On New Signings, Work to Do

As pre-season goes, yesterday proved eventful. Two new signings (finally) announced while Raul, Vinai, and Edu seemed taken aback by frustrations being aired at a supporter Q&A session.

It wasn’t as terrifying ordeal suffered by the carjackers who made the mistake of threatening a car containing Sead Kolasinac. Mesut Özil and their respective wives made the eminently sensible decision to stay in the vehicle. Not the Bosnian. He took on the assailants and won. Both are recovering from their ordeal while the club says the players and their wives are also unharmed.

On the footballing side, Dani Ceballos arrived to a triumphant fanfare from the millions of scouts who watched his YouTube reel. Proclaimed as the midfield saviour, Raul claimed his compatriot studied the squad for two weeks, to get to know the players. And he still signed! What a doughnut!

Willy Saliba endeared himself to everyone when he gave his reasons for joining:

Well, the history, the badge… since I was little, I’ve been watching Arsenal play in the Champions League and so on, and there are a lot of French players who have come through here. So that really helped me to make my mind up.

Willy 1 Tottenham 0

All I’ll say is if he can remember us playing in the Champions League, fair play. It’s just a distant memory, with the repeated horror shows blurring into one.

He is one for the future and the two signings highlight the juggling act the Transfer Window Action Team must pull off. Saliba and Ceballos are unlikely to play in the same Arsenal side. There’s no option to buy in the latter’s loan deal with neither Real or player contemplating a move away. Let’s hope he’s a better signing than Denis Suarez.

Raul Shoulders the Burden

It’s fair to say last night’s Q&A wasn’t the celebration the ‘new regime’ hoped. Vinai admitted the club’s continued failure on the pitch:

We know we are not where we want to be as a club. If we had finished 3rd and won the Europa League last season, we would be saying the same thing. We have to find a way to compete for the biggest trophies and we aren’t doing that at the moment.

Ivan Vinai Speaks

He denied the £40m transfer budget – “that doesn’t come from the club” – which was no surprise. The way we’re acting isn’t outsmarting the market; lowballing can be seen as that but when it explodes in your face every time, it isn’t very smart to continue the policy.

Celtic denied a third bid for Tierney (so far) but given we were out of the reckoning earlier in the week, Neil Lennon’s words seem resigned to losing the full-back. There are contingency plans in place, to paraphrase the Bhoys boss. A stepdown from the inflammatory rhetoric of recent times. If the deal goes through, the selling club is going down with a whimper rather than the bang.

If we don’t land Tierney or any other targets, don’t blame Edu. Raul absolved the Brazilian of any responsibility for this window; it’s all down to the Dynamic Duo. I don’t know why but it feels like Vinai is the one who will be thrown under the bus. If Sanllehi survived the Barcelona snakepit, N7 is a piece of cake.

He played on our history, imploring that it be used as a positive, not something which holds us back. Unfortunately, Unai’s squad is filled with players who don’t hold a candle to those “statues” so the burden of the past will always be borne by those in the ‘now’.

What the Papers Say

Elsewhere, Malcom is on his way somewhere for just under £40m which means nothing to us unless Palace drop the price for Zaha. Vinai dismissed “85% of what you read” as untrue but understands why this feeds supporter frustration.

The low transfer budget is something which haunts the club. Vinai’s denial was unconvincing and while the £40m may be too low, it isn’t too far off. You can tell that by our bids and players we’re chasing. Zaha is more of a cost-saver; we’re more intent on trimming our wage bill than signing a player with the number of makeweights in the deal.

Whatever the truth, we’ve been slow this window. Nothing dynamic, which isn’t always down to the club; we have yet to address the weaknesses which bedevilled us in recent years. Dani Ceballos is one step in the right direction but the three signings so far are one for now, two for the future. We need two more defenders; can we get them?

’til Tomorrow.

20 thoughts on “On New Signings, Work to Do

  1. Steve says:

    The days preceding yesterday, your post would have made a lot of sense. We had two addition yesterday. I expect the pessimism to die down a little. If I still remember, we were beaten to fourth by a point last season. What has happened to our competitors. How many players have they added. As an Arsenal supporter far away, I’m excited about the possibility in the new season. We criticized ourselves under Arsene saying top four means nothing. Now it’s the preoccupation of all clubs as a minimum. We now appreciate top four. We have problems like every team. Let’s be optimistic even if it’s for a day. We have done more than 45 million business. That statement was tucked in to make supporters depressed.

  2. Jojo says:

    I’m not surprised that the £45m budget is one of the 85% stories not true. It has always seemed to me that it is the main thrust by the media of the ‘crisis’ stories narrative of this summer. From experience, the media understands the most easily triggered football supporters are Arsenal supporters. Of course, if the club had gone on record to deny the claim, they would have had to give a more realistic figure, thereby limiting their wiggle room in the market. We know that they are wedded to the self-financing model, limiting their ability to match the financial aggressiveness of our competitors. That is just a fact, that many choose to ignore. Whether the self-financing model is fit for today’s market is another discussion. But to be ridiculing the club for putting in what they consider realistic bids is just petulant and silly. It’s good that the club’s management feet is metaphorically put to the fire, but acting as useful idiots to enable the media’s crisis narrative is counter-productive.

  3. YW says:

    Jojo

    I think Vinai deliberately avoided answering the question last night, which focussed on why our budget was small. That’s the issue. Continually, we’re told the club is one of the wealthiest so where is the money going?

    All businesses spend but you have to wonder if the club is spending efficiently.

  4. YW says:

    Steve

    One addition yesterday, one addition next year. The latter is good for the longer-term but we haven’t addressed last year’s weaknesses by any stretch of the imagination.

    You ask how players have rivals added? I don’t care what they’ve done. We’re not pulling up trees and with the season starting in a fortnight or so, we need to be acting now to improve ourselves.

    If we do all we can to improve and it’s not good enough, fair enough. Back to the drawing board and start again. There’s no way we can say that as we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot thanks to poor transfer business.

  5. C says:

    I think Ceballos is the type of midfielder we have missed since Santi. Xhaka has the range of passing but we all know he is one footed and lacks both quickness and pace, Ramsey’s attributes aren’t truly suited to play quickly in the middle of the park. Torriera and Ceballos could form quite a quality base.

    The other thing with Ceballos is that it also allows for Willock another year to develop without being squarely in the limelight.

    Saliba, will go a good one for the future for sure.

  6. YW says:

    Trouble is, C, Xhaka slows play down. I can’t see a quartet of Ceballos, Özil, Torreira and Xhaka work8ng. Guendouzi’s style suits better than the Swiss.

  7. Jojo says:

    YW
    There is no mystery where the money goes, check the latest accounts. To generate huge transfer fund at the level most fans want, you either generate surplus from transfer dealings, extract sponsorships bonanza(both legitimate and disguised money from owners) or short-term hit on club’s finance. In the meantime, the club has to be inventive in generating required funds because of accumulated bad decisions in the past. But Arsenal are not unique, there are numerous of clubs making bad footballing and business decisions, but have been rescued because of owners who view the club as an extension of their business virility and ego. Our present owner business strategy is different. You only need to study his other sports franchise to understand his business model. Short of getting new owners ready to bankroll the club, we simply cannot compete for some of the elite players because of the obscene and ridiculous transfer fees. We need to buy young players with enormous elite potential to be able to generate surplus funds in future.

  8. DALM says:

    My only ‘yes but’ is that not only have we not strengthened where we needed to – at the back as yet, BUT much of what was good last year revolved around Ramsey – injury prone, but proven and now gone…

    so whatever other teams have done, we are weaker.

    and likely to rely on the flaky/simply not good enough Ozil, Miki, Kola, Xhaka, Mustafi, Sokratis, – a squad that nearly did it last year (top 4 yay) but choked big style a matter of weeks ago.

    not that I am pessimistic.

    IF the message was a clear ‘we ARE rolling out the youth’ and, say, giving Bielik/Chambers a run out I’d be happier AND patient if it took a while to bed in…

  9. YW says:

    Jojo

    Arsenal’s wealth is such that we can take a financial hit. Don’t read too much into the accounts in following the cash. Only the cashflow statement gives a vague approximation of where it’s gone.

    Enos’ business model is easy to understand. Mediocrity on the pitch is tolerated so long as financial value isn’t impaired. He didn’t move the Rams for sporting reasons, it was monetary. Revenues plus the new stadium make them a more valuable franchise to him than Arsenal.

    The rest of his sporting empire falls to achieve consistently – bar, I think, the Lacrosse team – sporadically challenging before settling into years of non-descript performance.

  10. andy1886 says:

    Jojo,

    There’s no mystery why we are in the situation we’re in. Over the past decade or so we’ve bought consistently badly (compared to rivals) and paid them excessively for very average performances. If you want a direct comparison Chelsea have spent a similar sum, have a similar level of income, but overall have performed much better. You don’t need to be a genius to work out that when they bought Hazard and we elected to take Gervinho as the cheaper option (we had been linked to Hazard well before Chelsea became interested) that even ignoring the impact on the field, Hazard was an enormous financial success whereas Gervinho was a complete waste of money.

    When you contrast us with Liverpool and Sp*rs it gets worse. We had higher income from years of CL football and significantly bigger gate receipts yet our positions have effectively reversed. Even based on the last set of accounts we were paying our ‘stars’ almost £100m per annum more than the Spuds. For far worse performances. So let’s be clear, a cash injection from the owner might help get us out of this mess (no guarantees given the way we’ve spent up to this point) but it was extremely poor financial management of the playing side of the business that put us there in the first place.

  11. C says:

    Interesting reports coming out that the Tierney deal is all agreed and medical is set for the weekend. If true and we get 3 signings in (2 of which would feature prominently this season), that would be good business.

    If we do end of with Tierney, what about the possiblity of using Tierney at LB and Sead ahead of him to the left of Lacazette.

  12. C says:

    YW,

    I absolutely agree with you on Xhaka and I rate that left peg of his.

    I wouldn’t mind either Guendouzi or Iwobi was part of that quartet.

  13. andy1886 says:

    C,

    Great news if true about Tierney but Lennon at Celtic said in the last 24 hours that there had been no further bid from AFC so I remain cautious.

    As for Sead playing further forward wasn’t the complaint that his crossing is generally pretty poor?

  14. C says:

    andy1886,

    Lennon also seemed resigned to losing him so we shall see.

    Sead, i feel like its generally hit or miss.

  15. Jojo says:

    Andy
    In my original post, I made the point that the club has made bad footballing and business decisions, but so have other clubs. Strange, that you used Chelsea as some paragon and efficient business model. They are probably the most wasteful and inefficient premiership club. We bought Gervinho because we could not compete with Chelsea for Hazard. This idea that we chose Gervinho was because we were bad at identifying the superior player is just risible. Check Chelsea accounts to see how much they have been personally bankrolled by their owner, that is the single most important determinant of their success in the last few years. Whilst there have been bad recruitment and inefficient wage structure in correlation to abilities, it’s simplistic and just wrong to assert that bad management and unwillingness to open the purse strings is the source of our lack of success. I understand the constant and tiresome moaning of some the supporters may be therapeutic, but it is simply counterproductive.

  16. andy1886 says:

    Jojo,

    Sorry, but that’s simply incorrect. And I never described Chelsea as a ‘paragon’ of anything as you very well know. Interesting that you’ve avoided any reference to Sp*rs or Liverpool that I also used as a contrast but that wouldn’t suit your argument would it?

    Let’s stick to facts and avoid lazy generalisations and outdated preconceptions. I chose Chelsea as my first example for one simple reason. In financial terms over the last five years they have been our nearest financial competitor. Their wage bill has been very close to ours. Their turnover has been very close to ours. They have won two premier league titles and we have not even been close, and have fallen out of the top four. These are facts.

    While it’s true that Abramovich bankrolled them initially the gravy train stopped some time ago. Chelsea spend within their means and comply with FFP. Funnily enough of the two clubs it’s the one that was happy to extol the virtues of financial responsibility that is in danger of falling foul of FFP as has been pointed out and is why we are desperately trying to cut the wage bill.

    As for Hazard I already pointed out that AFC had been linked (during the 08/09 season) with and could have bought Hazard well before Chelsea did in the summer of 2012. AFC had bought Gervinho a year earlier in 2011. So let’s take a look at our financial results for 2011. These are published figures on the club web site. The club made a trading PROFIT of £50.5M. Hazard btw cost £20m more than Gervinho. Couldn’t afford him? Simply not true. Cash reserves were £160.2m.

    Please don’t go down the long discredited route of blaming stadium financing, the impact of the stadium on finances was a net increase as match day revenue doubled after the move from Highbury. Any reserve required as part of the stadium financing deal was a fraction of our cash reserves. Spurs with their £1bn stadium have just broken their transfer record within months of their move. The reason we didn’t buy Hazard was because AFC and their manager at that time were ultra-conservative and risk adverse. ‘Keeping our powder dry’ in a market where player costs were increasing exponentially made zero financial sense. Always taking the cheap option ultimately was a financial disaster.

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