When the news broke of Arsenal’s successful bid for Nicolas Pepe this morning (Saturday), it’s fair to say it sent Gunners’ fans the world over into a froth.
After a cautious start to the summer, in which we secured loan deals and signings for the future, and shied away from making a serious bid for Wilfred Zaha, it looked as if the oft-quoted £45million transfer budget was about right.
The club was being prudent, sensible, measured, and clever with its business – if a little slow.
David Ornstein’s 11am revelation, therefore, sparked pandemonium, blowing a hole in everything we thought we knew about the club this summer.
There had been rumours – Unai Emery alluded to ‘expensive’ transfer targets during the club’s US tour, while Vinai Venkatesham – the Arsenal managing director – poured scorn on the £45million claims at a supporters question and answer session earlier this week.
Even so, few people genuinely expected such a bold move from the club (£72million!) after an inauspicious few months, littered with disappointment and teeth-gnashing.
So what does it all mean?
Above all, it means that Raul Sanllehi and the new executive team are shrewd operators. Of course, the deals for Pepe and Kieran Tierney are still far from complete and remain mere possibilities at the moment, but the canny way the Spaniard has done his work is admirable. He had us all fooled.
The former Barcelona man arrived at the club with a big reputation and a large contacts book and, should the aforementioned deals come off, and we snag a centre back to boot, it would be an impressive effort, and a change in the way the club does its business, which has so often been clumsy in years gone by.
But this would also appear to be a roll of the dice by the club, sanctioned by Josh Kroenke and KSE.
After coming in for endless waves of criticism following the full takeover of the club, it would seem our American owners have decided it is time to sure up their investment.
The difference in revenue between the Europa League and the Champions League is like comparing pocket money with gold bars, and KSE want to get their hands on that glorious, shiny gold – make no mistake.
A few trophies along the way will help guild the lily, without question, but the primary aim of the company is to see a return on investment, and securing a return to the top tier of European football is the best way to make that happen, resulting in the biggest payout.
That was always going to be incredibly difficult without the right investment so maybe, just maybe, this is KSE and the club’s new top team going ‘all in’ on making a return to the top four next season.
That inevitably puts a great deal of pressure on the manager and the team to perform next season but that’s the nature of football and, with the right tools (please somebody buy us a centre back), it’s not unrealistic to think we could make it.
We’re not going to win the league any time soon, but we need to be making progress and this might just represent the next step on our path back to the top.
It’s been a long while since Arsenal have taken a punt in the transfer window and made a statement of intent that has been about more than just plugging holes.
Even with stacks of Premier League TV cash, sponsorship deals, and European money, this could represent a real gamble for the club’s future, so let’s get behind Raul and his team and pray this one comes in.