It’s just not working out for Arsenal whichever way you look at their options in the summer transfer window. After the pandemic, the football landscape will almost certainly become a more guarded and cautious place and that includes parting with inflated sums of cash for the best ‘average’ players in Europe. The best ‘average’ players in the world cost considerably more and the ones above those are completely unaffordable.
The transfer window is going to be an incredibly interesting time and we wait to see if there will be a bounce of optimism or a wave of reality in terms of how much clubs will spend when the game returns.
The entire game will likely reboot and this includes contract extensions, wages, and existing transfer fees. It may also take the shape of fixed payments over longer periods instead of the traditional large payment upfront.
Ironically, it could become so ridiculous that a player may be sold on to another club before his previous club have finished paying for him. This is all speculation of course, but the fact is that something has to change.
The valuation of players will be another area where modifications will occur. The market places will be uncertain for some time, so why would a club pay £75m or £150m for a player. A single transfer could see the buying club end up in receivership, so it may bring an end to the high priced sales or at least trim a considerable amount from the expected fee.
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the sale of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was expected to raise £55m plus but now, that could be around £30m plus if the mood of uncertainty persists.
From Arsenal’s point of view, resources will be limited and Arteta will have to depend on loans, swaps, and the youth academy. A clutch of the very best from the youth development headed up by Per Mertesacker is thought to be worth a conservative £120m and that doesn’t include Bukayo Saka or last season’s bargain of the century, Gabriel Martinelli.
Yet, it’s the players that are not in Arteta’s plans that could prove to be the biggest problem. Arsenal are struggling to offload Henrikh Mkhitaryan to AC Roma and initially wanted around £18m, but that could now be as low as £8.7 plus a player swap with Cengiz Under.
The 22-year-old Turkish right-winger is regarded as an emerging world talent and would be a fine addition to the Arsenal side but with his most recent valuation set at £21.6m, this deal already looks shaky. At best, Mkhitaryan will bring in £10m and at worst £8m, under the new post-COVID-19 transfer valuations.
Another player that Arsenal might take a hit on is midfielder Mohamed Elneny, who is currently on loan at Besiktas. The valuation for the 27-year-old versatile Egyptian is around £4.5m, which means that the club are not going to recoup their £5-£7m initial outlay.
Then, there’s the problem of the German enigma known as Shkodran Mustafi, who has been the most frustratingly inconsistent defender since the days of Pascal Cygan and Phillipe Senderos. Arsenal forked out a hefty £36.9m in 2016 for the World Cup winner and at the time, the former Valencia man was thought to be the answer to the side’s defensive woes, but it just hasn’t panned out for the club or the player.
His current price is thought to be around £10m and although he has improved under Mikel Arteta, he is behind newcomer William Saliba and Pablo Mari, whom it’s said the club wishes to retain at the end of his loan.
Arsenal’s scramble to offload peripheral and established players have also intensified due to the payments required for £72m Nicolas Pepe. It’s thought the payments for the Frenchman were split into four further deposits of around £15m per season and with the club’s decreased revenue, Arsenal needs to sell.
We may potentially see a host of names depart including Kolasinac, Chambers, Ozil, Maitland Niles, Holding, Lacazette, Sokratis and the list may even include the names of Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, who are both thought to be associated with problems that prevent them being included in Arteta’s plans.
Supporters need to brace themselves against the general illusion that transfer business will simply carry on where it left off. There are going to be substantial differences in how clubs conduct their deals and if there are any big names in the pipeline, the selling club will have to think hard about their valuation, whilst the player reconsiders his worth and wages.
On a more optimistic note, Arsenal may have no choice but to rely on its youngsters for the foreseeable future and give them the chance to establish themselves in the side. Fans are looking for the next homegrown star to fill the shoes of past fan favourites such as Jack Wilshere and David Rocastle. Look out for the names Miguel Azeez and Folarin Balogun who are sure to breakthrough next season.