Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis does not expect title bids from the likes of Leicester City to be a one-off and has warned the Premier League big boys that they can no longer “financially bully” the lesser lights.
Leicester’s memorable triumph last season extended Arsenal wait for a top-flight crown to 12 years.
The Gunners fell short in their bid to tempt City’s top scorer Jamie Vardy to swap the King Power for Emirates Stadium and Gazidis lavishly praised their squad-building under Claudio Ranieri, suggesting nurturing talent is of growing importance as each club in the division now stands to benefit from a minimum of £100m per season under the latest television rights deal.
“The big clubs can’t financially bully the smaller clubs in the way they used to, so I think a lot of the differentiators between clubs become more subtle now,” said Gazidis in an interview with ESPN FC.
“It’s how well you can identify talent. It’s how well you can develop talent. It’s how strong your club philosophy is. It’s how together you are as a football club, what your support services are like in the medical field, fitness, analytics, psychology. All of these things become differentiators.
“Leicester identified players from the French second division, so maybe there’s talent that we’ve been overlooking. They did their talent identification [well], they had great unity within the group, as well as quality.
“It wasn’t built on money. It was built on the great fitness work they did. It was built on all of these other elements. I think that’s going to be a continuing trend within the Premier League.
“I think Leicester are the vanguard of a changing dynamic within the Premier League. I don’t think general perception has yet woken up to that, but I think it will over the next season and the years ahead.”
After the early close-season capture of Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach, Arsenal’s supporters have been left with a familiar tale of frustration – looking on with their club not involved in the biggest deals.
But Gazidis believes Arsenal’s approach of intermittently signing star names such as Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez among other developing players – such as latest recruit Rob Holding – remains a strong strategy.
“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,” he added.
“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.”