Mikel Arteta: Why He's Right to Speak Out on Arsenal Transfers

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02:  Mikel Arteta of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at Emirates Stadium on February 2, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

When a footballer speaks out about his club's transfer policy it is usually described as an "ultimatum"or an "outburst." 

By contrast, Mikel Arteta's statement about Arsenal's transfer activity was typical of the man: calm, measured and accurate. Speaking prior to last week's victory in Munich, Arteta said (via Metro):

Staying in the Champions League is massive. If we don't get in those spots it makes everything much more difficult. To any team with top players, you have to ask what's going to happen. There's only one answer: we want to improve the team.

It's almost impossible to counter that argument. Champions League football is integral both to Arsenal’s bank balance and their standing as one of Europe’s major clubs.

There is a small disillusioned and disenfranchised segment of the Arsenal fanbase who claim they would be happy to see Arsenal drop out of the top four. They feel it's the only way to provoke a necessary shift in the club's direction.

I understand their frustration but not their rationale. Failing to make the top four will hit Arsenal in the area where they're most vulnerable: financially.

We know that those who run the club are financially conservative. If Arsenal fail to secure the Champions League revenue by making the top four, we won't see a responsive splurge in the market. Instead, budgets will be cut and ambitions revised.

Arsenal need to remain in the top four so they can set their sights on silverware next season. 

If we fail to qualify for the Champions League, then realistically the best we can possibly hope for next season is a return to fourth place. We’d be back where we started.

What’s more likely, and certainly more frightening, is that Arsenal could end up following the same regressive path as Liverpool.

The plight of the Anfield club highlights another danger: that of losing star players. Liverpool are unlikely to make the top four this season, and already there are rumours that their star man, Luis Suarez, may leave to achieve elite football elsewhere.

Arteta recognises that if Arsenal can stay in the top four, they’ll have the funds to pay for top players and the allure to attract them.

Arteta's statement alludes to the possibility of a stronger squad wherein no one player’s place is sacred. Arsenal have already noticed the benefit of that kind of policy in the last two games: victories have been secured despite dropping established stars like Thomas Vermaelen and Wojciech Szczesny. 

With Tottenham beginning to wobble, Arteta’s dream of qualifying ahead of Arsenal’s fierce rivals looks as if it may become a reality. 


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