Arsenal Recruitment: No more time for luxury signings

So, there we have it. The 2019/20 Premier League Season has finally reached its conclusion. No one could’ve predicted how our season would pan out following our opening day victory at St. James’ Park. 3 different managers have taken the reigns, the season was paused for a number of months due to a global pandemic, we crashed out of the Europa League in the round of 32 and have finished in 8th place in the Premier League. A traumatic season for Arsenal fans.

Nonetheless, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. Later on this week, we travel to Wembley Stadium to take on Chelsea in the FA Cup final and in Mikel Arteta we seem to have found a talented coach who is taking us in the right direction. Having said that, a cup win would paper over some pretty gaping holes at Arsenal Football Club. A major rebuild is needed within the playing staff and it’s clear that Arteta’s project is years behind those of the Premier League’s leading teams. We need to purchase the right players in the right positions this coming transfer window if we are to catch up with those at the top of the division.

A key reason for why a rebuild is required is due to last few years’ poor recruitment. To exemplify the poor recruitment, let’s take a look at the best XI Mikel Arteta could possibly field: Arsenal’s best XI on paper?

Seriously, there are issues all over the pitch. At no top Premier League club should there be a reliance on David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi to occupy the central defensive positions. Meanwhile, in midfield, there’s no guarantee that Ceballos will be with us next season and there’s clearly an over reliance on Granit Xhaka. We straightforwardly cannot look like a competent football team without the Swiss international in the starting XI. Ceballos has also become a crucial cog in Arteta’s machinery. Perhaps too crucial?

Still, It’s arguable that the most problematic area on the pitch for us is in attacking areas. In spite of some promising signs, Nico Pepe hasn’t had the impact we all hoped he would when he joined the club. Let’s not forget he did cost us £72 million. Mesut Özil has been far from his best for a while now, he’s been frozen out since the restart and his wage will continue to handicap us for as long as he’s with the club. Then, Aubameyang and Lacazette are incredible talents but we often look imbalanced when the duo are on the pitch at the same time.

And this is the starting XI alone. We lack depth in almost every single position and our backup brigade compromises of either youngsters or ‘experienced’ players who are clearly on the decline. There is not really an in between. Why have these problems arisen? Poor recruitment.

Then, there are clear components of a modern football team that we lack. Going forward, we’re desperately missing players who can provide creativity, partly due to the demise of Mesut Özil’s ability to assist frequently. But also, due to the sales of a number of creative players such as Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi.

In addition, at the back, we don’t have a central defender who offers much speed. At the same time, with regard to our options in the engine room, we have too many players of a similar profile. For example, all 4 of Torreira, Guendouzi, Ceballos and Xhaka prefer to build play from deep positions rather than cause problems further forward. We’re in desperate need for some variety. Particularly in the middle of the park.

Image credit(s): Getty Images

And the reason we lack variety is due to poor purchasing in the transfer market. This Summer, we need players who buck that trend. We need personnel who will instantly provide us with something our current squad doesn’t offer. This was one reason why the idea of Philippe Coutinho was initially so enticing for me. Coutinho offers something completely different to what we already have. He can play in a number of different positions. Additionally, the Brazillian provides a threat from distance in terms of his shooting and he also creates. This is the sort of variety we should be demanding from all of our players. Especially offensively.

Thus, this summer is not the time to bring in any more one dimensional players. We need problem solvers and those problems will be solved through bringing in players who contrast the typical Arsenal signing. And, of course, we need quality. To be frank, there is no longer time for luxury footballers at Arsenal. Innovative, game changing signings are required. Anything less than this, and we won’t return from the short summer pause as a progressed football team.