A look at the increasing average age of the Arsenal squad.
For a club that once invested so much in its future, Arsenal now seem surprisingly quick to bring in players for the present and not that far beyond, judging by many of their recent signings.
Before the anti-Arsenal accusations inevitably fly in, this is in no way a criticism of the club’s recent signings, which undoubtedly look superb. The additions of Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy to the FA Cup-winning squad of last season, which will surely contain a more settled, confident and effective Mesut Ozil to boot, mean promising times are ahead for sure. Still, an improvement in the club’s financial situation and ability to attract big names should not necessarily go hand in hand with neglecting to build for the future.
Debuchy, for instance, has been brought in as a replacement for the departing Bacary Sagna. The Frenchman may, arguably, be arriving at the Emirates Stadium at his peak, but he is hardly the most long-term replacement in that position at the age of 28, which makes his fee of £12m look a little steap – especially considering superb young Ivorian right-back Serge Aurier is seemingly available this summer for a similar fee. At 21 years of age, the Toulouse starlet would have that position sorted for the Gunners for potentially the next decade or more, whereas the club may have to think about replacing Debuchy again in just four or five years.
Elsewhere, key squad players such as Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are in their 30s, while Santi Cazorla, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski are all 29. Laurent Koscielny is 28, Olivier Giroud 27 – the fact is, there will have to be some serious work done in most key positions very soon, as there don’t currently look to be very many ready-made replacements waiting in the wings at the club, particularly in defence.
Another promising young player, Alvaro Morata, may be about to slip through the net as he heads to Juventus, while all of Arsenal’s rivals are chasing outstanding Everton starlet Ross Barkley, but the Gunners don’t appear interested. Without spending a great deal of money in the past, this side is still reaping the benefits of taking the time to develop the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott, even if there were also a few big misses along the way.
While it would be churlish to turn the tables on Arsenal after so much criticism of overly investing in youth in the past, there are signs that their transfer policy still needs some balance as they look to build for both now and the future.