Arsenal's biggest mistake this summer

Arsenal Logo

The new Premier League season is just one game old but that has not stopped the word 'crisis' already being applied by the press to Arsenal's start.

Boxing is overcome with athletes making it rain.

The image of a diamond-draped boxer, throwing dollar bills at a camera lens with scantily-clad women in the background, has almost become a stereotype. A look made mainstream in the modern era by current pound-for-pound number one boxer Floyd Mayweather, a welterweight who is undefeated in 44 professional fights, has been imitated by rising star Adrien Broner, unbeaten in 27 fights. Only Broner didn't throw his cheddar at a camcorder, he flushed it down the toilet.

These are not actions that are widespread in the sport, but as it is popularised by two of the most prominent pugilists, it gains mass media attention.

Bernard Hopkins, an ageless wonder who still fights aged 48, is against it all, commenting earlier in the year that: 'It's not a good look.'

He continued: 'I don't even know if the money was real, but let's assume it is. We all did something that was dumb and stupid coming up. Some things are so embarrassing that people will never admit to it. I never did anything with money because I had a different way of thinking.'

Light-heavyweight don Hopkins, a former ruler at middleweight with 20 title defences, believes that, the more money you flash around, the more people will gravitate around you looking for a slice of the dough. His logic is sound. Mayweather's entourage is large. And Broner's is growing.

Hopkins, by comparison, has no entourage to speak of, yet has a net worth of £40m, has a portfolio consisting of 50 properties and is a minority partner in Golden Boy Promotions, one of the world's leading boxing promoters.

This, on top of the £3m - £4m he collects for every record-breaking world title fight he competes in (Hopkins is the oldest boxer in history to win a world-title, a record he continues to extend) paints the picture of a man who knows how to look after his money for the long-term, not waste it in the short-term.

If Arsenal were a boxer, they'd be Broner. A relative new-comer to the big money game and so made no hesitation in announcing they have £70m in their warchest should club boss Arsene Wenger wish to launch an assault on the summer market.

While the club will not face problems with paying an entourage, they have encountered difficulties when it comes to price tags of players they are targeting in the current window.

It is a situation familiar to those at Liverpool, who were effectively duped out of £35m when they bought Andy Carroll as Newcastle United knew the Anfield side had recently collected £50m when they sold Fernando Torres to Chelsea.

Those on Merseyside will not feel any sympathy for the brass at Ashburton Grove because of the Gunners' own persistent pursuit of Liverpool forward Luis Suarez, a player as skilled as he is controversial.

All clubs in the world know Arsenal have over £70m to spend. It has long been common knowledge that the club were in exemplary financial health because of a combination of frugal tactics in the transfer windows, the added match-day revenue that a switch to the Emirates Stadium provides and the prolific property selling made by Arsenal Holdings PLC, but Ivan Gazidis public announcement - whilst made with good intentions - has now, in retrospect, looked like their biggest screw-up of the summer.

Newcastle United midfielder Yohan Cabaye, bought from Lille for £4.3m two years ago, has been the subject of interest from Arsenal in the past week. The Magpies slapped a £20m+ price-tag on his head this week.

Wenger baulked at the prospect of raising their £21m fee for Gonzalo Higuain who, incidentally later joined Napoli for £34.5m. If the club want to make a double-swoop for Swansea City duo Michu and Ashley Williams, then they'll have to table a combined fee in excess of £35m, maybe even £40m. And, if they continue their push for Suarez, then just kiss goodbye to the entirety of their £70m summer allowance, or at least the lion's share.

If Gazidis kept Arsenal's kitty quiet, would they have this problem of clubs raising their player values as soon as their interest is known, a query is put forth or a transfer bid made? It is difficult to ascertain that answer but, considering they bought players like Lukasz Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla just last summer for respective fees of £10.9m, £12.8m and £16.5m, it is fair to assume that silence would have been golden.

For argument's sake, let's say the Continental market is different from the British market. If Arsenal, today, attempted to buy players of the calibre of Carl Jenkinson, Mikel Arteta or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, would they have captured them for £1m, £10m and £12m?


Not when Everton recently rejected Manchester United's £28m bid for both Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines, claiming it derisory, hoping to see that sum rise to at least £40m.

Gazidis' £70m statement suggested they could compete with the big boys when it came to transfers. Only now are they realising that big boy pricing leaves a lot to be desired. As Hopkins said, we've all done dumb and stupid things... this is Gazidis'.

Arsenal's team is lightweight. Suarez would no doubt improve Arsenal's front-line, but if they want to reinforce their XI so it has the look of a world champion, a midfield enforcer - yes, someone like Luiz Gustavo, who ended up joining Wolfsburg - would also bolster their credentials.

While Gustavo has gone, Fellaini remains at Everton. And Arsene Wenger has even been linked with a move for Fernando, of FC Porto, a club who received £48m for Hulk, £41m for Falcao, £39m for James Rodriguez, £27m for Anderson and £26m for Pepe. Porto are no mugs in the market, regardless of the buying club's coffers.

Arsenal have already behaved like Broner so, to get their top tier talent, they should be prepared to pay over the odds for either Suarez and Fellaini/Fernando, or players of their ilk; they have, since defeating Fenerbahce 3-0, been linked with Karim Benzema and Angel di Maria.

If they do it, welcome to the big leagues and hey, it beats throwing money down the toilet.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch