It is widely acknowledged that the strategy of bringing through young players was the only way for Arsenal to try to maintain their prominence at the top of the Premiership whilst paying for the Emirates Stadium.
It worked brilliantly, mainly due to an exceptional balancing act by Arsène Wenger. We did not flatter to deceive – we deceived, and for 5 years we proved the critics wrong. Managers are often applauded for bring their club up a division; well Wenger’s feat certainly ranks as highly.
I don’t believe the term ‘Project Youth has ever been used by AW or the club and is seen by some as an indictment rather than an accolade, but for the purposes of discussing past and future recruitment, I shall continue to use it here whatever your personal feeling is about it’s efficacy.
Arsène Wenger was the architect of the plan and in truth he was just being pragmatic because he had few other choices. He cites many advantages to bringing through young players together, but it is apparent that his growing frustration in the latter part of last season was due to his disappointment that it had not brought all the rewards he had envisaged.
The sad truth about P.Y. is that there is a sting in the tail. Now that we have established a stable financial model, the team built around Fabregas is beginning to crumble and reinforcements are required.
Herein lies the problem. The wages paid and the erratic performances of some of those players has meant that suitors are not exactly queuing for their services, and when they do, the valuation often falls short of what the club would expect.
From past dealings, it does not appear that Silent Stan is likely to throw 30 million at Arsène for a marquee signing and I doubt the manager would spend it if he did, so the club is in the predicament of either hanging on to players who have disappointed or selling cheaply and therefore reducing the funds available for ‘quality’ replacements.
Arsenal is a top European side who perennially feature in the Champion’s League. We generate vast amounts of money on the pitch and commercially but we play a different game from the other clubs and personally I’d rather buy within our means if SK keeps his promise not to saddle the club with debt. If we had debts like Barca or Manu, I’d be more happy for us to spend money we don’t have – what the hell!!, but when you’ve trodden one path so successfully for so long, why change?
And so we are in a waiting game. Waiting to see what kind of offers (if any) we will get for the likes of Bendtner, Clichy, Eboue, Almunia and Denilson. Waiting to see who of those we have been scouting are still available if and when we sell. Waiting for Barca to come up with the right offer for Cesc …… which may happen sooner rather than later if recent reports are to be believed.
There is a world of difference between selling a player who is no longer wanted in which case the buyer knows he can call the shots; and selling a player who you want to keep. In most cases, you are in the driving seat when you don’t want to sell. Unfortunately, when that player only wants to go to one club, even that advantage is diminished.
I expect Cesc’s departure will trigger the purchase of a replacement midfielder, most likely Ricardo Alvarez, in the same way as Bendtner’s sale will create the funds for the possible signing of Gervinho or A. N. Other striker. Balancing (reducing) the wage bill is every bit as important as finding the money to buy players.
The power lies largely in the hands of others. The clubs we are dealing with know this and it gives them the upper hand. So prepare yourselves fellow Gooners for a frustrating summer. Project Youth was the only choice we had in 2006 and it continues to restrict our choices in 2011.
Written by Rasp