August 19, 2017

Wenger’s change of strategy: from budget cuts to record transfers

Mesut Ozil is, for now, the club's most expensive signing.

Arsene Wenger’s approach to the transfer market consisted in facing other clubs’ financial muscle with a strict eye on the club’s budget… until Arsenal emerged as one of Europe’s economic superpowers prepared to make world-record signings.

Lacazette is hours away from becoming the most expenisve signing in Arsenal’s long history as a club. The Gunners have reached an agreement with Lyon which could see the French striker make the move for up to £52 million. Half a decade ago, Wenger paying such a fee would have been inconceivable.

And Arsene Wenger’s new methodology will not stop there. Wenger is determined to sign the youngster who has been called Thierry Henry’s successor, and to do so Arsenal have lined up a £125 million bid for wonderkid Kylian Mbappe.

This is strongly contrasted with the claims of austerity aimed at the club’s spending plans made by Wenger, to attempt to justify some of his team’s less-successful seasons. However, Wenger remains adamant that the Gunners cannot compete with the top clubs in the continent.

Up until Mesut Ozil’s arrival in 2013, for which Real Madrid received £42.5 million, the highest investment made by the north London club came after the payment of £17m for Spanish winger Jose Antonio Reyes. Almost a decade between both transactions. Since the German playmaker’s signing, Wenger has gone into a transfer frenzy.

Chambers, the club’s fifth most expensive recruitment, arrived in 2014 for £17.2 million, with third on the list Alexis Sanchez arriving at the Emirates the very same year thanks to £36 million. Only two seasons later, Wenger landed two of the club’s most expensive players: Shkodran Mustafi (34.85m) is Arsenal’s fourth most expenisve signing, while Granit Xhaka (38.25m) is just behind the aforementioned club-record transfer which brought Mesut Ozil.

Despite the lavish investments made in north London, Wenger maintains Arsenal are the ‘poorest’ of Europe’s elite. ‘What is important is that when you have a club with 600 employees you make sure you can pay everybody at the end of the month’, he said a year ago. A statement which generated a storm of criticism for the veteran French manager. With Lacazette’s signing, he is once again in the spotlight.