Why are Arsenal suddenly getting interested in the older generation of players?

By Sir Hardly Anyone.

So now we know.    Or at least we think we know.  Or at least some people are saying, the first transfer of the New Era will be Sokratis Papastathopoulos and he will cost £16m from Borussia Dortmund.   He’s 29.  Quite why Sven Mislintat, the head of recruitment, likes old men we’re not sure.  Nor do we know why he has a penchant for old defenders – but he seems to because we also know that Arsenal’s first signing of the summer will be right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer from Juventus who is 34 which makes him positively antediluvian.

Now of course if you think this is all great stuff, or indeed if you are convinced it is all going in the wrong direction, and you do enjoy a flutter you can sign up with Boylesports – especially if you have an idea as to what difference all of this will make in the longer term.

Meanwhile (and indeed fortunately for those of us who write stuff) Sokratis Papastathopoulos is generally known as Sokratis which makes life easier, as we contemplate that he would become the third former Dortmund player singed during the EW (End of Wenger) and PW (Post Wenger) periods.  The others being  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.  And all since Mislintat’s arrival at the Emirates in November.

As for Lichtsteiner is expected by those who follow such things to be captain of Switzerland at the World Cup in Russia.   He joined Juventus from Lazio in 2011, and (as you might expect) was previously linked with Borussia Dortmund when he moves this summer.  What we do know is that he won the league with Juventus seven times in a row – but then, that’s what they do.

Sokratis on the other hand has one year left on his contract.  He has made 79 appearances for Greece and has played for Dortmund since 2013.   Before that he was with Genoa and AC Milan.

So what’s all this with the old men? (And I say that relative to football, not in broader terms).

What it could mean is that the transfer budget is so tight that all Arsenal can do is buy experience on the cheap.  But it could also mean that the club has a lot of faith in the youngsters coming through, and feels they just need a year or two of support from the elderly (in footballing terms) so that they are not forced to play each game regularly, and are able to take games out when their form takes a dip.

Thus what we could be seeing is a lot of faith in, and a protection policy for, the likes of Holding, Chambers, Mavrapanos and Maitland-Niles, while also giving cover for injuries to Bellerin, Mustafi, Kolasinac and Monreal.

However as we pointed out the other day the squad is overfull at the moment in terms of the over 21 players and so that also suggests there could be a clear out coming, especially since these are not the only defenders being mentioned of late.  For there is also chatter about Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu who is just 22 and is a centre back.  Indeed if all these players came along that would be a real mix of youth and old timers while the departures would be queuing up at the door.    

Indeed what this could also mean is that our new manager is very happy to be guided by others in terms of transfers, unlike Mr Wenger who obviously has his own ideas as to where the club should go and what it should do.  It is indeed being suggested that Mr Emery is perfectly content to take guidance on players from  both Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi, the head of football operations rather than pick his own men.

Mind you this tendency towards the elderly could also be part of the need to adjust to Stan Kroenke’s  decision to limit the transfer budget to £70m plus the income from sales this summer.  Unfortunately that income from sales could be limited because so many players have been so heavily denigrated by the award winning ArsenalFansTV that the players’ reputation (and hence value) appears to have been trashed, and we might be struggling to replicate the sort of money that Liverpool paid for the injury prone Oxlade-Chamberlain.

At the moment I can’t see Arsenal spending money like Liverpool who have just apparently splashed out £40m on Fabinho from Monaco.  (That is also a sad move for Monaco since it means that once again their squad is being torn apart – second place next season might be more of a struggle).

That transfer money for Arsenal does seem a little miserly, especially since in last summer’s dealings Arsenal actually made a profit of £21m after the sale of the likes of Gabriel, Szczesny, Gibbs and the Ox.  Liverpool spent over £41m net buying not only the Ox but also Salah and only having one big sale in Sakho.

And this also makes me wonder.  How long will the Liverpool owners continue doing this before they demand a trophy.  In the past 12 years they have won just one – the League Cup.  Now I know that many decry the value of the FA Cup (maybe because they haven’t had the good fortune to be at a cup final and watch it all happen) but we have won three of those in the last five seasons – and yet many of our supporters were still unhappy.   I wonder how such people would feel if Arsenal had made it 1 league cup in 12 years rather than 3 FA Cups in five?

But perhaps they see things differently beyond Watford.



14 Replies to “Why are Arsenal suddenly getting interested in the older generation of players?”

  1. Arsenal board are going for over 30 years old players because they are very cheap as the Arsenal transfer budget is only £50 millions which is not enough to buy one world class player. We just do not know why is Arsenal a very poor club and getting pooere evey year. In previous years Arsene Wenger usd to tell us that is because of Arsenal debt caused by building the new stadium and now is what, and where have the Arsenal hundred of millions gone?

  2. At what other club would winning trophies be used as a stick to beat your fellow fans?

  3. The transfer budget is tight because unlike Abramovitch at Chelsea, Kroenke is simply not prepared to inject some of his personal income at Arsenal. 😉

  4. Yes, should lack of enough transfer kitty at Arsenal this summer force the club’s transfer quartet committee of: Gazidis, Emery, Mislintat and Sanllehi go for the signing of another Kim Kallstrom but in Lichtsteiner 34 this summer? A Lichtsteiner who at his age now will not only have lost a yard of pace but 2 yards at his 34 years old age. How can he cope with the pacey attackers in the ever competitive Premier League matches in Arsenal games in the PL next season’s campaign if Arsenal does sign him even on the free? But they’ll still have to pay him wages anyway. I think the Arsenal transfer committee should jettison this particular transfer case.

    However, the Arsenal transfer committee if at all there is any such committee at Arsenal can go ahead with the signing of the Greek centreback, Sokratis Papastathopoulos who should stand in for the injured Koscielny in the Gunners back line. But I think the 2 games suspended at the start of the PL campaign next season, Mavropanos served as a replacement for the retired Per Mertesacker. Right? If so, then, why signing another defender who is old for that matter when Arsenal already have so many very experienced defenders and some quality young defenders who are gradually becoming experienced, all on ground at the Emirates Stadium? But if Arsenal still must sign another experienced defender to impact more defending knowledge on their young defenders, why can’t they go for the experienced Jonny Evans who is a longtime Premier League experienced right sided centreback? I think he wouldn’t cost Arsenal more than £3m ti sign if WBA will play balls this time around.

    I have not heard of Arsenal bidding this summer for a top quality playmaker midfielder to sign him as a replacement for the departed Santi Cazorla. And of course to bid for a top quality striker signing this summer too to replace a long standing lackluster senior striker currently at Arsenal. I think these 2 key component signings should without delays be the next focus area for the Arsenal’s quartet transfer committee after they’ve concluded the signing of Sokratis.

  5. I don’t think the club are looking for anything more than a calming influence in defence. We’ve let a few goals in when we really shouldn’t have, due entirely to what certainly looked like panic at the back.
    With Per out of the squad, Koscielny playing less through injury (and looking less calm and composed probably because of that injury), Monreal at CB isn’t the type of player to marshal the back line, and unfortunately it appears Mustafi swings between being a WC defender and being a WC Liability, it seems to be placing a lot of pressure on Holding and Chambers (and now Mavrapanos) at a stage in their development where they should be learning to deal with in-game pressure from the senior CBs.
    The CB role is a difficult one everywhere but as we depend on our FBs playing so far forward when we have the ball (and we try to get/keep/have the ball as much as possible) having level headed CBs is even more pivotal than some other teams.
    I’d guess that if we really do get Lichtsteiner It’s because he’s a good player and we want a more defensive RB option than Bellerin, who does a decent job defensively but his natural instinct is to get forward which isn’t always the right thing to do.

  6. Nice interesting post but I doubt Arsenal Fan TV has had any affect on player values.

  7. It is not that Arsenal are poor – they do make a profit and that is what is re-introduced as new spending. I believe the owner has said it is £70m plus anything recovered from the sale of players. The difference between Arsenal and Man C, Chelsea and Liverpool is that those clubs have extra money invested by the owners and in Man City’s case, by the state.

    Thus when Man City built its new youth facilities they were all paid for by the owners, not by the club, as is allowed under FFP rules. When Arsenal built their extra facilities the club paid out of income.

    Man U are different in that they have their worldwide marketing income on a scale which no other club in England can match, the result of having created a worldwide base from the late 1950s onwards.

    I am not sure where you think Arsenal got hundreds of millions from, but certainly their balance sheet does not show that much profit.

  8. I am aware that a number of regular commentators are finding their posts held in moderation.

    This is none of my doing and I am not sure why this has happened; it might be something to do with the change made as a result of the GDPR regulation we have implemented. Certainly if you don’t accept the notice that will have appeared you will have difficulty posting a comment.

    Please stay with us, I am trying to get this sorted.

  9. as far as “faith in young players” is concerned, i hope you’re right … but i’m not convinced
    sokratis, lichtsteiner?? when you have chambers, holding, mavropanos, osei-tutu, … in store, not to mention elneny, whose performances as CB i found very convincing …
    what about the actual – football – value of these guys? seems to me that in any race the swiss captain would lag behind kos … on his crutches; as for the umpteenth dortmund guy, he’s ponderous enough to make phil jones look like isadora duncan.
    to me, those transfer prospects look as though we were trying to out-burnley burnley. does anyone believe we are going to WIN more games with that kind of players?
    i was willing to welcome the new – basque – man, but if he doesn’t use the veto he’s said to have been given over such moves, i don’t think i’ll stand by him very long …

  10. I lean towards your second theory – bring in some oldies to allow the young ones, both existing and in-coming to bed in. Which I think is good. If we can spend less on some oldies and freebies to conserve funds for one marque, then why not? I hear we tried to hijack ‘Pool’s Fabinho deal. If the story is true, that means Arsenal are ready to splash 50m on a single player. Add that to a few not-so-expensive-but-effective players, and we should be good to go

  11. Not a bad post at all.
    It’s nice to read something on here that addresses the future shape of the team, the new tripartite management structure and arsenal’s rather tight fisted financial approach.

    Will it work? Time will tell.

    I actually think the club will try and make a big name signing and fill in the gaps with experience.

    The other big question is who will leave. Our current midfield is overloaded with attacking midfielders. Could be goodbye to wilshire, ozil or even ramsay. Hopefully it’ll be xhaka who’s moved on but he may improve under the new manager.

    Good post but I really don’t think Arsenal fan TV has any influence on player values.
    Look at it this way, it doesn’t influence my opinion – the regulars on there are pretty unimpressive- and I don’t even work in football.

  12. We lost three experienced defenders from the squad during the course of last season and will be without another for at least the first half of next. The strategy as ‘revealed’ so far seems to me to make absolute sense – especially with centre-backs not really reaching their prime until their middle to late 20’s.

  13. Really enjoying the fans confusion post Wenger.
    The Wobs kept moaning all those years over poor signings and again we are hearing unpopular signings by the new manager/Arsenal board.

    Wonder how Wobs will justify such signing who are not world class and not according to Wobs wishes.

  14. There will be many comings and goings before the transfer window shuts. Collectively Ivan, Raul, Sven and Unai can push the club forward. They will have a plan and will act.

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