Mikel Arteta insists that he will have the final say on transfers at Arsenal and admits that his “margin for error is very, very small” heading towards a vital window for the Gunners.
The purse strings were loosened in north London for Unai Emery during the summer of 2019.
Sizeable investment in the likes of Nicolas Pepe, David Luiz and Kieran Tierney saw expectations rise at Emirates Stadium.
Little value has, however, been found in big-money additions and Arsenal once again find themselves a long way off the top-four pace – with a change of manager also thrown into the mix.
Arteta is now calling the shots and is aware of the need to get things right when the next opportunity to add presents itself.
"I know that the situation that we have at the club and the context that we are in, but the club knows my plan," the Spaniard told Sky Sports.
"In January, the situation was that we had to fill some gaps and give some stability to the squad. Now is the moment to make another step forward and improve the squad and the players that we have."
Quizzed on whether he will have the final say on any deals this summer, Arteta added: "Yes, absolutely.
"We have a very strong group [working on signings] and the communication is really clear, not only with [head of football] Raul [Sanllehi], [managing director] Vinai [Venkatesham], [contract negotiator] Huss [Fahmy] and [technical director] Edu, but also with the ownership about where we want to go.
"The margin for error is very, very small.
"The gap between the two top teams and the rest is really, really big and everybody is trying to catch up. The competition is between six, seven, eight, maybe even nine clubs now to fight for those positions, so we have to be very smart and we have to be very decisive when we make our decisions."
Arteta has experienced a baptism of fire in what is the first managerial role of his career to date.
After being appointed in December 2019, Arsenal have continued to struggle for consistency at times, seen their season disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup to keep themselves in the hunt for major silverware.
"I am always very optimistic," added Arteta.
"I didn't expect this many challenges in the first six months here, but it's part of our job. There are always a lot of unexpected things that arise. We just have to try to solve them in the best possible way, be positive and move forward."