20
Feb

Learning curve


Written by Loïc Garcia

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A whole weekend without an Arsenal game means that every slightest bit of news comes across as something massive. This time, it’s Charles Watts’s assessment of who could go this summer who created a big debate amongst Arsenal fans, saying that Alexandre Lacazette could be moved on in the summer to raise funds. It probably is nothing but guesswork but it raised an important topic : Arsenal need to learn to sell again.

The lack of transfer funds is a consequence of the club’s self-sustaining model, something that is not set to change, especially as KSE have bought total ownership of the club in recent months, Arsenal need to be smarter and very efficient to compensate their lack of spending power compared to Liverpool, United and City. This comes through good scouting and a long-term plan in terms of squad building, something Arsenal are arguably missing now that Sven Mislintat has left the club.

This by no means is a way of saying Arsenal should sell Lacazette, or even entertain this idea, but in today’s market, and with this current squad under Unai Emery, there are very few unsellable assets at the club. Bellerin is injured, and would cost a ton of money to replace, Guendouzi is the club’s future in central midfield, Holding as well in central defence. Apart from them, any member of the squad could be sold if a good offer comes in.

Selling one of the two strikers makes sense though, especially as Unai Emery doesn’t like and doesn’t want to play with two strikers on a regular basis.

Both Aubameyang and Lacazette are top players, Auba as a poacher and Laca as an all-round footballer, they love each other. But the occasions where the coach has played them AND given them more support than only Iwobi forced to create everything have been scarce. Selling Aubameyang could make sense if Arsenal can bring in a top wide player, what they really need.

Auba turns 30 in the summer, his market value will only drop from there, just like his physical numbers after a bit of time, whereas Laca is younger and could play a big part in the club’s rebuilding process.

Arsenal could totally boost their funds by selling fringe players, but a long-term plan is needed, as much as a hit Aubameyang has been, giving massive deals to him, Mkhitaryan and Özil in the same month has put a huge strain on the club’s finances, backfiring when we missed out on Champions League football again.

Aaron Ramsey is leaving the club on a free to Juventus, Mesut Özil’s contract has been extended for huge money and is deemed surplus to requirements one year later, there needs to be more planning for the future, first by being proactive with contracts, like the club has done with Xhaka, Holding, Chambers and Maitland-Niles.

However, the club’s transfer strategy is a glooming sign that the club isn’t ready to build for the future, players like Banega and N’Zonzi will obviously be linked to the club again, and the club will probably try to sign them again.

The issue is they’re expensive players that are far from top-class, would arrive on long-term deals with no resale value, which isn’t an issue in itself, but becomes one given that Arsenal already have already invested lots of money that they’re not getting back.

This isn’t an issue when buying younger players, a Kai Havertz would be perhaps 3 times more expensive then Banega but he could either be a starter for a decade at Arsenal, or leave after a few seasons with Arsenal making a profit, a win/win situation.

If funds don’t come through the sale of high-value assets, fringe players and academy youngsters are another way of bolstering our transfer kitty. Everyone wants to see the academy players make it to the first-team but most of them won’t.

Dominic Solanke joined Bournemouth for £20M, after 1 1/2 season with very few minutes and no goals, young English players are in a market of their own. If players like Lookman and Solanke are subject to 20-30M offers, Arsenal shouldn’t consider offers below that for Emile Smith-Rowe and Eddie Nketiah.

Mustafi, Chambers, Monreal and Elneny are expected to be sold in the summer, in recent years, Arsenal have often been forced to loan out players on deadline day rather than sell them, this can’t happen now, they all have varying market values but need to leave the club on Arsenal’s terms, not those of the buying club.

The club has shown glimpses of its potential in terms of finding talents on cheap deals with Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, it remains to be seen whether that will last with Sanllehi’s network-based approach however.

Whether it’s from selling out-of-favour players, young players or high-profile members of the squad, Arsenal need to be smart and efficient in this key period to build a more balanced squad than the current one while keeping an eye out for the future.

 

 


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