I heard through the grapevine; the vintage producing sort, that the Arsenal transfer budget next summer isn’t going to be what many of us had hoped for in the face of oligarchical cash rivers from seemingly flowing in from everywhere. The figure, similar to the number the AST is predicting, is closer to £30-40m, versus the £100m+ we were all hoping for with the new commercial deals about to drop.
Leaning into the Le Grove community, TR7 did some back-of-a-fag-packet numbers, and landed roughly on the number I’ve offered up.
‘As per unaudited 6 month financial statement ending Nov 2017, we had a cash reserve of 160M out of which 23M is in what AFC calls debt service reserve account, basically amount earmarked for stadium debt servicing. That leaves us with 137 M.
We spent around 70M in summer, so that’s 67M remaining. Now if we assume Arsenal’s net cash outflow from operating, investing and financing activities in FY 2018 and FY 2019 is similar to what it was in FY 2017, expect another 40M outflow from that kitty of 67M and we are left with cash balance in the range of 25-30M come March 2019.’
Let’s be honest here, that sort of money isn’t going to get us anywhere, but there are obvious reasons for the lack of cash.
Firstly, our wage bill is pushing £210m. That’s a staggering sum of money when you consider we’re not in the Champions League. That’s about £50m more than Atleti, x3 that of Dortmund, and £85m more than Spurs! Hoffenheim’s average salary is about £820k a year (£20m total)! If we don’t land Champions League, which is highly likely (and the appraisal of many at the club), we’re going to have to find some money to make up for the lack of elite goings on in our euro endeavours. Here are a few ideas.
First idea would be to lose expensive players off the wage bill. Lucky for us, there are a number of names who will be moving on next summer.
That’s a cool £22.5m back in coffers straight away. The issue here is at least 2 of the above players are going to need expensive replacements. Our left back position is incredibly weak, and we’re certainly missing an Aaron Ramsey like figure who can lead the press, that maybe has more technical ability than the Welshman. Left backs are hard to come by and if we’re sniffing around players like Chilwell or Sessegnon, we’re looking at mega cash. Finding a backup keeper doesn’t have to be expensive, and good scouting should unearth someone suitable. Lichtsteiner and Welbeck could be internal promotions (AMN, Nketiah and Reiss). Ideally, I’d love to throw £40m at Pepe, but maybe we can plug that gap with a loan for Dembele (Kike Marin still thinks this is a thing)?
The Transfer List:
For a variety of reasons, the players on the list below seem ripe for moving on.
- Kos £4.7m
- Kolasinac £6.2m
- Mikhi £4.7m
- Perez £4.1m
- Jenks £2m
- Chambers £2m
£33.2m in wages could be captured here if you can sell or come to a deal on buying out their final years.
Sell our ‘big’ names:
- Mustafi £4.7m £30m
- Xhaka £5.2m £60m
- Bellerin £5.2m £50m
Ok, ok, slim pickings here. Maybe I’m being aggressive with the fees. But for me, Bellerin is one of the best young right backs in the world and he’s got some of that Barca DNA, surely we can land a big fee for him? I’ve seen the spreadsheet virgins selling world class stats that Xhaka is, in fact, better than Jorginho. Well, the Brazilian cost Chelsea £57m. If Xhaka genuinely is that fucking amazing, don’t you think we could find better value for the sort of system we need to play? Couldn’t we find someone who is more mobile, can concentrate for a full 90minutes and give us more power (will Guendouzi eventually move him on)? I mean, I’d hope so. Mustafi cost us a fortune, it’s wishful thinking that we can recoup his fee back, but always remember, Spurs sold Bentaleb for £20m. #AnythingIsPossible
You could even include Ramsey in this section. I’m sure his agent was chipper about his client’s prospects 2 months ago, but now he’s stinking out north London and the Welsh team. He has zero form to speak of. If clubs are weighing up £200k a week, they’ll be sending scouts to check out how he’s playing and I doubt they’d be impressed. Will he really waste the next 7 months of his life picking up 10minutes here and there? He’s 28 in December. I’m totally making physiological assumptions based on parked cars, but if you don’t play regular football for a year, and you’re naturally injury prone, won’t that make you a big risk next season? Physios, let me know the deal.
Reshape our pay structure to be meritocratic:
The club is still reeling from the generous contracts Wenger dished out because he believed in the contradiction of sporting socialism. Arsenal have never used leverage in their dealings with Euro agents. Now we have a set of contract gurus who will fully adopt the dark arts.
Examples aplenty already. Lucas Torreira has changed the way we play, an immense signing, and he’s earning just £3.4m a year. Guendouzi is offering more than Jenks ever has and he’s earning £1.3m a year. Our #1 keeper is earning £2.6m p/a, that’s less than Almunia, and he’s already done more for us! I think we can let the Mikhi issue slide. We took a fee for the piano playing white elephant and needed a player who’d done it before. You can’t win them all.
Anyway, already you can see than Huss and Raul are trying to rebalance the way we pay players. I would imagine they pitch the city, the training facilities, the stadium and the chance to grow your career to the next level and don’t worry about offering premium wages. No doubt there are pay bumps, just not the 1000% ones we’ve been doling out for the last 10 years.
Rework the budgets
One of the most ridiculous things Ivan Gazidis allowed Wenger to do was take his combined yearly budget; which was salary and transfer fees, and spunk it all on bloated contracts leaving nothing for purchases. Arsenal should be operating a lower wage bill so they can spend more on players to bring in.
The strategy, it seems, is a Dortmund+ model. Buy in the cream of European youth (low wages), blended with some elite experience (reasonable wages).
Develop them, earn some success, sell the stars at x10, buy in even better youth, build even more success, grow commercials with the end game of not needing to be a selling club.
Jurgen Klopp recently spoke of why he was pleased about the Mane deal.
“It shows the change the club has made in the last few years. A few seasons ago players at the peak of their careers thought they had to leave the club to take the next step but now the boys believe they can achieve their ambitions here.”
The only players who want to end their careers at Arsenal are those aren’t wanted elsewhere or know that we’re the best deal in town. I think we need to be realistic about where Arsenal are and where we want to be. We’re not going to be Champions League finalists anytime soon, but we want to buy in players who want to achieve that. Up the ambition, up the talent, build a side over time that can eventually afford to keep elite talent around because we’re challenging.
Spend according to future earnings:
Stan K tends to live in a vacuum of one season at a time when it comes to Arseanl spending. If he wanted to, we could spend against 3 seasons worth of Premier League money and it wouldn’t be a big deal. That’s speculating, and if you can say anything for sure, it’s that Arsenal haven’t speculated well for years and it’s cost us big time. You only have to look back to the time we baulked on Suarez for £55m, only to see him go the next summer for £70m, or the Hig, who we shit the bed at over £30m, only to see him go to Juve for a monster £80m. There is value in speculating when you find talent. De Ligt and De Jong spring to mind as two that’ll have 12-year careers at the top, why couldn’t we sign them? Two players who’d absolutely have sell-on value.
This post isn’t suggesting we sell the whole squad, it’s merely offering up ideas of how we can aggressively free up money this summer, restructure our wage bill, and bring in a new batch of highly capable players that will build on what we’ve already done.
That, I’d imagine, is the Arsenal 5-year plan.
See you in the comments.