Why can’t Arsenal compete for players like Ronaldo?

Relax this isn’t an article asking why we didn’t buy Ronaldo. It’s not worth the debate as the player wouldn’t consider joining a side not in the Champion’s League, while his move has clearly been motivated by a desire to add an Italian title to the one he’s won in England and Spain.

I couldn’t help but think though when watching his presentation in Turin, that this was a club we were once loaning Nicolas Bendter to. Indeed the financial boom of the Premiership and La Liga seemed to be leaving Serie A behind, with the Bundesliga rightfully praised for how their game was being run.

It meant Italy’s leading powers were left buying individuals not wanted elsewhere in Europe (Senderos got a move to AC Milan). So at a time when our spending was restricted due to the stadium debt, we were still able to compete with Juventus in terms of transfer fees and wages.

When Ivan Gazidis predicted that the move to the Emirates would lead to us being a European superpower, he wouldn’t have been considering the ‘Old Lady’ as competition.

Even today, measured by various factors, we are a richer club then the Italian Champions, with that gap only closing due to success on the pitch. So if the gunners are more wealthy, why do we have such a limited budget while they have just managed to sign one of the best players in the universe?

Let’s make it clear, Juve haven’t been bought by a Roman Ambramovich. They were just ambitious years ago, realising winning trophies was the quickest way to making themselves marketable again. Winning cups and reaching European finals guaranteed increased TV money and sponsors. Realising they couldn’t compete with a Real Madrid, Chelsea, Etc, Juventus paid over the odds for talent approaching 30 or over. Realising most club owners refused to pay millions for anyone with no resale value, Juventus smartly created their own market.

Could you imagine Stan Kroenke authorising thousands of pounds being paid to a Pirlo, Tevez, Khadira, Higuain, Alves, etc when they were in their thirties. Some would argue that policy is too short sighted. But it’s a gamble that has worked. By investing for today, it pressured the manager to win silverware, knowing that’s what his bosses were forking out millions for, how else do you get value on a player past his peak?

Then you use revenue gained by winning to worry about the future, eg the Dybala’s, etc. It’s a business model which means you can cash in on your prize assets if you need to, eg, Pogba. 2014 saw the club have its first profitable year since 2006.
That didn’t happen because of high ticket prices, but commercial revenue increased by television and sponsors wanting to advertise a successful franchise. Ironically in that same period we were told that by not spending then it would be worthwhile in the future.

It’s been a couple of years now since we’ve been debt free and yet ….where’s our owners ambition? As crazy as the sums appear to be for a 33 year old, scratch the surface and it’s a deal where all parties win. Ronaldo continues to be rich, Real Madrid have got money back on a man who won them 4 CL.

Juventus meanwhile have a striker so driven and self obsessed that if he can score 40 goals in Spain, he will find it just as easy in Italy, ensuring their domestic domination continues. Most importantly though Ronaldo is one of the few brands who sells himself. From sales of shirts to sponsors that follow him everywhere, the transfer pays for itself. The Juventus money men would have already calculated the profit they will make.

I don’t want the Arsenal board to spend 100 million on one player, and I certainly don’t want anyone to be given such wages, but I would love to see the vision of making money by building a great squad.

Instead we play it safe by using us fans as the main source of income. When we are told every year how rich we are, when you research just how much money Kroenke has, then why can Juventus do a deal like this and we can’t?

Dan Smith


  1. Basil says:

    This article is spot on, just laid bare the greediness and selfishness of kroenke. Arsenal will never become a world power under kroenke

    1. mikey says:

      Forgive me but i don’t get this obsession with paying big money for so called big players, regardless of how much you pay for a player, there is still no assurance, that the player will be successfull. there are various ways to run a club, if you have money to burn you can go and pay big bucks for players like chelsea, city and united or you can get young decent players in and mould them. so its not always about paying big.

  2. Declan says:

    Kroenke obviously authorised thousands of pounds to be paid to a 34+ year old Lichtsteiner and aparantly 300 grand a week to nearly 30 year old Ozil, so I don’t get your point. Oh, of course, it’s Dan Dan the Arsenal bashing man.

    1. Patrick_G says:

      The point is, we don’t have the model for selling/buying players for great amounts like Pogba or possible Dybala. Yes we paid Ozil alot oif wages recently, but only because of contract signing on fees. But end of the day, we need a owner that’s willing to bring more to the table. Find ways to bring these top players on board, atleast we did it with Auba.

    2. DAN says:

      Yes Declan , a 34 year old on a free transfer is ambitious lol

  3. John Ibrahim says:

    yet again the fans still would not admit that they want the club to be like City or PSG

    1. ger burke. says:

      yes john, but all in all , football is coming home !!, right ?.

    2. DAN says:

      John, compare our transfer policy to a liverpool
      When they needed a cb and we needed a cb look who got who

      1. OzzieGunner says:

        Arsene Wenger should have bought Virgil Van Dijk, when Arsenal scouted him at Celtic in 2015 prior to him going to Southampton for a comparative song. The rest is history.

  4. Drew says:

    I think Ronaldo CHOSE juventus, there wasn’t a bidding war. If he wanted to come to Arsenal thsn he would be here.

    1. Kilted Gooner says:

      Juventus are a unique case as well. Players know they are almost guaranteed a league title if they go to them.
      For this reason I don’t think you can compare the English and Italian leagues.

      1. OzzieGunner says:

        You are right, Ronaldo is now about prestige and success, not money. Juventus has Champions League and with Ronaldo will be hard to beat for La Liga.

  5. Pablo Picasso says:

    I might be wrong here but in my time as an Arsenal fan (especially under Wenger years) we have never been a club that goes for Galactico’s.

    Granted we have purchased well on some players but usually our model is to pick a bargain, work on him and turn him into high-end player.

    We are not City, Man U, Madrid or PSG with money to burn, but that does not mean we are less ambitious. If there teams we need to admire (sad to say this) are now Spurs, Monaco, Lpool, Athlectico , Dortmund who have limited budgets but buy smart, mould the player, sale to the highest bidder and the cycle continues.

    If you were Stan would you just be throwing your money with no absolute guarantee of success knowing 2 or 3 more teams have the capacity to outbid you. Success is not all about money spent as Arsenal fans we should know better. Ask Unai on how that worked out for him at PSG in the CL.

    1. D mc says:

      Why do you include those bin dipping Scousers as team to admire they are up there with the biggest spenders in the league . If Gerard didn’t cover the pitch in spit every time he talked he wouldn’t have slipped in it and thrown the league away ??
      Also can’t understand how west ham and the likes of are splashing so much cash 40-50mill on players and we capped at 70mill for a squad overhaul . Don’t get me wrong excited for the coming season and see emery doing good things just bit puzzled why we playing the poor card …….defo need a midfield puppet master pulling the strings rather than xhaka looking like he’s a figurine on table football side to side xhaka back to keeper yeah nice one xhaka

      1. Pablo Picasso says:

        Why is everyone surprised that a almost relegated West Ham is having a major clear out and bringing in more players than most teams that finished above then?

        Then feeling is that Unai did not inherit a very bad squad but rather it needs a bit of tweaking plus reinforcement in some areas which we have seen (both short term & short term). Depending on how the season turns out I’m sure we will see more changes.

        Lpool at the moment have been doing better business than us, the sale of Suarez and Countinho (sp) has literally built there new team which most teams are busy salivating at.

    2. OzzieGunner says:


  6. Sparkles says:

    OT… Welbeck may be in line to leave Arsenal according to skysports who themselves were quoting daily telegraph.

    1. enda says:

      good news i would say

  7. Break-on-through says:

    Ronaldo is going to Juventus so he can keep winning titles and hold onto that whopper of an ego. Also Juventus have come close to winning the CL, and Ronaldo robbed them of it. I think he believes he could swing it in the other direction, and then have people remember him as the best player ever. Messi has terrible form with his country, you’d think with Argentina he would have a great shot at ending the debate. Portugal have helped Ronaldo. And now he is taking a slight gamble on becoming the one of the two best players. He’ll still win titles so on paper it’ll still look terrific. If he wins the CL with them it will mean he’s braver than Messi. Juventus haven’t beaten people to his signature, it’ll be him knowing exactly what he’s doing. Too much risk in a PL move unless you go to city, but that wont happen as the utd fan base have helped him become the money maker that he is.

  8. South african gunner says:

    Sky sports reporting that danny welbeck is in line to leave. I hope he leaves he has been nothing but useless for arsenal. He must leave at all cost. LMAO better play together this season most top teams have 4 or 5 guys who turn games on so we need that combo to work.

  9. mikki says:

    Only usmanov can make it happen….sometimes ponder over this question, how long will it take arsenal fc to be a European champions….we need to invest and buy quality players

  10. jon fox says:

    Our club is NOT debt free; this is a myth. We are solvent , even rich , as our assets in players , the stadium and (still) certain other property, bank balance, shares and other tangibles which an accountant could EASILY list outweigh our debts. But to state we are free of debt is NOT true. Imagine you have a house worth 300 thousand and against it you give a mortgage to a bank for £150 thousand. You then have an asset worth £300k (£150k net) and a debt of £150k. . For pedants, like me, please note that YOU grant a mortgage to the lending source, NOT they grant a mortgage to you , as is popularly misunderstood. That is why you are, correctly, referred to as the mortgagor and the bank/ lending source as the mortgagee. I tell you this – as someone who has been deeply involved in this world at a corporate level – so that some of you will rethink the debt to asset question. It is far more complicated than many suppose. HOWEVER, none of this excuses our multi billionaire owner from getting all the financial benefits of owning our club to increase his asset value, while at the same time he putting no money of his own into the club, even taking some out in bogus consultancy fees, a year or two ago. High finance is both a complicated and in SOME WAYS a rather simple business. Much of it comes down to whether you , as an owner , support the club OR whether IT supports you. I think we Gooners all well KNOW the answer to that one, don’t we!

    1. OzzieGunner says:

      jon, as you have explained well, Arsenal is self supporting and easily able to meet its debt servicing.
      However a pox on the houses of the old large shareholders, who sold their Arsenal shares to Kroenke and forced David Dein out.
      My worry is the connection of Usmanov to the owners of Everton. If he loses his interest in Arsenal and sells his shares to Kroenke, Kroenke’s shareholding in Arsenal will be such that he will not even have to report on financials or operations.

      1. jon fox says:

        Ozzie, Personally, I don’t think Usmanov will, do so. I think he is playing the long game. Even IF he did decide to throw in his lot with Everton, he would surely wait until Everton are in their new ground and seriously challenging for a CL place. Don’t see it ever happening for Usmanov and his heart, unlike Kroenke, is with Arsenal. KEEP THE FAITH. BTW, you are so right about the old shareholders.

    2. stubill says:

      Well said Jon, I’ve given up telling people we are not debt free. I’ve had people argue with me in the past, but as I say, I’ve given up now.

      1. Ken1945 says:

        Following on from there Stubill, is there any professional club, let alone a premier league club, that is debt free?

  11. Mobella says:

    How many teams do you know can compete for a player like Ronaldo. These kind of players choose where they want to go. Neymer who is few steps below him choose PSG. Messi or Ronaldo will never choose any EPL clubs at this stage in their career because of the uncertainty in EPL. They have a level to maintain and they will do that by keep winning. They will rather choose PSG, juventus or B Munich whom are guarantee winners in their league.

  12. Midkemma says:

    I like the article 🙂

    The CEO has been left out of the questions when I do believe that the CEO should be the one we are asking these questions off.

    While the article has talked about Juve, I have been asking similar questions myself and used Man UTD as an example of how a club who was bought in the way they was… The debt of buying themselves for me was comparable to our stadium yet look at how different we are acting.

    I can point at how UTD paid Ibrah wages, like Juve are paying CR9 wages…
    I can point at UTD spending big on Martial and Pogba like Juve spent on Dybala, although UTD spending is dwarfing Juves.

    The man who has pushed UTD to compete is Ed Woodward, we have Gazidis.

    Look at how AFC acted in the transfer market in Gazidis first season in charge, we stopped spending most of the transfer kitty on one or two players and started to spread the whole amount over multiple players, this is a tactic of poor clubs. Please people, just check the dates, do your own timeline and see.

    The owner of Juve isn’t pumping cash into the club, the owner of UTD isn’t pumping cash into the club, they are both being ran by a better ‘head’ and that is why they are doing better as competitive sports businesses… I mean, if it is only accounts then Gazidis doesn’t do too bad but being competitive in the industry other than bank account… Gazidis is pss poor!

  13. Oki... Gunner says:

    Chelsea are really loading up.. They ve a new coach in sarri, signed jorginho and Golovin and looking seriously at Alison and Bailey… Hazard will even stay… Are they a match to arsenal

  14. Ken1945 says:

    At last we seem to be having the debate that many of us asked for time and time again.
    We just can’t accept that our club has a transfer ceiling if we really believe that the club will compete with the likes of City , Utd, PSG, Barca or Madrid.
    Nor should there be a need for a ceiling in my opinion.
    We were told just last season that, apart from two players, the world was our oyster.
    That came from a board member, not the media or someone trying to be knowledgeable…a member of our board!!!!!
    So the question is, why does that not apply now?
    The club have identified that a change was needed from top to bottom and, to an extent this has happened.
    What is still in place is the exact same board that fed us that rubbish last year.
    Usmanov is not allowed on the board, despite being the second highest shareholder…. how can this be?…. because the owner and above mentioned board members voted for that to happen!
    This is ARSENAL we are talking about, not some third rate club. It’s a disgrace that Emery has to sell players before buying someone for £35 million. Imagine any of those clubs I mentioned above doing business in this manner.
    If we could get Dennis Berkamp to sign for us, then why not the likes of Ronaldo, Mbappe, Griezmann etc etc?
    The answers are written above ( my personal opinion) and they have gotten away with it for far too long.

    1. OzzieGunner says:

      Ken, the pressure is now on Gazidis as he hasn’t got Arsene Wenger to play the corporate game and constantly deflect criticism away from him.
      The Trinity of Raul, Swen and Unai are very experienced serial winners in football management. I can’t see them being Gazidis “yes men”, no matter how well paid. They will not stay around if their council is not heeded.

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