Arsenal FFP situation explained: How Mikel Arteta CAN afford to spend in January

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Joined: Nov 2016

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Arsenal may need another two or three players to challenge for the Premier League – but the budget looks to be stretched.

The Gunners have been free-spending in much of Mikel Arteta’s four-year tenure to this point. They smashed their transfer record over the summer for Declan Rice and have frequently shown that they can compete with the biggest clubs for the biggest stars. 

But January could look a little different…

How much can Arsenal spend this January, in order to comply with FFP?

Arsenal spent half their summer 2023 outlay on Declan Rice (Image credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)Not a lot. The loan signing of David Raya was made in order to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations – and given that the Spaniard will cost just £27 million from Brentford when the deal is confirmed before the start of next season, we can estimate that Arsenal have less than that to play with this time around. 

Rice cost some £20m more than the Gunners were hoping to go, in the end, with a first bid tabling £80m. Kai Havertz arrived for some £60m, too – and that seemed like more of an opportunistic buy than a pre-planned move – while £40m man Jurrien Timber has been missing since the first day of the season, following cruciate damage. £200m doesn’t go too far when you put it like that.

But… it’s more complicated than that – and here’s how.

How can Arsenal sign players and get around the regulations?

Emile Smith Rowe could leave Arsenal before June 30 (Image credit: Getty)A loan would work. If you ask FourFourTwo, the most likely signing Arsenal make this month is a loan move for Marc Cucurella from Chelsea, who would provide cover at full-back and potentially boost his value ahead of a probable departure from the Blues this summer. 

Any more like David Raya? Great. Good luck finding a club willing to part with a top player for nothing this month, however, in the promise of a summer fee – and that’s why sales would help. 

Not just any sales either, but those of players that Arsenal fans love. Yep: academy products generate what is known as “pure profit”, meaning Arsenal’s accounts – and FFP bods with clipboards – don’t have to factor in the fee they bought the guy for before they sold him. 

But rather than having to sell this month, Arsenal have six months. The transfer window opens again at the end of the season – and any players sold before June 30 can help to balance the books for this season. So no need to wave goodbye to the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson just yet. But a rival club offering a loan with the option to buy any of those players this month would be a sensible deal for Arsenal to sanction, if they wanted to bring in another player. 

What are Arsenal looking to do in the transfer market?

Brentford striker Ivan Toney is constantly linked with a move to Arsenal (Image credit: Getty Images)It depends who you ask. A striker is heavily rumoured, following an incredible 61 shots in the past three games for the Gunners, which have yielded just one goal – but equally, that could be an issue of the midfield supplying the frontline, and the likes of Amadou Onana have been linked. And now, Arsenal are down to the bare bones in defence now, too, with injuries and Asian Cup-bound Takehiro Tomiyasu.

A centre-back, left-sided central midfielder and forward could all seem plausible, had Arsenal the budget to address the issues. Arteta may see the sense in direct replacements if he can shift unwanted players this month, though: for example, if he can generate funds from selling Eddie Nketiah – rumoured to be of interest to Premier League sides for £30m – he could reinvest that money up front, given that he’d be losing Nketiah’s goals for the second half of the season. The same goes for Jakub Kiwior in defence or Aaron Ramsdale in goal. 

Given that Arsenal haven’t sold incredibly in recent years – record sales remain Folarian Balogun, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi, all for around £30m – it would be a risk to bring in a big buy, such as Onana for £50m this month. If they choose to go for it, they have an imposed deadline of June 30 to make up the deficit. 

That means an early exit in the summer for several Arsenal stars as they frantically look to comply with financial regulations. Ramsdale, Nketiah, Smith Rowe or others for knockdown prices before Arsenal’s self-inflicted deadline day in the middle of the Euros? January business just got a whole lot more complicated…

More Arsenal storiesArsenal may have to aim for alternative striker targets after being dealt a double blow in their pursuit of two big names.

But the Gunners could be about to sign a highly-rated European wonderkid.

And a Manchester City star has been linked with a move to north London.

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Mark White has been at on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, first as a staff writer before becoming content editor in 2023. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also represented FFT at both FA Cup and League Cup finals (though didn’t receive a winners’ medal on either occasion) and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson’s season at Barcelona to Robinho’s career. He has written cover features for the mag on Mikel Arteta and Martin Odegaard, and is assisted by his cat, Rosie, who has interned for the brand since lockdown.


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