On 30th June, I wrote a text with a question in the headline: “Is it too early to panic?” All the well-known symptoms of our chronic transfer deals disease had been noticed even before the window opened.
It turned out that I was right. Our management hasn’t made our squad stronger than it was last season. Au contraire – our squad is now even thinner than it was as Gervinho, Arshavin, Mannone and Santos have left. Sure, most of them were “deadwood” but they had their moments of usefulness (except for Santos, he was awful all the time) last season.
With only two days before the Premiership kick-off, there is yet a single purchase to be announced. Injuries have already shown what kind of season we might have – injuries to Vermaelen, Monreal, Rosicky and Ramsey stress our lack of squad depth. Like that wasn’t bad enough, Sebastien Perez, who was given a trial by Arsenal, didn’t get a work permit so he won’t be joining the Gunners after all.
Reports about our current transfer targets are not very promising either. It seems that Luiz Gustavo, a player who only recently praised Arsenal and stated his desire to join us, will apparently join Wolfsburg. The German side didn’t hesitate like we did and it seems that Gustavo’s transfer to Wolfsburg will be concluded very soon.
On the other hand, Liverpool have been very stubborn and reluctant regarding the possible sale of Luis Suarez to Arsenal and it is questionable whether 49 million pounds that Arsenal are going to offer for Suarez – according to some reports – will be enough to make Liverpool change their stance.
The worst thing that one could and should conclude from this transfer window is that our transfer policy doesn’t exist at all. If we have had the financial ability to raise our offer for Suarez, we could have offered 16 million pounds for Gomez to Bayern, 30 million pounds to Borussia Dortmund for Goetze or to Real Madrid for Higuain. We didn’t. We could have signed Ashley Williams from Swansea for 10 million pounds and resolve our problem of a lack of central defenders. We didn’t.
It’s time for our over-paid manager to actually sign a real class player to help our current team to reach the Champions’ League (Fenerbahce won’t be pushovers) and challenge for the Premiership title.
Two days before the start of Premiership, and we are short in basically every area of the team.
We have Szczesny, Fabianski and Martinez for goalkeepers. Neither are world-class yet and – given that Mannone left for Hull City – we should sign an experienced goalkeeper (something that Chavs managed with Schwarzer).
Our defense is short quantity-wise. Granted, Sagna has shown quality performances as a central defender but we need him as right full-back. Vermaelen is out for at least two more months and – after Miquel was sent on loan to Leicester – we need another central defender ASAP. Ashley Williams for 10 million pounds would be a reasonable purchase. Micah Richards, a right full-back who can play as central defender, would be another decent option to bolster our defense. It should be noted though that Richards is an injury-prone player. Adil Rami is another possible target. Valencia are in huge debts and they missed out on a Champions’ League spot as Real Sociedad surprisingly pipped them for the ‘fourth-place-trophy’ in Spain.
The biggest problem has been in the midfield ever since Mathieu Flamini left us for AC Milan. Coquelin was loaned out to Wolfsburg, Frimpong’s position in Wenger’s plans is unknown which leaves us with Ramsey and Arteta as our ball-winning midfielders. Neither of them are a natural defensive midfielder that has the physical presence and ability to provide a quality shield for the defence which forces Wenger to use both of them to compensate for that lack of physical ability. Given that we will play at least 48 games this season, we need reinforcements in that area ASAP. Unfortunately, Wenger will probably miss out on both Luiz Gustavo and Fellaini (his release clause apparently expires on 15th August) as he already did with Ettiene Capoue who passed his medical with the Spuds.
That means we will have a lot of problems again with teams that have strong midfielders capable of playing both physical and technical football. Furthermore, our creative department is consisted of either injury-prone players or young unproven talents. Still, if Jack Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain show their full potential in the CAM-role, that part of the team won’t need reinforcements at all.
Finally, we haven’t signed a world-class striker yet. We have been connected with Higuain, Rooney, Lewandowski, Jovetić…but none of those transfers have happened. It seems that the only realistic option is Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan striker will be available for the tricky Champions’ League qualifiers against Fenerbahce if Wenger signs him in the next few days but his first match in the Premiership can’t happen before October. However, Liverpool – unlike Arsenal in the cases of Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor, Alex Song, Aliaksandr Hleb and Gael Clichy – have been reluctant to sell their best player to their rival club. The whole Suarez saga, whatever the outcome of it is going to be, is the best example how the Arsenal transfer policy as well as the management are slow, poorly planned and reactionary. If we didn’t lose to United with such a humiliating margin in 2011 or if Gibbs hadn’t got injured in 2013, some panic buys (Arteta, Mertesacker, Monreal) that turned out to be quality signings would never have happen. It’s like Wenger needs a slap from the real world in order to do the right thing (just like he did tactics-wise after our defeat to Spuds in March).
Our only signing came in this area but an injury-prone youngster (Yaya Sanogo) from Ligue 2 is hardly a game-changer. We suffered a lot last season in big matches due to the absence of a world-class striker who could turn defeats to draws and draws to victories. We could have signed Mario Gomez for 16 million pounds but Fiorentina got him. Pierre Erick Aubameyang was signed by Borussia Dortmund for just 13 million pounds. Hell, even bloody Spuds spent a lot of money (26 million pounds) to sign Roberto Soldado and save themselves from Adebayor’s presence on the pitch!
This is the last opportunity, Mr Wenger! Sign some classy players now or it might turn out your ‘fourth-place-trophy’ means nothing!