Arsenal technical director, Edu Gaspar

Arsenal’s transfer market approach – The good and the bad

Morning folks! Let’s talk Arsenal squad building and transfers.

I think we can all agree that our starting 11 when everyone’s fit is really good.

Arsenal’s transfer strategy has changed since the Sven-Raul era.

The way we are run now is with a long-term view in mind.

There have been countless occasions in recent years when Arsenal needed to address a position but didn’t because either:

  • The right player wasn’t available, OR
  • The player they wanted wasn’t at the desired price point

You go back to 2020. Arsenal froze Mesut Özil out of the squad. We had 0 players that could play in between the lines and it cost us as we were 15th on boxing day.

Things changed completely once Emile Smith Rowe was integrated, as we defeated Chelsea to turn the tide.

Then we loaned Martin Odegaard in January of 2021 and our good form continued.

Despite 2020/21 being our worst finish in god knows how many years, we ended the season just 6 points behind 4th place….

This makes you ask yourself: Would Arsenal investing in a proper number 10 earlier in the summer give us 6 more points? Probably.

Now let’s look at the January window from earlier this year. Mikel Arteta had issues with Aubameyang and he’s left out of the squad. The club explores options in January – there are credible reports of the club monitoring Dusan Vlahovic, Dominic Calvert Lewin and Alexander Isak.

Ultimately, we signed no one and waited until summer. Alex Lacazette, our starting #9 doesn’t score an open play goal in the whole of 2022. We end up finishing 5th, this time missing out on Champions League football by 2 points.

Would signing a striker made us get 2 more points? Probably.

Is it fair to say then, that not signing key positions in 2 back to back seasons cost us top 4? I’m aware that football doesn’t work this way and that you cannot take a time machine and replay games with different personnel.

However, when the margins are as fine as they have been, it really does make you think….

On the other hand, though, Arsenal waiting for that extra window has seen us making top deals.

Martin Odegaard – £35 million – Becomes the club captain within a year and a half. 77 chances created 2021/22, 4th highest in the PL.

Gabriel Jesus – £45 million – Instant impact and level raiser. PL proven. One could argue that he was much better value for money than Isak/Vlahovic who were significantly more expensive and unproven in the Premier league. DCL, who we were linked with has had massive injury issues since January.

Through the current approach of waiting for the right player at the right price point, the club are getting better deals done. I’d like to call it a ‘sustainable’ way of doing business.

By not budging on valuations, it sends a message to teams that they cannot milk us dry.

In the past, we have made deals without a clear plan, especially when it comes to how they’d fit in tactically.

Signing Sokratis for £15m+, an ageing defender who cannot play in a high-line and is average on the ball is a good example. That doesn’t happen these days. We don’t make signings for the sake of it.

We did make a few mistakes initially under Arteta-Edu, especially the stop-gap deals like Mari/Willian but the club have quickly learned from our mistakes and taken corrective action.

The business we’ve managed to pull off in recent windows is very, very good. No misses.

There will be a point when things click. We need a #6 and a wide player as our most urgent needs. I’m certain we’ll address it in the next window or 2. Squad building takes time.

The only improvement for me would be to make exceptions in certain cases and “overpay” for proven players when needed, especially considering the Arsenal squad is a bit short right now.

Arteta wanted a squad of 25, so we’re 2 short at this moment. Not ideal. But not the end of the world either. January could prove crucial. Bringing in a signing to 2 could propel us to finishing the season strongly.

Enjoy your Wednesday!

Arsenal FC is Life.