By Tony Attwood
One of the features that links together most blogs and I suspect all the newspapers and their websites, plus the TV stations and the radio stations, is the importance of transfers.
We can see this at once from the fact that they spend so much time each summer on transfer rumours, 97% of which turn out to be fake. Indeed the fact that they rarely take responsibility for the rumours but instead cite some other “outlet” which then cites another and another shows how ludicrous it all is.
The headline in the Telegraph tells us exactly how it works…
Arsenal have the right coach in Mikel Arteta – now they must back him in the transfer market.
At the other end of the spectrum like the Telegraph, the Sun wants none of this clever-clever, use what you’ve got and sell off the rest, approach.
They go with
“Arsenal must seriously back Mikel Arteta in the transfer market …”
No question that there might be alternatives. No there is but one solution – the transfer market, and not just that, “back him” which means “spend big”.
“Arsenal must take a gamble and back Mikel Arteta in the transfer …
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Arsenal legend Ray Parlour has called on the club’s board to back Mikel Arteta in the transfer market and take a … ‘Arteta has done everything right so far”. (Mail)
So my question is, what big backing has there been so far? Is that what the club did with Mr Wenger?
1996/7 – transfer profit £13m
When Arsene Wenger turned up at Arsenal we made transfer profits and there was no talk about “backing him in the transfer market” when he joined in the summer of 1996. No, he bought two players – Patrick Vieira for £3.5m (although Transfer Markt quote £4.82M) and Nicolas Anelka for £600,000.
And he financed these purchases through sales. Merson for £6m, John Harson for £4.5m, Paul Dickov £1.35m, Steve Morrow £675,000, Eddie McGoldrick £405,000. That’s around £17,85m, which even allowing for the higher cost of Vieira, made a profit of around £13m. We came third. The previous year we’d come 5th and the year before that 12th, so that was the continuation of the climb up the charts.
1997/8 – transfer expenditure of £17m
Now Mr Wenger did spend. In came Overmars (£6.75m), Grimandi (£3.38m), Petit (£3.38m), Upson (£2.25m), Boa More (£2.16m). There were no big sales – Rose, Shaw and Harper left for a total of around £1m. So a net expenditure of around £17m. So thus far he has spent £4m net and in 1997/98 we won the double. Not a bad return.
1998/9 – a transfer expenditure of £7m
In 1998/9 Mr Wenger bought Kanu (£5.63m) Freddie, (£4.05m) Diawara (£2.70m) and Vivas (£1.98). He sold Ian Wright for £7m – total expenditure £7.36m. We came second and were cup semi-finalists. Total net loss so far £11m.
1999/2000 – transfer profit of £14m
Finally taking us up to the end of the century, in 1999/2000 Arsenal bought Thierry Henry (£15m), Davor Suker, (4.86m), Luzhny (£2.48m) and Malz (£1.04m). He sold Anelka (£31.5m), Diawara (£3.15m), Crowe, (£1.35m), Bould, (£0.75m) and Boa Morte (£0.63m). A profit of £14m.
Now it is true during this turn of the century period we were not winning things after that opening double, we kept coming second in the league. But the club had done this while making a profit of £4m on transfers since the arrival of Mr Wenger.
So why, I ask, after having spent something around £100m net last summer (and for consistency in this piece I am using Transfer Mkt figures throughout, rather than the Guardian figures I used last time), and £70m the summer before, and £24m the summer before that why are we keeping on doing this spending?
(Just so you know I am not making these numbers up, let me explain 2017/18 as there was a general feeling in the office that these could not be right. We spent £136m (this was the year Auba joined the club along with Lacazette and Mkhitaryan) and took in £112m, selling the likes of Alexis, the Ox, Theo, Giroud, and Sxzczcdczny the smoker. Total cost £24m.
And yet everywhere I look there is the spend spend spend requirement from the media. Only Arseblog seems to be more moderate with “Arteta: If we have to wait for the right player, we wait.”