Arsenal's Transfer Problems Run Much Deeper Than Just Making the Wrong Signings

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The Emirates Stadium | ISABEL INFANTES/Getty Images

For what seems like an eternity, Arsenal fans have clamoured for their owners to splash the cash on marquee signings.

Since the departures of Patrick Vieira and Sol Campbell in 2005 and 2006 respectively, the club have been crying out for a midfield enforcer and a commanding centre-back, yet the Gunners board seem reticent to loosen the purse strings.

Mikel Arteta
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta watches on | Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

To rub salt into the wound, even north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur appear to have discovered some financial clout, with Gunners fans looking on with envy at the £42m signing of Davinson Sánchez and the £54m signing of Tanguy Ndombélé - meanwhile, Arsenal are shelling out £8m for David Luiz.

The news that the Gunners are considering offloading Kieran Tierney for less than they paid last summer may have done little more than raise a few eyebrows among the Arsenal faithful, but the revelation is yet another example of rotten transfer dealings which may well be the motive for the Arsenal board’s penny-pinching ways.

Tierney arrived at Arsenal less than 12 months ago in a not inconsiderable £25m move. Just ten months on and the Gunners hierarchy are ready to part ways with the Scotland international for a cut-price fee.

Never has money played such a vital part in the progression of a football club. Teams with a sound scouting network and shrewd transfer team, such as Wolves and Leicester, are busy making waves in the Premier League, while Arsenal are in danger of slipping into mid-table mediocrity. The Arsenal owners’ lack of financial frivolity isn’t entirely to blame. It's time to take a look at the transfer team.

The prospective sale of Tierney is not a rare blot in the Arsenal transfer copybook – the club’s transfer dealings have been woeful for some time now, and their ninth-placed standing in the Premier League table is a reflection of that.

The club’s top ten most expensive signings are littered with players who have failed to make the grade at the Emirates, such as £40m Granit Xhaka, £36m Shkodran Mustafi and £42m Mesut Özil – were the trio to head for pastures new, the club would recoup very little of their original transfer fees.

Granit Xhaka
£40m man Granit Xhaka hasn't been the player Arsenal hoped they had signed | Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

And of those who have proved their worth, Arsenal’s contract dealings have proved inadequate – the £38m signing of Alexis Sánchez was a rare piece of recent good business from the club, only for them to let him leave in a swap deal with the underperforming Henrikh Mkhitaryan. If Arsenal want to regain their place among England’s elite, they can ill-afford to let the likes of Sánchez and Aaron Ramsey leave without receiving a substantial fee.

While Arsenal have had more than their fair share of transfer flops in recent years, it would be remiss to fail to recognise the good pieces of business done by the club. However, even then they seem to have developed the unwanted trait of selling at the wrong time.

The likes of Patrick Vieira were held onto for far too long, while players such as Serge Gnabry were sold far too early. A modern-day football club is a business, and for a business to grow it needs to sell its assets at the right time - unfortunately, Arsenal have failed to do this for a long time.

The Gunners are looking to compete with clubs who have received transfer fees such as £86m for Gareth Bale and £88m for Cristiano Ronaldo, while Arsenal’s record fee received for a player is £36m for Marc Overmars – and it's now some 20 years after his sale to Barcelona.

Real Madrid's new player Portuguese Cris
Manchester United received a then-world-record transfer fee for Cristiano Ronaldo | AFP/Getty Images

To think that in the last 20 years Arsenal have produced a team capable of going a full Premier League season unbeaten - and yet their record fee received for a player remains the same - goes some way to demonstrating their catastrophic dealings in the transfer market.

The club is in decline and if the rot isn't stopped, they're in danger of slipping further behind England’s elite.

So, the next time Arsenal fans moan that their owners won’t shell out £50m on a centre-back, bear in mind their recent record in the market – there’s a reason the owners would only sanction an £8m move for David Luiz.