It’s an exciting, nervous time around Arsenal these days. A beloved old manager leaving, an unknown entity coming in, and everything’s different now. This summer’s transfer season will be very interesting, from both a player recruitment and player retention standpoint, as current squad members wait to see who the new boss is before deciding between sticking around or asking for a move somewhere to start over again.
And in the “starting over again” vein, it was reported today that Arsenal’s transfer budget for this summer will be...£50 million, or £5 million less than Alexandre Lacazette cost last year. Now, there are a ton of caveats here, chief among them being that Jeremy Wilson cites no source for that number, and essentially pulls it out of thin air with nothing in his piece to corroborate how he got to that number or why it is significant.
I do wonder whether this was a leak from somewhere, in a subliminal/sneaky way to constrain expectations about the type of manager Arsenal are looking for - I mean, £50 million is a ton of Real World Money, but it’s not a lot of Sportsball Money, and with that much of a limit on spending, that pretty much rules out attracting the top of the top of the managerial pyramid, I would think.
Put it this way: if you’re a high-profile candidate for the Arsenal job, and you see/hear that figure talked about, are you going to rush to ask about the job?
And then there’s the fan/PR side of the coin. Arsenal right now, even post-announcement, has an angry, raw fanbase who, when they see that limited budget (and correspondingly limited ambition for a new manager), is bound to think “same old Arsenal”, even if that’s both demonstrably untrue in recent seasons and also inaccurate given that everything at the club will be new next year, management-wise.
At the point where £50 million is the reported limit of a new manager’s spending, the new manager/staff is already operating at a disadvantage that will not endear him to the fanbase, transfer-wise, unless a significant amount of punching over one’s own weight happens.
Maybe I’m overthinking it or being too cynical, but if this number is in any way based in reality (which, again, I’m very suspicious of), it reinforces that not everything at Arsenal will be fixed by the first game of next season, and that it will take a few windows to get things right. Patience will definitely be a virtue in the red part of North London for the next season or two.