Arsenal's nearly seven-year title drought has always been the principal indicator that something was wrong with the club. However, getting edged out of third place in the league last season by Manchester City was irrefutable proof of this.
Having lost Gael Clichy, and now with the possibility that the club could lose two more of its biggest players—in one transfer window, I might add—there is a sense that it's no longer a case of "something wrong with the club" but rather "everything wrong with the club."
Previously, there was a feeling that Cesc Fabregas could leave if Samir Nasri stayed, but Nasri doesn't seem like he wants to stay and Fabregas' move to Barcelona is looking more likely day by day. This is an untenable situation.
How can you be a big club if you can't keep your best players?
Arsene Wenger seems to understand this precarious position:
Imagine the worst situation—we lose Fabregas and Nasri—you cannot convince people you are ambitious after that. And even if you lose Nasri, to find the same quality player, you have to spend again the same amount of money. Because you cannot say, you lose the player and you do not replace him.I believe for us it is important the message we give out. For example, you talk about Fabregas leaving, Nasri leaving. If you give that message out, you cannot pretend you are a big club, because a big club first of all holds onto its big players and gives a message out to all the other big clubs that they just cannot come in and take away from you.
But does he?
Yesterday he signed 17-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton for a whopping £12 million fee—and whilst it was a good move to sign the youngster, who was also been scouted by Manchester United and Liverpool, some concede that he can neither replace Nasri nor Fabregas.
With the need for established stars who can spearhead a title challenge, Oxlade-Chamberlain has no business being in Arsenal's radar. And this brings me to another question:
How can you be a big club if you are unable to replace your best players?
Is it that the club aren't investing enough money to get needed players? Is it possible that Arsene Wenger could leave if given more spending money elsewhere? Are Arsenal destined to replicate Liverpool's league title drought?
Whatever the answers, if Arsenal continue down this road, their big-club status will be in serious jeopardy.