No big-money signings for Arsenal: CEO

Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez could be a potential signing for Arsenal, after Eurosport France reported yesterday that the Algerian has agreed to move to the Emirates Stadium.
Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez could be a potential signing for Arsenal, after Eurosport France reported yesterday that the Algerian has agreed to move to the Emirates Stadium.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE- PRESSE

LONDON • Arsenal are bracing themselves for another backlash from their supporters after warning them not to expect expensive close-season signings.

Ivan Gazidis, the English football club's chief executive, believes that they have a squad equipped to win the Premier League title after the addition of midfielder Granit Xhaka for about £25 million (S$44.5 million).

The London outfit have since been rejected by Jamie Vardy, the Leicester City striker, and been put off by expensive valuations of other forwards, while their rivals have spent heavily in the transfer market.

Arsene Wenger, the manager, was interested in two other Leicester players, but N'Golo Kante, the midfielder, joined Chelsea, while Riyad Mahrez, the forward, has proved elusive, though Eurosport France reported yesterday that he has agreed to move to the Emirates Stadium as part of a €50 million (S$74.5 million) deal.

Arsenal on Friday completed the signing of Rob Holding, the Bolton Wanderers defender, for £2.5 million.

Gazidis said that Arsenal should be inspired by Leicester even after he recruited Ben Wrigglesworth, who was head of technical scouting at the champions.

"Leicester identified players from the French second division, so maybe there's talent that we've been overlooking," Gazidis told ESPN. "They did their talent identification (well), they had great unity within the group, as well as quality.

"It wasn't built on money. It was built on the great fitness work they did. It was built on all of these other elements. I think that's going to be a continuing trend within the Premier League."

Arsenal finished runners-up last season but a number of fans launched a "Time for Change" campaign after seeing the team blow the chance to win a first Premier League title since 2004, while there has been criticism of the board's strategy and ticket prices.

Gazidis claimed that the television money has closed the gap with smaller clubs.

"Leicester are the vanguard of a changing dynamic within the Premier League," he said. "And it's good news for fans of Arsenal because the key to success will be how well you do things, and not just about financial firepower."

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 24, 2016, with the headline 'No big-money signings for Arsenal: CEO'. Print Edition | Subscribe