Former Arsenal transfer negotiator Dick Law has admitted the move to the Emirates made it exceptionally hard to sign the players to take the club forward.
The club struggled to compete financially following the move to the new stadium, meaning Wenger and his recruitment team had to spend money ‘like it was their own’.
Dick Law’s time at Arsenal: Five key things to know…
- Law’s first involvement with the club was to help sign Gilberto Silva.
- He became the leader of a project to bring players in from South America.
- Law would become a key figure in all of Arsenal’s recruitment.
- After the move to the Emirates, it became hard to compete financially with rivals.
- Law played a key role in the getting Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang deal over the line.
Arsenal fans have often been left frustrated by their lack of transfer activity over the past decade, especially compared to their big-six rivals.
However, Law revealed that this sentiment was also felt within the recruitment team but, looking at the bigger picture, every deal was struck with the best long-term interests of the club at heart.
Law admitted the club could have flexed its financial muscle a bit more rigorously but it would have been a risk and Arsenal, unlike their rivals, couldn’t afford expensive mistakes.
“We had the financial muscle, but the risk-reward calculation wasn’t clear,” he told Goal. “Spending a lot of money on a player that didn’t work out would have really put the club in some financial straits.
“Did we miss out on talents? Certainly. I remember sitting in meetings with Steve, Ivan and Arsene and gnashing our teeth over Thibaut Courtois. We knew he was good.
“Eden Hazard as well, we wanted to do that deal. But there was a sense of responsibility and running the club prudently, all the time knowing that every £1 we spent we had to act as if it was our money. It was very, very difficult.”
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Changing times disadvantaged Gunners
When Roman Abramovich took charge of Chelsea in 2003, it changed the financial complexion of the top flight. Big money deal became more frequent and the Gunners struggled to keep pace.
The move from Highbury to the Emirates was meant to give the club more financial clout in the transfer market but, due to the large interest payment on the new stadium, the club had to be prudent while their rivals were spending big.
“It was very difficult,” admits Law. “Our closest competitor other than Chelsea was Manchester United and they had enough free cash that they could afford to make mistakes.
“We always felt that we didn’t have the option to make a mistake because a £10m-£20m mistake would be a serious one for the club.
“Where United would take risks on players, we just didn’t have that luxury. We didn’t think it was prudent to take those risks.”
The Gunners are yet to make a serious move in the transfer market this summer as Unai Emery prepares for the new campaign.
The Gunners face Newcastle United at St James’ Park on 11 August as they kick-start their 2019-20 Premier League season.