It’s clear that Mikel Arteta wants to add more quality to his squad this summer but second-guessing the club’s transfer budget appears to be a pointless exercise at this point in time.
While the papers are awash with ‘war chest’ figures, the manager was quick to point out that squad building involves many moving parts.
“It’s not only about that amount,” said Arteta asked if the club are in a position to match the £150 million spent last summer.
“If you see the wage [bill] that we have and we had, it’s night and day. So it’s not only about spending, it’s about what you have sold.
“We had 28 players and we ended up with 19 in the squad, so it’s about the total expenditure. Because if not that figure is irrelevant. Because what is the total annual cost of the squad you are building?”
While he wouldn’t be drawn on what has been budgeted, the manager made clear Arsenal will do their best to maximise what they have.
Selling some players (a novel idea!) should help. Yesterday, the club confirmed that Dinos Mavropanos had been sold to Stuttgart and it’s expected Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira will follow the Greek’s lead by joining their own loan clubs, Marseille and Fiorentina.
With three first team players out of contract and question marks hanging over another six or seven, there is money to be made and saved.
“We are going to have certain resources, not unlimited resources, some resources,” said Arteta.
“And with our resources we have to play and do what we have to do in the best possible way.
Arteta is acutely aware that rival clubs will also be pushing hard to sign key targets and that standards are rising across the board.
“We don’t know what the rest are going to have in terms of resources, which I’m assuming is going to be challenging because now it’s not a top three or top four league. Now it is a top eight or 10 teams that are involved. That’s why we have to find a way to do again what we did last summer.
He added: “I think the league has never been that competitive. The numbers you could produce six years ago in this league, today you are out of Europe. It’s as simple as that.
“We know that and the plan we have is to be able to compete with these teams, but we don’t know what resources other teams will have. But we know other teams are starting from a different position, because they are in a different moment but we still need to have the aim to do that, because if you don’t, where do you end up? Just looking back, I don’t want to do that.
“We need to find ways to be able to compete with them, like we have done this season, because nobody expected us to do that with the squad we had and the expectation we had.”
While Arsenal were busy in the summer, we were the exact opposite in January. The club allowed a host of players to leave, including captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and chose not to plug the gaps. In retrospect, it feels like an opportunity was lost to bring in the necessary quality to get us over the line in our pursuit of Champions League football.
Arteta was emphatic in his response when asked if he had any regrets. “No,” he said decisively.
He was then asked if not spending in January leaves the club in a better position to do business this summer. It wasn’t entirely obvious what he meant by his reply.
“Everything that we did do, was trying to reach the objectives that we had after January – which was to try to be challenging the top four, and the way we were going to do it. Financially be stable and be in a position that come January or December we could allow ourselves to do certain things and not be completely locked.”