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Are Arsenal really utterly hopeless at all transfers or is it the media that’s wrong?

By Tony Attwood

There is an article on the Football.London site which runs with the headline “Stan Kroenke could force Mikel Arteta into transfer rethink at Arsenal as £182m mistake revealed

It is, I think, one of the most misleading articles I have seen in the last couple of hours, and I thought it was worth looking through the piece.

First, they cite the case of Serge Gnabry, and the notion that his sale was a huge mistake.  Obviously there can be no doubt that we would all have loved to have seen Gnabry stay at the club – he is a stunning talent.  But the problem came when he went to West Bromwich Albion and was only played once in half a season.

As I have been told the story, Gnabry decided there and then that he was not going to stay in England and when an offer came in for him from Werder Bremen, he made it clear he wanted to leave to return to his homeland.

Arsenal then had a choice, which was, either get what they could for him there and then, or let him sit out his the rest of his contract.  In my view they did the right thing by taking what they could for him.  If they’d sat on him and punished him, it would have become ever harder to recruit other youngsters.  The way players are treated is noted by coaches all over the world.

There were of course signs that he was an excellent player already, but he clearly had had enough of England and wanted to be back in his home country.  In such circumstances, the club did the decent thing.

Football.London says, the transfer in “August 2016 has proven to be a massive mistake,” but mistakes only happen when the club has a choice and could reasonably have been expected to do something else.

Of course it would have been better not to let the player go to WBA on loan – I’d say it is always best never to let a player near WBA and certainly never a good idea to try and do a deal with Tony Pulis.  We now know of course that in November 2016, Pulis was ordered by a high court judge to pay Crystal Palace £3.7 million for fraudulent misrepresentation.  That was not known at the time, and had it been Arsenal might have decided not to work with any club that was employing Pulis.

The next example in Football.London’s list is Emiliano Martinez who should not have been sold they claim.  And yet here again Martinez made it quite clear after his long run in the team he did not want to go back to being the deputy goalkeeper.  So a judgement had to be made between our two keepers and it was decided that Martinez had less experience, so he was sold for £20m.  Again what else should the club have done?

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The transfer of Olivier Giroud was also questioned – we got £18m for him and really was that so bad? Let’s look at what Chelsea got out of him.

Season  Chelsea Games Goals
2017–18 Premier League & all cup competitions 18 5
2018–19 Premier League & all cup competitions 45 13
2019–20 Premier League & all cup competitions 25 10
2020–21 Premier League & all cup competitions 23 11

The fact is that Giroud has not been a top scorer for Chelsea, and indeed apart from 2018/19 has not played that many games to warrant his big salary.

There is a broader point – curiously enough Arsenal does not have a crystal ball and cannot see what is going to happen.  Perhaps we could argue that Gnabry to Pulis was a silly move, although I don’t think anyone fully realised just how big Pulis’ deception could be, until it was revealed in the Palace court case.

But this is not enough for Football.London, and indeed it never is.  They say,  “It hasn’t just been player sales that have been questioned by Arsenal’s supporters and pundits, though. They have also been criticised for signing the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez for such high transfer fees and then not reaping the rewards with their performances on the pitch.”

How good or bad Mustafi was, is a matter of opinion.  I thought he was very good, and worth selecting for his 100 matches.  But once Mr Arteta came along and decided not to play him, of course his value declined.

He also played 11 times for Germany while he was with us.  Are we also saying that the selectors of the German national team are dumbos as well?

Players leave a club for various reasons: falling out with the manager, decline in form, there being another player for that position in the club who is even better, and (as in Arsenal’s case a lot of the time) a group of “fans” and newspaper columnists, picking on the player and making his life a misery.

I don’t say Arsenal are always innocent on this, and I don’t like the way players are pushed out sometimes because of disputes, rather than resolving the dispute.  As I said here, I didn’t like the treatment of Ozil, but I could understand why Wojciech Szczesny went after he confronted Mr Wenger.

The notion that Arsenal are so dumb that they are selling players for far less than they could get is stupid.  All clubs make mistakes, and all managers make mistakes, but to say that Arsenal have “sold £411.4million worth of talent for just £228.8million, meaning they have missed out on an additional cash boost of not too far off £200million,” is crazy.

If a player has fallen out with his manager, and wants to leave, his price drops because every other club knows that the player is pushing through a sale.  So the buying clubs look for a bargain, and hold on and wait.

If the paper wants to say “Gnabry was sold by the Gunners for just £4.5million and is now valued at £63million, which is a difference of £58.5million,” without taking circumstances into account then they ought to talk about Saka, Martinelli, Nelson, Nketiah, Bellerin, Holding and Smith Rowe.  Total cost £9m current value £125m.

Obviously Arsenal are not doing as well as many clubs, not least because we have had three managers in four years and they have all had their own ideas.  But this story in Football.London is just packed with errors and false tales, as well as being a piece that selects its own data to suit its anti-Arsenal message.

The media’s mistakes, misrepresentations, and misdemeanours and the bit they got right

3 comments to Are Arsenal really utterly hopeless at all transfers or is it the media that’s wrong?

  • King2

    Absolutely spot on. I have to commend you, being the only media outlet(they may be others that I am not aware of), that is pushing against these type of blatantly dishonest reports just to advance their anti-arsenal agenda. It’s easy to predict a slew of negative arsenal stories whenever the team and club has some positive coverage like a win or favourable transfer or recruitment. Just a cursory look at the alleged financial management in proper context, shows loss of value were totally in line with wins and losses in football’s financial jungle. I have no doubt in some instances, contracts and dealings were mismanaged, but not any worse than some contracts mismanagement you can pluck from almost any football club. The only thing it demonstrates, is that football clubs are often powerless to extract maximum reward for their investments. For the ‘report'(akin more to a negative anti-arsenal propaganda piece) to make the claim that the cited transfer dealing were egregious failure of the club is dishonest and utterly shameful. But why do they think they can write such utter nonsense with absolute impunity? Sadly, they know some of our fanbase love these kind of negative ‘reports’ as it is a trope for their cynicism. In fact, many of the claims would be used as evidence for indictment and conviction of the club as a group of incompetent fools. The counter argument you presented will be ignored, as they are only interested in failure and shortcomings.

  • Mikey

    I do love the way the media criticise us for “letting go” players like Gnabry and Martinez when it was quite clear that they were determined to leave the following summer. But they also criticise us if we keep players until the end of their contract and then have to let them go for free.

    These “journalists” are either incredibly stupid or incredibly biased against Arsenal. There is no other explanation for such an utterly ridiculous reporting of our sale of players.

  • Is Football.London a parody site? I have read 4 articles on there in the last couple of weeks, and wished that I hadn’t. Facts are under-represented and opinion is rampant and skewed. I won’t be going back.