Is Arsenal’s transfer strategy sustainable in the long term?

Arteta’s transfer strategy good or bad? by Benedict

Ever since Mikel Arteta has taken over at Arsenal and partnered with Edu to both oversee and negotiate transfers, Arsenal FC has developed a very clear transfer strategy and one that we have never seen before.

So, what is this new strategy?

We currently buy young players with big potential and medium price tags, this is how we manage our incomings and it’s a strategy that has worked, we have the youngest squad in the league and yet are hot favourites for the fourth spot.

Our whole current team will only improve as the players hit the mid-twenties and the prime of their careers, especially with a reported huge transfer budget we will be guaranteed if we make the Champions League spots.

The team is hungry yet also has little ego, players like Odegaard for example are the type of professionals that we need in a rebuild, a professional that is a leader already and someone we can build the team round.

Edu’s signings have also been good fits, Tomiyasu was a fantastic signing, he fits into the first team perfectly and is the most defensively sound right back we have had in years.

We have also imported a lot of English talent. Ramsdale and White both add to our strong English core of players and are creating a huge claim to start in the winter World Cup if they continue their fine form, alongside Saka and ESR.

However, Arteta also brings in a strategy for outgoings, which seems to be letting the older players on big wages ‘end their contract with mutual consent’ and then join another team on a free.

This current strategy I’m not the biggest fan of…

I do recognise that there is a positive in this, offloading expensive big players like Auba saved us nearly £30 million in wages and avoids another Ozil situation, where a player earns loads while just sat on the side-lines.

Offloading ego is clearly not easy to do either and many have praised Arteta for managing to ship so many of these types of players off.

However, I cannot see how this football model is sustainable in the long term, all the top sides have a strategy but normally they make money from it, and we clearly don’t at all.

The obvious example of a club with a sustainable model would be Liverpool, they have a strict wage limit and even Salah doesn’t exceed it, they don’t offer 30-year-olds more than a year extension and they splash out when they really need depth in certain positions.

It is a very effective, smart transfer strategy.

I feel like we can be smarter with our money here, sell some of the quality that we do have and give us the extra cash in transfers to get deals done, like Alexander Isak in January.

Guendouzi for example, is going for £12 million, a young proven midfielder who will be playing in the French national team and we barely get anything in return, he is the type of player Chelsea would ship off for £30 or £40 million.

Barcelona was originally going to buy Auba but when the transfer broke down, we simply terminated his contract and let him join for free, he has gone on to score five times in seven games and clearly still has a lot of quality regardless of age.

Surely, we could have got a couple million for him, but we left it too late in the window.

I like what Arteta is doing and I really love the team we play every game, but I do fear that this current strategy is unsustainable. Especially if we want to be a top four side year after year.

Until next time Gooners.



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  1. I include contract management in transfer strategy so i’d say no currently.

    Once we add 2-3 more decent players to the squad then we’ll be in much better shape and I’d like us to adopt a similar policy to Liverpool.

    Their squad is great so all they tend/need to do is add 1 really good player per season and 1-2 fringe player per year based on other players that leave. It’s sustainable and keeps their squad at a healthy number. They also sell well and at the right time and use their academy players as often as possible to keep them ready if need be.

  2. Fact is that we have given so many players away for free, that this is the new norm other clubs expect from us. Why would they bid anything but the lowest imaginable when they know we are known to give them for free?

    This has made our club look weak in that front, and other clubs will ruthlessly exploit that.

    We gave Chambers for free despite him having 6 months left in his contract. Now he’s playing for Villa (played quite well this weekend) and contributing to them. Why did we give him for free? We gained nothing but strengthened Villa. All for just saving 6 months worth of wages?

    We are selling Mavropanos to Stuttgart for £3 million. I guarantee Stuttgart will sell him on immediately for 15-30 million.

    After deals like that, which club is stupid enough to offer nothing but peanuts for our players? I also have hard time imagining anyone lowballing Chelsea with offers when Marina Granovskaia is in charge.

  3. If we didn’t cut our losses and get rid of those players we would have to play them….that we didn’t want to do that… we concentrate on the young players and giving them game time and they got us to 4th place….good strategy….next season champions league….and with a few quality players Arsenal can get out of the group stages into the knockout stages of the UCL….we will be back to were we were before our decline

  4. It’s a very difficult question.
    Almost fans are excited about top 4 finish this season because of how far we have fallen as a club, if we do finish in top 4 , the board have invest big on marquee players to keep us competitive in ucl and top 4 finishes next season.

    In 2 season from now we are expected to be competing for big things if not all our exciting young players would be willing to move on to a bigger club to win 🏆.
    We have been in similar situation in time past, hopefully we have really learnt from Nasri , Fabregas era, by buying experience players to lift the kids.

    Since arrival, Arteta has not invested in our frontline, so no one has idea of his perfect striker of winger, top 4 finish is a curse for the coach as well because, that would raise the standard and expectations, I hope he can cope with the pressure.
    Top 4 is ours this season, in fact I don’t know why we can’t chase Chelsea in 3rd, if Liverpool could think of chasing city who is 6points ahead them, why can’t we chase Chelsea with just 5points and games In hand

  5. Not until yesterday when I read a United fan saying “If Arteta was in charge of United, he would’ve paid nearly half of their players to leave the leave the club” did I realize that oh, it makes sense.
    Paying our terrible players to leave the club actually opened the way for the new and younger squad we have now.
    Though the idea of it seems like a wasteful process and all, it can be quite effective.
    I know how many United fans I’ve interacted with that want over half of their team gone.
    Even Keane was loud about it yesterday. Thing is since nobody wants to buy their piss poor players, will they be bold enough to pay to get rid of them?
    Brings me to the question, do you know how poor you must’ve been as a footballer to get your club to pay you to leave? Asides Willian who walked away on his own. Yet those players that we asked to leave, still have fanboys holding grudges against the manager for getting rid of them.
    Good riddance!!

  6. It’s economically sustainable, because we can always sell the young players if they don’t fit into the manager’s system or if there is a highly lucrative offer from other clubs

    It’s more difficult to win major trophies with a very young squad, but it’s better than spending a lot of money on expensive flops. Kroenke has tried to buy the success by signing 50+ M players like Lacazette, Aubameyang and Pepe, yet it’s been a total failure

    I think we’re going back to our previous transfer strategy in Wenger’s glorious years. If we can win a major trophy with such a young team, I’ll be happier than winning it with some oligarch’s money

  7. Yes massive spending will continue. Despite Covid the PL is still awash with money so outrageous fees and outrageous salaries will continue. Why? Because of massive stadiums with huge capacities and a gentrified socitey prepared to pay the earth for tickets. Massive TV deals. Most clubs also now practise “financial” doping by Billionaire owners. Abu Dhabi City has invested billions whie Russian Gas Abramovich claims he won’t ask for the 1.4b Chelsea owe him. Kroenke has taken on Arsenals debts, sanctioned a 150m summer spend and allowed a slew of players to leave for next to nothing. So yes the present financial model is definitly going to continue.

  8. Mikel had three options – play the trash/dross every week or pay them to stay at home or release them for what ever we could get (a big fat Zero).
    He tried option 1 last season and we finished 8th, out of all cups and had a divided dressing room.
    Option 2 was tried out with Ozil but the dressing room was was toxic to the core, worse than the weekly fish market.
    The only option he had was the third and it is paying dividends as we have touched 4th and should remain there or above for the rest of the season. We have a good dressing room, errors leading to goals are made now and then (you cannot eliminate them within a year or so) but more important it is the way we respond. We even played a well only to lose to City. You can buy many things in life but not self confidence and belief and camaraderie. All these were missing with when Mr.Wenger’s expensive boys took to the pitch and he had no control over them. Had he to put his ducks in a row, he could have walked out with his head held high. Emery, a decorated European coach could not stamp his authority and followed suit. Mikel had no option other than the third. Had he followed option 1 he would have gone last December.
    Lastly Guendozi, Mavro, Chambers were a bunch of nobodies until we found them and their attitude or skill was poor, so whatever we get from their departure is a bonus for sure even if is nothing, at least space is opened up for a more better player and wages saved to an extent.

  9. I think a point is being overlooked here.
    If 2-3 clubs (City, Chelsea + maybe Newcastle) have owners, who are willing to pour huge sums of money into the clubs/teams, the rest of the clubs need to come up with a strategy to compete.
    In this light, it seems to me, our strategy is certainly a promising one. Get a young talented core, develop them and maybe add a couple of stars. It could potetially be a recipe to make us contenders for the titel in a couple of years.

  10. I liked Benedicts article as far as it covered what he thought to be strategy.

    But I suggest that transfer strategy is far deeper than merely how we spend money or let older overpaid players leave for less than we perhaps could have got, had we had a different strategy.

    To my mind, the overwhelmingly MOST VITAL aspect of transfers is to – and as quickly as humanly possible- get all the non tryers and trouble makers OUT of our club and instill a work rate and “all for one and one for all enthusiasm” into the squad then remaining.

    IMO, MA has done THAT superbly well and the evidence is in the wonderful togetherness in todays squad , which by a massive distance, outshines our previous squads for AT LEAST the last ten years.


    But he has learnt the job now and it is NOW that matters. Is it not!!

  11. Not unreasonably we look at things from the outside and pigeon hole players and actions but I’m sure every decision made is based on each player as an individual person and the current circumstances, sometimes those decisions look right and sometimes they don’t look so good to us but we shouldn’t really look at what players that used to play for us go on and do with other teams, it’s more about whether it is considered to be right for our Club at that time, call it strategy by all means but they will be individual decisions with individual consequences, good and bad

    The Club will know the financial consequences of those decisions when they make them and understand them in the context of the bigger picture, we don’t always have the knowledge available to us to be able to do that ourselves but have to trust that they are done for football reasons rather than business success alone

    I don’t suppose Chelsea cry in their beer because they let Salah and De Bruyne go for a lot less than they are potentially worth now, they let Lukaku go, he’s done well elsewhere and so they bought him back for best part of £100mill and so far it hasn’t worked out for him or them this season, they will probably sell him at a financial loss in the summer and have a new Manager as well but they are successful and will probably continue to be so as a Football Club but we have to do our thing for our best interests

    I don’t think the current “strategy” is designed to be sustainable as a strategy but the decision was made from the outset of Arteta’s appointment for maybe a three year term and I believe everything the Club has done since is meant to be in line with that but stability isn’t far away now and I would guess that a new strategy will commence soon to enable us to build on that further

    1. Spot on, Fingers. Worth mentioning too regarding the particular circumstances leading to two of the highest profile cases – Ozil and Auba. Sanchez had just refused to renew his contract and left for Man U and our only other superstar – Ozil, who if you read several biographies was primarily money oriented – asked for a huge wage hike to stay. Fans, already disenchanted after Sanchez, would have gone crazy if Ozil left too, so we paid it, not long before Ozil started getting persistent back injuries, and was patently disinterested when he did play.
      Auba also wanted more to renew, was also our only global star and had previously single-handedly kept us in the top half of the EPL. Again, fan pressure was huge to keep him AT ANY COST. So we did, and his subsequent loss of form and interest in playing for Arsenal mirrored Ozil’s. So we fans must take our share of responsibility for those.
      Willian, on the other hand, was a total disaster with no mitigating factors for the club, and neither were the ridiculously low loan to buy agreements we signed.
      So correct – different cases, different errors. Not all could be avoided but many could.

      1. I got to be honest, I never understood why we paid Ozil so much to stay – he was talented, but i never thought he was so special that we’d do that and I wouldn’t have got annoyed if we’d let him leave. The contract completely shocked me at the time. Just thought we’d get someone else..
        Like with auba, we’re caving to star power, as your say – we need to start remembering the old phrase, no one’s bigger than the club. If anyone needs so much money to stay, they don’t really want to be here – just get someone who does! They won’t be worse in the long run, even if they’re less talented

  12. It will be interesting to see the outgoings strategy in a few years time, as I imagine it would be vastly different.

    I haven’t been a fan of tearing up a lot of contracts, but we know why this had to happen. We needed to get rid of the deadwood asap – to improve the culture, reduce the huge squad, and free up wages for new signings.

  13. Good topic, Benedict, to which there are many facets:
    We screwed up some – certainly on the low options to buy for players with potentially increasing value eg Guendouzi and Mavro. The outcry has been such that I can’t see this mistake being repeated.
    The mistakes made by putting older players on big salaries – often salaries their potential performances could never merit, in a desperate attempt to get them to play for an unsuccessful club -eg Willian, Auba’s last contract. This had two serious consequences – draining our coffers weekly for no return, along with an inability to get them out. I see the issue re nil transfer fees to be only the tip of the iceberg, as keeping them cost us hugely financially on a weekly basis, sent bad signals to the squad and filled up our squad quota.
    It is far more difficult to offload players from a poor team. Mud sticks and players in those teams are not as saleable. Player form usually also suffers, and if they are overpaid (top EPL clubs pay more than almost all foreign clubs), most clubs simply can’t afford the wages.
    Large youth squads, whilst helpful, cannot possibly progress all the kids to the first team, or even farm every kid out to other clubs. Decisions have to be made and at that formative age so can mistakes regarding how good they will be. Throw in recent increasing agent involvement and a willingness to move to “greener pastures” amongst young players, from not just Arsenal, it’s becoming a tricky landscape.
    Finally, Club and fans have often showed too much loyalty to players – a reluctance to sell players for a profit when they are still performing well and reinvesting, even if warning signs are there (age, declining form, player discontent). We keep them too long. Auba is the most obvious recent example. We allowed age, form and value to decline and kept him in hope and gratitude rather than expectation. Even younger players can become stale without change. Auba was such a player, even without considering his age. Whilst pleased he does well now, this was no longer the case here and never would be again. And by keeping him too long we had to give him away.
    We were a fading club so desperate for high profile players we were blind to their faults as long as we can retain the appearance of being a big club. Our sense of entitlement to often works against us.
    A new policy will work as long as:
    1 we now do not ignore buying some older, experienced players too. A core of youth but not totally youth
    2 we never offer loan to buy clauses on players
    3 we have a reasonable wage cap and one year rolling contracts over 30
    4 we do not insist on buying only “name players” but follow existing recruitment criteria
    5 we do not insist on keeping players who have in the past but are no longer performing. Less sentimentality.
    A successful club with a good squad, which we are again becoming, attracts more players and allows us more scope to control wage demands. Auba and Ozil contract demands must be a thing of the past. Fans insisted on both at the time, but look where it ended.
    A successful club implies talented and desirable players and gives better transfer fees. Don’t be sentimental – as they age, lose some form or demand unreasonable wages, we as fans should STOP demanding we keep them, or else we will be partly responsible for returning us to our dark age.

    1. Wonderful realism, as so often from you, guy. 100% correct. I do think those in charge at the club NOW will no longer bend over backwards to placate fans who have no understnding of how a successful club MUST operate.

      An end to fan sentimentality, by the club, is a great and welcome change. No more indulging lazy coasters like Ozil, Auba and Co. Get all the idle self interested loafers out for good. It has now happened and I for just one am thrilled to see it.

      I could never stand bone idle Ozil, whom I always regarded as a giant con artist, TBH!

  14. Loads of rubbish from these article, You all always complain about the dead woods in the club and when they are finally cleared out, You come out with your Agenda against Arteta and the club. I support the model and the younger players and it is taking us to the promise Land

    1. I think maybe you’re misreading the intent of the article, Mansa. I too am a positive fan and I don’t see it as a negative piece – just balanced. Benedict’s only error was in implying that it may be our permanent strategy now to release players for free, rather than a one-off, pragmatic decision to get us out of a particularly difficult short term situation caused by past mistakes. Overall I took it to be a warning that we learn from those mistakes and don’t repeat them.

  15. The transfer strategy will only work when you get a physical return on what you are doing. This season 4th will mean the strategy worked. If we continue to then improve again next season, that will rubber stamp it. It all depends on where we finish as to whether it is working.

  16. So what about Willock Martinez Iwobi, Bielik, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin how much did the sale of those layers bring in?

    I think it was around £150m

  17. Has anyone on here ever been made redundant?

    Where a company has employed a new director who has imposed a new strategy to change the basic functioning of the company and look to the future sustainability?

    Redundancy is where you get paid to leave the company.

    Well that is exactly what the Kroenkes have done, for ages I was totally against them, hell I stopped going and refusing to give them anymore of my money. Then they forced me to sell my share, thus severing my financial ties with the company. They changed Wenger, they changed Emery, Gazidis went, and svlinsinstat or what ever his name was. They decided on Edu and Arteta to bring that wage bill down, initially it went up as money was spent to support the process. Many player were made redundant and basically paid to leave.

    The wage bill is now around half what it was. Yes some other Emery signings are going to go this summer. We will lose money on Torreira, make a couple of quid on guendozi and mavropanos. Who knows what will happen to our academy products like AMN, Nelson, Nketiah and Bellerin? Whilst Lacazette, Elneny and Leno will all probably move on may be Holding, Mari and Cedric too.

    1. Yes Atid – I have, twice. And also had numerous contracts cut short for the same reason. It’s common in my line of work.
      I’m not sure though what point you are making – do you approve or disapprove? If you disapprove, how should we stop it recurring?

  18. Strategy??? which one exactly are you speaking of? the first one that he deviated from once he got his first taste, the second one that involved a more senior-laden team, which included several high money offers to players over 30, that went tits up within the first 6 months, or the third one that only came as a result of pure desperation, when he was fearing for his professional life…just wondering(lol)

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