Wednesday, April 17, 2024

A bit of accounting, a bit of Pepe …

Morning all.

Arsenal released financial results for the period ending May 2023 yesterday, with the top line being a reported loss of £52.1 million. The club said:

The financial result was impacted by impairment write-downs on certain player registrations amounting to £18.1 million, which by virtue of their quantum are classified as exceptional. The loss before tax, excluding the impact of exceptional items, amounted to £34.0 million (2022 – loss of £45.5 million).

There’s been a lot of chat about how this basically related to Nicolas Pepe, but it might also have included Hector Bellerin whose contract had a year to run when he joined Barcelona. We reported at the time that he waived any payments due to him for that final year, but maybe that was included in the write down for accounting purposes. I don’t know. I’m not Swiss Ramble. Only Swiss Ramble is Swiss Ramble. If you’re looking for Swiss Ramble, subscribe to Swiss Ramble!

Nevertheless, it’s fair to say that the Pepe transfer was not a success. I think there was a talented player in there, but one who just couldn’t provide what Mikel Arteta wanted. Not so much from an attacking perspective, because he did put up some decent numbers (16 goals and 5 assists in all competitions in the 2020/21 campaign), but the defensive part of his game left a lot to be desired. I think his race was run when Arteta put him on in a tight game against Aston Villa in March 2022. He replaced Bukayo Saka, but I remember seeing the manager immediately urge him to track back and do the hard work required.

Then, with just a couple of minutes to go, he chased back like an eager puppy and gave away one of the softest, daftest free kicks you will ever see. It did, in a funny way, create a nice moment, because Bernd Leno was playing that day having lost his place earlier in the season to Aaron Ramsdale, and he made an excellent save right at the death before being mobbed by his teammates. But you know Arteta wanted that ball to be up the other end of the pitch.

Pepe spoke at some length about his time at Arsenal to a French TV channel (I think), and someone posted a transcript on r/gunners afterwards. There was no animosity between him and Arteta, no bad feeling about the club, he was just at odds with what the manager wanted and, let’s not ignore that the most important factor in Pepe’s time at Arsenal, was the emergence of Saka. He established himself quickly, he could attack, he could defend, his talent became very obvious, very quickly, and he played where Pepe played. Two into one doesn’t go. It’s also instructive to look at how Pepe’s career has gone since he left Arsenal, it’s a bit sad really.

Anyway, if there’s frustration or opprobrium, it ought not to be aimed at the player, but the deal. It was exciting when it happened, but it always felt too expensive. There were too many questions about too many of our transfers at that time, and the reality is the decisions you make and the money you spend in the summer of 2019 will have consequences for years. Again, with no blame on someone like Cedric – because which 28 year old mid-table player wouldn’t jump at the offer of a four year deal at Arsenal (on a Bosman too)? – but everyone knew he would be basically impossible to sell given his age and his standing in the game. He’s played 34 minutes of PL football this season, all of which came in two games which Arsenal won with an aggregate scoreline of 11-0.

Thankfully now recruitment is better and smarter, and while there’s always a chance a player doesn’t work out at a particular club, you can at least feel reassured that the proper due diligence has gone into the deals we do. As Edu talked about (in yesterday’s blog), not just the quality of the player but the character, and that is evident in the team we have in front of us. We’ve spent a lot of money, eyebrow raising money sometimes, for certain players, but for the most part the conversation is rarely about their price-tag. Which says a lot.

The other thing I’ll say is that I feel people’s interest in Arsenal’s finances is directly proportional to how good we are. When we weren’t as solid a team as we are now, I remember a lot more hair pulling and teeth gnashing over financial results, and now … well, the focus is elsewhere, isn’t it?

Finally for today, let’s send best wishes to former young Gunner Kristoffer Olsson who is in a coma in a Danish hospital having collapsed at home. His club Midtjylland say he is suffering from an ‘acute disease related to the brain’. He’s just 28, so keep fingers crossed he can pull through and make a full recovery.

Ok, let’s leave it there for now. Have a great Wednesday, back tomorrow with more.

Related articles

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast