Why Arsenal’s transfer approach might actually be bad news

Date published: Thursday 1st August 2019 2:27

Dani Ceballos Arsenal

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Arsenal’s transfer approach might actually be bad news
The conventional wisdom is that Arsenal are playing a blinder in eking out the maximum possible transfer results with their relatively meagre budget.  However if they stagger their transfer payments in instalments across multiple seasons, aren’t they essentially hamstringing their transfer budgets for subsequent seasons?  All those instalments for all their transfers will surely add up and eat into the budgets of future seasons.

Instead of taking one or two seasons of pain, they are consigning themselves to small transfer budgets for however many seasons it takes to pay off their instalment plans.  I’m not sure that’s the best strategic approach given most sellers would want most of the transfer fee paid up front, they surely can’t rely on their being a seller like Lille every season who is willing to accept incremental payments.
Andrew (then again, maybe ist normal?  What do I know)


A wistful look back on holidays past

I’m sitting on a lakeside in Italy, spending far too much time hoping for news of Maguire, Dybala, Fernandes, Ben Yedder and countless others imminently joining Man Utd, and have found myself wishing for days past.

I have very fond memories of being on holiday in 2003 and reading the back pages of the paper every day to get the latest scoop. It was the year of the Ronaldinho saga and Eidur Gudjohnsen seemed to be perpetually on the verge of signing. You’d read the gossip with your breakie, put down the paper and wait excitedly for the next day’s paper.

Having a dad who insisted on waiting for the Irish papers to arrive in France made the return home doubly enticing, as you’d have two days of fluff to catch up on. Later that summer I went on scout camp for a week, and listened to the charity shield commentary on the radio coming home that afternoon. I found out that united had signed some fella named Ronaldo for a small fortune, but I’d never even heard of him (let alone watched techno-laden YouTube videos of him).

It was a simpler time, and I miss it. And yes, I’m fully aware that the only thing standing between me and recapturing those days is a little self-control on the olde phone usage, but I’m pathetic on that front so it’s a non-starter.

Anyone else have fond memories of transfer sagas of yore?

All the best,


Excited by Chelsea
It’s so heartening to read the odd email from Chelsea fans feeling quietly excited by the new season. That’s exactly how I feel. I think we are not talked about much among the noise generated by Spurs, Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool fans, because we are having a very un-Chelsea-like pre-season.

. Not a big name foreign manager. People are expecting Frank Lampard to fail because he’s young, raw and hasn’t quite had runaway success at Derby. Yet what he has done is learn the ropes, actually done reasonably well in a very competitive division, and all this while playing quite good football with young players. He’ll have the support of all the fans, no questions, but we also expect to see some competence there. The signs are that he does have that level of competence. Of course, time will tell but we are optimistic and that is the main thing right now.

. Looking at our players, we do have an interesting first XI, good reserve players which give us a lot of flexibility in how we play:

. First XI (4-2-3-1 which may be Lampard’s preferred formation): Kepa – Azpi, Zouma, Rudiger, Emerson – Kanté, Jorginho – Pulisic, Willian, Pedro – Giroud

Reserve XI: Caballero – Zappacosta, Luiz, Christensen, Alonso – Drinkwater, Kovacic – Mount, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek – Batshuayi

OK so the first big issue is our strikeforce, there’s no denying that.

Note that finally Alonso has gone from the first XI, Kanté is finally restored to his best position. Pulisic can play like Hazard, i.e. centrally or on either side of the attack.

We do have good backup in central defence (Christensen, Luiz), central midfield (Kovacic, Drinkwater), and Ross Barkley and Bakayoko do have something to prove.

Hudson-Odoi is injured now but will be an interesting option in attack when he returns – perhaps dislodging Giroud. I don’t get the disparaging comments about Batshuayi, he’s actually a solid back-up striker. Loftus-Cheek will also add interesting options and enable Frank to deviate from his 4-2-3-1.

All in all, yes, sure, our attack is not what it was and is clearly inferior to City’s, Liverpool’s and Spurs’. Giroud and Batshuayi will not strike fear into the opposition’s defences.

Still, it’s a good, solid, Chelsea squad that looks actually better than the sum of its parts. Most of these players know each other pretty well, many are winners, and there is a good mix of young, hungry players and others with something to prove. Our goals will come from midfield, with Giroud in a role like he has with France, i.e. not scoring but winning headers and bringing others into shooting and scoring positions.

. A good technical team: Petr Cech looks like a solid guy, not prone to rash judgements and I believe will be a good sounding board for Frank. As for Jody Morris, well, who knew he’d be a good coach? He’s worked really well in the Chelsea Academy. But more importantly, he’ll definitely regard Frank as his more mature, senior boss, which is good as an older, more seasoned assistant coach might not have had the same respect for Frank.

Overall, the expectations are low(-ish), the team is new, there’s a feeling of being up-against-it (thanks to the transfer ban) – the only way is up! I reckon Stamford Bridge will be a great place to be a fan this season.
Mike, CFC


A heartfelt thanks
Just wanted to say thank you so much. To F365 for publishing the mail in the first place and to you the readers, which makes this site so damn special.

You only published this morning’s mailbox around 90 minutes ago and I’ve been keeping an eye on Lola’s fund page. I’m utterly overwhelmed with the generosity that’s being shown by you bunch of lovely readers.

I’m crying as I write this. So thankful. Truly.
Somerset Dave xx

(MC: Here is that link again…)


What an incredibly touching email.

Thank you,


Pochettino and Spurs
Dear Editor.

Just my thoughts on an article from Seb re Spurs, “Pochettino wins the PR battle, but never the Tottenham war”..

Firstly, I think Levy and Poch are working the transfer market as feasibly as possible with the finances and wage structure available. Don’t forget the big new shinny stadium is to be paid for, and our top player earns roughly half that of the massively effectual Sanchez does an Man Utd.. There is no oil money and there is no sugar daddy (that’s willing to cough up, Joe..) to finance exorbitant fees for players who don’t suit the system and work ethic that the manager demands from his TEAM. And I capitalise the word team because that’s has been the essence of the clubs recent successful (if still trophy-less..) recent years. Establishing a top 6 -8 team as regular champions league participants (and a CL final!) is a fantastic achievement regarding the financial restrictions imposed on a relative level to other clubs in the top 6. And that is both down to the chairman and manager/head coach.

Poch wants a certain profile of player and Levy tries to deliver said player for a reasonable price and wages. If not possible, then a secondary target who fits the profile is pursued, which may take up until close to the ending of the transfer window. An inability to tie up deals for Sessegnon should be associated with Fulham’s huge demands for a championship player with 12 months left on his contract, and the Los Celso situation is possibly a negotiation tactic from Levy to obtain the best possible price for his club/company. Why pay over the odds if you have to??

Sebs comment, “Yet his press conferences have been characterised by curt answers, most often in response to benign questions which – under normal circumstances – he would just volley painlessly away.” I think he’s just deflecting from questions that have been asked an abundance of times to him all throughout preseason. During preseason it’s all journalists ask, are you signing player A, is player B being sold? I’d get fed up with being asked the same bloody questions every day in work..

Surely more poignant questions should be how far along is the development of Troy Parrot this year? Has Oliver Skipp impressed enough to be given a bigger role in the first team next season. Do you think Foyth has the sufficient quality to play as a right back this season? Do you think Tanganga impressed enough during games against Juve, Bayern etc to be considered good enough 4h choice back-up centre half for Verthonghen, Alderweirald (assuming he stays..) and Davinson Sanchez?

I have no doubt Pochettino would have consulted in the youth team Development – John MDermmott, Chief Scout – Steve Hitchin and of course Daniel Levy – Chairman/Overlord about the makeup of the squad well before preseason.

I think the media’s views about Poch’s short, temperamental answers are more to do with him just being fed up with being asked the same things about transfers and contacts. Sure he would like to shift a couple of players (N’koudou, Onomah, Carter-Vickers – the latter two I would expect championship level), yes he would like to sign replacements of a better standard but as a coach I think he will get the best out of the squad he has, no doubt. Maybe Levy will give him a marquee signing on the last day of the window, a foreign superstar like Dyballa arriving in on a helicopter, but I’m not holding my breath. Jim Whyte from SSN would wet himself.. Anyway

I honestly can’t wait for the transfer window to ‘slam shut!’. Let’s get back to playing some actual football with settled, registered squads.


Bit late seeing it but I enjoyed reading SebSB’s piece on Levy. He’s spot on – well if my Spurs Twitter is anything to go by – in that we’re absolutely divided about Daniel Levy.

Let’s start on what we all agree on. The stadium is absolutely magnificent. The training ground by all accounts too. Swiss Ramble produced incredible analysis on the different way we are run and to summarise – what it showed is that Spurs re-invest into infrastructure more than anyone else, and basically buy cheap and sell high. The commercial side of the club has also grown dramatically. The Nike and AIA deals are proof of that. However, the Swiss Ramble piece also highlighted that ENIC, after buying the club for a song nearly 20 years ago and stabilising it, haven’t put a penny into the club since. It’s all re-investment of revenue and that’s an important distinction.

What Spurs fans don’t agree on is Levy’s transfer policy, particularly when observing rivals. Never has this been more important than now. We have one foot on Arsenal’s jugular and are wondering whether to take it off, give them a hand up, say no hard feelings and tell them to have a jolly good day. Arsenal have woken up, and in the absence of their own owner reaching into their pocket – are taking a last throw of the dice using instalment payments across multiple deals and a loan to eke every last bit of value out of their budget in order to get top4. Spurs ‘seemingly’ – and this is where the frustration lies – are happy to play loose with the £100m revenue that the CL brought us to rigidly stick with the policy that has worked so well … to date. [From a pure commercial perspective it is maddening they can’t see this as a gigantic unnecessary gamble].

This is Pochettino’s problem too. We lost 20 games last season and the squad is even more threadbare than before. Another hashtag going around this summer was #dontselldannyrose – a player with us for a dozen years, and who is brilliant, passionate and still at his peak – yet the club wanted to sell him. Absolute madness. Sir Alex Ferguson kept these types on. Levy sees the price of everything and the value of nothing. If he was past it, fine – but in football / sporting terms (kind of important?!) – Sessegnon would be an immediate and obvious downgrade. Long term – an upgrade – but come on!!! To summon the words of Pochettino, now is the time to act like a big club. If it weren’t all about money, we wouldn’t have let Dembele go for a few quid in the midst of a midfield injury crisis in our weakest department. Toby and Eriksen are definitely leaving. They have been underpaid for so long so will be evens for walking out for nothing with massive signing-on fees, and who could blame them. So why not pay for Lo Celso now, guarantee top4 and have a chance to play a stronger team in the domestic cups for a season? We all agree – I think – that the Premier League and the Champions League are priorities but it was no less annoying to see the line-up against Palace in the FA Cup and immediately thinking that we’ve decided to chuck it.

So, I agree with the #ENICOUT sentiment. Now the stadium and training ground are built, what else is there left to do? We are so obviously being lined up to being sold to an American billionaire with an NFL franchise. Problem is, it’s not exactly panning out too well down the road is it. Better the devil you know?
Dave (General Levy – Incredible), Winchester Spurs


Loan signings
Great article by Matt Stead on loan signings, but surely Wolves greatest ever loanee is Raul Jimenez. He was on loan until April last year, meaning he scored 12 Premier League goals (highest ever (assuming football started in 1992) for a Wolves player) as a loanee.
John Collins (That’s right, I just used double brackets). Wolves, London

P.S. This mail still doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven you for leaving Gibbs-White out of the ’Five young players making a case in pre-season’ piece.


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