The dust has settled on Arsenal's summer transfer window, considering it had over a month to settle since our last first-team addition. People are angry. Maybe you have seen them online? If not, just do a twitter search for "#WengerOut" or, better yet, "#WingerOut."
The main bone of contention is fair. We don't possess world beaters at the central striker or defensive midfield positions, so why didn't we buy someone? Reasonable people can disagree - and have! - on whether we could have realistically done this over the summer. The fact is, we did not.
I wrote yesterday about how history may look more kindly on Arsenal's 2015 summer transfer window due to the influx of youth talent brought in by the club. There is yet another way that Arsene Wenger's inactivity might be vindicated, and much more quickly than the previously mentioned youth development: what he is able to do in the next two transfer windows.
Before we get started on this, I think we need to agree on one thing. That is, what our transfer budget was for this summer.
I don't care what Piers Morgan or any other Arsenal Supporters' Trust member says about the club's bank balance. It may very well be true! I don't care if you think Stan Kroenke and the board are being too fiscally conservative, allowing the American billionaire to bilk the club. They/he might be! I don't even care about a director boasting about total cash reserves! What is clear is that Wenger was handed a transfer budget of around £50 million. All of the reputable, plugged-into-Arsenal journalists said as much. I have no reason to think they are lying. If you think Arsenal was going to spend its entire cash reserves this summer, I've got some oceanfront property in *quickly looks up map of the United Kingdom* Keighley I'd like to sell you.
Now that I'm sure we all agree, I'd like to point out that our net spend was a bit over £10 million this summer. That means Arsene had about £40 million to blow at this time a couple of days ago. That money, at minimum, should be available to him going forward into future transfer windows.
When considering what Wenger might have to play with next summer, revenue will be up this year due to rising TV deals. That number, remember, could be a lot higher if we do better in the league and/or advance far in the Champions League. Arsenal will also be a year closer to no stadium debt, meaning the cash reserves necessary to be fiscally sound could potentially be held at a lower level than they currently stand. It seems fairly conservative to suggest Wenger, or whoever the manager is next season (because, well, you just never know), will have around £100 million to spend.
Arsenal's two biggest buys to date were caused by the very biggest clubs making a monster acquisition. That didn't happen this summer. Next year, however, it seems inevitable that the big clubs will make huge moves.
Barcelona, who currently cannot register any new players, will be itching to get back into the transfer game fully next season. There have been strong links rumored in the past with the club to both Paul Pogba of Juventus, and Marco Reus of Borussia Dortmund. It seems very plausible that both could be in play for a big club next summer. All it takes is for one of those players to move to trigger a sfignificant chain reaction in the transfer market. Real Madrid, for example, would likely feel compelled to respond to any massive move made by their rival.
Bayern Munich is yet another big club that may have some roster turnover if, as rumored, Pep Guardiola decides to move on. Mario Gotze, in particular, is a player in limbo with his club that could be a very intriguing player for Arsenal, who lack left wing options.
These big club castoffs have significantly aided Arsenal in the past, but they do come at a premium. Looking at the deals done this summer, that premium will only keep rising.
It was unrealistic to expect Arsenal to recruit a top class striker (Karim Benzema and Edinson Cavani both have price tags in excess of £40 million) or a top class defensive midfielder, if there were any that were available this past summer. Most people seem to understand that. What they do not understand is why Arsenal did not sign anyone at all, meaning Arsenal should have used £20 million or more to buy another central midfielder or two. Again, this is a legitimate side to take.
It's also legitimate to believe, like I do, that Arsenal is probably better off "keeping the powder dry," to borrow a term most Arsenal fans hate, for the near future. At the £15-20 million price point, there's no guarantee what you are getting is better than what you have. We have a pretty talented side made up of guys worth more than that, after all. There's even less of a guarantee that a move like that makes you better title contenders after Manchester City's hot start and even hotter summer transfer window. Making a purchase or two certainly would have helped whenever the yearly injury rampage occurs, but probably not enough to make us any better than second or third favorites for the title like we are now.
Continually looking to the future has become an exhausting exercise for Arsenal fans. I understand that. But when the present-day options are mediocre, it's probably wise to wait for something better instead of settling.