Arsenalís Transfer Strategy - Is There A Plan?

By Bard

A case of Chaos or Genius?

The debate about Wengerís ability to take us to the next level is done and dusted and has been for a long while. Only the most loyal and deluded of fans believe that he can somehow reinvent himself as a top manager. However something worrying has been going on and I donít mean playing players out of position.

Itís his change in attitude to our finances that has me puzzled. Was our activity over the transfer window evidence of a plan or is Wenger now so powerful that he is able to make it up as he goes along?

However we have performed on the field, the stewardship of the clubís finances hasnít wavered one iota, much to our annoyance at times. The Ashley Cole fiasco, the Suarez £40m+ £1 offer, and less importantly our refusal to pay peanuts for Mark Schwarzer when he was available are evidence of how carefully the clubís money was guarded. Players were sold to balance the books, sometimes causing frustration and anger amongst the fans. There is the oft-quoted remark that Arsene Wenger treats the clubís money as if it were his own. Allied to this has been a steady stream of invective aimed at clubs who spend money Ė Ďfinancial dopingí he has called it. Whatever happened on the field we could rest assured that the finances were solid. Arsenal, the Bank of England.

After 20 years of this the club has performed a 180-degree turn this season and started throwing money away in a quite extraordinary manner. The Ox transfer was a quite remarkable episode. He was effectively sidelined by not being offered a new contract for negotiation until the last minute. The Ox was reluctant to commit to the club. Lo and behold Wenger suddenly announces that he wants to build a side round him and made him a massive £ 180,000 a week offer. Really? It didnít appear that the Ox and his advisers knew anything about this plan. If you want to build a side around a player does it not make sense to sort out his contract well before his final year? Was that the plan discussed and agreed at board level? If it was it seems a bizarre strategy. There was no financial damage as we raked in £35m but for a player to go from Ďunwantedí to deserving of a £180,000 a week contract in the space of a month suggests muddled thinking as the very least.

Next up are our two superstars entering the final year of their contracts. Quite why and how the manager has allowed this to happen beggars belief. There would appear to have been a spectacular cock up somewhere in the system. An alternative view is that actually there isnít a strategy at all. If Wenger wanted to keep them as he has stated many times over then why not make them an offer well in advance of the last year of their contract? They either sign or we sell them for top dollar, nothing complicated about that. Here is where it gets even more bizarre, having let their contracts run down Wenger starts telling us that letting players of the calibre of Ozil and Sanchez run down their contracts is the new norm. Really? He quotes the fact that 107 players currently have let their contracts run down. Tellingly he doesnít name names. Are any of these players of the calibre of Ozil or Sanchez? It would have been good to know. I also didnít see any of the other managers coming out in support of this pronouncement. Is this Wenger being ahead of the game? Or is it spin to mask a massive c*** up behind the scenes.

This isnít the end of it, having declared that they wouldnít be leaving under any circumstances as the transfer window drew to a close we found out that keeping Sanchez wasnít quite as rock solid as he had suggested. We accepted Cityís £65m offer with the proviso that we could find a replacement. Here things really get weird. Rumbling in the background throughout the transfer window was a very typical Arsenal transfer saga. We were in for Thomas Lemar. While all the other top clubs were bidding in tens of millions for players, Arsenal as usual were going up the equivalent of a fiver a time. Our final bid seems to have been in the region of £45/50m. This was knocked back. Then all of a sudden with the deadline approaching and wanting a replacement for Sanchez we bid a jaw dropping £94m for Lemar only to find that he apparently wanted to stay put. How did we go from a strategy of negotiating for a player in the £40-£50m bracket to thinking he was now worth nearly double, £94m in the space of a couple of weeks? If we thought he was worth a lot more than £50m why didnít we offer a serious sum, say £70m, and get the deal done? Was this the plan all along or is Wenger making it up as he goes along?

As it stands Ozil and Sanchez can run down their contracts and leave for free in the summer. At todayís prices you would have to say it could cost anything between £150m-£250m to adequately replace them. We have long known that the board is largely weak and ineffective but it is stretching credibility to believe that someone as astute as Gazidis has signed up to this financial muddle. Itís my view that worryingly Wenger has become a dictatorial figure at the club and decisions are now made on a whim with no input from the board. As an institution we are beginning to look less like the Bank of England and more like North Korea.

3rd October 2017 12:02:13


Comments and Reaction

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peter wain  12:50pm 3rd Oct 2017

there is no doubt that the management of the players contracts has been awful. So bad in fact you could not make it up. As the article states what is the evidence for Wengers claim that players running down their contracts? No other side has this problem only us. It will be interesting to see if Ramsey and Welback get offered new deals or will these two players leave on a free. Certainly Ozil, Sanchez and Wiltshire will be gone next season and where will we get the replacements from? I cannot see Kroenke splashing the cash so the only option will be massive season tick hikes so we can buy top top quality like???? A badly run club from the head down. We do not compete to win top prizes only cups where we get good draws. In the present run after the debacle on Mersey side we have only beaten lower mid table sides. Wait until we play some one above us and watch us fold. Wenger out now. - Post No. 110115

ClockEnd_90  13:10pm 3rd Oct 2017

It makes sense to sell Sanchez and Ozil in January. Therefore we get money for them and get half a season out of them (well, out of Sanchez anyway). If we can broker a swap deal and get Draxler for the remainder of the season then that's not bad business. If they play the whole season and leave for free then that's bad business. - Post No. 110116

The Man From UNCLE  13:16pm 3rd Oct 2017

Would anyone care if Ozil left for free? No, thought not. - Post No. 110117

Yes its Ron  14:23pm 3rd Oct 2017

perhaps the players there have locked onto the weakness of the Board and Wenger and play the system once they decide to leave and just keep their heads down regarding contracts? It makes it so much easier for them to leave. If they do that rigorously, there's little a club can do to stop them running the contract down. In Ozils case i doubt that many clubs have been knocking on his door to join them anyway, so hes nigh on a gteed freebie anyway. Perhaps ASL dont really care too much about his situ? He' ll probably be begging Asl for a job come the seasons end. In AS case, i think they ll sell for a decent price anyway in January. A good few Clubs abroad will still pay top whack to get half a decent season from him. Theres some thing thats occurred there that only Asl know of re these 2. - Post No. 110118

mbg  16:05pm 3rd Oct 2017

A Strategy, plan Bard ? with the weasel ? hee hee lol,he ****ed it up again mate. wenger out. - Post No. 110119

Exeter Ex  16:38pm 3rd Oct 2017

It looks very much like a man left by an owner (only interested in his asset remaining in the black) to indulge his whims, who in his combined arrogance and weak attitude to the players, assumes they will sign up for more with him if he just gives them long enough. He can't believe anyone wants to leave him despite repeated experience, just as he can't believe his team isn't going to win every match with pure possession football despite repeated experience. Then we get to this situation and he concocts a spin to try and make it seem a positive and a plan. - Post No. 110120

mbg  17:18pm 3rd Oct 2017

TOF is speaking fluent martian again would one of his AKB followers who live and thrive on his every word care to explain or translate ? Nobody can only fly, LOL. wenger out. - Post No. 110122

markymark  20:31pm 3rd Oct 2017

ToOaW - the Guardian are running the story also confirming a reasonable sounding consortium offered to bridge the divide by buying out Usmanov or buying outright . This would have given Stan a profit. He has refused and appears to be hell bent on 100% ownership for himself. So ToOaW what is your view? - Post No. 110123

Big Andy  21:45pm 3rd Oct 2017

Terrific article, Bard. Wenger's transfer dealings this summer have been nothing short of disastrous. I'm just astonished that he gets such an easy ride from the media. By failing to sell both Sanchez and Ozil TOF has cost the club in excess of a hundred million quid. It's crazy. When you understand that Wenger is a selfish spoilt brat then you'll see why he's behaving the way he is. The club is at the mercy of a narcissistic old fool. - Post No. 110124

John F  23:08pm 3rd Oct 2017

Good post Bard.Dick law leaving suggests to me that there was a row going on regarding transfers this summer and perhaps all is not well in the boardroom.Wenger may be ona bit of a typerope because of the bungling and maybe the late offers was a result of pressure from some of the board members.I cannot wait for an all guns blazing type book to come out in a few years time to lift the lid on what has been going on.I bet it is as shambolic as most on here suspect. - Post No. 110125

mbg  0:29am 4th Oct 2017

So as if we didn't know after the usual walk overs and regulation wins over mediocre opposition at home and in the ropey cup TOF is in his castle again grinning and slurping fine red wine, and not a f*****g whimper from all those fans, sites, wanting him out days ago, pathetic, it was widely predicted of course, a result or two would do the trick, how wenger must be f*****g laughing his skinny arse off at fans of this club, sad, until the next times of course when he's embarrassed and humiliates us all again and the rush is on to slag him off and want him out it's only around the corner a game or two away, make no mistake, all us fans who know him, and predicted it and expected it will be asking where you were, you deserve him and this f*****g regime, unfortunately proper decent fans don't. wenger out. - Post No. 110126

Perryashburtongroves  18:00pm 4th Oct 2017

There is no strategy to anything under Wanker. He's a negligent, power-poisoned, hypocritical fraud. - Post No. 110133

Alsace  18:02pm 4th Oct 2017

Big Andy. He has cost the club and Stan 100 million dollars. That amount of stupidity will give even Stan a reason to pause. However, a word of caution. Krone has shown that he, much like the Spanish and Chinese governments, likes to be obeyed. Perhaps one hundred million is a small price to pay for submission to his will. In any event, the club is not within a million miles of being run sensibly. It is a mad hatters tea party and we know which character Jonny Depp will be playing in the film. Let's hop that it ends like scar face instead. - Post No. 110134

equalizer  22:11pm 4th Oct 2017

There's no plan or strategy, the club is an absolute mess from the top down. An absentee owner with no sporting ambition who has give complete control to an egomaniac who has spent the past 10 years surrounding himself with yes- men and concentrating on keeping complete control, to the detriment of the whole club. A manager unable to delegate in fear of relinquishing any control, a CEO with no power, a token board of directors with no input. Law left because he wasn't allowed negotiate without Wenger being on the phone and they cannot even hold on to youth team coaches anymore. There's no plan or strategy, it's become a shambles. - Post No. 110139

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

15th January 2018

Being muscled off the ball by Bournemouth is like being mugged by your grandma

Online Ed: Another poor Arsenal display on the road just another signpost as we near the end of the Wenger era