Arsenal director Josh Kroenke has conceded that the Gunners’ frustrating loss to a direct rival in one of the biggest stages of European football changed the way the north Londoners approached the summer transfer market.
Arsenal conceded four goals in the second half of the Europa League final to Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea and Kroenke has now revealed that loss transformed the Gunners’ approach to recruitment this summer, Soccernet.ng reports.
Goals from Eden Hazard, Olivier Giroud and Pedro handed the Gunners a humbling 4-1 loss to Chelsea in Azerbaijan in May, consigning them to a third consecutive season outside the Champions League and limiting their spending power.
FT: Chelsea 4-1 Arsenal
CHELSEA WIN THE EUROPA LEAGUE!
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) May 29, 2019
Kroenke, son of the club’s billionaire owner Stan Kroenke, however said that the lessons picked on that disappointing night in Baku served as the turning point that led Arsenal to change their transfer targets.
The arrival of the likes of Nicolas Pepe, David Luiz, Gabriel Martinelli, Dani Ceballos, William Saliba and Kieran Tierney in multimillion mega deals saw the Gunners become one of the Premier League’s biggest spenders this summer, a shocking deviation from previous years.
To balance the books with an excess of £100m already spent, money had to be recouped via the sales of Alex Iwobi, Krystian Bielik, Carl Jenkinson, and Jeff Reine-Adelaide.
"I'm going to miss the players, the staff, I'm even going to miss going to Hale End where all the young players go. I'm going to miss little things like that, but I'm sure when I have a day off and I'm in London, I will still go back and visit."
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 16, 2019
“As the second half of the match unfolded, understanding the position we were in and some of the targets as we headed into the summer from a transfer standpoint, we had to rethink some of our strategy based on that last 45 minutes,” Kroenke told BBC Sport.
“We knew we wouldn’t have Champions League football and that’s what those type of talents are after. My main message to Vinai [Venkatesham, managing director] and Raul [Sanllehi, head of football] coming back from Baku on the plane and then throughout meetings all day the following day with them and Unai [Emery, head coach], was: ‘Let’s be aggressive and find out what’s possible’.
“These guys went out into the market place and – through their contacts and our fantastic new team behind the scenes – were able to find some talented players who are really excited about playing for Arsenal Football Club.
“I think we had a very strong summer. We addressed certain areas on the pitch for this season and in the years ahead. We had certain age profiles that we were after. Without Champions League football we weren’t exactly sure, but I encouraged our football operations department to be aggressive and when Arsenal Football Club knocks on a player’s door it’s a different knock.
The 39-year-old director assured the Gunners fans this new aggressive transfer policy would be adopted going forward.
“This summer, even though we weren’t in a position of strength coming out of Baku, I think there were a few people caught off guard that Arsenal Football Club still has the aura that it does. We’re excited to keep pushing that now and into the future.”