Arsene the economist looking to adopt a new school of thought


As Arsene Wenger approaches his seventeenth year in charge of Arsenal, celebrations will undoubtedly be rather subdued as the club’s trophyless reign under the Frenchman has surpassed over eight years and counting.

The reason for this drought is unknown. It could be down to Arsene having lost his touch as a managerial genius – but this is highly unlikely. Over the last few years, Arsene has come under enormous scrutiny over his transfer policy. This is not only the players that he is bringing in, but also the players he is letting go.

However, this isn’t a policy that is alien to Arsenal and their fans. Arsenal have always had a track record of selling their prime assets. Emmanual Petit, Marc Overmars and Nicholas Anelka instantly springs to mind. These players have always been replaced without breaking the bank whilst the club still remaining competitive and in contention for (and winning) trophies.

Buying low and selling high

Whenever trading any type of asset, being property or stocks and shares for example, the smart investor aims to buys at the bottom of the market and sells at the top. Arsene Wenger is arguably one of the best managers in using this mantra for his transfer dealings.

Here are a few examples of Arsene’s excellent signings:

Bought for
Sold for
Kolo Toure£150k£16m
Nicolas Anelka£500k£22.5m
Cesc Fabregas£500k£35m
Marc Overmars£5.5m£25m
Robin Van Persie£2.5m£24m
Thierry Henry£11m£16m

Huge credit clearly goes to Arsene and his scouting team for recognising the raw talent, purchasing them at a cut price, developing and nurturing the talent, reaping the rewards and selling them off for a healthy profit. Repeat process.

But this method requires time. Occasionally he may have been sold a few bad seeds (cough Gervinho, Bendtner), but again this is why time is essential. Football has changed and is continuing to change – the distance between time and success seems to be getting shorter and shorter as we see the rise in clubs simply attempting to buy their success.

Super clubs – super money

Since the takeover of Chelsea in the summer of 2003 by a certain Russian billionaire, we have seen an emergence of clubs all over the Europe being taken over in the pursuit of success. Manchester City, Paris St Germain and Monaco to name a few have been some of the high profile takeovers whereby the bottomless pit of money means that these clubs are spending big to win trophies… and are succeeding.

The owners of these clubs are running short of patience and understandably. They are after all the individuals who are pumping in hundreds of millions of pounds into these clubs. However, the fans also expect. This is simply the knock-on effect of the club spending the tens of millions on players and the ever rising ticket prices which is a cost ultimately born on the paying supporter.

With this in mind, it seems as though the Arsenal fans’ frustrations lie deeper than simply expecting success. Arsene’s slow and methodical approach may have been a perfectly fine strategy but it appears as though this is now quite simply dated. Arsenal are being left behind in the fast moving cut-throat, success driven businesses that are now football clubs. As a result, fans have been left growing in impatience and all they ask is for Mr Wenger to loosen the purse strings and show more of an intent in the transfer market and to buy big. Not to buy wannabe’s or couldbe’s – the fans demand a readymade, proven talent.

The evolution of Arsene

After years of remaining stubborn in his ethos around the way in which he bought players, are we seeing a change to the Frenchmans transfer policy? This summer, Arsene has been very public about his transfer targets and these are far from his typical marks.

Let’s take a quick look at some of Arsenal’s previous buys who weren’t the finished article before they joined the North London club. The following stats shows the players last few seasons just before signing for Arsenal.

Thierry HenryMonaco1997/98304
Robin Van PersieFeyenoord2001/02100
Nicolas AnelkaPSG1995/9620

These are players with very modest stats to say the least albeit rather young in age. They are also the same players who flourished for Arsenal given the time that Arsene and their fans gave them.

Now let’s take a look at some of the players that Arsenal have shown public interest in and have even put forward bids.

Luis SuarezLiverpool2010/11134c.£50m
Karim BenzemaReal Madrid2010/113315c.£40m
Real Madrid2011/123421
Real Madrid2012/133011
Gonzalo HiguainReal Madrid2010/111710c.£35m
Real Madrid2011/123522
Real Madrid2012/132816

When you take a look at the players’ records and more astonishingly the price tag besides them, this is far from the typical Arsene Wenger buy. While Higuain has now joined Napoli, he was certainly a target for Arsenal although they merely missed out on the Argentinian forward.

Even though the intent from Arsenal is well and clear, we are yet to see them execute one of these deals. Should this be seen as merely a smokescreen to please the fans or is this in fact the evolution of Arsene? Time will tell.

Arsene Wenger next manager to go is currently 25/1 with Stan James

Luis Suarez to sign for Arsenal is 16/1 with Skybet

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