Arsenal announced this week the release of Andre Arshavin, Sebastien Squillaci and the mutual termination of Denilson’s contract.
Now, Arsenal are once again linked with 19-year-old Freiburg midfielder Matthias Ginter and whilst some news outlets are reporting this in a negative way that asserts manager Arsene Wenger will not be bringing in ‘big names’ this summer, I have outlined my belief that this is not the case.
What I believe this means for Arsenal fans is that their manager and their board are taking strong decisive action over the future of the club.
This term has been something of a breaking point, a point of no return when once again Arsenal sold their best player and captain for the second year in succession and once again failed to win any silverware.
What these knew signings hint at is, firstly, the manager and the club’s realization that their transfer policy and youth policy is not working and hasn’t been working for several years.
Secondly, upon this admission, it shows a real willingness to change that policy which no longer serves them and their ‘cull’ of players both at senior and youth level shows the club will not be taking any prisoners from this point on.
For years their wage budget has been weighed down by signings who never fulfilled either their potential or their obligations to the club that pays them.
The likes of Arshavin, Squillaci, and Denilson, along with Marouane Chamakh, Nicklas Bendtner, Johan Djourou, Park Chu-Young, Andre Santos, and to a lesser extent Lukasz Fabianski have failed to make the grade at the Emirates and have been a financial drain on the club for whom they rarely appeared in the last few seasons.
Combined their wages total £26.52 million annually and yet those 9 players made just 35 appearances combined last season. The Gunners’ wage bill reported at the end of 2012 was £143.4 million annually. This ‘cull’ of just the senior players would reduce that figure considerably to £116.88 million a year.
What the new youngsters coming in represent is a change of direction – the club and the manager have always operated within a policy and philosophy that young players with potential for smaller fees is preferable to big stars for big money.
However, what is important to note here is that these likely incomings are all around twenty years old – they’re not 16 year olds that are going to take three or four years to develop, they’ll be ready for the first team in a season or two. A player like 22-year-old Grenier can come straight into the first team.
This shows the manager’s willingness to cut his losses – literally – and change tact moving forward. This summer could very well be the rebirth of Arsenal Football Club.
I still believe Wenger will bring in a couple, if not a handful of quality additions ready to hit the ground running in the first team – names like Stevan Jovetic, Ashley Williams and Etienne Capoue or Victor Wanyama would be quality additions to re-strengthen what Wenger already has.
The days when Arsenal used to dominate the Premier League and really contend for the Champions League are now history – those days were now a decade ago.
Back when Wenger arrived in 1996 the club underwent something of a rebirth – they were transformed into the ‘Invincibles’ in just a few seasons and whilst I doubt the Gunners could achieve that kind of feat in this era of football where there is more competition and higher levels of quality throughout the league, I think Arsenal will challenge much more convincingly next term and the ones that follow it.
The club is not just undergoing a face-lift this summer but it looks as though a complete overhaul is on the cards. Arsenal fans have been crying out for a change of direction and it seems now, finally, as though the club have heard them.
image: © michael hilton