By Sir Hardly Anyone
When Arsene Wenger first came to Arsenal in 1996 he bought in four players. Indeed such was the oddity of Mr Wenger taking over the club but staying to see out his contract in Japan, some of the players arrived before he did.
Those four were Patrick Vieira, Nic Anelka, John Lukic and Remi Garde.
In his second season he brought in Overmars, Petit, Grimandi, Upson, Boa Morte, Manninger, Mendez: seven players. Grimandi was a bit of a special case, being Mr Wenger’s ears in the dressing room, who then subsequently did sterling service as our chief scout and negotiator in France for many years.
So that was 11 in the first two seasons.
In the third season it was Kanu, Freddie Ljungberg, Diawara, and Vivas. Four more making 15 in three seasons.
When Mr Arteta joined he purchased, in 2020, Thomas Partey, Gabriel, Pablo Mari, Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson, Cédric Soares, Willian, which makes six players. In 2021 he has bought Ben White, Martin Ødegaard, Aaron Ramsdale, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Nuno Tavares. That is five more. Which makes 11, the same as Mr Wenger in his two seasons.
When Unai Emery was at Arsenal he brought in Denis Suarez, Lichsteiner, David Luiz, Dani Ceballos, Nicola Pepe, Sokratis, Kiernan Tierney, William Saliba, Lucas Torreira, Bernd Leno, Matteo Guendouzi, and Gabriel Martinelli. 12 players.
So from the summer of 2018 to the summer of 2021 (to confirm, just three years) we have purchased 23 players, which I think is an all time Arsenal record for a three year period. Certainly beats Mr Wenger’s 15.
Now there is a problem, because with 23 players bought in three seasons if more are needed those not wanted have to be unloaded (and as I have said before I really hope they don’t just put players out to grass again – the damage that does to the club’s reputation on the international stage is huge.)
And if the craziest situation of all happens, and Mr Arteta is sacked, then the new manager will want to bring in his players. So if Mr Arteta goes mid-season, as Mr Emery was dismissed, who would want to take over the job, knowing that he would have to get rid of a lot of players if he wanted to bring in his own, or simply have players picking up huge salaries without playing – which means more damage to the club?
But meanwhile the club is being undermined by a lot of comments by a lot of ex-footballers who, in need of a bit of publicity, are encouraged to say outrageously negative things. And yet when we look at it, a team certainly is coming together. What has happened is simply that we have hardly had a chance yet for them to get to know each other, particularly with Gabriel and White not playing and Auba and Lacazette still only regaining full fitness after their encounter with Covid.
Will we really bring in any more players? Hardly any new names have emerged to add to our list of 134 players tipped to be coming in this summer, so maybe the media have got it totally wrong. Whoever has heard of such a thing. Will they apologise? No I doubt it.
Certainly the rumours seem as odd as ever. Houssem Aouar, the midfield player from Lyon for example: do we really need another? The rumour of him coming won’t go away however.
At least I always admit I find the situation confusing and unlikely and thus our mistakes are slightly forgivable. Sky however never apologies and never explains. Take this for example under the headline “Key Ins”…
Nuno Tavares – Benfica, undisclosed
Albert Sambi Lokonga – Anderlecht, £15m
Ben White – Brighton, £50m
Martin Odegaard – Real Madrid, undisclosed
Aaron Ramsdale – Bournemouth, £30m including add-ons
Now maybe Ramsdale did go back to Bournemouth, but my information pack suggests that he was registered with Sheffield United until 2017, but didn’t play for them. Then went to Bournemouth from 2017 to 2020 including loan spells with Chesterfield and AFC Wimbledon before signing for Sheffield United for the 2020/21 season, and then moving to Arsenal.
And just in case Ramsdale went back to Bournemouth and was only on loan at Sheffield United I looked that up. But no, on 19 August 2020, Ramsdale signed for Sheffield United for around £18.5 million on a four year deal.
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