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This is only the 8th most expensive Arsenal transfer window in the last 10 years.

By Sir Hardly Anyone (and an abacus)

“Arsenal [are] paying price for Mikel Arteta’s disastrous £140million spending spree”.

“Why are Arsenal not spending despite having £400m in reserves?”

Those quotes emerged just four years apart.  If Arsenal spend a lot then it is a “spree” suggesting it is done without care.  If they spend little then the alternative complaint above is heard.   And I am sure that AFTV and its followers remember their own constant cries of “spend some fucking money”.

But just how much do Arsenal spend?  Is it a massive amount, or a tiny amount?

It is always possible to spot an interesting question when the national media ignore an obvious need for data, so we decided to do the research for them.

Putting the actual cost in millions of pounds is easy.  Sources vary a little but we’ve taken the figures from TransferMarkt throughout and you can go further through that link.

But before the figures there is the issue of all player prices going up all the time.  A bit like house prices in England, transfer fees rise year on year.  Occasionally there might be a year where they go down a little or stagnate, but normally they go up.

Now the excellent Football Observatory website (who, if you are a regular reader, you will know we often laud for its excellent coverage and scientific analysis, which sets it apart from the dodos who scribble for our newspapers) tells us that “Since 2014, the annual inflation growth rate on the transfer market for big-5 league footballers has been 26%”

Which in fact means that if the club spent £100m one summer it would need to spend £126m to get the same level of players next season.   So we’ve taken the past decade, recorded how much we spent each summer and then worked out in the last column what that would be in equivalent cost today.  We’ve assumed that the figure from 2013 to 2014 was the same rate of inflation, but you can ignore that last line if you think this is not so.

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Season Spent Inflation adjusted price spent
2021/22 £132.3m
2020/21 £76.50m £96.39m
2019/20 £144.36m £229.19m
2018/19 £72.14m £144.30m
2017/18 £137.57m £346.74m
2016/17 £101.74m £323.10m
2015/16 £23.85m £95.74m
2014/15 £107.48m £332.40m
2013/14 £34.3m £217.90m
2012/13 £50.4m £403.42m

First, even without taking player cost inflation into account at the moment of writing (1630 on 31 August 2021 this has not been the most expensive window, nor even the second most expensive window.  Of course by the time you have read this we might have caught up a little, but if so it won’t be by much.

But that calculation does not take into player cost inflation, and indeed if all we did year on year was spend the same amount of money, we’d find in a few years that our expenditure would buy us little more than a handful of League Two players.

In the past nine years the cost of Premier League players has risen by just over 700%.  So yes, if we are to keep up year on year we should be spending more.   As it is, Arsenal, at the moment of writing have only spend a third of what Mr Wenger spent in 2014/15 when adjusted for player price inflation.

Now of course player price inflation at 26% can’t go on forever, as eventually it will be more than the entire gross domestic product of the United Kingdom.

But just to get this right, even if we don’t take into account that the cost of Premier League players is rising by 26% a year this is not the most expensive year in the last nine – two seasons exceed that.

Yet at the same time a spending money the Mirror says that “Arsenal get embarrassed by their players’ performances and by their own inability to sign people. and that happens quite a lot in fact.”

As ever there is no comparison with what happens in other clubs nor any independent verification of the accusations they make.

The latest apparent case of embarrassment comes with Maitland-Niles trying to force a move out of the club – something that perhaps might backfire on him, if Mr Arteta can’t find a willing buyer, but now doesn’t want him in the squad.  A place in the no-man’s-land that Ozil visited beckons.

And interestingly there is nothing (in the reports I have seen) which tells us what goes on with the Maitland Niles family – remembering all the furore that arose when apparently Mrs Maitland-Niles (ie the young man’s mother) marched up to Mr Wenger and told him how to run his team.

Now that episode was never independently verified, nor do we know that AMN actually posted the comment at the heart of the storm.  There might be some teacups involved.   (Teacups, storm… oh never mind).

Anyway, using proper accounting and proper maths this is our 8th most expensive transfer window in the last 10 years.

The proof that something is seriously wrong with football refereeing and reporting

4 comments to This is only the 8th most expensive Arsenal transfer window in the last 10 years.

  • Chris

    This is just the ‘spend’ figure, not the ‘net spend’ ?

    Wanna bet someone is going to come out slinging against the owners because they are not spending enough ?!?

  • Steve-0

    There has not been 700% inflation since 2012. The Inflation rate over the past 10 years is 25.18%.

  • David Collings

    Steve-O – Sir Hardly Anyone is saying the value of annual player cost inflation and not UK general inflation (which could be about right at 25.18 over that timeframe)
    The reference Sir Hardly used was “Since 2014, the annual inflation growth rate on the transfer market for big-5 league footballers has been 26%. With respect to 2011, the same player costs now almost three times more” – You can argue over individual valuations then and now eg Grealish & Lukaku being £100m players this window compared with say (peak) Ozil in September 2013 for £42m – I would argue that Ozil (at the time) would be £100m valuation now in today’s prices

  • Steve-0

    Still calling shenanigans here, David. If player inflation had gone up 700%, we’re arguing that Mesut Ozil would have cost a little over 290 million today? That’s ludicrous, especially considering that Ozil was nowhere near the absolute top money in the transfer market. A comparable player right now probably doesn’t go for more than 60-70 million (Havertz level), which isn’t even a 100% increase. The idea that player costs have increased 700% in the past decade I’d ridiculous.

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