds for just being warmer than room temperature.
Joking apart, this is actually more serious than we suspect. While the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona may be buying all the flashy Brazilian trinkets with dizzying transfer sums, we are doing the same thing but on a lower level. It’s a great strategy if you actually think about it.
Not all potentially elite players will be like Lionel Messi or Neymar from a young age. Many will be like Virgil Van Dijk when he was at Celtic: just as talented but from a relatively low-profile club. Sometimes their full potential will not be apparent to the casual observer. Many will be like Ngolo Kanté: able to play at a world-class level but lacking the platform and coaching opportunities to effectively do so at a young age.
A talent like Gabriel Martinelli may have remained stuck in the lower levels of Brazilian football, slowly making his way up the ranks. Anything can happen to derail such a talent within those years. If nothing happens and he successfully makes it to the top at a relatively young age, say 21, at one of the big Brazilian clubs with an apparent ability to play at an elite level, his transfer value will mean that getting him would be difficult amidst tough competitions from other clubs.
But what if you orientated your scouting operations at finding Luka Modric before he got to Tottenham? Or a Riyad Mahrez before he is noticed by Leceister?
What if you scouted for the best young and low-cost talents instead of the most expensive ones? Which gem would you unearth?
Arsenal signed Matteo Guendouzi for less than 10 million pounds back in 2018. The midfielder was once part of the PSG academy until he was 14, departed to Lorient, got his debut at 18 in Ligue 1 and continued to regularly feature in Ligue 2 the next season after his team dropped. Blessed with great passing ability, confidence, top mentality and abundant energy, the French youngster unexpectedly made his debut against Chelsea and Manchester City the next season for Arsenal. From there he has never looked back.
So when, in the next season, Arsenal forked out a similar amount to secure the signing of a Brazilian teenager in the lower Brazilian league, a few eyebrows were raised. Was this another Guendouzi-type?
It turned out an emphatic yes. Gabriel Martinelli is one of Europe’s hottest teenagers this season. Gifted with blistering pace, great shooting, heading and Guendouzi-esque never-say-never attitude, the Brazilian is the latest emblem of Arsenal’s new high-octane transfer strategy.
Now, the players Arsenal have been linked to this season have been eerily similar. Angelo Stiller, 19, from Bayern Munich. Orkun Kocku, 19, of Feynoord. Thiago Almada, 19, of Velez Sarfield. And so on. It seems like a Wengerised version of Real Madrid youth galaticos. Cheaper, lower profile, high-impact?
Sign the papers, boy, you are going to North London.