Just over 11 years ago Arsenal signed Dutch superstar Dennis Bergkamp, a move that issued in the beginning of a golden age of Arsenal football. It was a move that helped propel Arsenal into the “Big Four”, a group of clubs that have dominated English football for the last decade.
Almost 11 years to the day, Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy turned down a move to the Emirates and instead signed a new contract with the Premier League champions for less money than the Gunners were offering.
That a Leicester player would turn down a move to one of the big four was unthinkable just a couple of years ago. But the influx of TV money is changing the landscape in England. Last summer Everton were able to knock bock a a series of £40m+ bids from Chelsea for John Stones and ironically Leicester are in a similar as Watford have turned down an offer of around £30m from the champions for Troy Deeney.
But where do Arsenal go from here? If Arsene Wenger cannot sell Jamie Vardy on the benefits of moving to Arsenal, how can he convince someone like Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuaín, who is being persued by several of Europe’s elite?
And that is the challenge for Arsene Wenger, who only recently moved away from his philosophy where everyone gets paid within a very narrow range. That was a philosophy of equality within the dressing room, but it was a philosophy that does not attract superstars. That has changed over the last couple of years with the arrival of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil, but even today, Arsenal’s top players are underpaid compared to the top stars of their Premier League rivals.
Arsenal find themselves in a very difficult situation after failing to sign Vardy. Arsene Wenger has to realize that he cannot go into next season with attacking options built around Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott, three players who are struggling for confidence. The Gunners will not win the title with those attacking options.
Arsenal need a top striker and there are very few available. None at what has traditionally been in Arsenal’s transfer range. I cannot see Wenger paying €70m for Spanish striker Alvaro Morata while singing the likes of Gonzalo Higuaín and Robert Lewandowski would not only smash the British transfer record, they might set world-record fees.