Mikel Arteta says Arsenal face another summer of transfer upheaval but it remains unclear how much the club’s recent financial losses will affect his ability to recruit.
Last week, the Gunners announced a £47.8 million post-tax loss for the year after the Covid-19 pandemic took a serious bite out of broadcast and matchday revenue streams. Having failed to qualify for the Champions League for three seasons and with the club facing an uphill struggle to rectify the situation this season, it’s likely that funds will be tight unless owners KSE dip into their own pocket.
With question marks over the futures of so many of the first-team squad – some on loan, some loaned and others coming to the end of the contracts – Arteta would be well within his rights to lean on a Rumsfeldian acknowledgement of “known knowns”, “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”.
Simply put, the only thing that’s clear is that many things are unclear.
Facing the press ahead of Thursday’s must-win Europa League clash with Olympiacos, ESPN’s James Olley pressed the Spaniard on the recent financial results and whether it’ll mess with his squad rebuild.
“We don’t know yet because we have so many things to do,” said Arteta. “We have people on loan, people finishing contracts. There has been a lot going on in the last two transfer windows; the amount of things that had to be done was probably unprecedented and it will be again in the summer.
“We are trying to put a plan together to see the resources that we have, how much we want to improve, how we’re going to do it and at what cost. There are so many factors, it’s not just about one thing or an [financial] amount.
“It’s about the project and, timewise, how to build it is going to take some effort from everybody and we know that. The challenging moments that we are facing at the moment is making it even harder.”
Initially hired as a head coach with a remit to focus on football matters, Arteta has since been promoted to manager and seen more off-field responsibility heaped on him as part of a streamlined club structure. Like Arsene Wenger before him, he now feels pressure to keep a close eye on the purse strings.
“I am [like Arsene] because I want a sustainable club,” he said. “I don’t want a club that can’t be run with its own resources.
“It’s great that we have the support of our owners and we’ve had that in the summer when it was much needed because of everything that has happened with Covid and what happened at the club in the last three years without the Champions League and the hit we took.
“But our responsibility and everything we are planning for the future is for the club to go back to being sustainable on its own and being all the time as strong as possible in all departments. The financial part of it is crucial as well.”
As was the case last season when the Gunners won the FA Cup to secure European football, it looks like a cup run is needed to rescue the season and ease some of those financial worries. It heaps the pressure on tomorrow’s game in Athens.
“It’s another big, important factor,” said Arteta. “It gives us the opportunity to keep our club involved in Europe whether it’s the Europa League or Champions League, we know the aim is all the time to win the Champions League.
“At the moment we know that things are looking difficult, but possible. Obviously, the financial package that is attached to it for the club, is really, really important.”