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The most important transfers in the last 60 years at Arsenal 

The close season is a time for reflection, nostalgia and expectation. While the transfer market appears to be hotting up and Arsenal are linked with a host of players, I thought I would take a personal view of the transfer deals that have occurred during my time in supporting the Club. 

Let me preface my suggestions with a bit of context. To make the choices I have looked at three things, although I have not assigned specific values. It is the close season after all and rather hot to work that hard! The three elements are: drama and excitement (effectively the impact a transfer has); the quality of performance of a player over time; and, to what extent they represented value for money. So, here are my thoughts in ascending order of the ten most significant transfers at Arsenal over the last sixty years. Please remember… it’s very subjective and just to prove how subjective it is I qualify this piece at the end by suggesting that I might have completely missed one of the most significant deals! 

10. Malcolm Macdonald 

SuperMac joined us in 1976 for a fee of £333,333 from Newcastle where he was idolised. The mid-seventies had been a very depressing time at Arsenal but we had started to develop a core of home-produced players like Brady, Stapleton and O’Leary who lifted the quality of the squad and Macdonald was a statement signing that we were on the way back. To an extent that was right and he did a good job. Supermac had two seasons with us before his knee injuries forced him to retire. He scored 42 goals in 84 appearances and towards the end of his time with us he was seriously incapacitated.  He didn’t get on with Terry Neill and he and Alan Hudson (another very exciting signing) were sent home from a close season tour to Australia.

He was a big personality who brought glamour and star quality to the club but he didn’t achieve enough with us to figure any higher on this list.

9. Joe  Baker

Dave Faber (‘Holic) and I shared many things especially concerning Arsenal and one of them was that we loved Joe Baker. Joe was an Englishman brought up in Scotland who came to Arsenal after an ill-fated spell at Torino where he was badly hurt in a serious car-crash. He cost £70,000 in the summer of 1963 and was a regular scorer topping our goal-scoring charts for four seasons and forcing his way back into the England team. His fallout with Billy Wright when he and George Eastham were transfer-listed in 1966 was cataclysmic to a young schoolboy who idolised the dapper and exciting Joe. He went on to star briefly at Nottingham Forest. He and Eastham (who nearly made the list) deserved a better team and a better manager but they brought many great moments to a free-scoring team who were sadly unable to challenge for honours. 

8.Robert Pires 

I wrestled with this one. Pires was not a mega-transfer. He didn’t attract huge attention when he signed. But what a player! Probably the finest wide player I’ve seen in an Arsenal shirt. He signed from Marseille in 2000, struggled in his first season and then became increasingly influential. It was so sad to see him subbed off in Paris in the Champions League Final – his last moment in an Arsenal shirt. We were so lucky to have him during the peak years of his career . He is still strongly involved with Arsenal as a club ambassador.

7. Patrick Vieira

In 1996 I remember reading at an airport about this new Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, just after his appointment was confirmed.  David Dein was explaining how good he was going to be and that he had asked us to sign two players to precede his arrival. They were Remi Garde and Patrick Vieira who joined us from AC Milan for something like £3.5 million. It was an extraordinary deal. He was an amazing player, a huge influence in midfield and a great captain. Wenger’s prescience paid off massively. Vieira is one of the legends of our club and I feel privileged to have seen him play. What a transfer! 

6. Charlie Nicholas 

This is the most subjective pick of the lot. After rising in the late seventies we let fine players like Brady and Stapleton slip away and signed absolute dross like Hawley and Chapman to play upfront. Charlie Nicholas was the sensation of British football in 1983 and chose us over Manchester United because he didn’t like Ron Atkinson and over Liverpool because he wasn’t sure he could get in their team! He was probably right – but I loved Charlie. I loved his habit of scoring against Spurs, the clear pride he had in playing for Arsenal and of course, he had that one afternoon at Wembley in 1987 when we beat Liverpool to win the Littlewoods Cup. He still exudes great love for our club and most supporters regard him as one of the most colourful players ever to represent us. 

 5. Alan Ball

It is Christmas 1972, long before the concept of a ‘transfer window’. We are Double champions but lacking a little sparkle in the following season. Just before the festive season began Bertie Mee decided to buy Alan Ball, World Cup winner, genuine superstar and to try to revamp our midfield. I remember my father who worked in newspapers bringing home copies of all the dailies and the Sun predicted the Ball transfer. A few hours later it was a done deal (remember those days?). It was a new British record fee of £220,000! 

Ball’s style and his personality did not gell with all his colleagues as I have been told by some of them. Leaving his payslip in the dressing room in his first week didn’t endear him to men who’d just won the Double! 

But he was a fine player who was forced to carry a poor team as Mee’s attempt at restructure went disastrously wrong. He stayed until Alan Hudson arrived in 1977 by which time Brady was already starring for the team. Ball left for Southampton later that season. 

4. Thierry Henry 

We are now at the stage where the players we are assessing are so important in the history of our club that agreement on their relative significance is effectively impossible. I was largely unmoved by the Henry transfer at the time because seeing him play for France I didn’t think he could finish and I thought he would be a poor man’s Anelka. I was actually more excited by the simultaneous signing of Davor Suker from Real Madrid! How wrong I was! Henry was transformed by Wenger’s coaching, the support of a brilliant team and the love of an adoring Arsenal public. He gave us wonderful service, breaking our goalscoring record and remains an absolute legend at our club. He was quite extraordinary value, an ‘Invincible’ and we made a profit on him when he went to Barcelona. Arsenal is his club in a way that Barcelona never will be and who can forget his return for the FA Cup tie with Leeds when he scored that trademark goal. That really was box office! But so was Thierry! 

3. Ian Wright 

I was in the Isle of Man on a business trip (not a place I love) when I heard on a radio bulletin we’d signed Wrighty. I was very surprised because we were champions, heavy scorers and I didn’t think George Graham would spend that amount of money on another striker when we had Smith and Campbell. I’m so glad he did. 

Wrighty gave us personality when we lacked quality in many positions and when, after losing in the European Cup to Benfica, Graham decided that we needed to become more solid – a synonym in this case for unexciting; cue the era of Selley, Jensen, Hillier, McGoldrick and Jimmy Carter. Wrighty carried the team in this era and we became a successful Cup side.  Many of his goals were outrageous and he stayed long enough to be part of our 1998 Double side. He was another who loved playing for Arsenal. He is synonymous with the club and has matured enormously as a pundit and a strong supporter of women’s football. If only he could turn off the tears! 

2. Sol Campbell 

In many ways this was possibly THE most exciting capture although it was technically a free transfer. I have to say that a couple of weeks before he signed, I had been at a conference in the South of France with a financier who had confidently predicted that Sol would sign for us. It wasn’t the great secret some suggest. But it was a massive affirmation of the difference in status between the two North London clubs.

Sol went on to win the Double in his first season, to become an ‘Invincible’ and to score in the Champions League Final. He left in odd circumstances but subsequently returned to play for the club again. He was another real statement signing. The statement was ‘Arsenal are a much bigger club than Spurs!’ 

1. Dennis Bergkamp 

I had been at Harvard Business School for almost a week, working very hard and hearing nothing about football. One morning I picked up USA Today which spelt out the details of Bergkamp’s £7.5 million deal. ‘Inter Milan sell Dennis Bergkamp to Arsenal London’. I really wondered about the veracity of this story from such an unlikely source. There was no internet to check details and no mobile phone so I dialled my Dad from my  room to confirm the news. Money well spent, just as the fee for Dennis was. Bruce Rioch got the ostensible credit for the deal but it was done by David Dein with advice from a bloke called Arsene Wenger in Japan.

Bergkamp’s arrival was a real game changer. Over ten glorious years we had the privilege of seeing a master at work, a man whose presence lifted and inspired his teammates and who terrified the opposition. I believe Dennis Bergkamp is our most important inwards transfer ever because of the impact he had on our standards and our belief.

As I said earlier, this is a subjective list and as I was compiling it I realised something important which I have alluded to in the article. Most, nearly all of these great figures are great ambassadors for the club. Men who regard Arsenal as the club of their life – that’s interesting isn’t it? Wright, Henry, Vieira, Pires, Nicholas love the club with a passion.  Maybe their love for the club fired their performances? 

I missed one – a big transfer in October 1964 which saw Frank Mclintock join from Leicester for £80,000. Transfers could happen at any time up to the transfer deadline in March and Mclintock’s arrival was unheralded. He went straight into a rather flakey team who lost the next night 3-0 at home to Nottingham Forest! An inauspicious beginning but he became another huge figure in the history of our club even though his initial transfer didn’t perhaps have the drama of other deals. 

Please let me know which deals you think were the most significant and exciting…. and, in a few years, might we be recalling the famous day Kai Havertz joined us and became a player who changed the potential of our club? 

108 Drinks to “Transfers That Have Rocked the Arsenal Universe”

  1. 1
    Bathgooner says:

    That’s a superb piece, TTG. It brings back such great memories.

  2. 2
    North Bank Ned says:

    A delightful wander down memory lane, TTG. Your casual namechecking of your peripatetic business career is almost as impressive. 🙂

    So pleased to see Joe Baker on your list. I, too, was a great admirer. He deserved to play in a better team. He was unlucky to lose out to Geoff Hurst for the third forward’s spot in Ramsey’s 1966 England World Cup squad. How might history have changed had he not? He was also the first player to be capped for England without ever playing for an English club. You could only play for the country of your birth in those days.

    All ten of your selections squarely meet your three criteria. As you ask for others, I would offer Jens Lehmann’s £3.5 million move from Borussia Dortmund in 2003. He certainly provided drama and excitement.

  3. 3
    Countryman100 says:

    Fantastic piece TTG. I’d like to add a couple of transfers from this century, one that happened and one that didn’t. This was post the move to the Emirates, when money was tight. The first was Xabi Alonso. We had the opportunity to buy him from Liverpool in 2009. The word was that he was begging to join us and join up with a peak Cesc Fabregas to form a truly formidable midfield. For the sake of £2m it didn’t happen. Wenger also said that “it would kill Denilson”. It was there for the taking and we blew it. Huge error.

    The one that did was Arteta’s move from Everton in 2011. I really wanted this to happen and was anxiously watching the internet on our family holiday in a gite in the Dordogne on transfer deadline day. It was on, it was off, then finally it was done for £10m, with Mikel allegedly having to take a pay cut to make it happen. Was this the move that embedded the love of Arsenal that has made him such a transforming manager?

  4. 4
    OsakaMatt says:

    Wouldn’t argue with any of those names TTG, though I am too young for Joe Baker, my Dad also thought he was a terrific player.

    My own name to throw in would be Alan Smith. Don’t know how much he cost but he more than repaid it with the winner in the Cup Winners Cup final and the first that night at Anfield. Certainly not in the greatest XI ever but those two goals were priceless.

    Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn and Bould would all get in before Sol for me on the value for money over time aspect…..

  5. 5
    Ollie says:

    Great stuff, TTG, top selection. Decent shouts above for Lehmann and an interesting one for Arteta.
    Özil could and should have been there by the feeling at the time, but it didn’t quite turn out that way in the end.

  6. 6
    Bathgooner says:

    Great suggested additions/alternatives in the Drinks, gents. I too would certainly add Arteta to the top twelve and in time perhaps he would rise to the top ten, for the reason to which C100 alludes, his signing, with a pay cut, stabilised Arsenal after the loss of key players and no doubt inculcated his love of the club and its traditions, hopefully leading to a trophy-laden period as manager. Accepting TTG’s top ten and extending the list to twenty, my next ten would be:

    11 Arteta
    12 McLintock
    13 Seaman
    14 Bould
    15 Dixon
    16 Winterburn
    17 Smith
    18 Lehmann
    19 Overmars
    20 Woodcock.

    Actually, I’d put a couple of those into my top ten in place of Alan Ball and Charlie Nicholas.

  7. 7
    TTG says:

    Kind and very perceptive comments gentlemen . Articles like this ( deliberately) set hares running and flush out really good candidates . Bath’s list is a very good one and from it ( and C100’s ) I’d acknowledge Arteta as massively significant ( much more so than Charlie ), Seaman was terrific ( as were Jimmy Rimmer and Pat Jennings ) and let me throw in one nobody has mentioned – Per Mertesacker , partly because like Arteta he occupies a key role at the club but also because he won three FA Cups and in the last gave a superlative performance in the circumstances against the werewolf that is Diego Costa. I’d also slip into Bath’s list Gilberto Silva , Petit and really going back into the mists of time David Herd who scored the first goal I ever saw at Highbury . George Graham is also well worth inclusion .
    I’ve just rewritten my article which illustrates how tough it is .
    Perhaps we might follow up in an idle moment with the worst buys . Stepanovs where are you ?

  8. 8
    Bathgooner says:

    I almost added Petit. Key to our renaissance under AW and what about Santi Cazorla!

  9. 9
    21st century gooner says:

    Some interesting names on here. Strangely, it’s got me thinking about all the biggest transfers that never actually came to fruition and why. But that’s an article for another day!

  10. 10
    bt8 says:

    Wonderful piece TTG. I particularly enjoyed reading about your personal memories of where you were when you heard about the Wright and Bergkamp signings. As a Gooner of shorter tenure I feel it’s important to second Bath’s nomination of Santi Cazorla whose path resembled those of Henry and Petit in starring for a magnificent World Cup winning side.

  11. 11
    OsakaMatt says:

    Just in terms of the noisiest I would keep Alan Ball and Charlie Nicholas, Charlie’s transfer is I think the biggest in terms of pure fan impact while I’ve been supporting. I used to go to away games fairly often when Charlie first came and we’d being singing his name for most of the game, my happiness when he chose us over Liverpool and Manchester United was huge. In the couple of months before he signed there was daily speculation in the press and the Surrey Supporters Club constantly told me there was no chance he’d choose Arsenal. Obviously I told them it was just a formality that he’d choose us but I didn’t actually believe that until he did 😃

  12. 12
    OsakaMatt says:

    Just to chuck in the ten noisiest (and I really don’t always mean good, one of them never played for us) in terms of back page headline stuff.

    1. Charlie
    2. Ozil
    3. SuperMac
    4. Clive Allen / Kenny Samson
    5. Dennis
    6. Marinello
    7. Declan Rice
    8. Sol
    9. Petrovic
    10. Ball

    Gabriel Jesus was quite a noisy one recently as was Lee Chapman back in the day and Alan Hudson even further back…

  13. 13
    ClockEndRider says:

    Super article, TTG. Thank so much fir breaking the close-season ennui.
    Matt, you just beat me to it with Petrovic. In that post-Brady wasteland, he appeared to be just the ticket in those very few games he played for us. He could have been as influential for us as Muhren and Thyssen were for Ipswich.

  14. 14
    Trev says:

    Excellent, really interesting piece, TTG.

    I can’t argue with any of your selections although I might tinker with the order. Thierry Henry I think proved to be far more influential than possibly the original excitement-ometer
    would have indicated. I also think that signing Mesut Ozil from R Madrid made a huge statement for Arsenal at the time, although some other subsequent deals and his own eventual decline never lived up to expectations.

  15. 15
    Trev says:

    Oh, and I agree with C100 and others that the capture of Arteta as a player has already proved transformational for the club. All we need now is to hope he can continue his process on to ultimate success. Whether he does or not, he has at any rate redefined the club’s required standards and restored huge pride in the fan base.

  16. 16
    North Bank Ned says:

    Some excellent additions above. I would throw my 2 cents behind Seaman’s nomination. He squarely meets TTG’s three criteria. And kudos to OM for adding Peter Marinello, if only because he (Marinello, not OM) was the inspiration for Neasden FC’s playboy superstar, Bert O’Relli.

  17. 17
    TTG says:

    Absolutely agree about the noise . Big transfers capture the back pages and one can imagine the furore if Sky or social media had been around . I glossed over Marinello because he was a publicity stunt although he could play . I agree with you and Trev re Ozil in terms of the statement that move represented. I’m told Arsene got cold feet on it and Gazidis drove the move .
    As for Sansom and Clive Allen ? I spent the season sulking about the loss of Brady but Allen would have been interesting playing with Stapleton and Sunderland . Kenny Sansom was a terrific left -back and could have played for almost any Arsenal team.
    One more for the old ‘uns. Bob Mcnab turned down Shankly and signed for Arsenal because we behaved much better . A well-known source told me he didn’t like Shankly swearing profusely , the way he treated women and his arrogance . Bertie Mee charmed him and he believed in the ‘project ‘. A good choice as it turned out

  18. 18
    OsakaMatt says:

    TTG / Ned

    Marinello was the first big transfer I can remember as a very junior gooner – in retrospect it was also my first lesson in understanding noisy doesn’t mean brilliant!

    I’d completely forgotten Alexis to mention one more – a big deal in its day

  19. 19
    OsakaMatt says:

    Sanchez I think meets two of TTG’s criteria but his brilliance was too brief….

  20. 20
    North Bank Ned says:

    Gundogan’s departure for Barca leaves an awkwardly Rice-shaped hole in Pep’s squad. Critical few days for Arteta ahead.

  21. 21
    bt8 says:

    Swiss Ramble reports that Reading now face “the possibility of a points deduction for the third season in a row” after receiving successive 6 point deductions for breaching financial rules in each of 2020/21 and 2021/22.

    What’s suitable for a club like Reading is at the very least suitable for a club like Manchester City, surely.

  22. 22
    OsakaMatt says:

    And backdating the 6 point deduction to last season would be amazingly handy bt8:)

  23. 23
    bt8 says:

    Handy backdating for the sake of justice and sportswashing-free footy, OM. 👍🏼

  24. 24
    TTG says:

    An ambitious punt at our best value team in every position
    Very subjective

    Anderson Mclintock Campbell Sansom
    Vieira Petit
    Pires Bergkamp Sanchez
    Not a bad team!

  25. 25
    bt8 says:

    A good team indeed, TTG!

    Out of curiousity I looked up an article that said we signed Sanchez for £35m in 2014 and plugged that figure into an inflation calculator which said that today’s equivalent of that sum is nearly £46m, which I would say further confirms that he was a very good value signing as well as his goal scoring rate as an Arsenal player which was very close to 1 goal in every two matches played.

  26. 26
    scruzgooner says:

    amidst all of these excellent suggestions, after ttg’s refined top 10, i would like to whisper “arshaaaavinnn” into your collective ear. by the time i got to arsenal pires was new, silva shortly after. fabregas was a shimmer in the future. the next big signing that raised the hackles with excitement was our andrei…at least for me.

  27. 27
    bathgooner says:

    The point has not yet been made explicit but the retrospectoscope’s analysis is coloured not only by the noise surrounding the signing of a player but also by that individual’s contribution to the club’s success. Hence the understandable failure of the likes of Özil and Arshavin to make TTG’s top ten or indeed my added 11-20. No-one has mentioned Pépé!

    If the retrospectoscope could focus only on noise then both Özil and Arteta would certainly figure high on the list but it’s difficult to compare today’s social media enhanced noise with the Teletext-driven noise of the 90’s let alone the relatively constrained noise of the 60’s. Hence the value of the long individual view offered by TTG.

  28. 28
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scru@26: I, too, wondered about Arshavin but concluded that while he had his moments, and some big moments, he fell short on the criterion of quality of performance over time.

  29. 29
    North Bank Ned says:

    bath@27: I like your characterisation of TTG as media for the ages. 🙂

    Mathematically, our worse purchase may not have been Pepe but Calum Chambers, for whom we paid ten times his then-market value (and let him leave on a free when he still had an estimated £10 million of residual value). We only paid one and a quarter times over the odds for Pepe.

  30. 30
    bt8 says:

    Calum was a surprisingly expensive signing at the time and even more so as the years went by without him ever breaking into the team on a regular basis, Ned.

  31. 31
    Sancho Panza says:

    If we’re talking Calum should we not also mention Mustafi?

  32. 32
    scruzgooner says:

    please don’t, sancho 🤣

  33. 33
    North Bank Ned says:

    Now plying his trade with Levante in La Liga 2, although injury has meant he only managed 813 minutes over the two seasons since he joined them.

  34. 34
    Goonersince54 says:

    According to the Oracle that is David Ornstein, we have submitted a third offer to Hammers of 105ml for a Bowl of Rice.
    I am struggling to believe he is worth that amount of Moolah, but what do I know.

  35. 35
    North Bank Ned says:

    Clive@34: That’s about what they paid at the Bus Stop for Enzo Fernández and, inflation-adjusted, less than what the Oillanders paid for Grealish. I think I’d rather have Rice than either but it is all moolah madness.

  36. 36
    OsakaMatt says:

    No doubt Abu Dhabi will increase their own offer now. It looks like it will
    be up to Rice unless the 115ers pull out. Maybe they want to be seen to
    lose a couple every year for appearances sake.

    Ned, agree completely that I’d rather have Rice than Fernandez or Grealish!

  37. 37
    Goonersince54 says:

    Given we are all in on Rice as the number 1 acquisition for our summer squad upgrade, at what point does the price become unjustifiable. ??
    City can certainly offer more than us in both fee and wages, and clearly more chances of winning the big Trophies, so where does our tipping point lie. ??
    City are on record as saying they would only bid if Rice indicated his interest, so we have to assume that is the case.
    I do hope we have a plan B and C if this saga ends in failure.

  38. 38
    bathgooner says:

    We’ve practically set ourselves up as ‘the Bank of England Club’ again or should that rather be the Bank of Kroenke? Rice can’t say we didn’t show that we really wanted him. It’s a hell of a declaration of intent by the club and a massive show of faith in Mikel Arteta. Well done Stan and Josh!

    The only downside (as well as finding the moolah) is that Brighton are certainly going to be demanding even bigger bucks for Caicedo than previously if we now turn to him as an alternative. As will anyone else that we approach to sign a player!

  39. 39
    bathgooner says:

    One thing this Rice episode demonstrates conclusively is how shabby West Ham are as a club, leaking to the press and media whores details of every bid within minutes of them being submitted.

  40. 40
    Ollie says:

    As the first ballot approaches, I am getting seriously alarmed by this:
    What happens if my payment card does not authorise for my tickets?
    If your payment card declines, your ballot application will be unsuccessful.

    Because, so far, due to security checks from the bank, every time I bought a tiket over the last couple of years, I have had to enter a code on the web interface , ‘live’ on the interface once the bank was contacted.
    With some sites, it seems unneceassary for some reason. So I really really really hope they have thought this through and the mechanism is bypassed in this case.
    I do have my doubts, because somewhere I read that if you enter your details wrong, this will not go through. Meaning there is no check on the credit card details when you enter the ballot (I guess, but if previous attempts to introduce changes on the Online Box Office are something to go by, validation tests is something they completely bypass………….).

    I remain cautiously optimistic that they are not THAT stupid, but you never know. Because, should that fail due to the security mechanisms, it would mean I basically have a completely unusable Silver membership and cannot attend games anymore.
    Not sure if banking is different in the UK, but I assume a lot of people would be i the same case?

    There were also a few cases when correct details entered failed for some reason, and I had to try four or five times, or once when I had to ring them to get a ticket.

    Also SOME websites have had permanent or temporary (but for a while, Travelodge being one example) periods when my card would not work even after authorisation from the bank.

  41. 41
    bathgooner says:

    I had exactly that problem with authorisation of a credit card when trying to buy tickets for the Spudz game last season. Authorisation stalled and I lost the tickets I had selected. Little did I know that for the late season games, I wouldn’t get nearly that far! This season is going to be quite an experience – probably on a stream!

  42. 42
    North Bank Ned says:

    Clive@37: I suspect Pep would not want a player that does not wholly buy into his way and that any player that doesn’t won’t succeed at City, such is the level of commitment that Pep demands. Rice seemingly wants to play for Arteta, and if he did go to the Oillands, there would always be a thought somewhere in the back of his and Pep’s minds that he had moved for the money, leaving his heart elsewhere. Anyway, it appears that City has dropped out of the bidding. Perhaps its intent was always to drive up the price, with half an eye on how little headroom we have under the new fair play financial rules. And what bath said @39 about West Ham.

  43. 43
    North Bank Ned says:

    Does our pursuit of Ajax’s Jurrien Timber say anything about the health of William Saliba’s back?

  44. 44
    Ollie says:

    Ned: no.
    Another question? :-p

  45. 45
    OsakaMatt says:

    @37 Clive,
    I read that West Ham were going to refuse our 3rd offer but now that City are out of the running I expect they will suddenly find it more attractive. Personally, i would have hoped we would refuse to go beyond what we’ve now offered but who knows what we’d have done . It all seems insane to me but I will be pleased if we get him.

  46. 46
    scruzgooner says:

    ned@43, i’d hope he’s good enough to step in for whoever seamlessly, more so than cedric, or, sadly, capitola rob.

  47. 47
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ollie@44: I am not so sure. On the basis of zero knowledge, I am guessing either Arteta knows that Saliba’s back problem is worse than he has let on, or that he doesn’t think he can count on a full season from the Frenchman, or that he doesn’t want to risk overplaying him. It may also be that Arteta sees a Stones-like midfield role for Timber, who seemingly has the ball-playing skill for it.

    Scruz@46: Holding’s contract runs out at the end of the coming season. I doubt that the club will take up its option to extend it for a year. Rob might be allowed to go on a free this summer if Timber joins, and at least one of these conditions apply: Trusty is deemed worthy of a season on the bench; Tomiyasu is fully recovered from injury. Rob turns 28 in September. If he is to have a career that his ability justifies — starting for a mid-table Premiership club or equivalent — then he needs to start playing regularly and that is not going to happen with us.

  48. 48
    Ollie says:

    I was being slightly flippand and saying more what I hope than believe, Ned.
    The truth is, communication about Saliba’a injury has been scarce and not completely reassuring. I just hope we get good news after the holidays.
    In any case, it does seem like Timber could have many uses indeed.

  49. 49
    Ollie says:

    …and while I’m here, I’ll send an inviting cross in…

  50. 50
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ollie@48: I realised that. Like you, I find no reassurance in the paucity of news about Saliba’s recouperation.

  51. 51
    North Bank Ned says:

    And thanks for the inviting assist, which it would have been impolite to refuse…

  52. 52
    Ollie says:

    Tidy finish, Ned. Latest news seem to be that the Arsenal bid has been accepted by WH, though still negotiating about payments.
    Not sure how that works though: the bid has been accepted but not really?

  53. 53
    Ollie says:

    And KH has now been officially announced!

  54. 54
    bt8 says:

    Any interesting transfer news today? 😉

  55. 55
    OsakaMatt says:

    Welcome to The Arsenal Kai Havertz!

    Once we sort out the easy-term payments – 18 months or 4 years to pay – with Wham then Rice will follow. After that, Timber! will also fall our way it seems. 220million the three.
    MA challenged and Edu is delivering, credit where it is due.

  56. 56
    OsakaMatt says:

    If Kai and Dec do replace Xhaka and TP5 then it would lower our average age still further. I was just trying to think who would be our oldest player when Jorginho / Leo don’t start.

  57. 57
    North Bank Ned says:

    Kai Havertz’s 29 shirt number (his number at the Bus Stop and Bayer Leverkusen; it’s a tribute to his brother) has a checkered history. Previous incumbents in reverse chronological order:
    Matteo Guendouzi,
    Granit Xhaka,
    Kim Kallstrom,
    Marouane Chamakh,
    Seb Larsson,
    Moritz Volz (twice),
    Cashly Cole,
    Jermaine Pennant,
    Stephen Hughes.

  58. 58
    TTG says:

    Delighted about Rice who is fine player and a good character .
    Havertz is mystifying to me. I must trust the process. If we let Partey , Xhaka and Lokonga go I think we will need another holding player . Step forward Lavia?

  59. 59
    Goonersince54 says:

    You and me both re Havertz.
    I cannot remember too many German players being successful at the highest level in EPL.
    I think they would certainly be in the lower percentile across all the European leagues.
    Having said that, I expect someone will shoot me down in flames and prove me wrong.
    But Havertz joining us has really really been a shock to me.
    But if we win one of the big ones next season, and he plays a major part in that success, then I will be eating a lot of humble pie.

  60. 60
    OsakaMatt says:

    Ode, ESR, Kai and Vieira as more attacking midfield options with Mo, Jorginho and Dec as holding options. I understand it is not so simple as players aren’t purely one or the other but as a general group of 7 I like the balance. Lavia is possible as TTG mentioned as another holding player if we have really given up on Sambi (I guess yes) and would make sense as Mo / Jorginho are both 30+

  61. 61
    OsakaMatt says:

    I must admit I struggle to see Kai in the Xhaka role as well. However, I struggled to see Xhaka in the Xhaka role, whereas MA didn’t. I wonder what happens for example when Zin roams and loses the ball, however I assume MA has considered Kai’s defensive potential and has a cunning plan so like you I will trust the process.
    I do like very much that MA thinks unconventionally at times and surprises us with his signings, makes life more fun as a football supporter 😃

  62. 62
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Great article TTG! Loved it.

    Other than all these very successful signings purely on footballing terms, I also like to think of signing of Anelka as a uniquely successful one considering both the footballing and financial implications. He gave us a cutting edge in his short time with us, playing key role in the 97-98 double winning season and was our top scorer the next season. He was barely out of his teens, a kid whose career was mismanaged by his brothers at that stage but we made a lot of money from his sale to Madrid. His peripatetic career and all that moody fights with French football authorities (where to be honest weirdos like Domenech behaved terribly too) ensured he never really fulfilled the early promises of greatness but he was a scintillating talent.

    I would like to think of Santi Cazorla too as a very successful signing given how little we paid for him and how much quality he brought in, and the key role he played in returning us to collecting silverware after a trophy-less decade.

    About Kai Havertz, I find the signing makes sense if we just kind of forget his inconsistent Chelsea years and think of the young midfield talent in Leverkusen, and the likelihood that Mikel will build on that and given Havertz’s youth would be able to mould him into the player he has envisioned.

  63. 63
    ecg says:

    I’m with Dr F on Kai. He is a gifted player very good with the ball on either foot, and excellent in the air. I think he will be a much better player in the Xhaka role than Xhaka. And given his size he provides an outlet when we have to boot the ball forward. He also had Fat Frank as his manager when he started at Chelsea and finished at Chelsea. That makes most players look like crap.

    The amounts that are being thrown around on transfer fees seems absurd, but that’s the market now. I like what Arteta and Edu are doing, focusing on building a young team quickly and extending contracts based on merit. Next season we will have a starting 11 with the oldest player at 26 (Zin and Jesus). After this summer I think our buying will become much more selective and our transfer fee outlay significantly reduced.

  64. 64
    bt8 says:

    Good day for that bloody Edu fella, I reckon.

  65. 65
    bt8 says:

    Looks like the first 2.5 stages of the Tour de France will be contested in the Pais Vasco with the start in Bilbao. Could be worth takkng a peek.

  66. 66
    North Bank Ned says:

    Clive@59: Jens Lehman, Per Mertesacker, early-phase Mezut Ozil and Lukas Podolski weren’t so shabby. Jergen Klinsmann and Leroy Sane are probably the pick of the Germans who played in the Premier League. Ilkay Gündogan would be up there and Antonio Rüdiger not far from the top. Michael Ballack should have topped the list, but we never saw his best in England. Others will have names to contribute but you are right that it is a relatively short list, surprisingly so.

  67. 67
    Goonersince54 says:

    I am convinced that the unrelenting pace and sheer ferocity of the English game does for many a European recruit.
    For every one that does succeed, their would be plenty that don’t.
    I would add Italians alongside the Germans with a low percentile top level success rate in EPL.
    Bayern are a case in point, with so many easy games during the season, when they get to pointy end of CL, they have poor recent record as they aren’t battle hardened enough to survive.
    I also think a lot of them are soft, thus the tougher your upbringing where you have to fight your way out of the backstreets and quite often poverty and other deprivations,the more likely you are to survive and thrive in the 100 mile an hour EPL in particular.

  68. 68
    Ollie says:

    Ned pointed the successful Germans. I’d just add Pascal Gross to that list.
    Vastly underrated, but a resounding success at Brighton.

    And who could forget our first German, as pointed by .con: Alberto Mendez. OK, maybe he wasn’t very successful. 😀

  69. 69
    North Bank Ned says:

    Clive@67: Fair points, although the unrelenting pace and sheer ferocity of the English game does for a lot of young English recruits, too.

    Ollie@68: Moritz Volz, too.

    The BBC reports that Rice is having a medical. Presumably, the continuing discussions over how the deal will be structured are about whether West Ham wants its £105 million in fivers or twenties.

  70. 70
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Another good news — https://arseblog.news/2023/06/report-arsenal-secure-nwaneri-future/

    If I remember correctly, clubs like City and Bayern were after him…

  71. 71
    bt8 says:

    It is now official: the BCC have come up with a new name for the Arsenal. We are now “ambitious Arsenal”


  72. 72
    bathgooner says:

    It’s worth watching Britain’s Biggest Football Scandal on YouTube to get an insight into the evidence of sharp practice and obfuscation and what a mess UEFA made of their prosecution of a certain football team and how bizarre was the selection of the 3-man CAS panel that on a 2-1 majority rejected the evidence and overturned the two year ban and massive fine for concealed illict income, obfuscation and non-cooperation. ‘Guilty as charged’ would be the only conclusion of any objective unbiased judge or juror. The asterisk against all those trophy wins should be huge and should glow in the dark.

  73. 73
    ecg says:

    With the signings of Rice and Havertz, and assuming both will be starters, our average age of the starting 11 has gone down from slightly over 24 to 24 (based on age as of today). Assuming we sign Timber, the average age of our second 11 will be 25.

  74. 74
    OsakaMatt says:

    Timber agreed at 42m + 5m add ons apparently. Basically three done by the end of June.

    Thanks for the recommendation @72 Bath and the information @63 and @73 ecg.
    We are living in interesting times.

  75. 75
    bt8 says:

    Don’t mind if I do abscond with the 3/4 ton.

  76. 76
    OsakaMatt says:

    Well in bt8 😃

  77. 77
    OsakaMatt says:

    I watched the program on Shitteh. It is so blindingly obvious they cheated that I would have to conclude that UEFA shamelessly took a dive. Personally, I think the PL will impose quite severe penalties as they are scared of the reaction if they don’t but we’ll see.

  78. 78
    OsakaMatt says:

    When I say “we’ll see’ I mean if I live long enough as no doubt the 115ers will drag the matter out for a very long time.

  79. 79
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@77: With UEFA, you get what you pay for. 🙂

  80. 80
    bathgooner says:

    Nutshell, Ned @79!

  81. 81
    Ollie says:

    Just registered for the ballot. I am now confident that if eligible there will be no credit card fuck up. The reason? You do get through authorisation as there is a 1GBP ‘pre-authorisation charge’. As I have not seen this mentioned anywhere before, I still don’t know if it’s an EXTRA charge, or gets refunded if unsuccessful or deducted if successful.
    We shall see…

  82. 82
    Ollie says:

    Apparently, it’s just a normal pre-authorisation. The word ‘charge’ just made me suspicious (and my general skepticism about the process and the way football clubs treat their fans, ours being no exception in that regard).

  83. 83
    bt8 says:

    Arsenal will kick off their Women’s Champions League campaign against Linkoping of Sweden, according to the BBC.

    To save a step for all those wondering what there is to do in Linkoping (even though we have a home match) here is the place to find out:


  84. 84
    scruzgooner says:

    and jen beattie just signed a new contract!

  85. 85
    Esso says:

    Terrific article TTG! Absolute fucking magic. Soz bit pissed on a Friday night.

    In loving memory of Dave and Joe Baker

  86. 86
    North Bank Ned says:

    Pablo Mari’s permanent move to Monza is confirmed, presumably for the pre-agreed £4.25 million. Just the odd £100 million left to find to cover Rice’s fee.

  87. 87
    bt8 says:

    Maybe we should do a telethon to collect the cash?

  88. 88
    bt8 says:

    Send your bitcoins to this address:

  89. 89
    OsakaMatt says:

    Best of luck to Pablo Mari, and he’s due some luck after last year.

  90. 90
    OsakaMatt says:

    I read that PV4 is more likely to take the Strasbourg manager job next than the Leeds job.
    Hope that’s right as I wouldn’t really wish the Leeds job on Patrick, no disrespect intended to Dirty Leeds of course.

  91. 91
    Ollie says:

    Yeah, Matt, but technically that means he will be working for Chelsea…🤢

  92. 92
    OsakaMatt says:

    Oh I didn’t realize that Ollie. I hate this multi-club model shit.

  93. 93
    OsakaMatt says:

    Almost as much as hate the nation state owned club shit 😡

  94. 94
    OsakaMatt says:

    I’ll soothe my fevered brow with a run to the ton

  95. 95
    OsakaMatt says:

    A topical tune for twatly Todd

  96. 96
    OsakaMatt says:

    And another more family friendly one for our new signing

  97. 97
    OsakaMatt says:

    And this one for no reason

  98. 98
    OsakaMatt says:

    And of course I couldn’t forget the 100m man

  99. 99
    OsakaMatt says:

    It’s over to you Declan, on your head mate

  100. 100
    Ollie says:

    *gets a ton before Khawaja does*

  101. 101
    Ollie says:

    Served on a plate by Matt’s mazy run.
    Cricket ball for a header, that hurts.
    Mixed up sports, eh.

  102. 102
    bt8 says:

    well in Ollie

  103. 103
    bt8 says:

    And magical pre- and pre-pre- assisting, OM

  104. 104
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the ton, Ollie.

    OM@89: Well said. Mari is a better player than many give him credit for. Not good enough to dislodge Gabriel from our defence or play for an elite club, but more than good enough to start regularly for a whole host of clubs in Europe’s top five leagues. Good luck to him at Monza.

    On the multi-club model, UEFA has reportedly told V Sports, which owns Aston Villa, to reduce its stake in its Portuguese club Vitoria de Guimaraes as both are in the Europa Conference League next season. UEFA has a similar conflict to resolve for the Europa League with Tony Bloom-owned Brighton and Belgian club Royale Union Saint-Gilloise both in it next season. Will UEFA stand firm on its rule that clubs can share an owner but not compete in the same competition, or will it cave to accommodate the money behind the multi-club model? I’m not holding my breath.

  105. 105
    Ollie says:

    There’s also AC Milan and Toulouse. Toulouse changed a lot of admin/directing staff I think, but UEFA has not yet decided on this case.

  106. 106
    North Bank Ned says:

    UEFA has to establish a firm policy on multi-club ownership one way or the other sooner rather than later. Otherwise, the situation will be beyond its control. Its current compromise was devised when the conflict of interest/integrity of competitions issue was more theoretical than it has now become.

  107. 107
    TTG says:

    Silly season stories abound.Mbappe to Arsenal. Havertz earning £330k a week . Harry Kane to Arsenal as a free agent even surfaced on Twitter. But Bild say the Havertz story is true. Surely not ? That would make him our highest earner. Still the last two Arsenal players who had contracts that big didn’t work out too badly did they? – Ozil and Aubameyang 😱😱😱And at some stage in their careers they were at least good players

  108. 108
    scruzgooner says: