Arsenal’s Transfer Strategies: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Arsenal’s transfer policy sure is an enigma. It’s hard to find a coherent strategy in the club’s recruitment.

To be fair, there has been a lot of movement in and out of the club hierarchy over the past few years; Sven Mislintat disappeared as mysteriously as he appeared; Raul Sanllehi was caught with his hand (and his friends’ hands) in the cookie jar; now Edu has taken up the mantle of technical director in a landscape bereft of numerous scouts that were made redundant.

This, of course, is disappointing in and of itself. Regardless of the movements of players in and out of the team, a club’s executive staff should remain consistent. They must work in tandem to achieve the goals desired by both the club and the fans.

It was thought that the appointment of Edu Gaspar to technical director would help ease the way into a brighter future, a future distanced from the transfer problems of the past.

Arsenal and their bemusing transfer strategies

While Alexis Sanchez was allowed to run down his contract – with Arsenal receiving next to nothing (sorry Micky) for his move – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was rightly awarded a new contract before the club was put in the same position. Aubameyang’s contract extension was lauded as brilliant business at the time.

This rosy window, however, was marred by the William Saliba catastrophe. A young player deemed not good enough for the first team was also not allowed to go on loan, presumably due to paperwork not being submitted in time. Six months later, Saliba has been shunted off to Nice.

While that is good news for both player and club, one cannot help but wonder how much his development was damaged by languishing in the Under-23s.

Willian’s signing looks worse and worse by the day. Arsenal have a knack for signing old, past-their-prime players, especially rejects from local rivals (looking at you David Luiz and Petr Cech).

Granted, Luiz has not been as disastrous as Willian, the underlying problem remains the same: old players with their best behind them should not be given new contracts. And what does Willian’s signing and Nicolas Pepe‘s subsequent fall in the competition for a starting berth mean for our club record-signing? At best, we sell him for half of what we got him for?

Is that really the best use of resources for a club with dwindling resources and near-empty coffers? I, like many of you, don’t think so. Two steps forward, one step back.