Patrick Wiseman reviews Arsenal’s transfer window:
During the transfer window the days seem to drag by, as the rumour mill, the papers and the ITKs are out in force. Deals and negotiations take days, and the aforementioned always find another rumour to pounce upon once the previous one has been quashed. It’s an exercise in leaping between the extremes of ecstasy and agony for every fan. With all that in mind here I evaluate Arsenal’s transfer window.
As with any club, before the window has even creaked open, in fact as soon as the final whistle blows on the last day of the season, deals are being done behind closed doors, whilst the fans are left in limbo and glued to sky sports, anticipating potential new arrivals and outgoings. Arsenal are no different, and early on in the transfer window we appeared to shoot out of the blocks, as Granit Xhaka was signed from Borussia Monchengladbach for £35 million, although it was leaked to Twitter a few days before the club’s official announcement. Xhaka has quickly become a fan favourite amongst those Arsenal fans,band given his stellar performances as of late, it’s not hard to see why.
It looked promising indeed, however, the promise of that signing fizzled out, as signing after signing failed to materialise. Buying Takuma Asano for £5 million wasn’t the marquee striker fans craved, and was seen by many as merely an attempt to boost shirt sales in the Far East. That it was then revealed that he had been unwilling to get a work permit only served to frustrate the Arsenal fan base even more. Asano is now plying his trade in the Bundesliga on a season-long loan deal.
Arsenal got hit yet again by injuries to their defensive department, as both Per Mertesacker and Gabriel were ruled out for several months, and, with koscielny on an extended break after his Euro 2016 exploits, that left Calum Chambers as our only fit centre back. Signing Rob Holding from Bolton for £2 million from Bolton was, at the time, an underwhelming signing to say the least, especially given that Bolton had recently been relegated to League One. The Chambers-Holding partnership looked about as safe as a rattlesnake with a “pet me” sign, and so it proved, as we shipped 4 to the scouters on the opening day’s 4-3 defeat.
Cue the fan revolts. Twitter went into meltdown, and the calls for Wenger’s head on a platter started in record time. A laboured 0-0 draw at Leicester only served to make the discontent worse. A 3-1 thumping of Watford did little to placate the fans. DT, an ArsenalFanTV regular, summed it up when he dismissed the result as “papering over the cracks”. Deadline day loomed, and with the window soon to close the club had to act or face a fan revolt of epic proportions. We still needed a centre back and a forward yet the club had signed neither, and the consequences were plain for all to see, with a measly 4 points in three games whilst our rivals had shot out of the blocks with a perfect start, leaving us 5 points off the pace.
The club had to act, and they did, bringing in Lucas Perez from Deportivo La Coruna for £17 million, and Mustafi from Valencia for £35 million, thereby addressing the need for an experienced centre back and a forward, announcing both within hours of each other’s, a nice change to say the least with announcements of signings previously harder to come by then water in the Sahara desert. With these two signings, deadline day proved to be predictably dull in terms of signings, although Jack Wilshere was loaned to Bournemouth, a move which I feel could benefit him greatly, plus it was nice not having to be on tenterhooks all day waiting for a signing for a change.
All in all Arsenal spent close to £100 million in this transfer window, and whilst we addressed the areas we needed to, having signed a forward, experienced centre back and CDM, it would have been much more beneficial had it been completed sooner. Whether we manage to catch up in time to our rivals is a different matter, although I feel with our new signings we have a realistic chance of doing so before the proverbial Iron begins to cool.