There have been calls over the past year for Arsene Wenger to step down as Arsenal manager after nine years without a trophy.
The purse strings have had to be held tight for years since the project of building the 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium began, but Wenger’s track record of player acquisitions is nothing short of exemplary under that restriction.
Given the Frenchman's philosophy on spending and development, I would expect him to make the most of the reported £70 million kitty if he stays on this summer. Below are the five main reasons.
1) Track Record
Since he arrived at Arsenal in 1996, Wenger has recruited some of the world’s most talented players – or rather, I should say, brought players to the club who have become world class. Few had heard of Emmanuel Petit, Nicolas Anelka, Patrick Vieira, Marc Overmars, Freddie Ljungberg, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Kolo Toure, Gilberto Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Samir Nasri, Bacary Sagna, or Laurent Koscielny when they arrived, but no one will forget those names in a hurry.
Making a signing is similar to buying a car or taking out a mortgage – it’s a long-term investment that needs to be calculated in terms of how much the player can offer in the future and whether he is going to become integral to the team. Other clubs who splash the cash around often buy players at a huge expense only to sell them on within a year or two of their arrival. The average stay of an Arsene Wenger signing at Arsenal is 4.89 years. Almost five years out of a signing is pretty good mileage, if you ask me.
The other thing to consider, like when buying clothes or a gadget, is how often you are going to use your purchase – buying a pair of jeans you wear twice a week for five years is going to be more economical than buying a minidisc recorder if you already have an mp3 player. The average number of appearances for an Arsene Wenger signing in his first full season at Arsenal is 21.45 appearances. So, on average a player playing 21 matches over five years will have a usage of around 105 games for the club.
Wenger is an Economics graduate from Strasbourg University and it shows in his number crunching over the past 18 years, despite the fact it is now often used against him as the reason the club are not meeting the expectations of the fans. The average cost price of an Arsene Wenger signing is £4.07 million and the average selling price is £4.47 million, which means that the average profit accumulated by the club per player is £400,000. It is not quite as much over the course of his reign as some would have you believe, considering Wenger has signed 107 players, which works out roughly (again, going on the average figure) £42.8 million across 18 years - this is pretty much the price of Mesut Ozil.
It’s difficult to work out how efficient and effective Wenger’s signings have been across the board, so I’m going to reduce my pool of data to just the strikers he has signed and make the judgement criteria goals. Strikers Wenger has purchased have scored a total of 844 goals at an average of 40 goals per striker signing for the club. They have cost a total of £128.6 million and £6.1 million per signing on average, which works out as £150,000 per goal on average. When you consider Chelsea’s Fernando Torres has cost £1.16 million per goal so far since his £50 million move from Liverpool, it’s clear to see that Wenger’s signings are more efficient and effective for the money paid. By that logic, Wenger would buy a 30 goals-per-season striker for the next five seasons for around £22.5 million this summer.
*All statistics and figures are taken from www.transferleague.co.uk