Arsenal ended their nine-year wait for silverware this month with their FA Cup triumph at Wembley but how will the cup win affect their transfer plans this summer?
In the nine years since Arsenal last won a trophy, the FA Cup in 2004/05, the Gunners found it slightly but increasingly harder to attract that top top bracket of quality to the Emirates, especially within their financial restraints.
Now, however, both of those considerations are now gone – Arsenal have the financial muscle to pay the big fees and the big wages, if they so desire and, crucially, as chief executive Ivan Gazidis has stated they intend to.
A big factor to consider is also the club record signing of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid for £42.5 million last September which sent a message out to the entire world that the North Londoners can and will pay premiums for quality players.
They have lost a number of world-class players and top stars in the nine years since their previous trophy – the likes of Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri.
But with their current team in excellent shape, and the likes of Ozil and man of the moment Aaron Ramsey, along with Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, a solid defence, a solid No.1 goalkeeper and a lot of options in the midfield especially, a top striker, for example, will look at Arsenal as an ideal destination to further their own career.
Meanwhile, in previous transfer windows, most notably last summer, Arsene Wenger and the board have been under intense pressure from the fans to spend, anxious and frustration sections of their support that wanted to see silverware and the top signings that go hand in hand with success on the pitch.
Following the purchase of Ozil and the cup win, the manager will likely have a lot of that pressure lifted – not all of it, but a lot of it – this time around. He can make the signings in the areas he wants to with the financial capability to do so and without everyone breathing down his neck.
However, the flip side is that now Arsenal have won a trophy and indeed topped the Premier League for no less than 127 days this term, there may be an expectation that he will bring in big names to kick on and if he wants to bring in a lesser known player he still runs the risk of the fans being disappointed.
Meanwhile, I don’t think we’ll see a mass exit from the Emirates as we have done in some previous windows – so far we expect that Lukasz Fabianski and Bacary Sagna will likely go in search of pastures new on free transfers but, other than that, one would expect the Gunners to keep most if not all their first team players.
The season they have had, however, could see the value of players such as Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny, and Per Mertesacker rise but I don’t expect they’ll be pursued with any great haste by other clubs who can see they have all agreed new long-term deals and are happy at the club.
This puts Wenger in a great position where he does not need to make wholesale changes and, to the contrary, he can bring in just a few players to reinforce the squad – a right back, another goalkeeper, perhaps another central defender and certainly a striker – but he doesn’t need to perform massive surgery on the team which is positive.
I am of the opinion, more than anything else, the manager himself will have more desire to push on, via the signings he makes this summer. He knows full well the Gunners were a lot closer to the league title than it looks on paper and, major injuries out of the equation, they may well have found a way to close that gap of six points or prevent it from happening in the first place.
I firmly believe now that he has settled his own future, won back the faith and trust of the fans, we will see him relax a little in the market this summer and I think Arsenal fans will be pleasantly surprised with the players he brings in at the Emirates.