Why Arsenal are in transfer trouble

With less than a week of shopping left before the transfer window shuts, it’s worth looking at Arsenal’s player registration situation and what it means for potential incoming and outgoing players.

As you’ll see, Arsenal are in a tough spot. Players will have to be sold, regardless of new arrivals. It’s a bit desperate, to be honest.

Players will HAVE to go

The Premier League rules states that each team must:

  • Register no more than 25 senior players in their first team squad
  • A maximum of 17 non-homegrown players are allowed
  • But unlimited use of U21 players
  • (These are more or less the exact same for UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League)

So, any player yet to turn 21 years old on 1st January in the year the season starts can play without being registered. The squad has to include eight homegrown players: players who have spent three or more years in England before their 21st birthday.

Arsenal currently (1st October at 16:34:08) have a bloated 32-player squad (see image). They have ten homegrown players, five of whom don’t need registration. They have three foreign U21 players, who don’t need to be registered. But have 19 non-homegrown players over the age limit.

If the Gunners were to register their squad right now, they would have to exclude two non-homegrown players, who would become ineligible to play in the Premier League and Europa League until the January transfer window. A better option, perhaps, is to depart with two of these players.

Too many players, too little time

Potential sales of Lucas Torreira, Sokratis and Sead Kolasinac isn’t just to help buy a new midfielder (or two), it’s a necessity. Any buying club doing this research, however, will be happy to add this convenient argument to their haggling strategy. Matteo Guendouzi is still a U21 player and is therefore more valuable (logistically, anyway).

Replacing homegrown Emi Martinez with non-homegrown Runar Runarsson, a player that will likely have very limited time on the pitch, was a curious decision in this sense. It makes buying another non-homegrown player more difficult.

All of Arsenal’s new first team signings this summer are non-homegrown too (Willian, Gabriel and Runarsson). Arsenal sold homegrown Martinez and non-homegrown Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

If the Gunners want to buy one new midfielder, Houssem Aouar or Thomas Partey, for example, three non-homegrown players should leave the team. If they buy both, four need to depart. This seems unlikely if not a complete pipe dream at this point.

In four and a half days Arsenal would have to ship out four players while completing the deals of two new players. If they can pull that of Edu and co deserve a standing ovation from all Arsenal fans (albeit from our living rooms).

Arsenal’s predicament raises questions as to why their transfer dealings have stalled until now. The squad was always too bloated; they always had to sell a handful of players no matter what. Maybe this logistical nightmare is why other clubs haven’t met Arsenal’s valuation for their unwanted players yet? Other clubs know Arsenal need to sell, and the Gunners were desperate enough to let Mkhitaryan go for free earlier this summer. Maybe the Armenian was the only one to accept such an offer from the club? Maybe it’s poor management?

Maybe I’m going crazy?

Worst case scenario other than not departing with any player, is if Arsenal can only negotiate loan deals for some of their unwanted non-homegrown players, not adding enough cash to send Lyon or Atletico’s way. Furthermore, though unlikely, it would be interesting to see what Arsenal would do if no player departs the team. Who would be the ones excluded from the registration form? Mesut Özil? Oh, god…

Expect chaos

Regardless, the last few days before the window shuts on 5th October should be chaotic. Arsenal have to sell or find loans for a couple of nonhomegrown players, even if we don’t see any new arrivals at in north London. Torreira, Kolasinac and Sokratis are the prime suspects to leave. Elneny as well if the Gunners buy a new midfielder. Loans for Reiss Nelson and other youngsters as well, but that won’t logistically affect Arsenal’s buying strategy if they want another non-homegrown player in the next few days.

Further reading: “Arsenal youth’s impact this season

Consider following me on Twitter @ awoaken

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