Excitement and frustration: I know many of you are frustrated with the lack of activity in the window so far. Literally waking up every morning, going through the news articles and finding that Arsenal are ‘interested’ in someone new can be both – exciting and frustrating. Exciting, because some of these players are really good.
You take William Saliba for example, teenage defender who has the potential to hit world class levels. It is exciting. But to then see that the deal is stalling and not really much is changing can be frustrating. Is it all Arsenal’s fault though? Are there reasons why we aren’t wrapping up deals quickly like a Madrid or Barca? Are we just interested in literally everyone, with absolutely zero intention of signing them? Or are most of these media outlets falsely reporting? These are questions on all our minds that often lead to sleepless nights.
Who does our transfers?: As David Ornstein said on BBC’s radio show, Unai Emery does have some say in transfers. It is basically Raul Sanllehi who has the agent contacts, Francis Cagigao who helps us scout the profile of player we require. Unai also recommends players, but obviously he doesn’t have the power that Arsene Wenger had.
In 3 years, Arsenal has seen 3 different transfer team structures. In 2017, it was all Ivan Gazidis and Arsene Wenger. In 2018, it was Sven Mislintat and his team. And now, it is a mixture of different people. And soon, in a couple of weeks, Edu will be confirmed as our technical director. So, we could be looking at a situation next year where we have a different structure yet again. It cannot get more messier than this.
Cause for optimism: However, judging by the players we’re linked with and I am going with the concrete ones here – Kieran Tierney and William Saliba, it does give cause for excitement.
Nobody really knows who is suggesting what player. It just seems like a mixture of ideas. But it is clear, as reported by David Ornstein – That Arsenal want a central defender, left back, wide player and a box to box midfielder.
This means we are in the right direction, as we have identified the 4 gaps in our current squad that need addressing. Signing 4 players of good quality in these areas will almost raise the level of the squad instantly. It sounds simple, but can we pull it off? The profile of player we’re getting linked to are good U-26 players, with bags of potential. They may not be the finished product, but can develop here and help us in our quest for success.
Kieran Tierney: Signing Kieran Tierney, the hugely talented Celtic left back, would be one position out of the four taken care of. Last year, we effectively addressed our defensive midfield and goalkeeper issues by signing Lucas Torreira and Bernd Leno. Tierney is just 22 years of age. He is definitely an upgrade to what we got. Nacho Monreal is finished as a left back, and Sead Kolasinac, whilst good, isn’t really the long term answer at left back in a back 4. Tierney ticks all boxes. Should he ever want to leave Arsenal, we can fetch almost double the price. It would prove to be a great investment by the club. And it very much looks like the club will get it done based on reports from Scotland + Ornstein’s tweets. I will mention Ornstein a lot, because he knows exactly what is going on. When he says we’re interested in someone and are ‘optimistic’, it means we are likely to get it done.
William Saliba: William Saliba’s potential Arsenal transfer seems to be stalling. As we all know, personal terms have been agreed, This has been reported by multiple French outlets. Some even say that we don’t have an issue meeting Saint-Étienne’s demands. My guess is that Arsenal are trying to get him here for next season, considering he could hit the ground running and have a similar impact to what Matteo Guendouzi had. But even if we’re unable to get him for next season and end up loaning him back, signing this level of player for €25-30m is a bargain. He is said to be way ahead of his years and has even been compared to Kylian Mbappe in terms of having a huge impact at such a young age, by a reputed journalist in France.
Winger and box to box targets: The least concrete links are with respect to our potential box to box and winger targets. The Yannick Carrasco and Ryan Fraser links seem to have quietened. Ornstein and multiple English media outlets such as Mail, Mirror and Times reported on our interest in Wilfried Zaha and the fact that he wants to join us. My issue with this is that his asking price is way too high. Media are reporting anywhere between £80-100m. He would be almost impossible to afford, given that we’re pretty tight with funds as it is. However, some of these outlets also claimed that Arsenal are confident they can get the player at a lesser price as the window drags. It is one to keep an eye on, but also, I wouldn’t get my hopes up just yet . Regarding potential Aaron Ramsey replacements, Dominic Szoboszlai has been mentioned, however it is just interest and nothing more. It would be interesting if we end up signing a box to box player, or whether Joe Willock will be given the chance to step and prove himself.
The outcome: With respect to completed transfers though, Gabriel Martinelli, as we all know will be official soon. Hopefully, it will be post the kit launch tomorrow. It will be interesting to follow the transfer activity once the Copa America and African cup of Nations are done. I expect a total of 4-5 signings this window from Arsenal, and hopefully we can get rid of some of the deadwood and balance the wage bill. I get the feeling the club know what they’re doing for a change. Seems to me very much like we don’t want to rush into deals and we’ll bide our time and get what’s needed at the best possible price. Patience is key, but I think we’ll do just fine in the end. It is the calm before the storm!