Bacary Sagna has become the latest person to be openly critical of Arsenal’s transfer policy. Arsenal sold both Robin Van Persie and Alex Song this summer, and those two are merely the latest in a long line of talent to have been shipped out of the Emirates over the past few years.
The departure of Van Persie was an inevitability once he stated in no uncertain terms his refusal to sign a new contract with the Gunners. With just one year remaining on his contract, Arsenal made the regrettable, but ultimately sensible decision to get £24 million for a player who would leave for nothing next summer, or at a vastly reduced rate in January.
However the fact that Van Persie wanted to play elsewhere is all the indication you need that Arsenal have become a club who are losing their appeal and stature. The more surprising departure was that of Alex Song. At the age of just 24, and with three years remaining on his contract, Arsenal were in no immediate rush to sell Song so his exit was met with an element of surprise.
Sagna’s publicly critical assesment of Arsenal’s transfer dealings suggests that things are far from rosy inside the Arsenal camp, and other players are likely to have these same doubts and confusion over just what is going on at the Emirates. With these comments from Sagna, he could well be the next player on the conveyor belt of talent departing the Emirates. Arsenal supporters had to watch on enviously at the sight of former players Nasri and Clichy lifting the Premier League title for Manchester City, all this whilst Arsenal endured yet another barren season in terms of trophies.
So is Arsenal’s transfer philosophy flawed? Based on the trophy cabinet the answer has to be yes. The club has lifted no silverware since 2005. You don’t see England’s other elite sides being forced to dispose of their star players at the same rate as Arsenal, and there is a sense that the club are falling further and further behind, and as each season passes the chance of that much desired trophy reduces.
Admittedly, Arsenal have made reinforcements of a more satisfactory standard than in the past, Podolski, Giroud and Carzola should give Arsenal a cutting edge in the final third once they gel together, although not one of them comes close to being considered a Van Persie replacement.
Yet despite the outbursts and frustration dominating Arsenal at present, they have maintained their record of Champions League football for an impressive 16th consecutive season, and appear to have a squad capable of stretching that run to 17. In this regard, Arsene Wenger can justify his transfer philosophy, though this view is unlikely to be shared amongst the majority of the Arsenal faithful.
The question has to be asked is whether Arsenal’s own fans regard competing for 4th place year on year an acceptable target for their club. I think the majority of Arsenal fans see themselves as a bigger club than that, and in order to fulfill those more lofty ambitions, Arsenal’s top players need to stop being sold.