Europa League or bust! Freddie Ljungberg will be out if Arsenal don’t stay in contention for £30m prize money
- Freddie Ljungberg took over from Unai Emery as Arsenal caretaker manager
- However he may not last the season if Arsenal don’t stay in contention
- Arsenal are impressed, but are also looking for a long term replacement
Freddie Ljungberg will have to keep Arsenal in contention for a Europa League place if he is to see out the season with the club.
The consequences of a £30million drop in income with no European football next season would be difficult for the Gunners to bear.
Arsenal once fretted over whether they would make the Champions League but now they need to hang on to Europa League football if they are to continue to build the squad under a new manager.
Freddie Ljungberg will have to keep Arsenal in contention for the Europa League this season
The Swede has been in charge of the club since they sacked Unai Emery last month
In terms of the new manager, Arsenal are adamant that it is more important that they make the right appointment rather than a quick one.
‘This is Arsenal,’ said one club source, insisting they would not be rushed. ‘An appointment will be made on our terms.’
Of the long list, Carlo Ancelotti and ex-Valencia manager Marcelino’s chief strengths seem to be that they are available now. Patrick Vieira and Mikel Arteta could be prised from Nice and Manchester City if necessary. Former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino would cost compensation of up to £15m if he works before the summer and it is felt he won’t cross the great north London divide.
RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann and Dalian Yifang’s Rafa Benitez are unlikely to be available any time soon. Nuno Espirito Santo will be hard to prise from Wolves as GestiFute, his agent Jorge Mendes’s company, is part-owned by a subsidiary of Fosun, the owners of Wolves, who will expect Nuno to stay.
Arsenal are impressed with Ljungberg, but are looking for a long term manager soon
Arsenal say they are impressed with Ljungberg — who has been caretaker manager since the sacking of Unai Emery last month — and appreciate the energy he has brought to the club, which suggests that they are preparing fans for him to be there in the medium term, while they identify the right candidate.
If they can wait until the summer, they will have a wider field from which to choose. But they know that Europa League football is the minimum required to continue recruiting and sustaining the current wage bill.
Recent accounts show that broadcast income from the run to the Europa League final last season was £36.6m, compared to £34.4m when they reached the semi-final in 2018. With gate receipts, the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust estimates the run to the final was worth around £40m.
While a Champions League run can be worth around £60m in prize money, plus gate receipts of around £12m, the Europa League, regarded by some as the ugly duckling of European competition, is still hugely important to the bottom line.
Arsenal say their summer spending, including £72m on Nicolas Pepe, was £92.7m. That is the net spend, taking in the sales of Alex Iwobi, Krystian Bielik, Laurent Koscielny, David Ospina and Carl Jenkinson. The payment for Pepe, who is fit for today’s visit of Manchester City, is staggered over the next two years, thus limiting a new manager’s room for manoeuvre.
It is fairly certain star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be sold in the summer
It is fairly certain that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be sold in the summer, given that he has only a year left on his deal and, while new deals with Emirates and adidas will mean commercial income rises this season, they will have to pay £10m compensation to Unai Emery and his staff.
While Arsenal can point to Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira as smart signings, the club recognise that they have to improve their recruitment.
The signing of Gabriel Martinelli for £6m suggests they can still discover gems in the transfer market. Edu’s role at Arsenal is to oversee that process and the club know that will be a long-term turnaround.
They will need Pepe to come good, given the money invested in him and they will need a manager who can develop the likes of Bukayo Saka and Martinelli, which would suggest a younger club builder in the mould of Arteta, rather than Ancelotti.