Hey Big Spender! Be careful what you wish for, Arsenal fans
It was the only finish to the season Arsenal fans could hope for.
Having been told that Arsene Wenger had money to spend, but with the January transfer window not offering up the right players, the Gunners snaffled fourth place, the key to the promised land of the top bracket player. The club could offer Champions League football to potential signings this summer.
The papers, possibly sensed this, convinced fans that all sorts of players could be on their way to the Emirates. Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney, Etienne Capoue, Ashley Williams, Clement Grenier and Nani were all mentioned. Some rumours were more welcome than others (few Gooners would want Nani).
But the biggy seemed to be Higuain. The 25-year-old hotshot was mentioned in the price bracket of £20-25 million pounds. ‘Sign him up’ was the initial reaction, but as June grew old and July rolled over in the summer heat, Higuain’s price tag seems to have risen like the temperature. Fans grew weary of the constant rumours.
Arsenal fans should be careful, though. A trophy drought the length of which you won’t need to be reminded has always had one defence from the Emirates hierarchy: we’re running the club the right way.
There would be little satisfaction in spending £200 million for an FA Cup. You’ve come this far, do it properly.
Increase the wage structure and the budget gradually. The bulk of the team is good, and needs only squad depth and reinforcement in key areas, such as centre forward, defensive midfield and centre-back.
With the possibility of more experience in goal, those signings will reinvigorate the core of the team, and performance levels will probably increase as a result.
Striker always come at a premium, so money does need to be spent there. Perhaps splash out on Higuain, and spread the rest of the budget between QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar, Williams and Capoue, for example. And if Cesc is available then why not?
What shouldn’t be underestimated is the development of youth.
If the pre-season tour has shown anything, it’s that there’s some quality coming through the Gunners’ranks.
Chuba Akpom, Thomas Eisfeld, Serge Gnabry, Gedion Zelalem and Ignasi Miquel have shown promise, albeit they’ve not been up against the toughest opposition.
Still, there’s nothing more satisfying than creating your own talented players. The team needs the experience and stability if those players are to create careers at Arsenal.
Fans must remain patient, as it could prove costly if Wenger was to splash the cash on the wrong players.
The time for fantasy football has passed. There are others far more equipped for that. The club is at a crossroads and everything must be considered; the next three or four transfers could determine Arsenal’s short and long term future.