Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis has stated in recent weeks that the club have the financial clout to rival the big-spending elite of Europe but should he have kept quiet about the club’s spending capabilities?
Gazidis was perhaps caught between a rock and a hard place when he spoke at a Q&A session earlier this month on the subject of Arsenal’s transfer policy.
The club, the board, the chief executive and the manager have all come under intense pressure this season after selling Robin van Persie to Manchester United which was arguably the straw that broke the camels back for the fans.
As is well documented Arsenal have not won a trophy in 8 years since the 2004/05 FA Cup and that draught period has coincided with a) their Emirates stadium deal and b) the sale of their key players. In that period, the Gunners have sold (either by choice or by necessity):
Patrick Vieira, Ashley Cole, Lauren, Thierry Henry, Freddie Ljungberg, Jose Antonio Reyes, Lassana Diarra, Alexander Hleb, Gilberto Silva, Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, Eduardo, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Eboue, Gael Clichy, Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, Carlos Vela and Robin van Persie.
Player sales are normal for big clubs, especially when the players want to leave, are past their peak, or if the player and or the club are being offered huge sums of money from elsewhere, but Arsenal fans seemed this season to run out of patience with the club’s transfer policy, the manager’s transfer philosophy and the club’s lack of ‘ambition’.
So, when Gazidis spoke at his Q&A, he had to give assurances that Arsenal were less restricted by their sponsorship and stadium deals and were prepared to spend money on the squad this summer rather than recouping a profit.
He was reported as comparing the club’s financial clout with the likes of Bayern Munich and also effectively agreed that Arsenal could afford a player, for example, like Wayne Rooney – both the fee and the wages.
However, whilst it’s clear he had to appease the fans somewhat and give assurances that the club are ambitious, the manager is now under huge pressure to spend and spend well this summer and club’s doing business with Arsenal, as well as players and their agents, now know that a) the money’s there and b) Wenger and Arsenal are under pressure to spend it.
Subsequently the reported negotiations for players like Gonzalo Higuain and Ashley Williams seem to be going a little overboard. Spending, for example, £35 million between them, never mind the structure-smashing wages of the former, implies to me that Arsenal could in fact end up paying over the odds for players this summer as a direct consequence of Gazidis’ statements.
To compound that, the manager may feel a little cornered by the pressure to spend on big names when he might have preferred to bring in lesser-known talent to develop at Arsenal, as has been his preference throughout his reign.
Gazidis had to say something after the season Arsenal had but he may well find he’s made a rod for his own back and a rod for Arsene Wenger that the club and the boss could have done without.