Arsenal spent a record outlay in the previous summer to bring in six players who were, at the time, criticised for being ‘backup’ additions who wouldn’t help the first team.
That ultimately proved to be a grave miscalculation, but the important point was the overall sum of money spent: somewhere in the region of £150m.
Now, the Kroenke family don’t know much about football. Perhaps next to nothing, if not actually nothing. But even Josh must have been aware that the players Arsenal signed weren’t prestigious names from the top clubs in Europe.
While it’s disingenuous rationale to have, spending £50m on a central defender who finished 16th in the Premier League the season prior can look questionable from an optics point of view. Especially for those not especially clued in. The point remained, however, that Mikel Arteta got the money he desired and spent it on who he wanted.
Mikel Arteta’s underrated Arsenal quality is key to Edu and the club securing vital transfers in the January transfer window – and beyond
In whatever way the finances arrived, he also acquired the funds needed to activate Thomas Partey’s £45m release clause on deadline at the end of his first full campaign in charge. That deal came less than a month after he was promoted to ‘manager’ from ‘head coach’.
Going through some abysmal spells on the pitch while in charge he’s also also barely been under any noticeable pressure. Of course, results were atrocious and demanded improvement, but at no stage was it ever felt he was near the brink.
His power of persuasion coupled with a natural ability to instill belief in others in unquestionable.
All of which filters through into transfers. One can imagine KSE funded the previous summer’s spending partly due to a degree of desperation, knowing without investment the club would slip further afield. But it was Arteta they entrusted to oversee that, and Arteta who is taking flights out to Denver days before a training camp in Dubai to set the record straight.
No phone call. He jetted off to America for face-to-face talks with Stan Kroenke to either demand, or inform, the owner of what he needs to continue with the next phase of this build up.
Arteta’s hidden strength of loosening the purse strings of the club’s billionaire owners is an underrated quality of his. Any manager who can twist a powerful man’s arm into investing money on athletes in a sport he, nor many around him, know anything about has already proven to be key during his tenure, and will be again in the January window.
If it is Alexander Isak and his £76m release clause that he wants, there is little reason to believe he can’t convince Stan that this 22-year-old is worth the outlay. Whether he cajoles or not, that power to persuade is something many managers would like a piece of.
While it helps that they are wealthy in the first place, Arteta is extracting all he can from that with the purchases made, and those still to come. One need only see the situation with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – not involved in the Dubai trip – where he could be left to rot on the sidelines for six months or be moved out on loan with only a fraction of his wages being paid elsewhere. Few would back him on that front.
That level of communication is important. Arteta has it.