Yesterday, Arsenal published their financial results for the year ended May 31, 2013.
Although this set of accounts do not yet include the extravagant purchase of Mesut Ozil, they still make it clear that Arsenal retain enormous cash reserves.
The results report a cash balance of £154 million. That figure excludes a further £20 million that is due to arrive from the club's Queensland Road property development, as well as money due from the renewed sponsorship agreement with Emirates. Even after subtracting the fee paid for Ozil, Arsenal are comfortably in the black.
The figures suggest that Arsenal could have spent more this summer. They certainly tried: high-profile moves for the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney all failed to come to fruition before Ozil made his deadline-day move. The club was desperate to acquire a striker to supplement Olivier Giroud, but was unable to secure a forward. Even a last-gasp move for Chelsea reserve Demba Ba failed after Jose Mourinho pulled the plug on negotiations.
Arsenal fans aren't complaining: There is a wide-spread recognition that the acquisition of Ozil represents a sea-change in the club's fortunes. It is the first time Arsenal have signed a genuine world-class superstar since the arrival of Dutchman Dennis Berkamp in 1995.
Chairman Sir Chips Keswick told Arsenal.com:
The strong financial platform we have created in recent years allows us to continue to be competitive at the highest level. This was recently confirmed by the notable signing of Mesut Özil, one of the world’s best players.
As with Bergkamp before him, no-one would dare dispute Ozil's class.
However, it is important to remember that Bergkamp was not alone. He was joined in that Arsenal team of the mid-'90s by the likes of David Platt and Marc Overmars: players with big transfer fees and even bigger reputations. Arsenal built a team befitting of Bergkamp's gifts.
The Gunners must now do the same with Ozil.
The Arsenal Supporters Trust have called for the club to follow up the signing of Ozil with more high-profile forays into the market. Speaking to The Guardian, they said:
Looking forward, Arsenal are in a healthy financial position, with substantial cash reserves. The AST continues to urge the club to invest the money it has to further strengthen the current first-team squad and improve the chances of winning silverware. Substantial funds are available for additional transfer and wage spend without affecting self-sustainability.
Sir Chips Keswick appears ready to back Wenger again:
I know the Özil signing has given everyone who loves Arsenal a big lift but it should not be forgotten that we already have a young and talented squad. It is also appropriate to reiterate that the money we generate across the business is always available to our manager, Arsène Wenger, and that he quite properly makes the decisions regarding how to invest those funds based on his extensive football knowledge, experience and judgement.
With the Özil transfer I believe we have made a significant statement and when Arsène decides the time is right to invest again, Stan Kroenke, myself and the rest of the Board will be delighted to support him.
The next opportunity to spend arrives in January, and Arsene Wenger and the board would be wise to have their chequebook at hand.
Having failed to sign a striker this summer, the club are now dangerously reliant on Frenchman Olivier Giroud. With Giroud requiring a rest, Wenger has been forced to turn to former outcasts Nicklas Bendtner and Park Chu-Young for tomorrow's Capital One Cup tie with West Brom.
A club with Arsenal's aspirations needs better. Furthermore, the financial results suggest they can afford better.
Value is hard to find in January, but Wenger is nothing if not a shrewd negotiator. Arsenal fans will be hoping some of their vast cash reserves are used to secure a belated Christmas present, ideally a centre-forward.