Arsenal are being linked with a move for Norwich City right-back Max Aarons. Such a transfer, likely on a cut-price deal, is smart business, but despite the cheap price, it is potentially unaffordable.
The coronavirus will change how transfers are conducted this season. The nine-figure fees of recent years will be nowhere to be seen, very few clubs will come even close to breaking their transfer records, while cut-price deals will be on offer the world over as clubs look to recoup cash after a revenue-less few months.
For those that have the ability to spend, it means that there will be some extremely prudent and intelligent deals available. And given Arsenal’s financial pressures with or without the impact of COVID-19, these deals should be the type of transfers that the club pursues this summer.
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One such name is Norwich City right-back, Max Aarons, who has attracted interest from throughout the Premier League, including the Gunners. Norwich furloughed some of their non-playing staff earlier this month. Their senior staff also expect to encounter losses of between £18 and £35 million this year due to the lost matchday and commercial revenues thanks to games being played behind closed doors.
It has been said that several Norwich stars will become available on cut-price deals as a result, with the likes of Todd Cantwell, Emi Buendia, and Ben Godfrey all named as potential sale candidates. Aarons is another who can be included in this category, the 20-year-old offering terrific sell-on potential as a young player with extensive first-team experience in the Championship and Premier League.
Usually, this would be the precise type of deal that Arsenal should be pursuing. A young player who has played regularly and is available for a reasonable price, potentially as little as £20-30 million. However, despite the smaller price tag, given the current state of the squad and the proposed trajectory moving forwards, it might be an unaffordable investment.
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Aarons would not be a starter at Arsenal. Hector Bellerin is the number one right-back and, while his performances of late have not been at his usual high standard, head coach Mikel Arteta thinks extremely highly of him. Should Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang move on in the summer, there is a strong chance Bellerin will be named club captain.
Conversely, Arsenal have several gaping holes at other positions. Centre-back, central midfield and left-wing, especially if Aubameyang is to depart, all need serious investment this summer or in the coming transfer windows. While signing Aarons on a cut-price deal might be a smart move that forward-thinking clubs complete regularly, the Gunners are not in the position to sign a back-up right-back and take what could be a significant chunk out of their transfer budget.
A deal for Aarons, then, is inherently conflicted. It makes complete sense, and would actually be a very smart transfer to make. But given where Arsenal are and what Arteta is building, the position is simply not needy enough to demand such investment.