Why one particular club is finding it hard to buy or sell this summer.



By Tony Attwood

As we all know, after coming second in 2015/16 Arsenal ended their glorious run of consecutive years in the Champions League – a run that exceeded any other club in Europe except Real Madrid.

And we also know of course that this run didn’t contain endless Premier League trophies – we won the league three times and the FA Cup seven times in the Wenger years, and then finally dropped out of the top four, and indeed subsequently twice sank as low as eighth.

But the club did not collapse financially, even though many people turned on the owners and demanded more and more and more spending on players.   The club merely went backwards, had four years in the Europa League followed by just one year (last season of course) with no European games.   And now it seems we are on the way back.

And my point here is that disappointing though slipping backwards is, it can happen to most clubs, but  the successful clubs not only minimise the chance of slipping backward, they also have processes ready to regroup.

Arsenal have not always had this.  In 1970/1 we did the double and the following season were cup runners’-up and 5th in the league.  In 1972/3 we were runners-up in the league.

So three really good seasons but then collapse – 10th in 1973/4, then 16th, then 17th.  We did cling on, but anyone who watched Arsenal in the latter days of Mee will know it was a disaster.  Not only were we likely to be relegated, Mee’s plan was to cut the squad to 18, and get rid of the youth teams (what we would not call the academy).   Thankfully he moved on before he could achieve this.

And it isn’t just Arsenal that can take a tumble.   In ten of the last 15 seasons at least one of the “big six” hasn’t finished up in the top six spots but eventually has bounced back – as indeed Arsenal now has after two seasons of finishing eighth.

However no club has actually managed to break in on a permanent basis – although Newcastle with the Saudi Arabian money is clearly going to have a go, and the big six may become the bix seven.

But over recent years Leicester City has been talked up as a Big Club, and of course they have won the league, and the FA Cup.   But now this season, they are the only club in the Premier League yet to make a signing this summer – and the word is they have to sell players before they can buy

Their problem is they antagonised the rest of the league with their tackling strategy, and although the media would not touch the story, after we started investigating things changed (see links below).   They then tried another trick – this with penalties.  Once again, we investigated, and once again, following our revelations things changed.   Of course in each case that was a coincidence, but still getting in with the story before PGMO picked up on what was happening was good.

But now there is only a matter of 20 or so days before the season starts and Leicester have bought no one.  

Now although the media only touches on this occasionally, everyone in football knows what is going on – just as they did when they were watching Leicester ratchet up more penalties than ever before and get in more tackles without fouls being called than ever before.   And it is the “everyone knowing” thing that is making Leicester come unstuck.

For example, it is widely circulated that Arsenal would like Youri Tielemans.  But the story is put out that the problem in the transfer is Arsenal’s: Arsenal have too many players and have to sell before they can buy.

It’s a clever bit of propaganda but quite untrue – as our analysis of next season’s 25 players at Arsenal has shown.  We’re very comfortably on track, and could readily bring in another player not least with players going on loan if needed.  Besides the treatment of Ozil and Aubameyang has shown Arsenal are not to be messed with these days.  The club would sooner freeze out a player than be held to ransom: a player being difficult about leaving knows what the alternative can be.

But Leicester are not in this position and the big six or seven (inc Newcastle) know it.  They need to sell, and don’t have the resources nor the balance of the FFP books which allows them to buy without selling.  Worse for Leicester, Tielemans knows what’s what as well.  He wants to play in Europe but Leicester have shown that they don’t have the resources to mount a constant challenge.  Since winning the league they have come 12th, 9th, 9th, 5th, 5th, 8th.  That doesn’t look like the basis of a rebuild but a decline.  Meanwhile Schmeichel, Boubakary, Soumare, Jannik Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand could all go – but all the buyers are holding back, sensing Leicester having a real need to sell.

And because no one is bidding Leicester are starting to offer some of the players they would like to keep, just to get the money in.  And still the rich clubs won’t break ranks.  For they know Leicester don’t have the resources, and holding back will mean lower prices, or even financial difficulty for the club.

The memory of the way Leicester manipulated the system of tackles, cards and yellow cards is still there, and it looks like the rest of the clubs really are not going to help them, now they have fallen into a bit of a hole.

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