Arsenal: Arsene Wenger's £86 Million Transfer Bid Shows Emirates Stadium Strategy Has Changed

For many years since its move to Emirates Stadium in the summer of 2006, Arsenal's transfer policy under Arsene Wenger has been defined by a certain frugality.

With annual loan repayments, and Wenger's bloody-mindedness at signing players young and adding value to them, Arsenal avoided the vast deals that came to characterize its Premier League rivals.

Sure, there were exceptions. Mesut Ozil arrived from Real Madrid in the summer of 2013 for a club-record £42.5 million ($55 million). Alexis Sanchez came from Barcelona for £35 million in the summer of 2014. More recently, as new television contracts have come in and Arsenal's matchday revenue has increased, bigger deals have become more commonplace.

Still, the summer of 2017 seems to represent something of a volte-face for Wenger. Alongside the ambitious pursuit of A.S. Monaco's Kylian Mbappe, the world's preeminent teenage striker, Wenger appears to be closing on a £44 million deal for Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette.

Now, The Mirror claims Arsenal has failed in a pursuit of Gelson Martins and William Carvalho, the Sporting Lisbon midfielders, in a deal that would have totalled £86 million.

It's another sign that Wenger, often characterized and sometimes fairly so, as unwilling to waver from his strategy, is willing to bend a little this summer in search of the formula that will vault Arsenal into contention for the Premier League title again on a consistent basis.

That should excite Arsenal supporters, even those who have grown tired of Wenger's intransigence. Arsenal's targets this summer fit a pattern: young, skilful and hungry to prove themselves in the Premier League.

Those qualities don't come cheap. But in an era when everyone around Arsenal is spending money like it's water flowing from a swollen reservoir, he may have had no choice. The man who few thought could change may be contorting himself to fit into football's bolshy modern era. And Arsenal may benefit.