That’s another transfer window in the record books for Arsenal.
Just like a year ago, the Gunners used the winter window to focus on trimming the first-team squad with Folarin Balogun, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Pablo Mari, Sead Kolasinac and Calum Chambersall departing in some fashion before Monday night’s deadline.
Deals for the latter pair were permanent, with Arsenal reportedly receiving around £2million from Aston Villa for Chambers’ signature.
That fee could have been considerably higher had Arsenal triggered a 12-month extension clause in his contract, but as reported by The Athletic, the December deadline for this to happen passed and over a month later the 27-year-old sealed a move to Villa Park that caught many by surprise.
Interestingly, this isn’t the only time the Gunners have missed out on getting a decent transfer fee for Chambers in recent years.
Back in the summer of 2017, Sky Sports Newsrevealed that the north London outfit rejected an offer of £20million from Leicester City for the versatile defender.
Had this bid been accepted, Arsenal would have been in line for a nice £4million profit having signed Chambers from Southampton for £16million three years earlier.
Whilst Chambers did end up making 24 appearances across all competitions that season, the fact he was sent out on loan for the 2018/2019 campaign does make the decision to reject £20million for his services all the more bizarre.
At 22 years of age, it would have been the perfect time to sell especially has his market value increased to £14.9million, as per transfermarktafter returning from loan his spell at Fulham.
Of course, this decision was taken during the Arsene Wenger era, so Arteta and Edu can’t shoulder the blame for it.
Although they have made an identical decision that they will ultimately regret.
Ahead of the 2020/21 season, Maitland-Niles was heavily linked with a move to Wolves in a bid to secure regular first-team football and Sky Sports revealed that there had been positive talks between the two clubs over a permanent deal.
At the time, a transfer was on course to be finalised in late August with various reports stating that the north London outfit were in line to receive a fee of £20million for the utility player.
However, the decision was made to keep Maitland-Niles at the club and he was in and out of Arteta’s plans during the first half of last season before joining West Brom on loan in the 2021 January transfer window.
History has somewhat repeated itself this season as the 24-year-old barely featured before sealing a loan move to AS Roma.
And with Maitland-Niles’ contract expiring at the end of next season, the Gunners don’t find themselves in a strong negotiating position, so Arteta and Edu will have to pull out all the stops to command a higher fee
From being in a position to get £20million for a player that isn’t considered a regular, Arsenal have risked not getting anywhere near that fee 18 months on and the worst case scenario is that he walks on a free.
As per the CIES Football Observatory, Maitland-Niles now has an estimated transfer value of between €4million-€7million (£3.3million-£5.8million) which means Arsenal have could miss out on a figure between £14million-£16million if he moves on in the summer.
Furthermore, when taking into consideration that Shkodran Mustafi, Mesut Ozil and Sokratis all left last January without Arsenal receiving a single penny highlight where Arteta and Edu must improve in future windows.
Ozil was a club-record signing at £42.5million in 2013, Wenger spent £35million on Mustafi in 2016, while Sokratis cost £17.6million to become one of Unai Emery’s first signings in the summer of 2018.
That’s £95.1million worth of signings that were allowed to leave for free.
Also, all three players were in the final six months of their contracts so the likelihood is that they would have left for nothing anyway.
But lessons were not learned from last January. Alexandre Lacazette is the biggest name at the club out of contract in the summer and he can walk for free despite costing the club a then-record £46.5million fee in 2017.
Valued at £23million last summer, as per transfermarkt at a time where there was interest from elsewhere in him and Eddie Nketiah, yet Arteta and Edu chose to keep both knowing they can leave for a combined total of £0 in June.
Strangely enough, the club are said to have rejected multiple bids for the latter during the January window.
Despite that, it should be pointed out that Arsenal have become ruthless in the transfer market in the past 18 months or so, letting players who don’t have a long-term future at the club leave and they aren’t afraid to reach an agreement over contract terminations.
The next steps are to get better in terms of squad planning, selling those on the fringes when a good offer comes in as £43million could have been generated through Lacazette and Maitland-Niles sales in the past 18 months alone which in turn could have funded one or two deals to improve the quality of player coming through the doors at the Emirates Stadium.