Have Arsenal instigated the wrong transfer policy this summer? (Opinion)

Arsenal have outspend their Premier League rivals at this point in time, but how much have they improved their first-team squad?

One would claim that the club has solely invested in players that they believe will be future stars for the club, while the likes of Ben White and Martin Odegaard will be expected to have an immediate impact this season.

While on paper, we appear to be trying to build for a successful future, either by selling on our latest signings for profit or by building a strong team as the players meet their potentials, but should that have been the plan this summer?

We witnessed our club fail to qualify for European football for the first time in 25 years, highlighting our demise in recent seasons, and with the club having given the hierarchy permission to spend on the squad, I can’t help but feel like we should have prioritised this upcoming campaign and a return to Europe.

While Arsenal FC has it’s own pull of being a huge club with a huge following, one of the best stadiums and array of facilities in the world, to attract the top players we also need to be qualifying for Europe at the very least, while returning to being a regular in the Champions League has to be the minimum target for the future which is easier said than done in the PL.

We also need to be able to match something close to our rivals, which isn’t going to happen without a long-term return to Europe’s top competition and to be in contention for the league title on a constant basis.

With all this considered, it appears to me that Arsenal is being run as a business, hence the investment in younger players who all have the scope to increase their values in the coming years, which is why the club has actually sanctioned this summer’s spending in order to bring young players into our first-team squad who can pick up plenty of minutes, while relying on our academy products to bring the star quality that we are missing.

I’d go as far as to say that with all our spending this summer, our first-team starting XI is no better than it was.

We ended the season with a first choice eleven of:

Chambers Luiz Gabriel Tierney
Partey Xhaka
Saka Odegaard Smith Rowe/Pepe

The only change to this team that finished the campaign in eighth is that Luiz has been replaced by White, who I’m sorry, has a long way to go before being considered as anything close to the Brazilian despite his errors.

With less football being played because of our lack of European football, this summer should have been about improving our first team, with less fatigue and rotation needed in a much-less congested fixture schedule.

Do you agree that Arsenal has failed to put the right action plan into place? Or am I wrong? Do you believe Lokonga, Ramsdale or White improve our first XI?


Tags transfer policy


  1. All signings made are talented and young so they can only improve.

    If we look back through history we can remember the great Arsene qualifying for CL with the likes of Denilson. That shows how great a coach he was.

    Players are as good as their coach and his tactics. We can have an infinity budget to spend and nothing will ever improve because Arteta is not a good coach and has no visible tactics whatsoever.

    The only tactic he know is crossing from the left. Pure PES 5!

    1. “Players are as good as their coach and his tactics.”

      Clearly this is very far from the mark but I’d agree that there is a misalignment between the tactics we are trying to play and the players abilities to employ them.

      1. “there is a misalignment between the tactics we are trying to play and the players abilities to employ them.”

        Clearly the coach must be a one-trick-pony and lacks the knowledge on the abilities of the players under his disposal.

      1. Yes absolutely. In purely coaching matter the great Arsene has no equal. His problem was running the whole club by himself so it is obvious his coaching declined a little.

  2. Arteta gets what he wants a 3om backup keeper and a 50 m defender.I Still think its too early to criticize him and players have let him down,give him 10 games maximum.Remember leciester city were top of the league majarity of last Season but didn’t finished top4,Many thought Manchester city won’t finish top4 but,they won the league so let’s have some perspective. I do not have faith in Arteta but,at this moment I pity him many want to bury him but you can’t fault his desire to do best for this club and for the sake of his career,Lets get behind the team and See what happens with a full strength squad .

  3. For now we can’t make judgements on the players signed.
    You can’t spend 129 million in a summer and have nothing good to show for it.

    Dang the future purpose excuses
    Someone has to be responsible and needs to think about the present too just like Sagna said.
    If in the end the manager can turn it around and even get the top four, then he made proper use of the funds and there will be so much to expect from the young players bought.

    If he fails to turn it around an the next coach that comes needs another huge chunk of money to bring in his own players because he thinks this current crop of players ain’t good enough then the manager and director wasted the huge chunk of money we spent this summer.
    You can’t spend 129 million pounds in 2021 and have nothing to how for it at the end of the season.
    That’s why I can’t judge or make judgements about the signings right now.
    It’s just two games into the season.
    A decimated squad. Let’s see what the players he signed can actually do when everyone’s fit and raring to go and a couple of months.
    Other than that, there’s no judging any of the players now for me.
    It’s way too early to call judgement on the summer spending

    1. The problem is not result or players but the fact that there is clear formation or philosophy he is trying to put in place you just can’t figure it out!

  4. I recruitment is improving interms of quality ,if it was us who bought Grealish at 100m many would judge him in his first game like he never did it before.All clubs big or small make transfer blunders but,for arsenal we have made too many comical errors in transfers.We need a top director of football proven to help in transfer business that is what is making small club emerge at lightening speed.

    ht speed.

  5. people are going to say give players time etc, which is fair. But it’s expected that when 130mill is spent there are players we spent on that will make an instant impact and help us challenge for our goals. 30mill on a backup GK, 7mill for backup LB, 50mill for CB (not the position that needed the most attention), 30mill for creative midfielder that was with us last season and just did okay. 20mill for a promising CM, but wouldn’t expect an instant impact from. Thats a lot of money spent and I dont see a player that will transform this Arsenal side anywhere in sight. So yes, questions need to be asked as to whether this money was spent correctly. Personnel wise, and in the right areas on the pitch. Finding a Xhaka improvement should’ve been one of the goals of the summer and we ended with the worst case scenario.

    1. When I complained that £30m was way too much for a backup goalkeeper, something no club in history has ever done with all their wealth, I was lambasted. Ramsdale is a good backup, but for £30m when we do not have a right back or DM? £100m would have been enough to get us Maddison and Bissouma while Tavares and Lokonga would have still signed up and we’ll have a few millions left in change. White was not needed

      1. Again you fail to get the point.. Leno will not be at this club for much longer.. Ramsdale was not bought as a backup but to compete for number 1..

        1. Precisely! Continually bashing Ramsdale is the quickest way to make the lad a bag of nerves when he gets his first start. A good tactic if you want to be proved right.

    2. 30 mil for a home grown GK replacement for Leno who doesn’t want to be here. 50 mil for White who was probably already feeling the effects of the bug vs. Brentford. Lokongo has moved up in the pecking order to start instead of Xhaka the backup. tovares who was quite necessary. Patience folks.

  6. “I can’t help but feel like we should have prioritised this upcoming campaign and a return to Europe.”

    Whats makes you think they haven’t done that? Have they ever said it? In fact they talk about competing to get back to where we belong!

    Arteta is way off. He can’t inspire the team like he inspires the fans and media to believe in him. There are no concrete signs that he is on his way to delivering.

    Drop this rookie and lets move on.

  7. I think Arteta’s tactics is okay, I think his problem is communication, sometimes you need to be flexible, a little rigid and a little flexibility helps,

    Let some players play freely, the midfield and attack.

    Sometimes you need to listen to others,

    Xhaka can’t be at his best in a 4-2-3-1, he needs fast and strong midfielders in a 4-3-3,

    Yves Bissouma or Bruno Guimaraes would be good,

    CF: The Genk striker or Duvan should be fine,

    Arsenal have gone below par.

  8. Question- Is the tactic of buying young players with high potential the best transfer tactic?
    Answer- Debatable. Depends on the context as you said. In some cases it just makes clubs uncompetitive and selling clubs like Dortmund, Stuttgart, Ajax pre 2016, Arsenal pre 2014 etc. But in other cases it rejuvenates the team like the young signings of Real giving them the title in 2019/20 season, even without Ronaldo. For us, I believe the implementation was done a year late. If we had been able to implement the same strategy in last year’s window without going for players like Partey and Willian, I believe we would have finished higher. Now parroting on about Youth and potential seems very late and not useful at all in the present when Arsenal need to look in the present. We are not aiming for European qualifications in a year or two. We are supposed to be aiming for that now. Signing players who may have high potential but cant cut it at Arsenal at the moment(like our Rolls Royce currently looks ) is not going to help us. Also a set tactical philosophy which can reasonably change(not too frequent like Senor Unai and not too infrequent like Le Prof ) seems to be the way forward. Based on MA’s preferences, experimentation on 4231 or 343 might help getting more organized players. Playing 433 might be a bad idea now. Losing against Man City seems inevitable, so for me if we play perfectly executed beautiful, attacking football or perfectly executed dirty defensive footie, is not a problem if the Players are able to adjust to it. MA’s tactical flexibility will be key this season (currently dont think he has that.)

    1. Somehow I find myself identifying the positives ,

      In our defeats, we have somehow disciplined ourselves to avoid penalties, red cards,

      Shows we kinda improved,

      What’s not improved is our work rate, we are too lazy and poor at anticipating.

      Arsenal has always been my first love since the 90s and Real Madrid my second love,

      Arsenal will do well to straighten up.

      1. Same with the Arsenal Madrid dual love! I can see your points, but currently, for me, we are only throwing a single fastball to all the batters(teams, weird but accurate baseball parallel IMO, lol)
        Need that curveball that rejuvenates our team once again and destabilizes opposition against us. Kind of liked what MA did initially to fire up the team. Hopefully, he does this time too, though I have given up almost all hope.

  9. A lot of money was spent, and no significant changes or improvements to the starting 11.

    You would expect for £130 million AT LEAST ONE would be a game changer or instant impact.

    Remember signing Alexis Sanchez and how he impacted the squad?

    Disappointed no new top midfielder was brought in to partner Partey. Guess the hope with Xhaka is a leopard CAN change it’s spots or old dogs CAN learn new tricks.

    Unfortunately I expect more of the same results, drab football, and Arteta pleading for more time while excusing 2 finishes worse than both his predecessors.

    Sorry but all the Rah Rah hype and excitement being sold by Kronkes and Arteta rings hollow.

  10. We need a new striker, Auba must go!!!! Laca should sign a new contract 2years max.

    I personally don’t understand why we keep on buying players (lezzy) who don’t improve our first 11.

  11. Can someone please explain this 30 mill on a backup GK came from? People are saying it on every platform but I havent seen a single credible source mentioning anything about him being bought as a backup GK 🤷‍♂️

    1. If he ain’t a backup, then what is he? Is he good enough to be a top four or even top six goalkeeper?

  12. Not wrong, but budget transfer policy as usual. The decision makers at Arsenal surely know that skilled tall players are better than the small technical ones, but they simply can’t afford that player type

    Chelsea spent 100+ M only for one skillful tall CF, whereas Arsenal spent 150 M for five players. Arsenal have been collecting small creative players in the last fifteen years, to maintain their pretty football aspiration/ trademark and to save their budget

    Had Arsenal had a sugar daddy with dirty oil money, they would most likely buy the skilled tall players like Lukaku, Pogba and Van Dijk. Instead, they’ve been purchasing the more affordable small technical players, in the hope of winning something and attracting the gullible fans

    1. People won’t accept that the top players won’t sign for a mid-table club. In addition, the high wages paid to our deadwood is hindering their sale. I would love to be earning £100k a week just to sit on my arse.

      1. Some top players moved to mediocre clubs for money. We got Aubameyang/ Pepe, Spurs got Romero, Villa bought Bailey and Everton signed Rodriguez

    2. @gotanidea, how many Lukakus and Pogbas are there in Man City? Or Barca? Yet they keep perfoming at high levels, year in year out.
      Adopt the tactics that suits your players. Arteta simply doesn’t seem to know which tactics suits his players. They keep whipping crosses into the box. For who?
      Arteta can’t tell us that he needs to buy a full 25 man squad before he can get things right.
      In a few weeks’ time, he’ll have a full squad at his disposal. If he can’t get them firing by then, he should take a walk.

      1. @Namo Thank you very much liverpool-man City even Chelsea last season didn’t use a tall striker or midfielder to win Champions League

        1. Compare how Tuchel’s PSG played in UCL final against Hansi Flick’s Bayern Muenchen vs Tuchel’s Chelsea in last season’s UCL final

          Tuchel opted for a quick one touch football against Hansi Flick, because he didn’t have a skillful tall player like Havertz to do hold-up play

          PSG fans also criticized him badly and accused him of regressing their players, yet look how different his playing style is at Chelsea

      2. Guardiola’s systems at the prime Barcelona and Man City are highly stable and mature, so they just need technically gifted players

        Liverpool have good headers in their forwards, as compared to how our forwards anticipate the long crosses. Whereas Chelsea had the tall and strong Havertz last season to do hold-up play, which was something Tuchel didn’t have at PSG

        If you want a manager who can make tactics suit our players, why not ask for Ranieri? He was famous of making a new system for Leicester City players in 2015

        1. Gai
          Your analysis is good but if Arteta is to read your opinion it would only make him lackadaisical and give excuses for not living up to expectation. His employees will not accept that. I agree he may needs time to win the league. But it is important for the fans to see visible progress by getting to Top6. Anything short of that after buying 5 players and still more to come would be considered as failure this season; and rightly so.

          For now, Arsenal coach needs to be a genius and find a way to improve his tactics to get result. Excuses in the Greek is “colour”

          Yes there is need for Patience but even patience has expiry date Gai.

      3. 👍 A manager uses the player resources available to them by coaching and developing their skills, then implementing formations and tactics to maximise the combined output of the team.

  13. Other than that totally unnecessary CB for 50 million, money which could have been spent on a decent striker. I think AFC has bought well this transfer window. Problem is AFC has not bought big name players; a priority for gullible fans..Fan who fail to see that if a team is not in Europe these big names will most likely not be attracted to Arsenal..

  14. There are some very well thought out comments here, but I can’t help thinking we should not be assessiing our new players after two league games, during which only two of our five signings have completed 90 minutes and two haven’t even kicked a ball yet. Additionally they have played in scratch, weakened teams that they will not have played with before and probably won’t again.
    Personally I think they DO improve our first team and they WILL demonstrate that this season by getting us into the Top Six, but I don’t KNOW this, and I think whilst it’s fine (and deserved) to criticise Arteta, its damaging our new players to judge them until they’ve had a few games. I sometimes think some fans don’t like the fee for White and want him to fail just to prove them right – if we are not careful we will create self fulfilling prophecies by not being fair. Even in this thread he is being criticised for having covid! I hope we are going to be patient, and discuss again after a few more games…

    1. So far so good for Lokonga and our new left back, they have started on a brighter note I believe they will improve when the team is complete

  15. This is a well articulated piece. Yes for fact the strategy in this summers transfer spending has been focused on the future. It is right to do so because the post Arsene Wenger era saw us making hasty kwick fix signings to recapture the glory years which failed to yield the intended outcome.
    So back to the drawing board. We’ll have to get use to 1-2 years without European football as we rebuild.
    It’s worth noting that some the problems we have now are down Arsene Wenger over staying as manager. He should have gone 2-3 years earlier. It is now costing us now dearly. He instilled the reluctant spirit to invest on proven players into the club. While the Manchester Citys, Manchester United, Liverpools and Chelsea go out to buy success, at arsenal we want to succeed without spending.

  16. Firstly I totally disagree with that list of players as being our strongest team last season. I believe Bellerin was a much better right back than Chambers, and Holding a much better Center Back than Luiz or Gabriel!

    I think the Transfer Policy this year should have been concerned with adding a small number of quality players, such as:

    1. A really good Defensive Midfielder. I have said this before and I will say it again. We should have bought Bissouma instead of Ben White.
    Partey, Xhaka and Bissouma in midfield would not be brushed aside so easily.

    2. A really good goal scorer, Dusan at Fiorentina is an example. We have Saka and ESR to create chances.
    If Arteta does not think these two are good enough, why the hell does he keep them? Odegaard is just going to get in their way.

    3. If we had some money left over, since Bellerin needs to go home to Spain, I would have bought a right back NOT Trippier). There are lots out good ones there.

    We would play thru this season with just those two or three additions. We have no European games, so injuries might not be so big a problem.

    Next year we could buy two more top class players.

    That way we might really get back into the top 4.

  17. For a club that finished 8th in the league table in successive seasons, no European football on offer this season, couldn’t raise more than 50 mils on players sales in four transfer windows combined, spending 130 mils on five players below 23 with good growth prospects must be termed as a success.

    Success in transfer window alone don’t determine the club’s position on the league table. If you doubt that, just drop a line to Lampard or the Fulham management team from the 18/19 season.

  18. What was Arteta’s plan for the transfer window? Was it to get back to top4 and Europe or was it simply to rebuild the squad? I have no issue with either, just to be clear.

    But, I what I’m concerned about, based on transfer activities to date, he is trying to do both at the same time: trying to kill two birds with one stone. He is flirting with disaster: a right risk gamble with a high probability of failure. (For the sake of the club, I am still hoping he well succeed).

    Besides, I don’t feel the fanbase will accept this “rebullding” excuse if, 15 games into the season we, are floundering in the bottom half of the league.

    Get ready for fireworks at the Emirates.

    1. Astute comment RF. I think Arteta’s remit was to rebuild the team and improve gradually. I like this rebuild, but he screwed it up so badly last year by spending money we didnt have on ridiculous contracts for poor players that he’s a year behind schedule and has lost all the goodwill he started with. Throw in no evidence at all of the necessary management skills of tactics, motivation, a playing style and player development and he is on borrowed time.
      Is it me or do others also feel that our fitness, speed of both thought and action, determination and will to win seem to be inferior to every single team we play? What in God’s name is going on?

  19. First and foremost, the ball was dropped last off-season, which is another reason why the choices made this transfer window are and should be more heavily scrutinized…had we stayed the “rebuild” course, which is the ONLY reason why most thought Arteta, a man who had no managerial experience whatsoever, was given the job, many of this year’s missteps could have been avoided…unfortunately, overly optimistic headlines led to some unjustified peacocking on the part of our management team, which in turn had them shelving the original “plan” for a short-sighted “retool” that did us a great disservice…this alone should have cost them both their jobs at season’s end, but instead they somehow emerged unscathed, with the largest transfer window windfall in our storied history to boot…go figure

    the mandate should have been crystal clear from the offing, go full-bore with a more youthful core, being careful to mix in some experienced players who possessed the requisite attributes required to help guide the process…beyond that, and certainly no less important, in order to properly facilitate an organizational reboot, it was imperative that we correct the ills of our past, which meant no more allowing contracts to enter their final year, no more looking gift horses in the mouth, no more leadership vacuum due to the intentional avoidance of strong personalities, no more luxury buys before properly addressing logically prioritized NEEDS, no more post-game excuses, no more unnecessary shoehorning due to managerial tactical inflexibility, no more free transfers with nonsensical wage demands and no more contrived lip service directed towards the fanbase for the sole purpose of manipulating public opinion

    so when you analyze our club through that lens, you will see that although the names might have changed, the actions of those in positions of power have remained largely the same…so whereas I have no qualm with our depth-piece purchases, like Nuno and Lokonga, as they were both reasonably priced and in positions of NEED, the bulk of our expenditures were poorly devised and executed

    what we didn’t NEED was to heavily invest in a defender who was both unproven at this level and was the 4th best defensive player on his previous club, a ridiculously expensive backup Keeper, who if pressed into service will invariably negatively impact Leno’s market value and who likewise doesn’t fit the present manager’s “play out from the back” script and a player, in Ode, who has never proven his worth at Real, so much so that even when an opportunity arose he was still considered an afterthought to their respective afterthoughts…furthermore, if his history is to be believed, he won’t sufficiently provide us with the very things we so desperately crave, from a creativity and goal-scoring capacity, yet he will almost assuredly set the stage for our manager to bench and/or shoehorn in several players in order to placate assurances that were undoubtedly given

    of course, the cherry on top of this sh** sundae was the fact that not only did we not rid ourselves of the one player that enables our manager to constantly deploy our frightfully negative tactics, we re-upped him on an inflated wage, then rolled him out as our captain to start the season…there’s one thing when a player flips you the bird, it’s another thing altogether when your manager does likewise

  20. You dont get time, especially in our position, you spend 130 mil and instant results are expected. If Arsenal board, Edu or Arteta thought they had time, they are misguided.

  21. While the concept of bringing in talented young players to replace those who are past their sell by date makes sense the decision to loan out Saliba and spend 50m on Ben White does not make sense to me.White is a good young player who will do well at Arsenal but I doubt it he is any better than the young Frenchman and at a time when we had the opportunity to sign a class act like Bissouma for circa 40m who would immediately improve our midfield , Edu and Arteta decided otherwise.This error of judgement has been compounded by injuries to important players which has shown up defensive deficiencies particularly in the case of Mari who is clearly out of his depth in the Premier League.To be fair, the fact that we have been unable to unload/sell a number of players, including Xhaka cannot be attributed to Arteta but the match against Norwich will put him under intense scrutiny and nothing but a win will save his bacon as I cannot see us getting even one point from Man City.Even with our injuries, zero points after three matches is shocking but zero after four matches would ,justifiably, be a scalable offence.

    1. 👍 When Arsenal approached Brighton & Hove Albion, they were confused and got Bissouma and White mixed up.

  22. It’s basement bargain time again for Satan Kroenke and his cash stream AFC.

    It’s been said by others but we buy good young players for a future that may never come as we have not one player who significantly makes an impact to the way we can play..

    We look average at best, lightweight in defence, over reliant on young experienced talents like ESR and Saka and slow in midfield with a bang average and not sellable Xhaka.

    Yes the young players will develop, but will it be the right development and in the context of what kind of team.

    Youth will do so much bit without leaders and strong classy players who have been there and done it we will and have floundered.

    No killer player signings who will go at the opposition or open up teams just solid players who may come good in time.

    This under a manager who is learning on the job at a club that is far too big a challenge for him.

    Thanks again Stan

  23. All the players signed have not played together and due to injury the team is not yet complete therefore it will be difficult to answer your question whether the team is improved to compared to last season, however, the signing of this season indicates that Arsenal are trying to start afresh with youth players in the team, I hope it works.

  24. The question that is ask in the article is abnormally relevant and correct. A lot of people never got the question in these article. I sad it a lot of times and right for the beginning that the one eye is a rookie and wise to be like Pepe. The one eye is not a head coach, he is a number 1 and what he is busy doing is executing City blueprint at Arsenal and he hopes to be successful with it. Now before I answer the question, let me first put enhances on the blueprint. He wants and always try to play like city. Like I said before his earlies wins over some big teams was because of his knowledge’s for city, but you can see that is fading away as time goes on. The fact that he always struggles against small and new teams is also an indication of that. Take for example the Brendfort game, we had a problem with our squad, what should be the objectives of a good coach going there, not to loss and then try to win, but what did you expect for a fool. Our transfer busy this season is also an indication of what happen at City, building for the future, get young guys and buy a central defender for 50 mil. We need to win the league, get back in Champion league, and get back in European league. The first target for this season should have be to get back into European league and our transfer busy should have just reflect that, but instead it reflects on a 3 year plan. It was very simple just first get back into EL and then further. City, Chelsea, Man and Liverpool is top 4, followed by Wes Ham, Spur and Leicester. Our eight position is no longer safe with teams like Aston Villa, Everton and Leeds. I just want to add than Edu is not worth the name Technical Director, he is just an execution boy.

    1. I am totally in agreement with the signing of Lokonga and Tavares, they are young and cheap, but what follows concern me. Like I said before the defense was decent, the front the front poor and the mid extremely poor. If you address the mid, you are basically not only address the mid but also the defense and the front. It was absolutely imperative to address the midfield. What I would have done with the big money, is only 2 signings and work around the other problem positions. The first would have been an attacking midfielder, an extremely good 10 than is very versatile, a 10 that can also plays wing or 8 that is what the successful modern teams are doing. I thought the plan was to do away with the traditional 10 like Ozil, but instead we are going back to that. The second one was to replace Xhaka, okay let me say it this way no because Xhaka all bad. Please let me sum it up, what we need was another Smith-row and a better Xhaka. Make sure you first address the biggest problem areas, you can still can back next season and address the other areas that is the way to slowly get back in to EL, than CL and wining the league.

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