Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Arteta: Buying a player is a bet…and it can go wrong

Mikel Arteta says the process of recruiting players during the transfer window is akin to making a bet and that it’s his responsibility to make sure the odds are in Arsenal’s favour when the club commit to offering long-term contracts. 

In the aftermath of Nicolas Pepe’s contract termination – a decision taken by the Gunners after the one-time club-record signing struggled through four disappointing seasons – the Spaniard stressed that with so many variables in play, navigating the transfer market is never an exact science. 

“We are all human beings and one plus one is not always two,” said the manager in the final part of his pre-Everton press conference. 

“You have to bring them [players] from different countries and cultures and then there are the styles of play they have to adapt to and they have to fit within a system and they have to fit within a different environment and that sometimes takes time and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. 

“Obviously I feel extremely responsible especially when we are demanding to buy plays for huge amounts [of money] to make sure that we’ve done the work to make it happen but sometimes it doesn’t. And it’s part of that. 

“At the end, it’s a bet. When you’re buying a player, it’s a bet. And that bet can go wrong, you know? Because at the end, it’s a human player. 

“A player can get injured, look what happened with Jurrien [Timber]. We are extremely happy [with him], but for a different reason, we don’t have a player on the field, you know? But we pay a lot of money. 

“It’s a player that’s going to be really important but he’s not working at the moment because he cannot fulfil his job. But sometimes it’s that reason, sometimes it’s the reason that he’s not fitting, he’s not playing well enough, the coach makes so many mistakes that he doesn’t get the best out of him. A lot of times this is the problem as well. So it’s a bit of a difficult one.”

By and large, transfers and contract extensions since Arteta took over have worked out but there have been notable gaffes along the way. Even though he joined as a free agent, Willian was an unmitigated disaster, punts on youngsters like Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares didn’t click and the expensive new deal given to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was regretted almost instantly. 

It’s too early to tell how some of the newer signings will work out but with Arsenal now competing at the top end of the table, Arteta and Edu seem to be getting better at poker. 

After a promising start to the campaign, Arsenal now head into a hectic four-week period that sees the squad tackle big games across three different competitions, including the Champions League. Having had the international break to reflect, Arteta wants his players to be more ruthless when they return to action at Everton on Sunday. 

“I would say, if we have 12 points, then I give them a 10,” he told Sky Sports when asked to rate his side’s start to the campaign. 

“But there is always, as a manager, things that we have to improve, we have to do better. But listen, we started winning the trophy against Manchester City in the [Community Shield] final.

“We should have won the four games, that’s for sure. I watched them all back again and we should have won it [against Fulham], but the margin they’ve been too small and probably that’s the thing that we have to do better to kill games earlier and we have the dominance that we have shown already, be more ruthless.”

Arsenal were anything but ruthless during last season’s trip to Goodison Park when a James Tarkowski header was enough to seal the points on Sean Dyche’s first match in charge. 

“In a sport and in life, you have to learn from the lessons, you know, and I’m sure that we have learned certain things from last year’s defeat,” said Arteta. 

“The way we gave the game away at the end, you know, when the game was in total control, that’s when we gave it away and they have the capacity to do that and they’ve done it to us in a few moments in the last few years. We have to go back to that feeling that we had after the game and use that in the right way to be looking forward to that challenge.”

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I am very worried when it comes to MA integrating our academy players in the first team squad, at the moment, it doesn’t look to me like any academy player can breakthrough into the first team,,,, and before you disagree with me, remember Saka, ESR and even Martineli were all given the chance by other people and not MA, which academy player have we seen in 4 years as getting to close to being integrated??? My thoughts🤔💭!


Because we’re challenging for the title finally?

The standard has raised somewhat so it’s going to be harder and harder for academy players to break through.

Genuine question, how many academy players did Wenger bring in to become regular first team players?

Ashley Cole and…?


Djorou (spellcheck!) , Iwobi and Wilshere come to mind as players that established themselves. I remember many many players getting games, your Akpoms and JETs, but not a whole lot made 50 plus games.

Kehinde Olubayo

City are challenging too and have McAtee, Palmer (before he left),Rico Lewis to mention just three.


McAtee is at Sheffield United having played an handful of minuets and they sold Palmer.

So one. Ona and a half max?


McAtee and Palmer aren’t at City this season, though Palmer did get a PL medal last year.

Foden and Lewis are the only City players I think meet the criteria. Guardiola has been at city what? 7 years?

There’s not enough evidence yet to say Arteta will or won’t integrate academy players. But I think it’s fair to say it’s an unusual criticism when it’s uncommon for academy players to win title for their parent club.


Now it looks like I’ve spammed the board. None of my replies appeared and now there’s loads of them.

Just pick whichever comment makes me look least like a tool and go with that


You say challenging for the title, but I think it will be difficult this year. Looking at how the first 5 games have panned out, I am a little concerned. We’ve struggled in every game so far and whilst the man u game seems like a big result they are pants (as Brighton just showed). There is a clear divide in the league now. City are miles ahead and are coasting every game in 2nd gear (even when they go behind). Behind them there is us, Liverpool (very much back in the mix), Brighton (very much top 4 material), Maybe… Read more »

A Different George

Winning the title depends on getting the most points in 38 games, not the first four. Or even, as last season unfortunately proved, in the first 32. You are right that we cannot afford to drop too many points, but if we have the greatest season in modern history and win the league in a walk, we will still drop a dozen points–like the Invincibles, who dropped 24.


I’m not buying this Spurs hype, they were on the verge of losing to Sheffield at home if not for 98th and 100th minute goal. That manager has a long track record of being fairly mediocre, their star player is nearing the end of his prime and his best quality (pace) doesn’t tend to hold up at his age, and they’ve brought a ton of new players who need to gel. Be like Arteta, judge by performances not results. Spurs will challenge for 4th this season at best imo.

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

Wilshere, Szczesny, Nketiah under MA, TGSTEL.


Hector Bellerin was in our academy for a long while before breaking through. Iwobi? Le Coq? Wilshere was brilliant before injuries. So was DEEEEENCH to a lesser extent. Cole as you mention. Song. Szczesny. Gnabry wouldve made it had he stayed…

Obviously none of them went on to become Arsenal legends or anything but all of them had good careers and owe those careers to Wenger to a large extent. But as you say it’s easier to do that (give young players chances) when your barometer for success is finishing top 4 rather than winning the league.


Giving a debut and being integrated are 2 different things. Yes Saka had played quite a bit for Arsenal before Arteta came in but hardly at all at RW. I think maybe only 1 game there and more at LB than any other position. So Saka as a RW has really been integrated by Arteta. You can make similar arguments with ESR and Eddie, both had played before but not as much as under Arteta. And the other thing is given it is a young team it was right to bring in the 23 year olds in 2021 and the… Read more »


In fact I just checked and I was slightly wrong above. Before Arteta played him at RW v Wolves Saka had never played there for Arsenal. (For some reason I thought he played there v Frankfurt away but he was LW and ESR right). So that’s what I mean about this rubbish academy criticism of Arteta – one of the best right-wingers in the world was introduced there by him but he should get no credit just cos another manager gave him his debut? Equally if Arteta leaves and our next manager is the one who introduces Nwaneri to the… Read more »

Man Manny

One thing I have observed is that City’s academy players tend to so well when thrust into the first team – and they are quite few. That is the way with all top teams. Ødegaard, as prodigious as he was, “failed” at Real Madrid! The better the quality of the first team, the higher a quality the youngster needs to be of to have a sniff.

Santiago Phonebox

Eddie, Reiss, ESR. Name me an Academy player that Arteta should have given time to over another player?


Perhaps they were given debuts by other people but other but it was MA that gave their CHANCES.
Interestingly the story of Ansi comes to mind, Barcelona likes making noise about producing young players and yet the majority of them get chewed through.

Mikels Arteta

Arteta was born a gamblin’ man
Trust the process

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

Nickel Arteta.

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