How Barcelona have kindly helped finance Arsenal over the years

By Tony Attwood

My last piece showed that what the manager of Chelsea says isn’t always accurate, which really didn’t come as much surprise.

But there is another element to the story which really ought to be mentioned – that Arsenal in recent years would have found it a little harder to make ends meet without the co-operation of Barcelona, who have often insisted on paying rather interesting sums of money for Arsenal players – presumably just to show that they can.

And what makes it even more amusing is that quite often they have not really got much value for money.

Indeed as the Daily Mail rather cutely put it last year, “Barcelona have spent £123m on Arsenal players over the years (and most have flopped)…  Barcelona’s transfer fees cover almost a third of the cost of the Emirates.”

I wonder if Arsenal put the selling of players to Barcelona in the business plan they submitted to the banks when the new stadium was first mentioned.

Much of this comes into focus with the fact that of our most recent signing the other way around – Alexis Sanchez for £30m from Barcelona.  Was he worth it?  I certainly think so and I guess most people would agree.

Some of the transfers are so odd that you couldn’t really make them up.  Like Cesc Fabregas coming to us and then Barcelona moving heaven and earth to get him back because of some freaky stuff about his DNA.   And then there is Bellerin – a staggering talent, but apparently not really worth anything to Barcelona who were too busy trying to work out how to deflect interest from their dubious and illegal transfer dealings with children.

Or poor old Thomas Vermaelen who cost Barcelona £15m but turned out to be injured.

Here are some of the names that Barcelona have bought from Arsenal with the transfer fees.
  • Cesc Fabregas £31m
  • Thomas Vermaelen £15m
  • Alex Song £15m
  • Aleksander Hleb £12m
  • Thierry Henry £16m
  • Gio van Bronckhorst £2m
  • Marc Overmars £25m
  • Emmanuel Petit £7m

Total: £123m

It all started in the summer of 2000, with Barca desperate to get Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit for a combined price of £32m. Marc Overmars played 97 league games for them, across four years, before the injuries finally caused him to retire.

That expenditure of £25m transfer plus about £20m salary for 97 games makes it around £464,000 per game for that one player.  Quite a lot really.  And of course no sell-on fee at the end.   He was crocked.

As for Petit he lasted just one season.   And then there was poor Alex Hleb who has openly said that moving from Arsenal to Barcelona was the worst decision of his life.

32 Replies to “How Barcelona have kindly helped finance Arsenal over the years”

  1. its very covienient of you to publish this article. The very basic fact with all these transfers was the HOPE. Hope that they put on the players of your institution and all of them disappointed . No wonder why arsenal haven’t won a trophy PL/CL since 2004-2005 campaign. #NOOFFENCE just logical.

  2. or consider this .. The player they found talented and took them to Camp Nou with them all turned out to be Failures …. So are you the proud fan of an Institution who produces Failures or Are you proud of the fact that they have shown the status of football your institution plays. We feel proud for Alexis because an average player for barcelona turned out to be superstar for you ! #NOoffence.. Did not intend to hurt anyone’s feeling .

  3. But on another note; should we make a banner at the Stadium Wenger for Barcelona being a TOP SPONSOR ?? 🙂 😉

  4. Great article!

    This is the sort of thing that really does put things into context. It also demonstrates how Wenger gets the best out of players.

    One of these days Mr. Wenger will get the respect he deserves from the English media.

  5. Yes its amusing but we all know why they left. Now we have turned the tide and everything looks in place, our selling days are over and winning days seem to be on the horizon.

  6. Feel sorry for Barcelona? They were looking for stardom and put their money on it, don’t they? Come to think of it, Barca are successful, aren’t they with those titles they’ve repeatedly won over the years. I think they don’t feel whatever amount of money they have spent or are to spend even as they still want to spend a reported £50m to price away Aaron Ramsey from us . I think Arsenal may cash in on a deal of £60m for Ramsey during the winter window if we are in a commanding lead in the table to win the title.

  7. shubham tripathi
    so according to you the best possible quality of a scout is HOPE.
    keep writing mate, I on behalf of the people here can affirm we don’t ever stop learning at Untold

  8. @ shubham, what it means is that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

  9. Well…in retrospect they have helped us but at the time we thought they were tapping up and poaching our players. Thank goodness we have survived that period.

  10. I had two thoughts reading this, articulated by Proudkev and Mandy.

    Wenger is such a great coach that he lifts players to heights almost no one else can. Hardly anyone ever has left Wenger’s Arsenal and gone on to better things. Possibly Ashley Cole but can’t think of too many others.

    Secondly, how much have Man City spent at Arsenal? And for an equally poor return? And likely for the same reason.

  11. Pete, Cannot remember exactly how much we did city for, £40 million for Toure and Adebayor rings a bell for starters….a very canny piece of business Mr Wener.but agree with your point, a few , but most do not ultimately go onto better things. The AAA will cry Cesc and RVP. I once saw an article of how many of our ex players went away and won trophies at a time when we won none, think the list hit about 50, including a defender we sold to Swansea who won the Carling Cup,but most if not all of that list I would class in the list of very short term success.

  12. Proudkev, Wenger will only get the respect he deserves when he leaves the job, until then, he is a serious threat to what they hold dear, especially these days.

  13. shubham tripathi….I can’t make head nor tails of your comments but then neither can you it would seem:

    1) “Hope that they put on the players of your institution and all of them disappointed . No wonder why arsenal haven’t won a trophy PL/CL since 2004-2005 campaign.” What has one club’s hope have to do with another club’s success? You forgot the 2 FA cups in a row and the Charity shield as well.

    2)”The player they found talented and took them to Camp Nou with them all turned out to be Failures …. So are you the proud fan of an Institution who produces Failures or Are you proud of the fact that they have shown the status of football your institution plays.” The Arsenal produced successful players at the Emirates and played first class Football (clearly you have NO idea what that is), thus becoming a prime target for Barca’s scouts to nick off AFC. Their subsequent lack of success says more about Barca than Arsenal.

    3)”We feel proud for Alexis because an average player for barcelona turned out to be superstar for you !” Really? An “average” player? What are you smoking for breakfast? A WC star, an international star, recognized by Football professionals worldwide (who actually know what they are talking about,unlike you)… guess it that cricket would be easier for you to get your muddled brain around so stick to that mate.

  14. Shubam, I think you are misunderstanding the whole gist. I blame Tony for not using a simple A,B,C way of explanation (well, he is a psychologist he prob thinks all will be as discreet as he is). But dont mind him.
    Read it this way, Lets assume that you like keeping dogs as pets. But due to financial constraint you couldn’t buy a matured Rottweiler, so you bought one of its puppies (I hope you are enjoying the story). Now after you had nurtured and trained this puppy, one of your neighbors starts COVETING it and starts buying big, fresh meats for your dog in other to entice it (and your dog starts acting weird to you cos it feels that’s how the story will continue and have a happy ending). If you end up selling this matured dog (don’t forget it almost attacked you once)and unfortunately it died after few months, the question I want you to answer is this: whose fault is it that the dog died? your fault or your neighbor’s? End Of Story.

    Moral: Not all that glitters is gold; often have you heard this told (Shakespeare)

  15. Fools rush in where even angels dread to tread ? Going in with eyes widely closed !

    Caveat emptor is Latin for “Let the buyer beware” . The phrase caveat emptor arises from the fact that buyers typically have less information about the good or service they are purchasing, while the seller has more information. The quality of this situation is known as ‘information asymmetry’. Defects in the good or service may be hidden from the buyer, and only known to the seller.

    Caveat venditor is Latin for “let the seller beware.” It is a counter to caveat emptor and suggests that sellers can also be deceived in a market transaction. This forces the seller to take responsibility for the product and discourages sellers from selling products of unreasonable quality.

  16. Sometimes you just have to laugh . Heard Andy Gray on the radio today , cautioning Aston Villa’s Tim Sherwood about the loan deal for Adebayor from the Spuds.
    He was an up and coming player with us , and with a great chance to be a great one , before his mouth took over and went forth before his brains and common sense .
    When he retires from the game , and counting his money , he will have lots of time to reflect upon on how it all unraveled .And the starting point will be from leaving Arsenal.

  17. And on the subject of retirement , here’s an oft repeated tale .
    My one day of employment after retiring …

    Landing my new job as a Wal-Mart greeter, a good find for many of us former military personal with no civilian skills. However, I lasted less than a day ……

    Started at 8 o’clock and about 11, a very loud, decidedly unattractive woman walked into the store along with her two kids, yelling obscenities at them all the way.

    As I had been instructed, I said, pleasantly, “Good morning and welcome to Wal-Mart.”
    I then said, “Nice children you have there. Are they twins?”

    The ugly woman stopped yelling long enough to say, “Don’t be fucking stupid. Of course they aren’t twins. The oldest one’s 9, and the other one’ s 7. Why the hell would you think they’re twins? Are you blind, or just stupid?”

    I replied, “I’m neither blind nor stupid, Madam.. I just couldn’t believe someone fucked you twice ! Have a good day and thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart.”

    My Supervisor said I probably wasn’t cut out for this line of work.

  18. Wenger is the greatest motivator in the world. Other managers purchase the finished products (Falcao, Torres, Kaka, Shevchenko, too many world class flops), and even then fail to get the best out of them, while he buys unknowns and raw talent and gets the best out of them. The list of players whose performances declined after leaving Arsenal is too long, and that includes the likes of Petit, rvp, Thierry, Nasri, and even cesc, just to name a few.

    Yes a few of them won things with their new clubs but that’s simply because of the available resources at the new club rather than their individual performances. I can only think of Ashley Cole as the player who maintained his levels after leaving Arsenal, everyone else went down. Give the guy the credit he deserves.

  19. Just to clarify my 8am post; my give the guy the credit he deserves refers to Wenger, and not A$hley Cole 🙂

    Oh and I meant Wenger is the greatest motivator in world football; there may be other great motivators in other walks of life.

  20. A good managers know when to let go and when to hold on to (remember Rambo). And Mr Wenger is probably in the top of that list. But he is a human after all. There might have been mistakes, but that has never cost ARSENAL dearly.

  21. I love Mr. Wenger and thank him for everything he has done for the club I support and for me as a fan. And for all those other Gooners who have the same affection for the club.

    Thank you for the trophies, the legendary players, the style of football and for the transformation of the club to one of the biggest in the World. Thank you for your loyalty. In 18 years this club is unrecognisable.

    One should remember that for years Wenger had no choice other than to try to buy players cheap and develop them. Meanwhile our rivals were buying whatever world class players they wanted. The fact that Wenger not only scouted well but developed these players into ones that could qualify us for the Champs league every, is an incredible feat. The down side of this was that once he developed these players, they were head hunted by those who were lesser managers.

    Instead of getting praise for this and for having to battle against finacially doped clubs, he was constantly abused by the media. He had to see the repetitive countdown clock for the number of years he went without a trophy and watch as the media constantly tried to undermine him and the achievement in moving from Highbury.

    For everything Mourinho has achieved, he has done it with money. He has also played a less expansive type of football that not only errs on the negative but on the dark arts. For example, rotational fouling, play acting, diving, accusing referees of being racists, tapping up players and paying fines and manipulating the loan system. Compare that to the type of football we enjoy and the class the club displays and there is no comparison.

    Wenger is probably the finest manager of his generation. He is not only the only one to navigate an entire Premier league season unbeaten but also done so with both hands tied behind his back. He has displayed loyalty where there is none. When you look back to his arrival, our club was actually pretty backwards.For example, we had antiquated training facilities that we had to share with the university of London which horrified Wenger. Not only that, we could only use it at certain times when the University weren’t booked to us it. The facilities were so draconian that the first thing Mr. Wenger did was moves us to Sopwell House.Now look what we have!

    The breathtaking ignorance displayed by a small number of our own fans, prompted by the equally ignorant media has meant Mr. Wenger receives regular criticism and name calling. When in fact he should be held up as one of the greatest managers and visionarys ever to grace the game. Ever. There will never be another Wenger, so we should celebrate him and recognise all that he has done against incredible challenges.

    Wenger is more than a football manager, much more. I suspect that is why he irritates the Spending Specialists like Jose Mourinho.

  22. Proudkev, one of the finest posts I have ever seen on here, and there is stiff competition!

  23. Great post proudkev but I need to add that Wenger is not appreciated by the sports media in the UK. Else where he is admired for his achievements on and off the pitch. I guess the biblical saying; A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. But because my religion is football and my house is Arsenal I can see him as the true visionary that he is. Glad to be among so many like-minded followers.

  24. Chelsea face a run of six games in 18 days, which includes FA Cup and Champions League semi-finals against Tottenham and Barcelona respectively, and a trip to Arsenal. Benayoun may have been able to help Chelsea through such a punishing spell, but they have kindly sent him to Arsenal’s aid instead.

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