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The David Luiz error is with other players

 As more details regarding Arsenal’s deal for David Luiz emerge, more criticism is made. However, the real error is not the deal but the signing and overpaying of other players.

If you were to take everything you read on Twitter as gospel, Arsenal made one of the worst decisions in the history of the club to sign David Luiz for £8 million last summer.

More details emerged this weekend, as reported by the Athletic, that Luiz will cost the club £24 million for just one year of service. This is broken down into an £8 million transfer fee, £10 million-per-year wages, and, most pressingly and concerningly, £6 million in intermediary fees. It has also been revealed that Luiz signed a one-year deal with a one-year extension and there are increasing whispers that he could leave on a free transfer this summer.

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Of course, if Luiz was to leave for nothing in potentially a matter of weeks, not even playing out the remainder of the soon-to-be resumed season as a result of his contract expiring on June 30th, the £24 million outlay is hugely misplaced. Arsenal are in a rebuilding phase. They are already strapped for cash and must spend extremely efficiently if they are to be successful under new head coach Mikel Arteta. Spending such an amount on an inconsistent 30-something centre-back for just one year of value is not even remotely smart.

That said, bar the agent fees, the Luiz deal was, in fact, a very smart investment. The club’s hand was forced due to Laurent Koscielny’s tantrum and swift exit. That left them desperate for a new centre-half, and having already invested the summer budget in Nicolas Pepe, William Saliba, and Kieran Tierney, they had very little money with which to find one. Adding a proven Premier League winner and leader like Luiz from a direct rival for £8 million is superb business, even if you have to shell put £10 million wages.

Additionally, signing him to a one-year deal with a one-year club extension is far smarter than signing him to a two-year deal. The Gunners gave themselves an easy out this summer should they need to take it, and it seems as though they are seriously considering that option.

Where the error has been made regarding Luiz’s arrival is in the handling of other players. Arsenal do not want to lose Luiz for free. But because of their bloated wage bill and Europa League budget, they will be forced to make difficult decisions this summer. They must cut down their spending, and in Luiz, they are in a situation where they can do that without being dependent upon another club. Thus, he is an easy player to cut.

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Arsenal would be much better served by offloading the equally overpaid Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil and others, especially the former two who currently sit behind Luiz in the centre-back pecking order. However, because of their wages, the club is struggling to sell them.

Sokratis and Mustafi earn just under £5 million per year. Sell both and you pay for Luiz’s wages in full. Mkhitaryan earns just short of £10 million, around the same figure as Luiz. Ozil is at £18.2 million per year. There are other players that Arsenal could sell to control the wage bill, but because they are all tied down to contracts for the next season, Luiz is going to become the fall guy instead as he is the only one who can be immediately released this summer.

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Bar the agent fees, the Luiz deal was an excellent move, despite the increased but misplaced criticism. But it is going to look like a disastrous transfer because of the disadvantageous position Arsenal have put themselves in thanks to their mismanagement of other players. The Luiz error lies elsewhere in the squad.

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