Arsenal’s “ruthless” approach has seen them emerge as the winners of the summer transfer window, James Olley has told Sky Sports’ Transfer Talk podcast.
The Evening Standard’s chief football correspondent looked back on a summer which saw the Gunners break their transfer record with the arrival of Nicolas Pepe, as well pull off the shock signing of David Luiz from rivals Chelsea.
Olley also explained how Arsenal were able to spend nearly £150m despite their limited budget, and revealed which Emirates boardroom figures deserve credit for the club’s summer business.
Are Arsenal winners of the transfer window?
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August 11, 2019, 1:00pm
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“I think there’s a strong case for saying they are, when you consider where they were after the Europa League final, missing out on Champions League football and having a modest transfer budget.
“Aaron Ramsey went to Juventus, Petr Cech retired, Danny Welbeck ran out of contract – there was an awful lot of work to do.
“If you’d given them the set of circumstances they’re in now the window’s closed, most Arsenal fans would have bitten your hand off.
“Some of it was done on the fly – I don’t think anybody could have predicted Laurent Koscielny would force his way out and David Luiz would be one of Arsenal’s starting centre-backs.
“But Kieran Tierney had been identified for quite some time and they managed to get that deal over the line.
“Although I don’t think Nicolas Pepe was their first-choice winger, what they have got is a very exciting talent for a price that many people thought Arsenal wouldn’t compete at.”
Who was behind Arsenal’s record-breaking window?
“Raul (Sanllehi, head of football) and Vinai Venkatesham (managing director) deserve a lot of credit.
“They were ridiculed for some of their management speak when they did speak to the press, but actually they’ve conducted their business brilliantly.
“Also I think Edu (Gaspar, technical director) was quite influential in getting David Luiz.
“This is the new structure that is designed to take Arsenal forward and what you’ve seen is a ruthlessness that perhaps didn’t exist in the latter days of the Arsene Wenger reign.
“They’ve reduced what was a bloated wage bill and they’re starting to get a better balance to this squad.”
Was Arsenal’s reported £40m transfer budget a bluff?
“No it wasn’t. Although the headline figure (in the Pepe deal) is £72m, they’re going to pay that over five years. This is standard practice for a lot of transfers these days.
“It obviously helped their image when they were in negotiations – “we’re Arsenal and we don’t have a lot of money”.
“Compare that to Manchester United who habitually have to overpay for players because everyone knows the revenues they bring in – they have to pay what some agents call a ‘Manchester United tax’.
“Arsenal maybe had the opposite of that, so I think they’ve played it very well.
“But you only have to look at the outgoings to see how they’ve managed to offset the outlay. Krystian Bielik (to Derby), Alex Iwobi (to Everton) and Laurent Koscielny (to Bordeaux) – with just those three deals they’ve almost made £50m.