Are Arsenal about to buy another shedload of players? Or just sell Auba?

By Tony Attwood

Allegedly, in the summer of 2007, Arsene Wenger described Arsenal as a club that “makes superstars”, rather than buying them.  At least that is what a wide range of media outlets say.

Then, in March 2020, Daniel Levy commented that external perceptions of transfers can be different to the facts and also to what a manager might wish to do…. “Spurs is a club that makes superstars. Jose Mourinho wants to bring in players who give everything for the club because they recognise the opportunity.”

So was Levy just copying an old Wengerian saying?

Well, not necessarily because although the first reference I can find to the phrase “a club that makes superstars” is indeed in 2007, the quote only turns up in one place, in ArsenalFCBlog in an article on “The Arsenal Policy on Buying Players”.  And although there is a link that leads to, that leads to a dead page.  In fact, there is nothing at all on the Arsenal site that involves this phrase.  Nor in fact anywhere on the internet – other than with the Tottenham quote.

Besides although the Telegraph assigns this comment to Wenger, saying “In the summer of 2007, Arsene Wenger described Arsenal as a club that “makes superstars”, rather than buying them,” the quote just doesn’t sound at all Wengerian.  That is not how Wenger spoke in English.  

Meanwhile there is a lot of talk about our players’ ages, and this is quite interesting.  The data below is derived from that provided by Transfer Market…   The players whose contract runs out this coming June are shown in bold.

Player Age Contract Market value
Aubameyang 32 June 30, 2023
Lacazette 30 June 30, 2022
Soares 30 June 30, 2024
Leno 29 June 30, 2023
Elneny 29 June 30, 2022
Xhaka 29 June 30, 2024
Partey 28 June 30, 2025
Kolasinac 28 June 30, 2022
Mari 28 June 30, 2024
Chambers 26 June 30, 2022
Pepe 26 June 30, 2024
Holding 26 June 30, 2024
Tierney 24 June 30, 2026
Maitland Niles 24 June 30, 2023
White 24 June 30, 2026
Gabriel 24 June 30, 2025
Ramsdale 23 June 30, 2025
Tomiyasu 23 June 30, 2025
Odegaard 23 June 30, 2025
Nketiah 22 June 30, 2022
Lokonga 22 June 30, 2026
Tavares 21 June 30, 2025
Smith Rowe 21 June 30, 2026
Martinelli 20 June 30, 2024
Balogun 20 June 30, 2025
Saka 20 June 30, 2024
Okonkwo 20 June 30, 2024

Now there is constant talk about the players Arsenal need to bring in to keep the progress going, but it is also a fact that as the Telegraph points out, the last Arsenal accounts showed a loss of £47.8m, and that included paying off 50 people who were made redundant.

Many of these were from the old talent-spotting team who have been replaced by the new analytics team that watch players on video and collect data on speed, heart rate, attentiveness etc.  

Meanwhile, the Kroenke family has said that financial support will be given to Arsenal, which is good.  But it must also be remembered that all of the Kroenke companies are sports companies and most of these have been badly hit by the pandemic.

So what Arsenal are doing is borrowing money in the hope that Arteta’s redevelopment programme brings more trophies.  And certainly, his case was not harmed by the winning of the FA Cup, and the dramatic turnaround from Christmas Day onward last season.

Some players have gone, such as Ozil, Mustafi, David Luiz and Sokratis and what fills the club with hope is that the next dividend will be a return to the Champions League.

Whether there is more money available we’ll see, but even if not, we’ve got to fourth with what we have.  Yes Tottenham could overtake us with their games in hand and yes they are matching us across the last ten games.  But…

But their fixtures this season have been a little odd.  We’ve noted before how of their 18 games played, 10 have been at home and given a 70% win rate.  Away from home they’ve played eight, and won three of those – a 38% win rate.

And when we come to look at games against the traditional “big six” we find that Arsenal have played six, three at home, three away.

Date Match Res Score Competition
22 Aug 2021 Arsenal v Chelsea L 0-2 Premier League
28 Aug 2021 Manchester City v Arsenal L 5-0 Premier League
26 Sep 2021 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 3-1 Premier League
20 Nov 2021 Liverpool v Arsenal L 4-0 Premier League
2 Dec 2021 Manchester United v Arsenal L 3-2 Premier League
1 Jan 2022 Arsenal v Manchester City L 1-2 Premier League

Now our results have been pretty shocking – just the one win (against Tottenham) but when we look at Tottenham’s record they have not only played only five such games, and all of them save the game against Arsenal were at home.  And they still only won one, and drew one.

Date Match Res Score Competition
15 Aug 2021 Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City W 1-0 Premier League
19 Sep 2021 Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea L 0-3 Premier League
26 Sep 2021 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur L 3-1 Premier League
30 Oct 2021 Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United L 0-3 Premier League
19 Dec 2021 Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool D 2-2 Premier League

So I am not saying that Arsenal are better by dint of a better performance against the rest of the “big six” – clearly not, but rather that even though Tottenham’s record is one draw better than ours, they have had the benefit of playing 80% of these games at the Unsponsored Stadium, plus the majority of their league games at home.

Put all this together and I think the management will feel we are doing fine.  As a result, the most likely transfer this window, will be the sale of Auba.