Per reports, Arsenal will not be spending a dime this summer, due to the financial impact of the coronavirus. This is a familiar situation for the Gunners, and if we are to succeed next season, history cannot repeat itself.
Last January, Unai Emery’s Arsenal declared that they had a whopping £0 to spend in the transfer window, and it turned out a mess. A lackluster Denis Suarez loan and a disastrous end to the season left Gooners around the world crying out for an improvement, and we got one in Mikel Arteta. However, his first summer window looks to be shaping up the same way as that January, with the financial deficit created by the coronavirus rearing large in the way of any summer spending.
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A crippling wage bill and a set of contracts set to expire hamstrung us then, and things really haven’t improved much since. With a wash of unwanted players returning to the club, and free transfers and loans looking like the only way to bring in new blood, Arsenal are going to have to be very clever about how they manage this summer, lest the club slip further into mediocrity. Here are three ways to avoid repeating last January.
3. Get some veteran help—for free
It’s a trick Arsenal have used before, to decent effect, but it’s one that requires caution. Veterans can come with high wages and a high chance of injury, but also provide a real boost to a team. This summer, many such aging players are out of contract, and with big names buzzing around tabloid papers like so many flies, it can be hard to make sense of it all.
Players like Stephan Lichtsteiner and Henrikh Mkhitaryan speak to the potential downsides of aging talent, the latter especially so, with his equally high wage demands. Similarly, neither Willian nor Pedro of Chelsea should be North London-bound, at least not to the Emirates. We don’t need them, and our wage bill is inflated as it is.
Above all we don’t need wingers. Players like Philippe Coutinho, Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon, and Ryan Fraser fill gaps and positions we don’t need filled, especially given the flowers of our youth system are coming to bear fruit, with players like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe making a name for themselves. The former two will also demand high wages for low output.
But players like Mario Gotze provide an attractive option: an option for increased depth and versatility, and an experienced head to help the younger players, for a potentially cut-price contract deal. Jan Vertonghen also has not yet signed a new contract with Spurs, and although he’s not perfect, he’s an improvement on what we have now, especially for free.
The best possible option would be Georgio Chiellini, who has not yet signed a contract extension with Juventus, although his agent has said the pending signature was just a formality. But if the Italian walks, he would be a fantastic signing, a prime example of the sort of player who would make a no-spend window a success.
Onto an option with a greater chance of success, and a greater chance of disappointment.