For all of the summer, the buzz surrounding Arsenal’s transfers was about the quality they could bring in. Despite missing out on Champions League football for the third time in succession, the Gunners still managed to do justice in that regard.
The Gunners stunned the football world by securing Nicolas Pepe in a club-record £72 million deal.
Even more impressive that he was one of the most sought after players in all of Europe.
The Ivorian gives Arsenal some much-needed creativity, pace, and width on the pitch.
But that was not all. Emery also intelligently added quality players in the correct positions.
Kieran Tierney, David Luiz, and William Saliba were all brought in to help stabilize a leaky defence (although they will have to wait a year on the Frenchman).
The loan deal for Dani Ceballos also appears to be a very shrewd piece of business and a bargain for the club as well, while Gabriel Martinelli is a typical teenage Arsenal signing for the future.
Although the north London outfit clearly had a fantastic summer as far as signings go, credit also has to be given for their outgoings as well.
The fairly new regime of Raul Sanllehi, Edu and Vinai Venkatesham were ruthless in their clear out of players.
Along with the quartet of summer releases (Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey, Stephan Lichtsteiner, and Danny Welbeck), Arsenal were able to either sell or loan out seven additional first-team players.
Total amount of wage bill saved by Arsenal after their summer clearoutThis also does not include departures from the youth setup such as Krystian Bielik, Xavier Amaechi, Dominic Thompson and Takuma Asano.
After factoring in the new signings, Arsenal’s annual senior wage bill has decreased by about £26 million since the end of last season. Not only has the wage bill steeply decreased in such a short amount of time, but the current squad is well-rounded, more talented, and younger than in recent years.
With an average age of arrivals at just 22, the Gunners clearly made an attempt to get younger this summer.
Besides the fact that Luiz was the only player above 24 to be brought in, the club also promoted young prospects such as Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe, and Joe Willock. As far as outgoings go, Alex Iwobi was the only one out of the 11 senior players to be under the age of 27.
The £90 million net spend on quality players was certainly both impressive and important; however, the massive reduction of player wages was absolutely imperative.
However, in the closer look of things, this “ruthless” act might now be the turning point for an Arsenal side looking for a change in fortunes.
Mkhitaryan featured against Tottenham only to sign for Roma the next day. What does that mean? It means under the circumstances, as far as those players were at the club, they would have found a way to be featured or seem a decent choice in some situations. When the cold reality is that they’re better off out of the club.
The only player Arsenal would hurt a little about is Alex Iwobi considering he was just starting to come off age and was a homegrown player. But then £40m for someone with his rap sheet is a steal in this transfer window and it would be a shocker for Arsenal not to have accepted the deal.
The massive clear out now means Emery has shipped out all the deadwood and fringe players that would naturally just rack up appearances and make meaningless cameos at times. Also, the temptation of using them will always come around and also create a reluctance to add better “quality” players to the team.
Arsenal released their Premier League 2019/20 squad with only 20 senior players and you sense that majority of these players cleared out would have been there as well – blocking the chances of a good number of youth the club are now keen on improving.
In a nutshell, Emery will now have to work with the “good enough” players he has or add more quality when needed rather than turning to forgotten unwanted players – as was the case of a certain Mohamed Elneny a lot of times.
Following the footsteps of Champions – Liverpool hardly change their first eleven (except when an injury warrants so) and Manchester City who rotate a lot swap in a match in quality for quality.
The latter is something Arsenal will now be leaning towards after their summer outgoings and it could be the catalyst for a top-four finish.
The old regime may have left the club with a swollen wage bill and an aging squad, but Raul and co. have mostly fixed these issues in one summer transfer window. Not only did the Gunners get younger and lower the wage bill, but most importantly, they are now favourites to finish in a top-four position in the Premier League table.