News Live Scores
Transfers

Beat Chelsea, sign Zaha – what Champions League qualification could mean for Arsenal

17:00 GMT+3 27/05/2019
Unai Emery, Wilfried Zaha
Victory against the Blues in the Europa League final will see the Gunners return to Europe's top competition for the first time in three seasons

It all comes down to one final game.

Victory against Chelsea in Baku and Arsenal are back dining on Europe’s top table. Defeat and it will be Europa League football at the Emirates for a third successive season.

It shouldn’t really have come to this. Given the position Unai Emery’s side put themselves in they should have already guaranteed themselves Champions League football for the 2019/20 campaign.

But an awful end to the season in the Premier League saw a top four spot slip through their grasp and now they know only victory over Chelsea in the Europa League final will get them back playing amongst Europe’s elite.

It all adds to the pressure ahead of Wednesday night’s crucial clash in Baku - with the Gunners desperate to end Emery's first season on a high.

But why is the Champions League so important to Arsenal going forward? Here, Goal takes a look at what qualification could mean to Unai Emery’s side.


Get the finances back on track


The biggest boost to come from qualifying for the Champions League will obviously be the increased revenue it generates.

Arsenal’s business model is based around qualifying for the Champions League and two seasons outside the competition have hit the revenue stream hard - mainly due to a bulging wage bill which is running at unprecedented levels of around £220m a year.

In fact, predicted forecasts for the coming season are that Arsenal are in line to make an operating loss of between £60-£70m.

It’s estimated that Arsenal's financial performance for the year 2017-18 saw a £40m drop in revenue from 2016/17 - with £35m of that being put down to a lack of Champions League football.

Those numbers show just how important Champions League qualification is for Arsenal, especially with owner Stan Kroenke refusing to put any of his own money into the club.

If they win in Baku, Arsenal’s run to the final will have earned the club £35m, meanwhile Liverpool and Spurs have pocketed almost £100m on their way to the Champions League final.

So should Arsenal win the Europa League and get back amongst Europe’s elite next season, the club’s financial outlook will be much improved.


Increased spending power


The extra revenue generated by Champions League football will mean that Arsenal can spend far more money in the transfer market this summer.

Unai Emery is looking to bring in several new additions before the start of next season, with players such as St Etienne defender William Saliba and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha targeted, so it’s vital that they secure extra cash flow.

Players such as Zaha, or Lille winger Nicolas Pepe, would be completely out of reach if the club does not secure Champions League football.

If Arsenal fail to win in Baku and have to play another season in the Europa League, the transfer budget before player sales will be around the £40/45m mark.

Beat Chelsea, however, and that figure will rise significantly - potentially even double - giving the club far more strength in the market as they look to reshape the squad.


Help attract top players


Arsenal are a club that go hand in hand with the Champions League.

They may not have won it under Arsene Wenger, but they were at least always in it - with 20 successive campaigns in Europe’s top competition.

That continued presence in the Champions League helped the club become one of Europe’s most respected sides and there’s no doubt it helped the Gunners secure transfer targets.

Two seasons in the Europa League, however, will have seen that reputation take a bit of a hit. Indeed, Arsenal’s head of football Raul Sanllehi has admitted that potential targets for next season will be easier to secure with the lure of Champions League football.

“We’re already in the market and we’re already talking with the people that can help us to cover those positions,” said Sanllehi.

“It’s going well and the image that Arsenal has in the football world is very strong.

“We need to go where we belong and that’s the Champions League. Many players really want us to be there also when we’re talking with them.

“Of course being in the Champions League is very helpful, because all players want to play in the ultimate competition.”


Give Emery a platform to build on


Replacing an icon such as Arsene Wenger was never going to be easy.

We’ve seen at Manchester United how difficult it can be to replace a manager who had been so successful over a significant period of time.

Unai Emery will have known the job that was facing him when he arrived last summer and will have been aware of what was expected of him from those in power at the Emirates.

Arsenal want and need to be playing Champions League football and they had a great chance to secure that in the Premier League, only to see a top four spot slip from their grasp in the final weeks of the campaign.

But they still have another chance and victory in Baku will set Emery up to really start planning for the long-term at the Emirates.

The Spaniard has two years left on his contract but bringing Champions League football back to north London in his first season will put him in a strong position to potentially earn himself an extension.

He has already admitted he would like to stay for the long-term and by leading Arsenal to a title and the Champions League just 12 months after arriving will be a significant statement from the former PSG and Sevilla boss.


Help fend off any interest in stars


Arsenal may have struggled in recent seasons, but there are still plenty of attractive players in the squad that rival clubs would love to take.

There is already talk about interest from Barcelona in Alexandre Lacazette, while Real Madrid have been linked with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

It would also be no surprise to see top teams target some of last summer’s signings such as Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi.

With a massive wage bill and with no real chance of shifting top earner Mesut Ozil this summer, failure to secure Champions League football may force Arsenal into making an uncomfortable decision - should a sizeable bid arrive for one of their star players.

There is also the chance of those players having their heads turned by the prospect of playing in the biggest club tournament.

So being able to offer Champions League football will make life far easier for Arsenal when it comes to keeping hold of their star names - not just for the short-term, but also in terms of any future contract negotiations.