How Hale End exits sum up Arsenal’s terrible selling skills

Swansea City v Cardiff City – Sky Bet Championship / Athena Pictures/GettyImages

To paraphrase a giant of the 20th century: What was Hale End made for?

Admittedly, our youth setup and Barbie do not face quite the same existential questions as Arsenal continue to invest big in the academy and have a state-of-the-art production line that would make Mattel blush (hot pink, of course).

But these resources are only as valuable as their first-team worth, and recent years demonstrate just how often the club fails to take advantage of them: Omari Hutchinson (left for free, 2022) linked with £20m to Ipswich after just two senior cameos at Chelsea; highly-rated Charlie Patino set to leave for a cut-price fee this summer; Donyell Malen (left for circa. £500k, 2017) joining Borussia Dortmund in 2021 for £25m.

That is not to say Arsenal should refrain from selling these players or try integrate all their youth prospects, and we are certainly not the only team to see talented youngsters slip through the net (spare a thought for Chelsea re: Declan Rice).

However, the Gunners must surely aim to harness such in-house potential themselves if possible or, at the very least, make a better effort to move it on at the most opportune moment for ‘pure profit’ – a metric of which the Blues and Manchester City are cleverly availing in order to comply with Profit and Sustainability rules.

Patino is set to move on this summer / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

In that sense, it is already too late for Arthur Okonkwo, Reuell Walters, Kido Taylor-Hart and other Hale End members who will soon depart for free after several loan spells that never brought them close to the first-team orbit. Perhaps Ethan Nwaneri and Amario Cozier-Duberry too if we are not careful.

And the mismanagement has even persisted at first-team level, with Eddie Nketiah and Aaron Ramsdale both left to ruin their valuations on the bench following strong 2022/23 campaigns, while an evident physical decline, recurring injury problems and a nearly expired contract have raised questions about why Arsenal did not sell Thomas Partey before now.

Of course, it is easy to point fingers and play ‘know-it-all’ in hindsight, and I can only imagine the outrage that might have ensued if Mikel Arteta sold the latter two last summer. Furthermore, the monstrous wages of elite Premier League names render it difficult for every top-flight team to find buyers – unless they can pique some Saudi Arabian interest.

But those are the tough, forward-thinking decisions one would expect a tuned-in, proactive hierarchy to make, and even more so given Arteta has a track record of making unpopular calls, seemingly emboldened by his own confidence that he is doing what is best for the club.

Compared to Chelsea (£285m generated in academy sales since 2014-15) and Manchester City (£320m in last ten years), Arsenal are costing themselves millions every year with poor sales and should reform such operations at every level to help stave off financial punishment- starting with Hale End.

If we can do that, life would indeed be fantastic.

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