Arsenal have looked on almost helplessly as Saudi clubs Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad, and others hoover up past-it prima donnas, could’ve been contenders, wishful wannabes, and others. It’s seemed at times like every other club trying to unload its deadwood on a free-spending club could turn to the Saudis and—poof!—sell at a fantastical price. Not Arsenal. Not even as we strut and fret our hour upon the stage. Whither Pépé? Whither Holding or Soares or Tavares, Lokonga or Balogun? My kingdom for a transfer that turns a profit! At long last, we may finally sell to the Saudis. Well, in a way…

We’ve been shopping our man Balogun around, with clubs ranging from Inter to AS Monaco to Tottenham (!) kicking the tyres without taking the bait. Now, it seems that one Saudi club or another might finally be taking an interest in a London-based striker. Al-Hilal have already signed Neymar for £86m, Malcolm for £60m, Rúben Neves for £47m, Sergej Milinković-Savić for £42m, and Kalidou Koulibaly for £20m. Throwing around that kind of cash is surely the kind of gravy train Edu & Arteta can get behind, yes?

Sadly, the answer is “not quite”. Al-Hilal are apparently more-interested in 28 year old Aleksandar Mitrović. If the rumours are to be believed, Fulham are close to selling the Serbian striker for a fee of £25m. What’s this have to do with us, you might ask? Well, should Mitrović make his way to the Middle East, Fulham would weigh up a move for Balogun. Would they be willing to meet our £50m valuation? It’s dubious at best. Their record signing was a £26m fee paid for Jean Michaël Seri, a flop who went on several loans before ending up at Hull City on a £4m fee. It doesn’t seem like we can count on the Cottagers to cough up the cash.

I don’t mean to slight Fulham. Not in the least. Instead, I direct a disparaging eye at our braintrust. We have various players whom we’re eager if not desperate to sell. Saudi clubs are desperate to buy. It seems like a match made in heaven…however, the only nibbles we seem able to attract are knock-ons. Instead of hoping for Fulham to sell Mitrović and then turn around to buy Balogun, we should cut out that middle-man and sell directly to the Middle East. Fulham are unlikely to meet our valuation of Balogun, and, what’s more, the last thing we’d want to see is Balogun finding his pomp in the Prem.

If Ruben effin’ Neves is worth £47m and Sergej Milinković-Savić is worth £42m, surely, we should be able to extract something similar for Balogun, for whom numerous European clubs might be willing to pay £40m-ish to secure. The Saudis are on a spending spree unlike any other ever seen, and we’re somehow not even queuing up. Even if our recent spending spree makes us seem desperate to sell, it’s a bit of an indictment of our approach to see that we can’t hoodwink one Saudi club or another to purchase one of the residents of our Island of Misfit Toys.

We’ve suffered the slings & arrows of those who’ve objected to how much we’ve spent this summer. That’s understandable if not all that valid. However, if we can’t convince these other clubs to spend commensurately, we’d deserve the stick we’d suffer.

We’ve been abysmal at selling players for a long, long time. To varying degrees, that’s been down to how abysmal our players on offer have been and to how generous we’ve been to them. It’s almost impossible to sell a Mustafi, a Kolasinac, or a Torreira at a profit, what with their wage demands and the paucity of suitors. Now, with these Saudi clubs buying just about anyone at just about any price, we really should see some outgoing transfers. Sure, players might not want to jet off to Jeddah, but a chance to play alongside Ronaldo or Neymar or Benzema is worth a punt, is it not?

The transfer window closes on 14 September. There’s still time for Edu & Arteta to show that they’re savvier than their most-savage critics suggest.

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