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Saturday 10 December 2016

Gunners in market for a bit more

But CEO Gazidis warns fans not to expect big-money buys

Arsenal’s new signing Rob Holding. Photo: Getty
Arsenal’s new signing Rob Holding. Photo: Getty

Arsenal completed the signing of England Under-21 defender Rob Holding yesterday and revealed they "remain in the market" for further additions - despite chief executive Ivan Gazidis warning fans the club will never break the bank.

Holding, 20, has signed a long-term contract at the Emirates Stadium having joined from Sky Bet League One side Bolton for an undisclosed fee.

He becomes Arsenal's third summer recruit and joins midfielder Granit Xhaka and promising Japan forward Takuma Asano in signing for the Gunners, after being named Bolton's player of the year as they dropped out of the Championship last season.

Dream

Holding picked up two Under-21 caps during England's victory in May's Toulon Tournament and said: "It is something you dream of as a kid - I can't wait to get started."

The deal was announced after Gazidis said Arsenal will only spend money when they deem it necessary and, despite having cash reserves in excess of £100million, claimed they cannot compete with their rivals.

Mohamed Elneny. Photo: PA
Mohamed Elneny. Photo: PA

Fans were left angered by the revelation in February of the club's huge cash reserves.

Despite the money available, Arsene Wenger did not recruit a single outfield player last summer, buying goalkeeper Petr Cech from Chelsea, and only added midfielder Mohamed Elneny from Basle during the January transfer window.

Gazidis went on to state his belief that Wenger now has a squad fully-equipped to win a first Premier League trophy in 12 years after they finished a distant second to champions Leicester last season.

It means Wenger has failed to deliver the title to the club since the memorable unbeaten 2003-2004 campaign.

Since then they have been left behind as the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City spent big in their quest for trophies.

But Gazidis has warned supporters not to expect an influx of big-money buys as they look to maintain their policy of bringing in talent they can afford and blending them with promising academy talent.

"This approach, for us, gives us a very, very powerful balance because it's not just about spending money but about how you spend your money and doing it wisely,'' Gazidis told ESPN.

"It's about having a strong core philosophy and values within the club that players buy into and our fans can be proud of.

''These are all things that lead to success and when you look at Arsenal over the last four or five years, there's no question that the squad has been progressing in strength.

''We've got a squad now that we believe is capable of competing to win the Premier League. We came in second last year, which was disappointing. But we're on the right track.''

Arsenal now have the muscle to at least compete for the biggest names, having been freed from the financial shackles of paying off their Emirates Stadium home.

But Gazidis insists they will continue believing in their young players and do not operate to a model that would see them match the money being spent by rivals with wealthy backers.

Progress

"We're making progress in what is a fiercely competitive world, against competitors that have the capability to spend far more money than we do,'' he said.

"We're doing it by being very, very disciplined; spending money where we believe it makes a difference, but also giving young players a chance and believing in ourselves and our values.''

With Xhaka, Asano and Holding already signed up ahead of the new campaign, another attacking option is likely to remain Wenger's key target.

Leicester's Jamie Vardy turned down the opportunity to move to Arsenal earlier in the summer and names such as Gonzalo Higuain and Alexandre Lacazette have been linked to the club.

And, in announcing the arrival of Holding, Arsenal's statement teased their fan-base, confirming they "remain in the market" for more acquisitions.

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