Bayern Munich’s Luis Gustavo will eschew a move to Arsenal in favour of a Wolfsburg side who cannot even guarantee European football in the coming campaign, adding his name to a list of targets including Bayer Leverkusen’s Sven Bender, Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain and Toulouse’s Etienne Capoue the Gunners have failed to lure to the Emirates recently.
Here we examine some of the causes of the transfer failings that have so undermined Arsenal’s hopes of returning to a level where they are competing for the Premier League title – for which they are a distant 10/1 fourth favourite – in recent years.
Higuain is merely the latest in a long line of players that the Gunners have missed out on for want of a few (million) dollars more, with the forward eventually moving to Napoli for a fee £12m greater than the £23m price Arsenal had originally agreed with Real.
Leverkusen defensive-midfielder Bender is another whose asking price Arsenal have been unwilling to match, whilst arguably the most painful loss to stinginess in recent years has been two-time Chelsea player of the year Juan Mata. Thought to be leading the way in pursuit of the goal and assist machine, the wedge they waved Valencia’s way was a good £5m short of the amount which eventually took him to Stamford Bridge.
Obsession with youth
Arsene Wenger’s love of junior improver bargain signings makes him look like a prophet when – like Cesc Fabregas – they turn into world class operators, but times have changed since 2003 and it’s getting harder and harder to find top echelon youngsters that aren’t on the radar of their rivals.
Furthermore, whilst the philosophy of developing youngsters within the club is admirable, a squad short on established names suggests a lack of immediate ambitions to succeed at the highest level and may not be attractive to transfer targets weighing up moves to North London.
Not showing enough love
In the case of Gustavo it seems Arsenal may once again have failed to convince a player of their centrality to the manager’s plans. Why else would a player used to the crème de la crème of European competition at Bayern Munich move to a side with no continental campaign on the horizon, but to ensure that he has guaranteed first team football in a year in which his nation host the World Cup.
Gustavo would surely have moved to the Emirates if he’d been convinced he’d have a leading role and not making players feel wanted enough has famously seen the Gunners miss out on players of the calibre of Zlatan Ibrahimovich down the years.