·8 July 2023
·8 July 2023
Over the past few years, Arsenal have drastically changed their squad but haven’t really done a great job when it’s come to selling players. They did receive good fees for both Alex Iwobi and Joe Willock, but outside of them they have generally received poor value for players or simply been unable to shift them off their books permanently.
This summer they are, reportedly, trying to move a number of players on from the club. Whether that is to balance their books after spending big on Kai Havertz, with Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber both set to be announced in the coming days or to provide further funds for Mikel Arteta to continue to spend is unknown. Either way, Arsenal want to sell quite a few players.
Kieran Tierney and Folarin Balogun should prove to be easy enough sales, with multiple clubs interested in both players, and both having the talent and track record to command good fees. But after them, it’s hard to see where they bring in real money.
Nicolas Pepe is one player that they would like to rid themselves of but after a very disappointing spell at the club and a loan to Nice last season where his form ranged from decent to dreadful, it’s hard to see a market for him. He might join the long list of players that Edu has simply paid to go away.
Thomas Partey has been linked with a move away, and it appears quite clear that Arsenal would like to move him on for non-footballing reasons, but unless one of the Saudi Pro League clubs wants him it seems very unlikely that anyone would buy him because of those same non-footballing reasons.
Rob Holding might attract some interest from some of the newly promoted teams but they’re unlikely to pay much more than £6-8mil for a player who isn’t a starting calibre central defender in the Premier League.
And then there’s Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga. Tavares had a good loan at Marseille last season, but it’s hard to place a value on him, while Sambi Lokonga struggled to impress during a six-month stay at Crystal Palace. The Belgian might need another loan, while Edu is unlikely to feel too excited about another protracted negotiation with Marseille after having his pants pulled down in the Matteo Guendouzi deal.
Credit must go to Edu for his handling of the Granit Xhaka sale though. Xhaka is a polarizing player and has been since joining Arsenal from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016. There’s no doubt that, given the fee paid for him and the expectation around what he had the potential to become, Xhaka’s tenure at Arsenal has been a disappointment.
His first six seasons at the club were littered with inconsistent form, stupid red cards and that infamous incident where he was booed off. Once captain, he was stripped of that honour and in many ways, it’s a surprise he stayed at the club as long as he did.
The 2022/23 season was undoubtedly the best season of his Arsenal career, as he scored 9 goals in all competitions while assisting 7 others and managing to avoid any stupid red cards. His 16-goal contributions were by far his highest tally as a Gunner.
Xhaka had only one year left on his deal and Arsenal made the decision that they were not going to offer new terms. As early as May, there was talk of him joining Bayer Leverkusen. The rumoured fee at the time was around £14mil. That fee seemed fair given his age, he’ll be 31 in September, his contract status and his inconsistent form over his stay at Arsenal.
For Edu to negotiate a fee of £21.4mil, a record fee for a Premier League club when selling a midfielder in their 30s is very impressive. That fee is £9mil more than Arsenal paid for Jorginho, a far more accomplished midfielder, in January.
If Edu can repeat this feat and bring in well above market value for the rest of the players that Arsenal are looking to sell, their accounts should look quite healthy even after all the new contracts and big-money buys.