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If you think of abuse of the transfer market you don’t think of Arsenal. Time to think again!

By Tony Attwood

When you think about transfers, abuse of the transfer system, and the hoarding of players probably the first club that comes to mind is not Arsenal.   While we all know about Chelsea and Manchester City having large numbers of players that they buy and then loan out and never get back, we tend to think that Arsenal, although using the system, do it with a greater amount of modesty and forethought.

Meanwhile, anxious to avoid too much publicity concerning the spat over putting a Remembrance Day poppy on players’ shirts, Fifa has quickly come up with another issue to discuss: the abuse of the transfer system through loans.

The source of the story is a video posted by Reuters on its web site.   It is not a very detailed speech but basically Infantino says that it looks like there is something wrong about the system.   In the video he says

“Whether it’s true or not, the perception often is that there is something strange happening with these transfers.  It is important if you move a few billion dollars in one or two months, you must make sure that every happens in a clean way.

“After 15 years it is time to seriously revise it and bring it a little more transparency and a little more clarity.”

He goes on to say that there is a perception that some big clubs are hoarding lots of players each year.  Infantino said that he thought that this was not right, adding

“It doesn’t feel right, for a club to just hoard the best young players and then to park them left and right, it’s not good for the development of the player, it’s not good for the club itself.”

Then in speaking about limiting the number of players that can be hoarded in this way he says, “I fully share that view, we have to work on squad size limits.”

Now we all know that one of the main culprits is Chelsea.  Infantino did not mention them but the Guardian, reporting the story and crediting it to Reuters without linking to the Reuters web site note that Chelsea “have 37 players on loan, according to their website.”

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But then in a wholly ludicrous additional comment they say

“While Infantino did not name names, examples are not hard to find. One English player, Benik Afobe, signed a professional contract with Arsenal in 2010, but was then loaned out to six clubs over five years before being sold to Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2015. He is now with Bournemouth.”

Ludicrous because by giving Arsenal as the only case study in the piece, it suggests quite clearly that Arsenal are a prime abuser of the system.   But as with the other examples of the way in which the Guardian football writers manipulate reality, (which I won’t mention here as I have covered it a lot of times already) there is a clear implication that Arsenal is a prime culprit.

And yet as we have seen in all our analyses of the “25” listed players, and the numbers of young players who have been brought through the youth system and now play for Arsenal, Arsenal are in fact the good guys.

Indeed the fact that Arsenal have filled up their 25 available first team over 21 places indicates this – every team in the PL has its full quota of non-home-grown players but doesn’t reach the 25 because it has not got enough “home grown” talent to make up the numbers.

If this were a one off we could shrug it off, but it happens over and over again, whether the papers (and of course it is not only the Guardian) are discussing goal scoring, empty seats at matches (remember the Telegraph’s picture of empty seats at the Ems to illustrate the case that season ticket holders were not turning up, where they used a picture of a game that was not available on the season ticket and Arsenal were not even playing, poor performances in November or anything else), or poor performances in November.

There is never any proper comparison.  No sets of figures.  No data.  Just Arsenal as an example, and the implication that Arsenal is one of the worse culprits.

Of course none of this will change what Fifa does.   Fifpro, the players’ trade union, has a long running case in front of the European Commission showing that the current system is contrary to European competition law and in this they are supported by a large number of clubs from outside the top 20, which find it hard to get players because clubs like Chelsea buy them up and loan them out to their own personal favourite clubs.  Juventus, Milan, and Inter are generally felt to be in the same bracket.

There already have been some changes – as in 2013 when the Football League clubs voted to change the rules after Watford went through the previous season with 14 loan signings with ten of those players signed on loan from Udinese.  Udinese and Watford were owned by the same family.  .

The new regs meant that only five loanees from outside the UK could be named in a squad for a match, and only four of those could come from the same club.

Arsenal have, I think, 13 players on loan this season.

  1. Takuma Asano; Stuttgart
  2. Joel Campbell; Sporting Lisbon
  3. Calum Chambers; Middlesbrough
  4. Dan Crowley; Oxford United
  5. Ryan Huddart; Eastleigh
  6. Glen Kamara; Colchester United
  7. Kelechi Nwakali; Maastricht
  8. Tafari Moore; Utrecht
  9. Stefan O’Connor; Maastricht
  10. Julio Pleguezuelo; Mallorca
  11. Jon Toral; Granada
  12. Jack Wilshere; AFC Bournemouth
  13. Wojciech Szczesny; Roma
Tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

Tottenham preliminaries

It’s the stadium stupid: how West Ham, Tottenham, the government and us tax payers suffer.

Alexis’ time at Barcelona catches up with him as he is accused of tax fraud.

Do we actually need to buy anyone this January?

Ref Review : Sunderland – Arsenal: Was this not knowing the laws? Or just plain bias? The latter looks more probable

The moment that proves “our destiny is in the minds of our players”. Watch again and again and again.


From the Arsenal History Society  

The Arsenal History Society publishes numerous series of articles exploring different aspects of Arsenal’s history.   You can find an index to all the series to date on the Society’s web site.

The nine Arsenal players who played in all three of the consecutive championship seasons


17 comments to If you think of abuse of the transfer market you don’t think of Arsenal. Time to think again!

  • Robert

    Yes, that was an idiotic comment in the Guardian for exactly the reasons you stated, Tony.

    The loan system ought to be changed drastically, but I can’t see Fifa having the nous – or the will – to do it.

  • Chris

    Yep Tony,

    same crap, same bullying of Arsenal and same double standards
    As in my previspost, just read the piece about the MU-Fenerhbace game that did not at all mention their losing the game 1-0. That to me beats every other instance of des-information.

  • insideright

    I see the problem as being as much to do with money laundering ( in order to get round FFP) as anything else. Rich owners are allowed to fund academies to their hearts content but the revenue gained by the loan or sale of those players becomes available to the first team squad as ‘allowable’ income. Mourinho let the cat out of the bag when at Chelsea when he publicly praised his then owner for exactly this strategy. It was yet another straw that eventually broke the back of his employment there.
    Arsenal are not just innocent because of their far superior record of promoting youth. They are innocent because the owner funds nothing and the Club is entirely self sustaining throughout all levels.

  • Andy Mack

    Chris, They lost 2-1…

  • Leon

    ….and it was reported on by Guardian journalist Jamie Jackson

  • Rich

    Such a punk move to pick Afobe as an example. Unlikely he’d have had even 3 loans if he wasn’t hit by two serious injuries at crucial points.

    I find we use the loan system mostly for 2 purposes : to help out players who we’re certain won’t make it here; to try speed up answers when it isn’t yet clear if a player can make it with us.

    There’s also work permit-related ones, and in recent times established pro’s who need first team football.

    Very few come anywhere near to fitting the profile of players being stockpiled or part of a money-making system*.

    There’ve been plenty I’ve thought were actually released too early, but time has proven me wrong in almost all those cases.

    *More a book-cleaning system.

  • Leon


    It would appear that the link to Man U match which you supplied yesterday (and refer to today) was a report that was made while the match was still in progress (8.20pm) and was specifically referring to an injury to Pogba, so no mention of the score was correct and in order.

  • Northern Nuge

    I saw this reported on BBC Football website this morning and immediately considered the previous articles Untold have posted on this topic. What astonishes me, by quoting Benik Afobe, the Guardian imply that his case highlights exactly what Mr. Infantino is declaring, but in my mind rather misses the point in that Benik Afobe was a youth academy product of Arsenal coming through the same ranks as Jack Wilshere. He is not a product of buying in youth (or young footballers) from overseas, which I believe is the message the video is addressing and which is encapsulated by Chelsea’s and Man City’s (to a slightly lesser extent) dealings.

    I do wonder how many mainstream hacks/media will follow suit, or maybe I am a dreamer and one of them will be intelligent enough to report this story using the full facts available for once. For now I dream on.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    No problem. Fifa can do whatever they deemed fit in this regard. As for we The Arsenals, we won’t be found wanting with only 13 of our players being loaned out when Fifa does apply the axe to axe those clubs who are abusing the Loan system. Arsenal won’t bother as they don’t abuse the limit of the approved loaned-out players system.

    37 players loaned out? That is outrageous, inappropriate and unacceptable. Whichever club that did this must be sanctioned. Because this is done with the sole cynical intention to stop other needy Premier League rival clubs like Arsenal to have access to the talented players in their youth age to possibly sign some of them to develop them for later use.

    On a more serious matter currently demanding we focus on it, is our match on Sunday against Tottenham Hotspur at the Ems.

    The anti-Arsenal football pundits and a large section of the football media have been instigating and encouraging the Totts to beat Arsenal and to by the consequence of that impossible victory, have their winless run in 6 outings in all competitions forgotten. One Danny Murphy who spoke to the BBC Sports’ Chris Bevan, is an accomplice to this deluded thoughts.

    But one huge thing Danny Murphy failed to realise is, Arsenal have a ST. Totteringham’s Day mental hold on Tottenham Hotspur. A mental bondage which the Torts can’t set themselves free from.

    Arsenal are masters to the Torts in all aspects of Premier League & Cup competitions football. But, instead of the Torts to continue to argue with Arsenal this superiority of us over them, they should be bowing down to Arsenal and worship them as their lord, collect their hand bags whenever they arrived home to take it in for them, help to remove their overall coats to hang it and chauffeur their cars and open their cars door for them to get down and run errands for them.

    Arsenal will do Tottenham Hotspur the kind of beating they beat Chelsea with at the Ems early this season. A 3-0 result against the Torts is on the cards and the Gunners will get that result on Sunday unfailingly irrespective of whatever resistance the Totts will put out to stop that result happening to them, but it will still happen to them.

    I don’t know if I can influence Le Prof in his starts and bench making for this match, hence, I’ve decided to make my starts and bench early so that Le Prof will have enough time to think over it.

    My starts:
    Bellerin Mustafi Koscielny Gibbs
    Coquelin Xhaka
    Walcott Ozil Alexis

    My bench:
    Ospina Jenkinson Holding Gabriel Ramsey Elneny Oxchambo.

    If Gibbs hasn’t recovered his shoulder back, Gabriel can play LB while Monreal should still be rested to fully recover form fatigue& injury. I am starting both the DMs of, Coquelin and Xhaka at the Gunners base for Coquelin’s heading duel winning prowess and high rate interceptions success. And Xhaka for his long range accuracy passing, hard tackling and also for his long range scoring ability. If he Walcott has fully recovered from his hamstring injury, I prefer to start him ahead of the Ox and Ramsey. But if not, I’ll start the stamina-Ramsey at right wing despite his objection to play from there. I’ll give him freedom to move to any part of the field.

  • para

    We must win spuds game, by what ever score in order to keep up there in the leader pack. Any lost of points is going to be detrimental to us.

    However bad spuds are playing a.t.m we know they will raise their game when playing us and, they may well resort to injuring us so we have to be aware of that.(don’t forget injuring us is not just for this game but for later too).

    Slick quick movement and passing to avoid the tackles that will come flying in, probably with the refs blinded when it comes to tackles on us.

  • nicky

    It seems to me that the same old, same old diversionary tactics are being churned out by Infantino and the still-corrupt FIFA.
    Alleged abuse of the transfer system and the disgraceful attempt to prevent respect for our
    nation’s war dead, is the latest ploy. 😉

  • Dammy

    It has become a nonsense. Clubs should have a cap on U18 U21 and U23 players it loans out. If a club signs a U18 player for its Academy, he should play there. If he is not good enough, ship him out- if he is too good, move him up a level. The same applies to U21s and U23’s. So much is made of the limbo between graduating the academy and breaking into the first team. But if a club cannot help a player transition, there should be a maximum number of years he is loaned out before being sold.
    The reason Afobe was mentioned is because Arsenal received a sell on bonus. It is fairly similar to the compensation system for Academy graduates on free transfers and quite dissimilar to the tens of millions Chelsea made after farming, loaning and selling the likes of Lukaku and De Bruyne.
    If FIFA is concerned about these ‘farms’ cap the academy squad size (loaned out or not), limit the number of loans, limit the number of loan years.

  • Chris


    guilty as charged then ! To my defence, we’ve gotten used to so much crap and manipulation, that this one seemed genuine…. guess we’re a little bit paranoiac !

  • Stevo

    Not exactly sticking to the main subject but is there ant news about John Toral ‘s loan at Granada

  • Stevo

    Whoops ‘ any’ not ant

  • Norman14

    Simply ask what are the facts, what are the opinions, and what is the truth.

    I doubt if many newspaper reporters deal in either of 1 or 3.

    So, when it comes to it, their opinions don’t count as they are based on neither fact or truth.

    Ignore them! Moral higher ground to us 🙂