Mikel Arteta says that Arsenal’s absence from the Champions League is a problem when it comes to player retention and recruitment, and squad building in general.
The latest financial results saw the club post a £27.1m loss – the first since 2002 – and a major part of that has been the decline in revenue since we dropped down into the Europa League.
At this point European football of any kind next season is not assured, and with players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang entering the final year of their contracts and wanting to play Champions League football, it represents a significant challenge for Arteta as he tries to shape his squad.
The wage will is another issue, with players on big money deals from when the Gunners were feasting from Europe’s top table, all of which means there will have to be some clever strategy to cope.
“I think the damage caused by the club not being in the Champions League for the third season is really big,” said Arteta.
“Every player in the world wants to play Champions League and, if you talk about having this option on the table, players are in a much more open way to join this club or to renew their contract or to convince anybody because we want to be in that competition.
“Financially the impact is enormous because the structure of this club is built to be in the Champions League and you can sustain that for one year or two, but then after you have to start making decisions.”
Those decisions will entail selling valuable assets to fund a rebuild, and with Aubameyang highly sought after – with Barcelona in particular keen to bring him to the Camp Nou this summer – there may be some pain in order to put things back together.
“We don’t have margin for error with those decisions, so they have to be very thorough and clear processes of where we have to improve and how we are going to do that, and then go forward with no excuses,” continued the 37 year old.
“I’m very convinced that the way I want to do it is going to work. I don’t know how long it is going to take, or the time and the resources, but we will find a way to do it.”