Why Spurs Fans Should Be Worried After Unai Emery's Transfer Comments
With the nonchalance of a man who knew exactly what he signed up for when he took over in the summer, Unai Emery unwittingly dropped a bombshell in his Thursday press conference.
The Arsenal boss admitted he will not have money to spend this month and will instead rely on loan deals to bolster his injury-hit squad.
When asked for an update on speculation linking the Gunners with Barcelona’s Denis Suarez, Emery told reporters:
"I don't know now his [Suarez's] situation but we can only sign on a loan. We cannot sign permanently. We can only loan players."
It’s a predicament all too familiar in north London and one now affecting both sides of the divide.
Tottenham may have little to show for their £637million investment as yet, confirming earlier this week that they will be staying at Wembley for their February home fixtures.
Costs of the Northumberland project have spiraled due to a combination of unforeseen construction setbacks and Brexit uncertainty.
The primary concern among supporters is, of course, when the season-tickets they paid for in April 2017 will finally come into proper use and they can take up their seats. However, the impact of the stadium’s financial burden bears an inescapable relationship to Spurs’ transfer business.
In the summer, the Lilywhites became the first side in Premier League history not to make a single addition to their squad, with Mauricio Pochettino suggesting they may well continue that trend this month.
That is despite Mousa Dembele being on the verge of an £11m move to the Chinese Super League and the need to replace him in central midfield remaining a pressing concern.
In response to the Belgian’s prolonged absence, as well as that of Victor Wanyama, Pochettino has spent time hauling Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks up to the level expected of regular first-teamers. The Argentine might wonder, nonetheless, how long he will be forced to work under such constraints.
Over at the Emirates, the ground has now been paid off.
It will not be lost on many that these are the two clubs with the most expensive season tickets, and indeed individual tickets, in the country and therefore, gate receipts are ultimately not the determining factor in deciding how much they can spend. Both Joe Lewis and Stan Kroenke have shown a reluctance to invest personal wealth.
Indeed, it is not just this season that Arsenal have been relatively quiet in the transfer window – not as quiet as Spurs, admittedly, but they spent just £72m in the summer, their most expensive signing being Lucas Torreira (£26.5m) from Sampdoria.
The midfielder is arguably the only signing who has proved a clear upgrade on his position’s previous incumbents, Sokratis and Bernd Leno having looked shaky. The 19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi has at least shown plenty of promise.
Arsenal’s frugal approach has long been taking its toll on success on the pitch as they deal with the prospect of a potential third consecutive season without Champions League football.
The year Highbury closed its doors, in the summer of 2006, a combined £13.5m was spent on Tomas Rosicky and Denilson. The following summer saw an increase to £27m.
Their most extravagant season since the Emirates opened came in the 2014/15 campaign, when they forked out £103m, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck making up part of that sum.
Admittedly, that is not allowing for the inflation of the current transfer market, but Arsene Wenger’s navigation of those challenges looks increasingly shrewd with the passing of time.
Tottenham could at least do with the odd big-name signing, as Arsenal have ensured with Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Alexandre Lacazette.
Otherwise, Spurs must contend with the fear that while they are taking huge strides off the pitch, they could be left behind on it by the league’s big-spenders.