According to ESPN, Arsenal have held an “internal investigation” into the process that saw the club recruit Nicolas Pepe from Lille for a club record £72 million.
James Olley writes that the scope of the financial commitment, which included £20 million upfront and five further instalments, “has led to a review of the scouting reports and negotiating process.”
While the article makes clear that the Gunners are happy having Pepe on the books, they are looking to tighten up the way money is spent in the transfer market going forward. Olley writes that “Edu is determined to make every penny count.”
A statement from the club made clear that job losses were a direct result of financial uncertainty brought about by Covid-19. Since then, various reports have presented the decision to part ways with scouts as the culmination of a long-term review into recruitment and a move towards more data-driven analysis and agents.
If those savings total an estimated £3 million, perhaps it’s unsurprising you might look back at the reasons for committing £72 million towards a player 12 months ago in a roll of the dice to secure Champions League football.
We’re sure we won’t get answers to any of these, but we figured we’d list the questions that are buzzing around in our heads.
- Who is driving this investigation?
- Is it coming from as high up as the owners?
- Is new non-executive director Tim Lewis playing a part?
- What exactly is being investigated?
- Who exactly is under the microscope?
- What did the scouting reports say that means their role is being scrutinised?
- Is the football executive committee asking questions of itself?
- If the price is being questioned, when did we start having concerns about that?
- Why did we structure the deal the way we did?
- How did ‘super agent’ Jorge Mendes come to be involved on Arsenal’s behalf?
- Was Mendes working for free? If not, how much did he get paid?
- How did Raul Sanllehi’s Barcelona-connection with Lille deputy CEO Marc Ingla factor into negotiations?
- Edu had only been in his job as Technical Director for three weeks, what role did he play?
Lots of questions.
As a bit of background, this piece by Get France Football News highlights how determined Pepe’s troika of agents were to drive interest in their client and to achieve a high sale price.
At times, the plot is harder to follow than something from Kafka’s back catalogue, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
*Since we published this article on 14 August, Raul Sanllehi has left Arsenal. The club subsequently released a statement to the media in which they stressed that no “investigation” into the Pepe transfer had taken place.
It reads: “We want to be clear to you all that there has been no investigation by the club into the Nicolas Pepe transfer. To suggest there has been an investigation is grossly inaccurate and unfair and we request you remove it from your coverage. We have informed our lawyers and will take further action as necessary.”
ESPN has subsequently reworded the article which is cited above. It is now titled “Arsenal review £72m Pepe transfer” and the word “investigate” has been removed throughout to be replaced with “re-examine” and “review”.