Rivals fume that “Arteta’s just a chequebook manager!” Let’s check the numbers.


Last summer, Arsenal were grilled for “wasting” £54m on Ben White when Man U were the savvier club for getting Varane for only £35m. We were pilloried for spend £25m on twice-relegated Ramsdale, and now Man U are praised for spending £46m on Onana—whom Inter had gotten on a free transfer the year before. Fast forward to this current window, and we’re being criticised for having spent £200m on players. Arteta, it seems, is in fact Guardiola’s pupil; he learned to spend and spend and spend some more. He’s a fraud with more follicles and nothing more. I just hope that Stan stays solvent…

As usual, reality is a bit more nuanced. Yes, we’ve seen a massive surge in spending since Arteta was hired in December 2019 (well, really, since the summer of 2021). However, as you can see from this graphic, the gap to the biggest spenders is still considerable, all the more so when you look at wages. One caveat: this chart does not include our signing of Raya, nor does it include Liverpool’s (or will it be Chelsea’s) imminent signing of Caicedo or Tottenham’s sale of Kane. Still, let’s not bog down too much in details. Big picture. Forest, not trees. It pulls together data from Swiss Ramble and Capology, two of the best sources available for this kind of financial data.

I apologise. For as useful as this graphic is, it’s somewhat hard on the eyes.

Keep in mind that these figures are ballpark estimates. No club—with the possible exception of Man City (pure as the driven snow, they are)—is ever fully open with their financial details. Still, despite all the sturm und drang around our spending, it’s remarkable to see the yawning chasm that still separates us from the four clubs above, if not for total net spend then certainly for wages. Yes, we’ve paid a lot in fees and have been woeful in selling players on. If you can find a club willing to pay actual money for the likes of Cedric, Elneny, Holding, or Pepe, among others, do us both a favour and stop wasting your time at this puny blog. Ring up Edu and let him know you’ve rendered him redundant.

You’d be hard-pressed to mount a case against the spending this club has actually done. By contrast with clubs like Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Man U, Arsenal had few if any top-shelf players when Arteta arrived. Aubameyang was all but riding off into the sunset with his antics starting to eclipse his production. Pépé and Lacazette were still somewhat desirable. Özil was in decline, be that down to injuries, diffidence, or off-pitch issues. In short, it was a squad in dire need of a complete, top-to-bottom overhaul.

We might be victims of our own somewhat-sanctimonious insistence that we be a self-sustaining club. To be more-honest, we might victims of Arsène’s somewhat-sanctimonious insistence that we be a self-sustaining club. Well, we must discard this insistence, much like the boxer must shed roll after roll of sweaty, useless, disgusting flab before we can win the title.

Of course, winning the title turns on such fine margins and inches and PGMOL-ian incompetences that it’s hard to know just what all of this spending, whether it’s ours or Man City’s or Liverpool’s, will bring. It’s still Man City’s title to lose, after all, even if we pin hopes to them feeling a bit sated after the treble and after losing the influential Gündoğan (oh, yes, and Mahrez). Liverpool are certainly back in the mix after signing Mac Allister and Szoboszlai and seeing the returns to fitness of Jota and Diaz. Beyond them, there’s a chance that Man U will join the fray, especially if new signing Højlund can kick on.

Signings, signings, signings. Apparently, they’re the glue that holds together the gears of a club’s ability to compete. Who knew?

Average rating 4.6 / 5. Vote count: 17

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

7 thoughts on “Rivals fume that “Arteta’s just a chequebook manager!” Let’s check the numbers.

  1. Palladio43

    A confusing chart since it is unclear as to a final date for 22/23 (obviously not end of transfer window in Sept 23). But, what does it tell us? I would have wanted to see a graphic showing year-by-year or season-by-season to see what the trends have been even if Arteta’s first season might have incomplete although it would not hurt to include the three months before he arrived since the window was already closed. Of course, does summer window count toward upcoming season or season that ended? That might make a difference, as well, if we are trying to compare apples to apples, etc.
    If only looking at net, which I assume is IN more nus OUT, Arsenal might if we saw each year be faring poorly in that this might be construed as spending beyond their means.
    Personally, the true metrics that should be used, although the stats might not be available, is to take spending (both purchase price money less any sale income) and also income derived from winning cups, advancing in CL or Euro, etc ( should we include gate receipts, TV revenue, sales of merchandise?). Thus, it might be possible to see whether the day investment in player or players make a measurable difference. Arsenal was satisfied with getting to the CL because of added income and, we may never know, not ambitious enough to gamble more money on players, etc., to advance in the minor cups or to aim very high. Whether he lacked ambition or had (mentally) crunched the numbers and recognized there might be little or no reward for spending what he believes or knew they did not have, I e., assessed the risk-reward ratio, may not be known.
    The numbers are now very much larger, but somewhere, for every club, there are hordes of grey men wearing grey suits and frowns, poring over the numbers and, at some point signalling whether to continue or cease the personal and egotistical indulgences of the owners. This last point is critical and unmeasurable. As long as we have ownership, especially in this time of oligarchs and, now, petro-wealthy families and governmental fronts willing to spend and spend to feed their vanities and not their families, they will spend endlessly for the moment they can stand alongside their hired hands (that is all the players may mean to them) or heroes and bask in those 15 minutes of glory. These folks have little concern with a year-end statement showing they ended in the black, at least for the foreseeable future. This, I return to my point that all these numbers mean nothing unless it is to settle an argument or to continue one in a pub.

  2. A Simple Truth

    no matter how you creatively slice it, MA’s a chequebook manager poster boy…now if all his unprecedented spending enables us to not only challenge for things, both domestically and abroad, but likewise lift some major trophies, all of this talk will fade or at the very least be drowned out by all the subsequent celebrations…until that time, considering his tactical shortcomings when it matters most, he will wear that moniker, and rightly so, like an albatross…frankly he should be happier than a pig in shit that he’s even being included in the conversation, considering the other names that have been subjected to this sort of banter, albeit wrongly, like Pep and Conte, and the fact that we were such a frugal team for so very long

  3. Andy

    The only reason MA has been gifted the title of “check book manager “, is because his , (only relevant), predecessor was an out of control frugalomatrist! (Yes, I made up that word!) .
    MA rebuilt this squad and took us to unprecedented heights last season, ahead of the planned top 4, we were in the mix until injuries forced our wheels off.
    This season we have absolute strength in depth.
    I’m not going to say it’s do or die. How can it be? it’s the most competitive league in the world, so nobody is guaranteed to win it.
    Of course there is a certain team who have been very successful in recent times, but why is this? Is it down to tactical nouse? Or is it because, like Chelsea, they “won the rich men bought my club lottery” and spent an obscene amount of money, in a short space of time and those purchases are paying dividends?
    We had a tough time when we moved to the Emirates. We were looking to the future where the extra revenue would help us to compete at the top table.
    We are now that future vision.
    Arsene, has left the building. He was an exceptional coach for a good 10 years, then he seemed to be more concerned about saving a couple of quid than progressing us.
    MA is the man to do it. We will be champions. Maybe not this year, but it is coming.
    Mark my words, we will be top of the pile.
    Come on you Gunners!

  4. A Simple Truth

    on the positive side of the ledger, considering the monies spent, we should crush our opponents on this fine opening day

      1. A Simple Truth

        time to temper your unbridled enthusiasm…deep down I’m sure you must have known that scoreline wasn’t in the cards

        1. Andy

          Genuinely thought we’d tear them a new one. I still thought it was on at half time. We lost a bit of composure when Timber limped off. That shouldn’t happen, it’s his first game. But hey, a win is a win even if it wasn’t the mauling I’d predicted.
          I’m sure we’ll get better as the season goes on, and I’m still convinced that we’ll be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.


Leave a Reply