Fans from the red half of London must have been going “Not again” when it was announced that ex-captain Cesc Fabregas was headed to Chelsea. Fans must have been infuriated to hear that Carlos Vela was being linked with a return to the club. The Mexican is a fine player but is nowhere close to being the big name signing many Arsenal fans wanted. The fans must have been further riled to see Arsene Wenger seemingly having a swell time in Brazil while they waited and waited for some ‘deliverance’ from years of transfer woe and then BOOM… they signed Alexis Sanchez.
David Ospina, Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy, Alexi Sanchez. That’s four (4) brand-spanking new signings Arsene Wenger has made already this summer and the transfer window isn’t near over yet. There’s still a CDM yet to come in and probably a CB to replace Thomas Vermaelen who looks certain to move on. Arsenal fans have spent many a year sitting back and watching rivals spending like money was going out of fashion, but no more. The coffers have opened up for London’s finest side and you sense that Wenger wants his last three years with the club to be epic. The wily old Frenchman doesn’t want just an FA Cup to be his legacy of his last years in London, he wants to go out with a mega-bang, he wants to bring back the glory days, the years when sides were half beaten before the games against Arsenal even kicked off, the years when Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry rode the EPL like a colossus. What has been behind the ‘sudden’ change in transfer policy at Arsenal? What happened to the winning with youth movement?
For years Gooners heard the club was going to be reliant on the youth after guys like Henry and Vieira were sold. Arsenal was in a mode of financial discipline as they built and paid for the Emirates, the club couldn’t keep up with the oil money and sugar-daddies of sides like Manchester City and Chelsea, while Manchester United was just a huge behemoth of its own. Arsenal didn’t have the horses to ride with those guys. For years, ticket prices rose and Arsenal won nothing. The word on the streets now is Arsenal has reached the next phase of the ten-year plan as the stadium is almost fully paid for and so the club is readily flexing the new found financial muscle. I think the stadium story is a minor one though, the major reasons for the new spending as far as I can see are a windfall in TV money from the Premier League combined with an increase in sponsorship due to the new Puma deal that dwarfs the income Nike gave the side. Add in the Financial Fair Play (FFP) Arsene pushed for over the years and it becomes clearer what has gone on. There is increased revenue from sources that were not there before. The club’s determination to be fiscally responsible is a model the EPL should look closely at.
Whatever the case, Arsenal has the ability to compete with everyone but the craziest spenders like PSG and even those guys have to exercise some level of fiscal responsibility now. This new Arsenal is here to stay. From all indications, the club was ready to splurge for the right players last year and did with Mesut Ozil and this year has seen that trend continue and they aren’t done yet. The major priority this offseason was a central midfielder and some immense names have been linked with the Gunners, one of Sami Khedira, Lars Bender, Paul Pogba, Morgan Schneiderlin, or William Carvalho could yet come in. It’s incredible times indeed. Those consistent top four finishes have been a minor miracle performed by Wenger and the club, for years Arsenal seemed to be one big signing away from winning. This year all holes look to have been covered, it’s time to see Arsene and Arsenal at their swashbuckling best.
For years, Arsenal came close and started to accept a top four finish as the ‘trophy’ for the year but those days are gone. Patience is a virtue they say and Arsenal fans have been patient. It’s time for the boom years, the FA Cup was just the start, it’s now time for the world to see once again just how good a manager Arsene can be with a full box of toys. Enjoy it Gooners, it’s been a long time coming!