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Arsenal’s reasons to be cheerful 8: Wenger & the £££££

To understand what is going on at Arsenal you have to understand a decision that Wenger made upon arrival.   He was offered a pot of money at the start, and he spent some of it on players like Vieira, Grimandi etc.   That got a lot of attention in the press.

What got less attention was the fact that after that initial splurge (which continued through the next summer) Wenger started to spend his money on something different.  Not on transfer fees, not on salaries, but on a network of talent scouts greater than the world had ever seen.

World-wide scouting, as it became known, was based on a simple concept.   A player might cost the club £10 million transfer fee and £4 million a year in wages.   But if you could bring in that player at an early age (ideally 16) you could get him for maybe £250,000 compensation fee, and have him playing for you on much lower wages for several year.  Indeed if everything worked out you could then sell him on for a profit.

It was an audacious plan.  Of course other clubs had done it before, but mostly by chance.  Wegner’s World Wide Scouting was the first attempt to build it as a policy.

And thus each year money was diverted from the transfer and wages fund into the scouting fund.   Wenger’s argument on the finances was simple indeed: compared to the cost of the players, scouts were cheap – about £100,00 a year for the very best including bonuses.  Generally they didn’t get injured and mostly they were reliable.

An ex-player such as Grimani (now chief scout in France) would only need to find one player every five years to pay his way several times over – and he has done better than that.

Thus it has been year by year that the scouting network has grown, until now we can bring in a player from Mexico as easily as a player from France.   And meanwhile do the impossible – make money on the transfer market.   With both Henry and Vieira sold for a very handy profit when they were both clearly past their very best, the system is obviously working.

And the great thing – the ultimate reason to feel happy – is that it is self-sustaining.   The network is there, and will continue to produce great players for years to come.  Wenger will eventually leave us – but his legacy will last deep into the 21st century.

If you read these stories through Gooner News you may have missed some of these, as not every story we run gets picked up by that service.  Here’s a few recent pieces.

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