Among all this transfer madness of Thiago Silva moving to PSG and Andy Carroll, surprisingly being a target for 2, yes 2 Premier League clubs, there is a bit of calm on the transfer front, as far as the Gunners are concerned.
As there is not much news, I thought I will have a few thoughts on the transfer window, that is passing us by. Are we doing our business fast enough, or are we going to leave it late like last time, and in turn inadvertently affect our start to the new season. It is quite an intriguing thought.
The first positive signs of the transfer window were seen when we signed that German international hotshot Lukas Podolski, well before last season ended, and while that was a statement of intent, it also marked a shift in the club’s transfer policies, over the years.
As of recently, we have been forced to signing younger players for much lesser fees, and using them to replace the departed performers of the club. It all goes back to the time of the stadium move. The stadium move of course meant that the club will have to refrain from making some expensive buys, as the financial strain, was massive.
That summer, we signed Tomas Rosicky, while exchanging Julio Baptista for Jose Antonio Reyes on loan from Real Madrid, while also exchanging William Gallas for Ashley Cole from Chelsea. Apart from that, there was a large exodus, from the club, especially from the ‘Invincibles’ team, as Pires, Campbell and Lauren bade farewell.
It would be fair to say the team struggled through this phase, as they adjusted to their new surroundings, as well as drifting the youngsters slowly into the team. Our major signings the coming season were the Croatian hitman Eduardo, as well as Bacary Sagna, who has now become an indinspensable feature of the team, while also securing the services of Lassana Diarra from Chelsea. But, this also marked the end of the Arsenal stint of the legendary Thierry Henry, who departed to Barcelona for £16 million. Fredrik Ljungberg and Jose Antonio Reyes too bagged deals elsewhere. Arsenal had one of their best recent seasons to date, despite seemingly being on course for a title. They finished just 4 points behind champions Manchester United.
Despite this breakthrough season, the Gunners again had to underspend in the transfer market, signing midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Samir Nasri, and also Mikael Silvestre from Manchester United. Some of the best players from the previous season, however, decided to move on. Midfield enforcer Mathieu Flamini left to AC Milan, Alexander Hleb to Barcelona, or rather the wilderness, while Gilberto’s and Jens Lehmann’s exits marked the end of the Invincibles era. Andriy Arshavin was signed in the January transfer window for a record breaking £15 million. The Gunners went all the way to the semi-finals of the FA Cup and the Champions League, but suffered heartbreak in both competitions.
Another mass exodus was to come, as Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure both joined the revolution at Manchester City for £41 million. Arsenal signed the tough tackling Thomas Vermaelen for £10 million, in order to replace Toure. It was to be another disappointing season as the Gunners fell short on all fronts.
A similar story was scripted in the following season. The defensive quartet of Gallas, Silvestre, Senderos and Campbell all moved on, while Eduardo was sold to Shakhthar. Only two major signings were done, in Lorient defender Laurent Koscielny for £8.5 million and Marrouane Chamakh on a free. The Gunners heartbreakingly lost the Carling Cup final, which also derailed their campaigns in the league and the Champions League.
We were witness to the most shambolic of transfer windows in 2011, when Arsenal sold arguably their best two players, in Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, who moved to Barcelona and Manchester City respectively for a combined fee of £60 million. Gael Clichy too moved to City for £7 million. Arsenal signed Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson, but much of the transfer dealing were left for the last day, post the 8-2 drubbing at Old Trafford. The Gunners secured the signings of Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos and Park Chu-Young, all for a combined fee of £26 million. While the Gunners struggled on all fronts, they did manage to arrest a declining league position, with a strong finish to end 3rd.
This season, however, it seems like the lessons have been learnt. Lukas Podolski signed well before last season ended from Cologne for a bargain £10 million. He is an experienced international, with 101 caps, and 44 goals. And, surprisingly, despite the cry for a defensive midfielder, another striker’s signature was sealed when the French Ligue 1’s top scorer Olivier Giroud signed from Montpellier for £12 million.
But, the question remains. Has the club done the transfers quickly enough to set us on the right track for next season. i think that is still up for debate.
And the main reason is the situation of Robin van Persie. His decision to not sign a new deal, clearly has set us a few steps back. His brilliant last season carried us for much of the campaign, and his 30 goals were a huge chunk assisting on our way to finishing 3rd. With him back in North London very soon, we can hope that the club has learnt its lessons from last year, and will look to come to a conclusion very quickly. Either sell him to the highest bidder, which more than likely looks to be Manchester City, yet again, or make him see out the final year of his contract.
Then, comes the aspect of lightening our wage bill, and letting go of the non-performers such as Squillaci, Chamakh, Bendtner and Vela. While Denilson has moved to Sao Paolo for another year on loan, the transfers of the others still remains in a limbo. Niklas Bendtner has stated a desire to move away, with Dortmund his preferred destination. However, the German champions are yet to register an official bid, dragging the situation even longer. Sebastien Squillaci has been offered to a host of French clubs, and Bastia have come out saying that his ‘out of their reach’. The same situation has recurred in the case of Marrouane Chamakh, with Fiorentina stating that they may not be able to afford the Morrocan’s wages. Andrei Arshavin’s move to Zenit too looks in danger of collapsing, while Galatasaray too may pull out of contention, unless the club act fast. The Carlos Vela – Real Soceidad saga seems to have pulled on too long, with neither party able to agree to a deal.
This has called for the larger part of the Arsenal fan base to voice their opinion about the bloating wage bill, and to keep it in control. To introduce a hierarchy system, and make sure, the best players are being payed more in order to keep them, whilst not paying the youngsters so much as to remain in the good books of the FFP.
On the other hand, there has clearly been a requirement to sign a bustling midfielder, be it attacking or defensive. While the club has been linked to a host of names such as Yann M’Vila, Lucas Biglia, Christian Eriksen, Clint Dempsey, Ibrahim Afellay and Ganso, there is yet to be any concrete move, for any of the above.
By the looks of it, Yann M’Vila’s deal looks set to be announced, almost every week, if the stupid rumours are anything to go by, while reports in Brazil say that Ganso could well be on his way to the Emirates. Clint Dempsey looks close to moving to Liverpool, and I am unsure where he would have fit in at Arsenal, had he moved to the northern side of London.
Apart from that the club are still looking for the signatures of Laurent Koscielny, Alex Song and Theo Walcott on fresh deals. While Koscielny looks set to sign, there is still that murky ghost of Barcelona hovering over him. Barcelona’s first choice was Thomas Vermaelen, but the Belgian reiterated his commitment to the club, by signing a deal during the season. This could yet go either ways, you know.
Alex Song and Theo Walcott too pose some serious problems to be handled. Walcott has demanded a much higher wage than what he is presently getting, and with his boyhood idols Liverpool looking to make a bid, and Chelsea not too far behind, we could lose out on him as well. Alex Song, has established himself as one of the best central midfielders in the league, with 14 assists from a defensive midfield position, and it will be of paramount importance to convince him to stay.
The return of Jack Wilshere to first team action is not slated until September, and the same goes to Emmanuel Frimpong. Abou Diaby could get injured 28 seconds into the season, and remain in the medical room for the rest of it. So, clearly there is a shortage of personnel in midfield.
Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone have expressed their desire to leave, in order to get more first team action. Mannone had a relatively successful loan spell at Hull City, while Fabianski clearly isn’t happy playing second fiddle to Szczesny at Arsenal and Poland.
Apart from that, Arsene Wenger will also have the headache of re sizing his squad to the Premier League’s requirement of 25. Joel Campbell, unable to secure a work permit has signed for Real Betis on a loan deal. Henri Lansbury, Benik Afobe, Ryo Miyaichi, Craig Eastmond, among others are either looking for permanent moves elsewhere, or loan times at other clubs, preferably at Premier League level. Easier said than done.
The club’s first priority will be to sort out van Persie’s situation. Will he be offered the money he wants, and throw in an Afellay to persuade him to stay, or will we cash in. Will the ‘deadwood’ be moved on quickly enough for our pre season to begin in earnest, or will everything be left for late. Will the wage structure be altered to help us sell players easily in the future, while also enabling us to keep the best ones.
The questions still remain unanswered, and we can safely tell, NO, Arsenal is not doing it’s transfer dealings quickly enough.
Jai Arsenal 🙂