Alexis and the trouble with working out transfer values

by Tony Attwood

And so Alexis Sánchez who signed for Arsenal in July 2014 for £31.7m has seemingly been swapped for Henrikh Mkhitaryan who we are told is valued at around £35m although Transfer Market has him listed as £31.5m.   Mkhitaryan was allegedly in London on Saturday night with his agent awaiting a medical with Arsenal.

Speaking on the matter regarding yesterday’s game Mr Wenger said,  “I didn’t play him because there is question of him moving to Manchester United and you cannot drive up north and as well play football,” he said. “That’s difficult so that’s why I decided to leave him out.”

Apparently Man U “lacked ruthlessness” against Burnley this weekend according to the Guardian – which is something Arsenal are often accused of by the paper, so Sánchez should fit in quite nicely.  Although with Manchester City looking like they are trying to do a Bayern Munich or a PSG I wonder just how many more trophies Sánchez might win.  (Remembering the FA Cup that we’ve won more times than anyone is not, actually, a trophy, although I like to count it as one).

Here are the purchases of Arsenal across recent seasons – although it is hard to know if Mkhitaryan should be a free (as he was a swap) or not.  If not then Kolasinac perhaps ought to be listed as having the cost of his value.

Indeed this is what makes it all so troublesome – Arsenal are blamed for letting Alexis’ contract run down with endless talk about “how could they have let this happen) but the talk about Kolašinac letting his contract run down is never included – presumably because of the way we benefited from this.

Given that there is a general feeling that the number of players running their contract down is rising and will continue to rise, it is going to be a continuing problem for anyone trying to work out comparative transfer expenditure and income.

Anyway here’s the comparative figures for Arsenal across a few seasons.

Season  Player  Cost  Total
2017/18 Henrikh Mkhitaryan £35,000,000
Sead Kolašinac Free
Alexandre Lacazette £52,700,000
Konstantinos Mavropanos £2,200,000  £89.9m
Granit Xhaka £33,800,000
Takuma Asano £5,000,000
Rob Holding £2,000,000
Lucas Pérez £17,100,000
Shkodran Mustafi £35,000,000
Cohen Bramall £40,000  £92.94m
 2015/16 Season 15/16
Petr Čech £10,000,000
Mohamed Elneny £5,000,000  £15m
Mathieu Debuchy £12,000,000
Alexis Sánchez £35,000,000
David Ospina £3,000,000
Calum Chambers £16,000,000
Danny Welbeck £16,000,000
Krystian Bielik £2,400,000
Gabriel Paulista £11,200,000  £95.6m

If we compare this with other clubs we can see how much Arsenal is spending in the transfer market year by year

Club 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 Trophies
Liverpool £117m £82.6m £67.9m £155m None since 2012
Tottenham £27.95m £53.5m £68.8m £87.5m None since 2008
Chelsea £118.3m £71.9m £119.3m £200m** League x 2, Lge Cup
Man U £145.5m £103.6m £149m £180m FA Cup, Lge Cup, Europa
Man C £87.5m £152.1m £168.8m £212m Lge Cup
Arsenal £89.9m £92.9m £15m £95.6m* FA Cup x 2

*Includes Mkhitarian but not Kolasinac.

** This figure changed from the original figure quoted – but as has been pointed out, the source I used is not reliable so it might still be wrong.

Buying players of course doesn’t equate to winning stuff, if it did Liverpool would be right up there with the big hitters in recent years.   They did win the league cup a few yeas ago.

And of course cut off points, and the income, are also relevant in trying to do this analysis.  I chose to do four seasons in the table above simply because it was taking me too long to go back further, but if I did go back to 2013/14 Tottenham would show an expenditure that year of £103.7m – a sudden leap from their normal level of expenditure because of splashing out all the Bale money.  Events can affect policy.

It didn’t do them much good though as their trophy drought since 2008 continues apace.  And in the end this is the point.  Expenditure on players helps, especially when it starts going up to the level of £619m in four years as for Manchester City but it is not a guarantee of success – and absolutely not a guarantee of instant success, which is what most people seem to want.

Nor when it leads to over 20 enquiries into the club relating to child trafficking.


28 Replies to “Alexis and the trouble with working out transfer values”

  1. I used figures from the Transfer League web site which gave
    Kylian Hazard

    If you feel the totals are wrong please do give us your total and I can tell the website I used.

  2. Dont know why i have a feeling thay Mikhitarian will be a success at Arsenal.
    As we need another playmaker after Santi injury Mikhitarian will be a perfect fit for our team. Will relieve some burden off ozils shoulders as well.

    Though Sanchez is a world class player but i suspect he is on a downward spiral after Chile below par performances at the Wc qualifiers. And with Maureens defensive minded approach he may not thrive at Manu.

    so win win situation for our club.

    is Auba coming as well?

  3. Did you just do a whole article on transfer expenditure without once mentioning player sales or net spend ??

  4. Tony

    When you use numbers to try to make a point isn’t is best to at least check the validly of the source information?
    For instance transfer league ( where I believe you get your figures )show that in 2017/18 Chelsea signed Costa purchased £50 million whereas we all know he in was sold not purchased.

  5. “(Remembering the FA Cup that we’ve won more times than anyone is not, actually, a trophy, although I like to count it as one).”

    Sorry if I appear a bit thick but… am I missing a joke/humour here.
    The F.A. Cup is a wonderful competition, and is indeed a trophy. And a nice one at that.

    As I say, I can only assume I’m missing the joke/humour.

  6. Yes Big Al – there were quite a lot of comments over a period of several years from people who argued that the FA Cup was not a real trophy, and that winning it was of no consequence.

  7. Mike the great danger with writing a blog and trying to pick up on areas which are not mentioned by others is time. As many people point out I do make mistakes and of course I could spend much longer on each article by carefully checking each point. But if I did that then the number of articles would be greatly reduced.
    Now I know many people say that would be a good thing, but the downside is that some of what I think are the rather good things Untold has done, and indeed some of the good things that the History of Arsenal site has also published, would not get published. I’m speaking here of the sort of articles that I have covered which I’ve highlighted in the “10 years of untold” series.
    Yes I’ve made a mistake by taking data from a site that I thought was accurate enough to copy from, and yes I did it in a hurry (largely because of problems with the snow where I live) but that is, in the end, the choice. Publish far less and spend a lot of time checking everything, and so miss some of the more interesting stories we have covered or take the risk of making cock-ups.

  8. Let’s not duel on whether Sanchez will be a success at Man Utd or not and be so sure that Mkhitaryan will be a success at Arsenal. For, we all know that the signings of top quality players by top Premier League clubs are all gambles taken by the clubs. Sometimes it pays off handsomely and a times averagely.

    In the case of Mkhi’ his signing by Man U did not only not payoff averagely but poorly despite he’s being a top quality player from Dortmund where he was signed from. And the reason for this is not far fetched from the fact that he couldn’t hit the ground running immediately at Man U. And Jose Mourinho, the Man U manager is not the patient kind that’ll be patient too long for a player to hit the ground running after spending a fortune to sign him. Hence, the dropping of Mkhi’ from first team football action which led to him being alienated from playing regularly save a few number of occasions in the Cup games. But it doesn’t mean if Mkhi’ has missed out on the plans of Jose Mourinho he won’t be in the plans of Le Boss at Arsenal. For, he has the primary rare top quality ingrained in him that can make him be a top class player. And in recognition of this primary rare top quality Mkhi has must have led Le Boss to agreed to the swap deal that’s seeing Sanchez going to Man U and Mkhi’ coming to Arsenal to rescue his dipped football back to full inform football at Arsenal under a new top manager of Arsene Wenger if he works very hard consistently under his coaching.

    Arsenal signed Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona and made him a better player than he was at Barca. And while playing at Arsenal, he became well know and much publicized and he worked very hard on the primary rare top quality in him week in week out in games for Arsenal that saw him developed and becomes recognised as world class. Arsenal gave him identity worldwide as he helped advertised Arsenal through his top class performances in games for the club. But he’s leaving for Man U is largely due to the exaggerated wage rise that he want’s Arsenal to give him before he’ll extend his staying at the club. But Arsenal won’t honour such demands because they don’t have the financial capacity at the moment to honour such extravagant wages.

    Can Iwobi and other young Gunners like Maitland, Nelson, Nketiah and Willock and other youths at Arsenal learn to emulate Sanchez by working very hard at Arsenal to improved on their general game techniques for Arsenal as Sanchez did at Arsenal which saw him accorded such much publicity recognition that’s now paying him a great dividend in the transfer market? Iwobi should have scored one on one with CP’s goalkeeper yesterday when he broke through at the left wing faced with the CP’s goalkeeper rushing out to block his shooting. If Iwobi had goals scoring techniques which he can still develop the quality and improved on it. What he needed to do yesterday is to have kicked/shoot/lift the ball over the keeper into the net for his 2nd goal for Arsenal in the game.

  9. samuel
    You are very much spot on that it waz Wenger and Arsenal who gave identity to Sanchez as a world class player.

  10. As Marky Mark intimates, none of this has any credibility, even excusing the odd statistical error, without taking into account the sales of players and the resulting NETT spend that would reviel.

    The three biggest nett spenders have won every title bar 1 since our last title.

    As well as most FA and League cups.

    Yes, given they are, over the last 15 years, the 4th biggest net spenders Liverpool have under achieved, domestically at least. But they have won a CL lets not forget. Arsenal are 5th highest net spenders and with consistent top 4 finishes augmented by 3 FA Cups and 3 Cs’s, (only after a substantial increase in our nett spend it has to be said) can in my opinion be said to of slightly over achieved.

    But it is irrefutable that high nett expenditure over frequent seasons absolutely guarantees you success and to suggest otherwise by the use of expenditure alone without context is misleading to say the least.

  11. I strongly suspect that Sanchez has gone for the money, and no other reason.,

    I dare say he will find a world of difference from the benign fatherly atmosphere with Wenger to the harsh dictatorial lone with moaningho.

    Perhaps he will not deliver to Manure what he gave us.

  12. I wish Alexis, Theo, and Francis all the best at their new club, it was a privilege to have watched them play in an Arsenal shirt. Let cherish the good memories and forget the bad.

  13. Jigol
    I’m 90% with you. But you can underachieve despite high net expenditure, as you point out with Liverpool.
    Looking more broadly, it used to be said years ago that every club settled at its natural level according to the size of its fan base. There were times when a small club had 3 promotions in 5 years, only quickly to slip back down to its natural level.
    Today that maxim is true, as long as we change ‘fan base’ for resource base. Man Utd, Chelsea, and Man City will continue to generally outperform arsenal as long as their greater resource base is reflected in greater squad investment. There will be exceptions, underperformance and over performance, but as long as we continue to have the same relative squad investment, a top four finish and the odd cup is the most an arsenal fan can reasonably expect (irrespective of who the manager is).

  14. Iwobi has potential to be an elite player in the future if he put his head down and work hard. I hope he find a way to improve his shooting techniques, hopefully Lacazette and Giroud are kind enough to teach him.

  15. Tony

    Good stuff as usual.

    I may be operating on one track but we sure need a big Tony Adams ‘type’ defender.

  16. Luscious Lisa

    I broadly agree with your last paragraph that whilst our expenditure remains at this same relative level a title may well be beyond us and more FA Cups are our most realistic chance of a trophy, but if anyone could do it I still believe Wenger is the man.

    Could Pep ?

    If so why has he just spent over £150 mil net to do it?

    Could Jose?

    If so why is he moaning he hasn’t got enough money? And how much has he already spent?

  17. I disagree that spending equates to any definitive performance, were that the case nobody would spend anything because you wouldn’t need to.

    You might ask why, but quite simply you would have a recruitment policy which negates spending simply by being the best and players wanting to only play for you. You’d get every child prodigy and everyone would join you on a free.

    I won’t explain but the better lateral thinkers among you will understand the rest of you can ponder a while rather than possibly ignore offspring; watch soap or unreality to, procrastinate on those outstanding chores or find a way to be less than harmonious with a fellow human being you are more than likely supposed to hold in a higher regard than others.

    There are so many mitigating factors involved in success, that simplifying it to the matter of money is not studious or responsible, let alone founded in fact.

    What spending allows you to do is address issues within an area of a team quickly, season by season or mid season no less. What it allow s isn’t a greater record of continuity and the suggestion of progression. However as I broke down a handful of articles ago. Once you have a certain standard of quality, your spending need not Ben so, lets say; outrageous.

    Man Ciry have in fact combined their spending function to address longevity, consistency and quality, whilst aiming for an effective reflection of success in the short term. Stones is a long term investment, Bernardo Silva, Sane, Sterling, Walker, Mendy & Jesus.

    Whereas Otamendi, Ederson, Aguerro, Silva, Gundagan, Clichy, Sagna are examples of an expectation in the present and to add experience. This strategy along with the adoption of a franchise strategy is a very good business model. The youth policy more reflective of the strategy employed in the construction of Dubai and not quite ethical would be an understatement.

    Barcelona often acquire players quite cheaply, their latest signing a CB being a consummate example ignores the draw of the club, given its prestige, history, dwindling ability to pay more than most.

    Effective scouting and squad balance, combined with a evolving wage budget are what breeds long term success. Something that we have incorporated into the very fabric of the club.

    Chelsea did more than just spend, they spend whilst the top two had other priorities, Arsenal financing a new home, United rebuilding one of world footballs elite generations. They also acquired a very good manager, who consistently demonstrates an ability to deliver in the short term. Who build the foundations which saw yes man Matteo deliver the Grasprom League and allowed Ancellotti to do what he always does, galvanise big names. Something Conte also did after Jose’ second stint.

    If spending were a measure of success, not only would Liverpool have delivered by now, but there would be necessity for the officials to intervene, something which is without doubt, provided you are not suffering from an avoidant personality not disorder, delusional state of mind or just plain old ignorant., see the symptoms of a wider selection of mental health disorders orevwlant inmosern western society and enshrined into those impoverished as a result of neo-colonialism.

    If Sanchez does leave, ‘I will only sell Sanchez if something unbelievable happens’, then the redistribution of funds will not only be effective but representative of the long term strategy adopted by our economics professor, manager.

    Aubamayang is built for the league, Mikhi could potentially be a great fit. I initially questioned Sanchez temperament, until I realise he wanted solely that move. If United acquire his services, I suspect he might deliver for the remainder of this season, still find then league title eludes him and actually fall out with his team mates.

    Centrally in behind he is best as a floater, that undermines Jose tactical approach, left he take Martials position, right he doesn’t be enjoy and takes Lingaards birth. One he has only just began to fully cement.

    If Jose dares to play with Lukaku, he ends up with £100m worth of unhappy character.

    If Alexis is hell bent on the move, so be it. But we don’t need the sale, we simply would be unwise to lose him for free come July. Alexis holds all the cards, lets hope he is more wise than he is cunning. What people want Ian often not what they need.

    I wanted Kante, I wouldn’t have met the £32m clause even ignoring I had City money. I like Walker, not £50m pounds worth of impressed. Jesus is my favourite player in the Coty squad and was the cheapest of new recruits. Sterling at £50m was a good investment, his attitude and temeperament are wonderful and the media tried to vilify him. Sane also a good buy, but overpriced.

    Suarez hasn’t delivered Barcelona titles, Bale assisted but was notnintergarl; Coutinho will, but as part of a strategy, at a cost that the fanbase will offset through, increased merchandise revenue.

    United spent more after SAF left then when he was around, he simply advantaged himself regarding key acquisitions with spending power, when he had little or no competition. The best striker they bought cost little over a million, collar up, goodbye.

    The purchase of proven quality is what money is spent on, to supplement a squad which has an area of weakness.

    Our spending of late has been to supplement what was not invested prior, under our current hierarchy, who’s lack of investment has been unwise to say the least.

    And even so, those investments replicate some of the finer points of City’s own. Xaka is described by his former employers as loyal and a leader. Lacazette similarly stayed until there was little cause to do so. Ozil and Alexis have delivered trophies and the latter looks set to stay and the former will allow us to recoup his value in asset value plus cash in the last 6months of his contract, should he leave. Mustarfi likewise a WC winner and with around 8 years left in his playing career.

    The rest of that team isn’t mostly developed or came at little to no cost.

    Sours are the only club you can suggest have fairer any better through their spending and they have delivered just the 4 top 4 finishes in what a decade?

    I would say that the ability to beat your rivals to signatures, helps you secure titles. How you achieve this is something else entirely.

    Acquiring Aubamayang and having a quality winger is around 33% of our problems addressed. Elneny just produced a fine display, one foul omitted. He could be the DM we need, and supplement the center of defence as a ball playing CB.

    We would still require an either footed winger and GK, and if Mo doesn’t mind the weather I would prefer he developed the necessary qualities, than is sold. His humility and his new family addition may suggest that a Britishness passport outweighs the benefits of a move and for me that smile is all I need see to know he is a wonderful young man.

    Before the season start after we exited the top four I said developing youth ready for some first team action was imperative and that has been exactly what has happened. If Cohen am done Niles can emulate Hector. We don’t need those full backs, and having a HG GK is something that definitely bodes well for the future. But Macey may be better than his appearances suggest.

    The findental key area, is that Tony Adams figure in terms of height, discipline and tactical awareness needed, along with some communication at the back.

    That is oh so important. What I saw yesterday was incredible squad balance on the field. And I propose the same again, Xaka seemingly coming alive without the need for that defensive responsibility he obviously does not relish. People flourish in roles they pride themselves in and enjoy. Asking someone to do what they do not enjoy for any sustained period is a recipe for disaster.

    Mikhi, Mahrez, Reus possibly Draxler, but we need quality and Aubamayang over the line, but in my heart, Alexis staying is what I know is best.

    We may actually address all the other areas internally which again, is something that instillation belief in what already is an excellent youth set up.

    Let’s address RW and CF.

    RB, CB, LB, GK anencephaly understudy RW can wait for the summer provided we get the firepower we need in, this January.

    Alexis nor Arsene are the bad guys, and money is not simply the solution, for were it, those with an abundance of it, would determine in their happiness that what was missing in the world was more happiness and simply giving money away would ensure you had more people to Ben happy with.

    Sensible investment, whether money or the greater value of time, is always wise.

    How to beat Arsenal, that needs the officials, cheating, gamesmanship, money, quality and undermining the team starters confidence and flow. Beating anyone else as Arsenal retires at most, the best we have with a little reinforcement.


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  19. Just like Polo above , I too would like to wish those who have already left,as well as those soon to be leaving us , all the very best for their future.

    They have in very large measure thrilled us and entertained us , but have also on occasions fallen short and have disappointed us. I will chose to remember only the good times though.

    Hope that they play well for their clubs , especially against those teams currently above us; but fail woefully and miserably against the Arsenal !

    I do hope that the fire hydrants in Manchester are to the liking of Alexis’ little doggies. As for Alexis himself , he’d probably not be kicked around too much now , seeing that he will be joining an anointed club .

  20. Sanchez choosing United over City more than proves that it was only about the money. Wenger also said that there wasn’t a chance that we could keep him, due to his ridiculously high wage demands. Personally, I hope he gets the RVP treatment.

    Does anyone have an idea how Takuma Asano is getting on?

  21. Dwain Kaye

    21/01/2018 at 7:09 pm

    “There are so many mitigating factors involved in success, that simplifying it to the matter of money is not studious or responsible, let alone founded in fact.”


    21/01/2018 at 2:14 pm

    “The three biggest nett spenders have won every title bar 1 since our last title. As well as most FA and League cups.”

    Please explain to me how the above statement is not founded in facts?

    And you can take it from me I am ‘studious’ and ‘responsible’, although I fail to see the relevance of that.

    You said:

    “There are so many mitigating factors involved in success,”

    Which of course there is. I certainly believe that, as must the supporters of most teams, otherwise why bother?

    We all hope that either we can overcome financial disadvantage with an exceptional manager, or an exceptional scouting network, or an exceptional academy, or better still a combination of all of those, and some.

    Well I believe we certainly have at least one of those in Arsene Wenger. We have also done pretty well with our acadamy. We have also had a decent scouting network, a little inconsistent it seems, but none the less it has unearthed some real gems at bargain prices.

    But even with all that it hasn’t enabled us to win a title has it?

    Both Liverpool and Spurs have had an array of managers, both good and bad. They have both recruited some amazing players through there scouting systems and academy’s.

    But again, even with all that they haven’t really got close to a title baring the odd flirtation from Liverpool.

    Conversely look at the array of managers Chelsea and City have employed. Some good some bad. Look at how both these clubs have hardly utilised there academy’s at first team level at all, and yet they challenge for the title almost every year.

    Why is that do you think? I’ll tell you: MONEY MONEY MONEY.

    And that is an irrefutable fact.

    The other way we can be given a chance of title success is if the guys in charge of the purse strings at a mega rich clubs get it wrong. But they have to get it seriously wrong, which is exactly what Man Utd did.

    They allowed Fergie to put all his eggs in one Judas basket for his last hurrah, and worse still allowed him to neglect the rebuilding that his aging squad required.

    They compounded this by employing a manger in Moyes who was not up to the job, followed by another that was not up to the job.

    There youth system wasn’t producing the gems it had, despite the media getting orgasmic every time a young 18 year old took to the field. Ant they where no longer getting first dibs on the top top players looking to come to the premiership.

    So yes, despite mega bucks it is possible to f*** up, but having said that Utd have still been winning trophies, if not the title, and if they keep spending and spending they will eventually win it.

    But what are the chances of all three of the mega rich clubs getting it this wrong at the same time?

    Not very likely, although it could be argued it did indeed happen once and that pesky lot from the midlands gazumped us for the title. Drat drat and double drat.

    But will that happen again? Maybe, but it’s certainly not going to be this year is it, as it seems normal order has bee resumed with the 3 mega rich clubs occupying 1st 2nd and 3rd positions.

    So yes there are other factors to take into account, and yes they can get you close, but apart from the freakish Leicester City title, it seems no matter how good your manager, how good your scouting, how good your academy, a title, and a Champions League, remain elusive for us minions.

    And yes despite mega bucks you can fail, but it takes some doing.

    If you cannot see the direct correlation between high net expenditure on players, on a year in year out basis, and success, then I don’t know what else to say.

  22. Onyi Onyekwere – Thank you very much, that’s great! Fingers crossed one of Arsenal’s Japanese prospects will finally make the cut and get himself into the first team.

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