Arsenal fans have gone through one of their most memorable transfer windows in recent years, likened to the stunning deadline-day of 2013, when the Gunners surprisingly signed Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid.
Majority of the summer window consisted of media speculation surrounding the lack of funds available to Unai Emery to invest in new players, the reported figure being £45m. Whilst this may still prove to have been the case with the financial structures that Arsenal adopted in their transfer business – it makes it hard to believe.
As I discussed in my previous column, Arsenal were in desperate need for some defensive options, considering some of the awful displays of last season, and if possible – a wide forward who can contribute with some goals. With this in mind, if the North London side had only brought in a new attacker, this would still have not been enough for them going into the new season. Subsequently, with the window shut and gameweek 1 out of the way, it would be safe to deem Arsenal’s summer a success.
The signing that shocked us most of all, was of Ivorian winger – Nicolas Pepe. The 24-year old was watched by a host of European clubs following his stellar season for Lille in Ligue One. It was largely assumed that Liverpool would be in for the forward, a natural fit for Klopp’s side, especially with their current style of play. The reported £45m budget that Arsenal were operating on meant it would be impossible to make any moves, yet – a £72m deal was agreed for Pepe, which would see £20m odd to be paid up front. The discretion in which the Arsenal hierarchy secured this signature, whilst balancing their finances over the next five years proves some very clever business, especially for a player that would walk into most sides given his form from last season.
Whilst Pepe was a stunning acquisition, the main focus had to be defence. William Saliba and Kieran Tierney were both heavily linked with the gunners, followed Pepe to North London. The Saliba deal was another piece of clever business. A deal worth £27m with little to nothing up-front, seeing the 18-year old spend the coming season on Loan at St Etienne and join Arsenal the following summer – something that could prove exceptional foresight given the inflated market rates. An immediate incoming was that of Kieran Tierney on deadline day, another player that would definitely provide some extra defensive cover at the back, but possessing the modern fullback attacking traits. Both signings are young whilst possessing qualities that Arsenal have needed, something that fans can be quite excited about.
Given that Saliba was the only central defensive contribution and not to join till the next season, this wouldn’t prove enough for the coming season. The Gunners still lacked a reliable and experienced player that could slot straight into that back line and provide some stability in the coming months. Naturally, out of nowhere – David Luiz from Chelsea for £8m. Another shock for many in England, the Brazilian swaps West London for North and this was the transfer that could prove the most interesting. The 32-year old has worked with manager Unai Emery before at Paris St. Germain and although he can sometimes be unpredictable, Luiz is a commanding personality with attributes that Arsenal need right now – an upgrade on their current options. The potential pairing of Luiz and Sokratis could prove fruitful.
Whilst Arsenal have often disappointed in the market, with fans always demanding big name signings, defensive cover and sometimes even player sales that never seems to happen – this was an iconic period and Raul Sanllehi and his team deserve a lot of credit. They brought in what was required, albeit Luiz not being the primary choice for many fans, he has Premier League experience and a winning mentality, a combination not many can fault. The deadline day sale of Alex Iwobi upset many considering the Nigerian International’s presence at the club since the age of 7, however; his sale marks a new era of management at the Emirates. Becoming Arsenal’s most expensive ever sale with a fee that will rise to £40m. For a player that isn’t guaranteed to feature with Nelson’s breakout in the first team and the incoming of Pepe, this is fantastic business once more.
Coupling a successful window and three points away at Newcastle on the opening day – there is not much to fault! Aubameyang has continued his terrific form and has been very vocal about his excitement to play with Nicolas Pepe. Whilst defence will still always be a concern until Emery settles on a backline with Bellerin and Holding still to come back from injury, the attack is up there with some of the best in the Premier League – this should prove an exciting season for the Gunners, at least on paper.