When Ivan Gazidis began the final negotiations to sign Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton, Arsenal’s chief executive arrived with a battery of lawyers and accountants by his side.
They all went into a private meeting room with Saints officials, breaking off for hushed conversations in corridors whenever the selling club raised the stakes.
By then Oxlade-Chamberlain had, unknowingly, been the subject of a complicated economic formula established by the Harvard business boffins employed on a sizeable retainer by the club.
The bid Arsenal have submitted for Newcastle and France midfielder Yohan Cabaye appears, on the surface, to be a knee-jerk reaction to the injury crisis and the pressure put on them by fans to ‘SPEND SPEND SPEND’ during their defeat against Aston Villa.
Instead, he has been on the radar of Arsenal’s European scout Gilles Grimandi for some time. But the businessmen across the pond slow down the recruitment process.
Gazidis’ belief in their academic acumen is total, although he has always been reluctant to explain how players as bad as Nicklas Bendtner, told he could skip training to go back to Denmark three weeks ago, is earning £55,000 a week.
Arsene Wenger, who earns £7.6million a year at the Emirates, authorised Bendtner’s contract when the striker was still boasting about becoming the best player in the world. Arsenal are proud of their due diligence, justifying frugal spending in the Kroenke years by the business brains brought in to put every potential recruit through a complicated financial model.
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Wenger believes in the scientific principles established at the Emirates, although his team of scouts around the world still work to the formula he brought with him in 1996.
His scouting team, headed by Steve Rowley, are asked to identify players with three distinctive characteristics: pace, power and football Intelligence.
If only they had added a fourth — the mentality of champions — they really would be in business.
The dynamic training-ground environment, which was once the envy of the world when Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires were pushing each other to reach new targets each day, has slowly been eroded.
There is tension in the air between Rowley and Bob Arber, Arsenal’s head of youth. At games, they don’t even speak to each other.
Glory days: Robert Pires and Dennis Bergkamp were iconic players during Arsenal's success
They should be in constant communication, preserving the future of the club by monitoring the progress of young players at Arsenal’s academy and bringing in the next generation. Instead, the young Gunners are on the end of some hidings, losing 7-0 to Conference club Luton and beaten by a scratch team of Colchester kids 5-1 before the start of the season.
This is no way to run a football club and most people know that there is room for improvement in every area at Arsenal.
Wenger has too much power — given the freedom of the football club because of his achievements at Highbury.
There he won three Barclays Premier League titles, four FA Cups and took Arsenal to within a whisker of beating Barcelona at the Stade de France in 2006.
He knows the inner workings of every area of the club, which is rare in the modern game.
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Wenger’s detailed knowledge of every player’s contract even created an issue when Oxlade-Chamberlain was making substitute appearances for Arsenal last season.
Written into the England winger’s deal is a clause stating that Arsenal must pay Saints £10,000 every time Oxlade-Chamberlain appears for more than 20 minutes.
Incredibly a trend emerged, with Wenger bringing him off the bench after 72 minutes (v Stoke), 73 minutes (Liverpool), 72 minutes (Coventry), 65 minutes (Norwich), 76 minutes (Fulham), 86 minutes (Tottenham), 67 minutes (Swansea), 73 minutes (West Ham), 71 minutes (Swansea), and 75 minutes (Reading).
Arsenal’s accounts department were stunned to receive an email from Southampton demanding payment for the appearances, with the south coast club justifying their argument based on stoppage time.
Eventually Arsenal agreed to pay for the appearances and the story worked its way around the offices at the Emirates with bafflement among staff.
They know Wenger calls the shots, but he is slow to move for targets.
Slow: Arsenal were too late when it came to trying to sign Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace
Last season Rowley was a regular at Crystal Palace matches, following Wilfried Zaha around the country as Arsenal stepped up their interest.
Rowley would pop up at Leicester or Burnley, watching Zaha closely as Palace headed for the play-offs and promotion back to the Barclays Premier League.
When it came to the crunch, Wenger’s assistant manager Steve Bould picked up the phone to an old friend at Palace to ask for his assessment of the £15m forward.
By then it was too late. Zaha had been given permission to meet Sir Alex Ferguson and the deal was wrapped up within a day.
The England winger is another one to get away, but everyone at Arsenal knows that Wenger — a thoroughly charming and decent guy — has failed to keep pace with the modern game.
Managers need technical assistance and expertise, something the top clubs in the Premier League have finally accepted.
Partnership: Jose Mourinho works with director of football Michael Emenalo to recruit players at Chelsea
At Chelsea, Jose Mourinho has returned to Stamford Bridge on the understanding that he must work closely with director of football Michael Emenalo on transfer targets.
Manuel Pellegrini is working under the technical team — Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain — as Manchester City plan for five trophies in five years.
Tottenham have recruited Franco Baldini from Roma to work with Andre Villas-Boas as Daniel Levy returns to the two-tiered European management structure he has always favoured.
Wenger has never been interested, preferring to rely on his own judgment and using Dick Law’s contacts book when they make a move on a player.
Law, who is based in Dallas, met Wenger when he was working in south America and they became close during David Dein’s time as vice-president.
He is popular with agents around the world, but they become frustrated when he pulls the plug on deals because Wenger must always have the final word.
As Arsenal fans are aware, nothing adds up at the Emirates any more.