Rice and Havertz and Timber, oh my! Kroenke’s finally ponying up…

Josh Kroenke holding a trophy…wearing an Arsenal cap…

It’s been a whirlwind week. The events speak for themselves. We started the week worrying about losing Declan Rice to Man City’s “embarrassing” bid only to see them back out after we improved our bid. As it currently stands, we’re set to sign Rice at a final fee of some £105m, give or take, depending on how the payments and add-ons are structured, and that’s a fee that would reduce the pressure on Rice to prove that he’s among the top three most-expensive transfers ever.

One almost has to feel bad for Kai Havertz, whose transfer was officially confirmed on Wednesday but overshadowed by the unofficial news of Rice’s transfer. Havertz is in the squad. That’s done and dusted. Some will complain about the fact that we gave Chelsea anything at all to help them escape FFP sanctions, but they’d have to explain how us strengthening ourselves at Chelsea’s expense is any better or worse than Chelsea selling numerous players off to Saudi Arabia. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

All I’m hearing is crickets and tumbleweed.

Elsewhere, the depth and quality continues to improve as we seem to have also secured the services of Ajax’s Jurriën Timber on a £50m fee. We’re now looking at having signed three players—three—and the window is just a few weeks old. Wee want it all: the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles. Sure, we might offend a few of the bluenoses with our cocky stride and musky odors – oh, we’ll never be the darling of the so-called “City Fathers” who cluck their tongues, stroke their beards, and talk about “What’s to be done with this new Arsenal?”

After suffering years and years of Arsène’s philosophical opposition to spending, which offered a fig leaf to Silent Stan’s refusal to spend, it’s more than a bit bewildering to see where we currently stand. Not only have we signed one of England’s (if not Europe’s) most-coveted central midfielders, we’ve also added one of Germany’s most-gifted if under-utilised attacking midfileders, each of whom has yet to fully plumb the depths of his potential. Add to that cache one Jurriën Timber, and you’d have a transfer-window that would be the envy of just about any club in Europe.

And…however…one gets the sense that we’re not quite done. We still have reinforcements to summon. Positions to strengthen. Deadwood to move. It’s too early to wash away the years and years during which the Kroenkes treated this club like a piggy bank to be raided and emptied. However, when you see your club beat Man City to the signing of Declan Rice after seizing Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko from right under their noses; when you see your club snatch Kai Havertz; when you see your club “overpay” for Benny Blanco and snatch Martin Ødegaard away from Real Madrid while also renewing contracts for Martinelli, Saka, and Saliba, well, you have to start to wonder where this is all going.

For most clubs, all of this business would represent a window for the ages. Something tells me we’re just getting started…

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10 thoughts on “Rice and Havertz and Timber, oh my! Kroenke’s finally ponying up…

  1. Andrew Banks

    The Kroenke family has never treated the club like a piggy bank. They have never withdrawn huge amounts of cash from the club like the MU owners. Far from it. their main previous move was to take over the loans that Arsenal had from banks. Nothing wrong with that. After a misstep with Emery then then bravely hired a completely untried manager and stood firm when everyone (myself included) wanted to fire him. Then they introduced a clear strategy for building the club back up – and they stuck to it. Now, as greater success beckons, they are putting some serious money down and competing with clubs with unlimited funds from nefarious sources. They could not really have acted much better than they have (apart from the stupid Superleague).

    In fact, the family is very successful indeed in sports – in winning, not just making money. Arsenal is the only major sports club in their portfolio that has not won the premier prize – yet.

    Arsenal fans cannot really have expected any more. They have shown themselves to be very smart in the way they have gone about things, and shown that it is not just all about money (see Chelsea). Arsenal fans may never love having a US billionaire family as owner, but they should at least acknowledge that they have done a pretty good job turning the club around and have the potential to build something really special over the next few years.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      well-said. It was unfair of me to make the piggy-bank remark. At worst, KSE haven’t really been all that involved in the club up until the last two or three years. What percentage of that has been Stan Kroenke’s own lack of interest versus Arsene Wenger’s belief in a self-sustaining club is anyone’s guess. With Wenger gone, we’re seeing KSE start to finance the club in an ambitious but cautious way (by contrast with Chelsea’s reckless approach). If we’re to be financed by a wealthy owner, we could far worse than who we have. Remember when there was talk of Alisher Usmanov taking over? [shudder].

  2. Silentstan

    Finally? Have you not been watching the last few windows? Have you not seen how much we have spent these last few years?

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Yes, the last few windows. He became majority stakeholder in 2011 and 100% owner in 2018. This is really only the third window (including 2022-23 and 2021-22) in which we’ve seen such spending. For me to lead with “finally” might be a touch hyperbolic, but we’ve been waiting for Stan Kroenke to take more-active interest (read: spend more) for quite a while.

  3. Palladio43

    So now, where do we go? We have, seemingly, filled the holes that are resulting from departures of our existing players and added to parts that were shown to be susceptible injury and consequent weakness. However, have we maintained the status quo, albeit a bit younger and somewhat better, or have we raised ourselves to the level of City?
    Everyone is watching players moving away, most of the elders are off to where oil is fueling their declining years. But now, with many more weeks than we usually get to enjoy, we still need to get better and able to withstand the rigors of the added matches, improved competition, and a full season. We fell short at the end and now we may have the weight of another potential cup chase to endure. Thus, we need more and better players.
    Who will we now chase after and what do we need? Having moved up into the rarified air of the top four in the PL and back into the CL, let alone still part of the FA effort, etc., we need both a deeper and a stronger squad. Any thoughts? Any candidates? A true striker? Added defenders? More replacements as we shed others that have yet to depart?

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Signing Havertz and Rice seems like a revamp of the central midfield…but if both Xhaka and Partey leave, we’re right back to where we started as far as depth. It’s encouraging to see so much activity so soon in the window, but I think we still have to add depth there. It would be great to see us find a CF/striker who can bring some size or physicality to the role. I love the fluidity and versatility we have across the front line but think we need that alternative – a Giroud-type – who can offer that missing element.

  4. consolsbob

    I do agree with the above comments. As a member of Arsenal Fanshare I opposed their takeover and hated the loss of owning a tiny bit of our club. How fans who had held a handful of shares for generations felt, I can only imagine.

    However, they have become good custodians and in Josh a useful advocate.

    Having said that I do agree with the main tenor of your piece. Very nicely written and judged and, I suspect, spot one.

    All power to your elbow on the seasons to come.

    Up The Arsenal!

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Thanks, consolsbob. I should explore my own ambivalence around KSE’s takeover. I’ve come to terms with the notion that the only way to contend for a Prem title is to have an owner willing to invest, but I still wish fans could still own some portion of the club. The symbolism is significant.

      That said, Josh does seem to be much-more involved and interested than we’ve ever seen from Stan (who seems to keep a similar relationship to all of the clubs he owns). If you’re going to see your club owned and financed by a well-heeled owner, it might as well be one who cares.

  5. jod

    Most fans of large clubs seem to think their club has unlimited amounts of money and moan because this imaginary cash isn’t being spent. Of course City do have unlimited amounts of money but clubs like Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool can only spend what they earn. At the moment Arsenal are on a high, champions league qualification will increase their income and there is the prospect a few quality signings might push an already good team up another level. So it makes sense for the owners to push the boat out, of course if it doesn’t work they may have to reduce expenditure next season. Its not just about how much you spend, its also how well you spend it, we can’t form a judgement on that until the end of the season.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      To a degree, you’re correct. However, clubs are largely free to spend their owners’ money above and beyond what the club earns in revenue as long as they’re careful (Exhibit A: Chelsea). During the second half of Wenger’s tenure, we were hampered by Stan Kroenke’s apparent disinterest in investing but also by having to finance the stadium debt and by Wenger’s own belief in a self-sustaining club.

      Having gotten out from under our debt (and shed Wenger’s philosophy), the Kroenkes seem far more willing to spend, which is especially notable in the absence of Champions League revenue for the last six years. It’s a testament to Arteta’s passion and vision that he’s been able to convince such high-quality players to commit to his project and to Kroenke’s willingness to back him in pursuit of that project. After spilling considerable ink on my irritation with Stan Kroenke in years past, I feel like I do owe him an apology!


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