Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Buy and sell

Arsenal travel to America this week ahead of pre-season fixtures against Inter Milan and either Everton or Millonarios.

Two games in Scotland were a decent fitness exercise, and two more before we play some London sides will hopefully allow Mikel Arteta to prepare his men further for the new season.

Hopefully this week will see the arrival of some of the ‘new faces’ Mikel Arteta referred to over the weekend. The two deals closest to completion are Ben White from Brighton, and Albert Sambi Lokonga from Anderlecht who is, by all accounts, seeing out his period of isolation and should be announced very soon. Beyond that, there are some pressing issues in terms of squad building that we all know about, and that remain fundamental to us making significant improvement next season. I am sure that the manager knows that, and hopefully the Technical Director can find time in his busy party schedule to get stuff done.

I do wonder about Edu. I don’t know how those pictures which circulated last week were received by Stan/Josh, but even with their distance and apparent lack of interest, I can’t imagine they were over the moon about it. Whichever way the departure of Raul Sanllehi was presented, the American corporate gloss of it all never prevented people reading well and truly between the lines.

The very best you could say about it is that it was dumb from Edu (not necessarily to make the trip to see his friends but for it be plastered all over social media). To each their own, and maybe my experience of this kind of thing is limited, but I can’t imagine there are too many people in the football world in a position like his Instagramming nights out with super-agents.

Last summer, in the most difficult transfer period that has ever existed, Arsenal’s Head of Football departed the club and unquestionably that had an impact on what we did and/or didn’t do. That’s a scenario you can’t go through two summers in a row, which provides Edu with some security, but if he wasn’t at the club this time next year, I wouldn’t be in the slightest bit surprised.

Anyway, back to faces. As much as we want/need new ones, we’ve got a fairly substantial issue with old faces too. I think this transfer window will be judged primarily on the incoming deals we do, and how much those players improve us, but shifting some of the players we no longer want is going to be key too. You all know the names of the potential departures, and while buying is seen as the main part of the Technical Director’s job, how we sell – especially when that money can offset some of the spending – is crucial too.

It’s fair to say this has – generally speaking – been a weakness in recent years, and as yet, we have no idea as to how good Edu might be at this part of the job. So far, under his watch, we’ve sold a goalkeeper in a deal which now looks like the bargain of a lifetime for Aston Villa; done a few middling loan deals for players like Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, and William Saliba (twice); and literally paid three senior players, Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi, and Sokratis, to go away.

This is a difficult market, we all know that, but it’s also a market in which Crystal Palace have bought a 21 year old from Chelsea – who made a grand total of 2 appearances for them and who has no Premier League experience at all – for a fee of nearly £20m. Maybe then Arsenal rejecting £12m for Eddie Nketiah makes more sense in that context, even if I think his contractual situation means it takes a hit out of his potential value.

Yes, I realise that a lot of what we’re trying to sell this summer could be perceived as ‘damaged goods’, in some regard, but until such time as we can prove otherwise, the perception of Arsenal as bad sellers will continue. Not so much that we’re a soft touch, we just continually find ourselves in situations with players where the deck is stacked against us. Managing contracts better, selling earlier, being more decisive about player talent and potential, these are all part of what we need to do to command higher fees. As it stands, I’d predict another summer of underwhelming offers to contend with, but when other clubs can sell more limited players for much better prices, we have to acknowledge that for all the external difficulties the transfer market provides, a big part of the problem lies within.

Right, on that cheery note I’ll leave it there for today!

James and I will be recording an Arsecast Extra for you early this morning. Keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you’re on Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the #arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.

Podcast should be out around lunchtime, so until then, take it easy.

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