By Walter Broeckx
What do you hear when you hear talking about Arsenal and transfers? Arsenal only buy kids. I bet you heard that. But is this really true?
I do admit that the last transfer windows usually were overshadowed by players leaving us. And in the years before that we were linked with young players. And so the perception was that Wenger only buys young players. Now of course he does buy a lot of young players. But some make it out as if we only buy young players and well that is a myth.
Maybe a reason might be that Wenger is successful in bringing those young players to a higher level. And when they go away in their prime or just before their prime it is that we never seem to be able to harvest ourselves.
But let us now take a look at who we bought in the last 3 seasons. And then see if it is true that Wenger only buys kids. And we will only take in account the players he bought for the first team. Not the players Arsenal brought in to start in the academy.
In the season 2010-2011 we brought in
Marouane Chamakh 26 years old (Full int.)
Laurent Koscielny 25 years old (part time int)
Sebastien Squillaci 30 years old (part time int)
Ryo Miyaichi 18 years old.
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Average age of the players we bought was +24 years.
In the season 2011-2012 we brought in
Carl Jenkinson 19 years old
Gervinho 24 years old (full int)
Oxlade Chamberlain 18 years old
Park 26 years old (full int)
Santos 28 years old (part time int)
Arteta 29 years old (not int)
Mertesacker 27 years old (full int)
Average age +24 years.
Last summer and winter we had this as our new players:
Podolski 27 years old (full int)
Giroud 26 years old (full int)
Cazorla 27 years old (full int)
Monreal 26 years old (full int)
Average age 26,5 years old.
So the total average age of players we have bought is 25 years.
So I think saying that we only buy kids is nothing but a myth. And I think that a lot of fans still believe in that myth. And if you see at the things I put behind I noted them as full internationals or part time internationals at the time we bought them. And you will see that most of them were full internationals for their national teams.
And when Arsenal is linked with a young player and some start shouting: “oh no, another kid. Just what we needed”. Well yes, in fact it is what we need. Because as I have just shown Arsenal didn’t buy a lot of kids the last seasons and has bought more older players in. And when you bring in more older players you also need to bring in some potential kids at the same time. Kids that know they have to wait a bit before becoming a regular. But they also know that when they perform good they can have their chance in making it in to the team.
I would say that for each player you buy who is around 27 you need at least 1 kid between 16-20 years to cover for that older player. So when this 27 year old player becomes 30-31 years old the next generation should be ready to step up being something around 20 to 24 years old then.
So when you see us linked with kids like Sanogo this is not really to take the place of Giroud immediately. No this is a possible back up plan for the future. Of course such a kid might be becoming better than the older player and then this can only be great as you have more options and more back up players just in case something might go wrong.
So one should be joyful about us buying some young players. In fact when you now look at a player like Bale. If Wenger would have bought him when he was a kid some would have shouted: oh no, another kid. Just what we needed. Now of course talking with hindsight the same say: Wenger should have bought Bale. But hindsight is easy. You cannot buy every young player around. And you miss out on some.
So when I look at the players we bought over the last couple of seasons, I think it would be wise to go out and buy a few young players. And hope they can be prepared to step up when needed.
Of course we should keep on buying established players. And who knows we might even buy a big name every now and then. But we should always keep in mind that we also need young (and cheaper) players to have as a backup. Even as a 3rd backup.
But what is clear for me is that the days of Arsenal only buying young and unproven kids are gone. And have been gone for a while. But that perception is something that is difficult to change. Until you actually start looking for the numbers. And then find that we only bought 3 players younger than 20 years old in the last 3 season. One could say one per season.
Come to think of it… I find this an extremely frightening low number. Maybe this summer it might be a good time to bring a few extra kids to fill up the gaps that might occur when our current team starts getting older.
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