Manchester City are spending their way into the Premier League top four. Paradoxically, the club most amenable to their ambition is Arsenal, whom they wish to supplant. The Gunners sold City striker Emmanuel Adebayor for £25m. Less than two weeks later, they are prepared to sell them defender Kolo Toure for another £14m, as the 28-year-old Ivorian has been turned by the £100,000 per week wage offer.
If Toure’s deal goes through, Arsenal will receive £39m from Manchester City. If Fiorentina buy Emmanuel Eboue for the rumored £8.5m that would be £47.5m in sales. Their only buy thus far has been £10m defender Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax. Arsenal would, theoretically, make a £37.5m profit over the summer, enough to buy one spectacular player or two borderline great ones. Despite the influx in cash, however, Arsene Wenger has already issued his tired refrain about being satisfied with the squad and not needing to spend.
The situation is curious. It indicates serious financial trouble, or serious delusion.
Arsenal have their zealots, pointing out that Arsenal already have their summer signings, Eduardo and Tomas Rosicky returning from injury. They also have the young players stepping forward. This justification sounds familiar, because it was the same exact justification given last summer, when Hleb, Flamini and Gilberto left. It also resonates with excuses made in the two trophy-less seasons previously.
Injuries are another common claim. Arsenal had serious ones last year, most crucially Cesc Fabregas’ knee. Had players not been injured, the season could have gone differently. True, but what squad has no injuries? Certainly not Arsenal in the past few seasons. Clubs that win have squads that withstand injuries.
Chelsea have stayed pat. Manchester United lost Cristiano Ronaldo. Liverpool may lose Alonso, Mascherano or both. Arsenal, with wise investment, could propel themselves to title contention next season. Instead, they jettison more players from an already perilously thin squad, content to be relevant rather than dominant, proud to be a few points off the pace.
Arsenal are receiving £39m from Manchester City, but, if the club does not reinvest at least some of the money, they could lose nearly that much by not qualifying for the Champions League.