Arsenal have done well in the transfer window so far and there could be more incomings, but they also need to start working on player exits.
Arsenal have impressed in the ongoing transfer window, having conducted important business at the right time. Their outlay from last summer has continued, but the efficiency of their movement in the market has remarkably improved. The north Londoners are expected to continue spending, with many other positions yet to be filled.
In the second summer window running, the Gunners have not been very successful with regard to their outgoings, as they continue to have a long list of players deemed surplus to requirements on their books. Fans have acknowledged the owners’ commitment to building the squad, but the club need to show its efficiency on both ends.
A striker, midfielder, and a new right-back were considered priorities when the previous season ended. Arsenal brought Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City and Fabio Vieira from Porto while also signing Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Marquinhos was their other arrival from Sau Paolo in a deal worth £3 million, as the young Brazilian is expected to be on the fringes of the first team heading into the new season. Matt Turner also arrived and will likely assume the role of Aaron Ramsdale’s deputy, with Bernd Leno expected to depart.
The signings of Vieira and Zinchenko were not exactly what fans thought the club needed, but have made sense of it all after looking through the prism of tactics. Yet, Arsenal need at least two new players in midfield and the wide-attacking role, as activity in the market is expected to continue.
How good has been Arsenal’s window so far?
The Gunners managed to identify problem areas after narrowly missing out on a top-four place, with a new striker becoming their priority. The swiftness and efficiency of the signing of Jesus in pre-season showed the club might not need Champions League football to attract top talents, considering Chelsea and Tottenham were in the race to sign the Brazilian.
Three goals in two preseason games for Gabriel Jesus ? pic.twitter.com/oAzfmzgrAa
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 17, 2022
His arrival offsets the departures of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, who had left a big hole in the forward line. Arsenal heavily relied on their wide players to get the goals last season, and with Jesus, they have a proper striker to take up the mantle.
Arsenal chased Raphinha, but the money Leeds United demanded and the Brazilian’s desire to join Barcelona ultimately forced them to bow out of the race. The pursuit at least confirmed the Gunners’ intent to sign a wide attacker, possibly to compete or complement Bukayo Saka on the right wing.
The club also secured a backup to Martin Odegaard in Vieira, although we have discussed how both those stars can share time on the pitch. The former Porto star cost Arsenal £34 million, including bonuses, and is considered an intelligent business.
The recent signing of Oleksandr Zinchenko also helps Arteta solve his problems at left-back. While Arteta significantly values his versatility, the Spanish manager wanted to sign Lisandro Martinez, who could play at left-back while being a solid option in central defence.
Arteta wanted a new left-footed centre-back in Martinez, who is assured in possession and one who could hold the line. Even without him, their defence looks rock solid, although fans would still like a new right-back in place of Cedric Soares even though the 31-year-old was solid while deputising for Takehiro Tomiyasu in the latter part of last season.
But as iterated earlier, even though they have done some good work in the market, Arsenal still have a few chinks to address.
Arsenal need a new midfielder and wide attacker
Arsenal have been heavily linked with a move for Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans for months now. However, the Gunners have since taken the Belgian out of their priority list and focused on other areas. They could go back for the 25-year-old before the window shuts, but it is expected to be more complex than many believe.
?⚪️David Ornstein on Tielemans: “The key decision makers at Arsenal are essentially all in on him. When you talk to people around this situation, they make clear there may need to be a departure first for Tielemans to come in.” pic.twitter.com/rHAIiZoIi7
— Gunners Boy (@White0457) July 20, 2022
Tielemans reportedly wants to join Arsenal and could snub the advances of other clubs, including Manchester United. If the news is accurate, the Gunners have leverage in the transfer and could delay as much as possible to reduce the price drastically.
Considering Tielemans is not prepared to sign a new contract at Leicester, Arsenal hold all the cards and could push to sign him for a reasonable transfer fee late in the window. A £30 million price is being mooted, although the Gunners could be expected to make a significantly lower offer. If they are to make an offer now, it has to be in line with the Foxes’ demands.
They are also parallelly chasing Lucas Paqueta, who is of a different profile to the Belgian, and Arthur Melo of Juventus, also available at a reasonable price. From what we have gathered, Tielemans reportedly remains their No.1 choice considering the price, availability, and positional sense in Arteta’s setup.
Moving away from a central midfielder, Arsenal also showed the need for a wide attacker in the mould of Raphinha. Having been unsuccessful in their chase for the Brazilian, the Gunners displayed their intent to want a player like that and the willingness to spend big.
In truth, who Arsenal are chasing for the position remains a mystery, although the activity could accelerate in the latter stages of the window. Serge Gnabry was mentioned as a possible target, but the Bayern star is not a realistic possibility. Other players like Moussa Diaby were also linked, but his price tag could pose a problem.
Will Arsenal bring in a new centre-back?
Mikel Arteta already has four senior centre-backs he rates and young prospect Reuell Walters, who has travelled with the team on the US tour. Pablo Mari returned after a successful loan spell but is expected to be sold, meaning Arsenal could start the season with Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes, William Saliba, and Rob Holding as their four central defenders.
The chase of Lisandro Martinez raised few questions amid Gabriel’s growing links with Juventus. Arteta wanted the Argentine to compete with the Brazilian and Kieran Tierney at left-back. However, the acquisition of Zinchenko solves the latter problem, but questions remain about the possibility of signing a new centre-back.
Additionally, the long-term future of William Saliba remains unclear despite reports indicating his agent met with Edu to discuss a new deal. Arsenal fans were happy after finally seeing the 21-year-old play for the team against Everton and continue to rate him highly.
Saliba is expected to remain with the team for the upcoming season, although his starting position will be that of a third-choice centre-back behind White and Gabriel. There have been links to a few central defenders like Edmond Tapsoba, although that was contingent on someone from the current setup departing.
As things stand, Arsenal may not view the central defence as a priority, as Arteta is reportedly content with his current options. The focus will likely shift towards offloading those deemed surplus to requirements, as the Gunners have plenty of work in that department.
Arsenal’s large squad needs trimming
In the second consecutive summer window, Arsenal have not managed to shift out their unwanted stars. They could only work out loan deals last year, although the situation is more critical now. While signing new players may be appeasing, the club need to balance their books by conducting brisk sales.
Hector Bellerin, Lucas Torreira, Pablo Mari, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson, and Bernd Leno are some of the names on Arsenal’s transfer list. Barring Mari, everyone else is in the last year of their contracts, meaning Arsenal may have to settle for less.
Clubs are likely aware of the situation and could make a late dash to secure those stars at a knocked-down price. For instance, Real Betis are only prepared to pay €4 million or less for Bellerin, while Arsenal value the right-back at €10 million. Similarly, Leno’s transfer to Fulham has hit a snag following disagreements over the £11 million asking price.
There’s been interest in Torreira, but no club has come close to matching Arsenal’s €15 million asking fees. Udinese suggested they cannot afford Mari at the quoted fee, while there have hardly been any enquiries for Europa Conference League Finalists Nelson and Maitland-Niles.
Sales are not impossible but Arsenal may not be able to get good value from their departures. Clubs will likely come in with offers late in the window and try for bargain deals, at which point, the Gunners may be forced to accept the proposals on the table.
At such a juncture, Arsenal will likely focus on trimming their wage bill rather than extracting top value with transfer fees. It should be a lesson for Edu and Arteta for the following windows, as the club will have to sharpen their knives with their sales work.
Are Arsenal heading in the right direction?
There’s no doubting Arteta’s vision and Edu’s efficiency in talent identification and transfer dealings. The Brazilian executive has been growing in his role at the club and gaining a superior reputation for getting deals done.
The signing of Jesus and the exciting Vieira shows the club still have the pull despite missing out on Champions League football. The idea of systematically bringing in players with correct attributes and suitable age profiles signifies a process set in motion, allowing success to follow next.
Despite the crucial signings and the otherwise young squad growing in experience, Arsenal remain some way behind the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool in terms of overall quality. Last season they showed a level of competitiveness against those sides, although it will take massive effort to keep building this team over the next few seasons and then mount a title challenge.
Arsenal can consider the summer a highly successful one if they manage to extend Saka’s contract along with those of Saliba and Gabriel Martinelli. Even without those, the Gunners have had a tremendous window that could still bring in at least two more big signings before the end of August.