Well the transfer window closed last night and unlike windows of the past, Arsenal were doing business all the way until it slammed shut. Four players were confirmed last night as having signed, with Park announced the day before. It was clear from the start of the season that Wenger had to act to change our fortunes and only time will tell if Le Professor has bought correctly.
The first three signings, Park, Santos and Mertesacker were players that we should have secured before the season started.
A centre-back was a priority all summer, several names were linked and we made two bids for players, Jagielka and Cahill. Everton wanted £18M for a 30 year old defender with little international experience, so Arsene moved his attention to Cahill. An offer of £6M plus Bendtner was made, this was ridiculed by Bolton who wanted £17M for a player in the last year of his contract and with a handful of international caps. Rightly so Wenger made a move for German international Mertesacker and secured a player who is one year older than Cahill, but has 75 caps for one of the top nations in world. The fee £8.8M! The Neanderthals in the British media say he is too slow and we should have gone for Cahill or Jagielka or Dann. Mertesacker was not bought to win the 100M at the forthcoming Olympics, he was bought to defend, to make challenges, win headers and tackles. A player does not represent Germany 75 times if is he no good. This was a great move by Wenger. My only question is why could we not have bought him a month ago?
When Clichy left, no Arsenal fan shed a tear, we knew in Gibbs we had an adequate replacement, in fact Gibbs will go one to become a great left-back. However, we thought Wenger will buy Enrique, we needed cover and competition at left-back, but Arsene though Traore was capable to cover at left-back. This was surprising as Traore had been converted into a left sided midfielder by Arsene. Wenger soon saw the light and on Sunday night news broke that were in talks with Brazil international Andre Santos. We secured a strong, attacking full-back for £6.2M, this is good business, his record at Fenerbahce is one goal in five games. Santos has again been slated by the blinkered British media as non-entity, who is he, if he was any good he should be playing La Liga or Serie A. I believe Santos will be the player to bring the best out of Gibbs. Another great purchase by Wenger but one that should have been concluded once Clchy left.
Search for a striker should have started in May when Wenger allowed Bendtner to leave. It ended with the acquisition of South Korea captain Park Chu-Young for a fee around £2.6M from Monaco, though in the process we upset Lille!
Having sold Nasri and Fabregas, much to Wenger’s surprise, though everyone else knew it would happen, Wenger had to move in for a midfielder or two. Rumours were abound with bids made for Hazard, Martin, M’Vila, enquiries for Vargas and Montolivio, but these were young players, big money was required and a bedding in period. So Arsene looked closer to home, he turned to Chelsea and Everton. Inquiries were made for Arteta and Benayoun and after some brinksmanship the players were brought in one on a four year deal and the other on loan (due to work permit complications). Arteta and Benayoun will bring experience, graft, inventiveness and goals to our midfield. Both players will be good signings for Arsenal.
Interesting Arteta took a pay-cut to join Arsenal, what is that about, Arsenal are massive payers overall, but when it comes to our top players we are reluctant to offer big money.
Now that the window has closed and Wenger has his squad for the season, we can now focus on getting our season started and start to move up the table. A good run of results could see challenging by December, but we need to keep players fit, stop picking up silly red cards and start to take our chances.
On the departure front, youngsters Joel Campbell and Henri Lansbury went out on loans, whilst Gilles Sunu joined Lorient on a permanent basis. Niklas Bendtner was unable to find the “big” club to play for and has joined Sunderland on loan. Bendtner will do well at Sunderland as he will be playing regularly as the main striker, this could work well for Arsenal as his value can only go up. Worryingly for Arsenal fans is that Almunia is still at the club as is Squillaci.
Arsenal cannot stand still however, new contracts must be offered to van Persie, Walcott and Vermaelen otherwise we will be in for a nightmare summer in 2012. Arsenal must re-evaluate their transfer policy and in particular the way we complete transfers, I am referring to the two that got away Ricardo Alvarez and Juan Mata. Arsenal also need to re-asses their wage structure, not every player in the squad is worth £50K -£60K a week, we need to reward some players with £100K plus a week contracts.
Transfer deadline day looms and Arsenal are still in the market for midfielders, this is not idle blog gossip but Arsene Wenger stated we are short of players in this area. This became self-evident in recent games were the creativity has been left to Rosicky and his best days are behind him.
Today is a day we will all go mad in following rumours and tweets.
MVila was the player we were linked with and apparently made a £22M bid for the France international, but Rennes want £30M. I doubt Wenger will stretch to £30M, but Wenger could try and push this one through, though M’Vila is more of a defensive player.
Until the window is closed the Eden Hazard to Arsenal bandwagon keeps rolling on, though Lille are reluctant to sell to Arsenal following the Park transfer, the possible arrival or Joe Cole on loan and also Arsenal could offer Chamakh as part of the deal. Though it is being reported in La Voix du Nord that Liverpool have first refusal on Hazard for 2012 due to the possible Cole deal.
Further afield, Italy in particular, Arsenal have been linked with Montolivio and Vargas from Fiorentina. Could Wenger go for a double Italian scoop?
Closer to home Wenger has made inquiries about Everton duo Arteta and Felaini and also Chelsea duo Benayoun and Malouda.
My preference will be for the Everton duo, but in dealing with English clubs the transfer fees will be inflated, but the positive is that we know what they can do in England with no bedding process required.
Do not discount a last minute move for either Gary Cahill or Chris Samba.
On exit front Bendtner, the self-confessed best striker in the world, is in talks with Stoke City. Manual Almunia has disappeared off the radar; this is daunting as he could appear in an Arsenal shirt in the forthcoming months. Two other Arsenal players that could have gone in this window, but arte likely to stay as we are short of players are Arshavin and Rosicky.
Most worrying is Henri Lansbury. Wenger went on record to say he will give him a chance, but Lansbury’s appearances this season were against Liverpool when we were down to 10 men and a cameo appearance at the Old Trafford Massacre. Not really the chance the Lansbury deserves. If Wenger cashes in on Lansbury, Arsenal FC should close down its Academy. This is one of the best players to come out of the Academy and he has been given zero opportunity by Arsene, whilst the likes of Rosicky and Arshavin stroll around the pitch with minimal effort.
What amazes me is that deals can be concluded in hours at this time of the season, players jet in from everywhere to undertake medicals in a matter of hours, whilst during the rest of the window it could, if you are an Arsenal fan, take weeks for transfers to be concluded.
Nasri leaves for £24M, to add to the departures of Cesc £35M, Eboue £4M and Clichy £7M. That is £70M so far, with Bendtner (£9M), Arshavin (£7M) , Squillaci (£1M) and Almunia (Free) to follow. Arsene’s total sales could generate nearly £87M. Yes Arsenal fans look at that number £87M generated through sales this summer. In addition Arsenal’s coffers have been increased by the Asia Tour and the Emirates Cup to the tune of £6M, in addition to the lucrative sponsorship deals concluded with Indesit, Carlsberg, O2, Citreon and Betsson this summer. The money does not stop there, Arsenal sold the Queensland Road development for £25M, and the sales of the remaining flats at Highbury Square continue to bring in revenue to the club.
As mentioned several times before, Arsenal had a cash balance of over £100M in November, with the second half of the season likely to add to that mountain of cash.
Arsenal FC is awash with cash. The UEFA Financial Fair Play rules will not prevent us or any other big club from playing in Europe, this is a smokescreen put up be Wenger and the board, UEFA will not prevent Manchester City from competing in Europe that is a fact and time will prove me correct.
The recent departures and proposed departures have also reduced our weekly wage bill by over £450K a week.
Our new additions have come at a total outlay of £19M and total wages of no more than £120K a week.
Arsene is now set for what should be a massive spending spree, he has the transfer cash and the wages to entice Scott Dann, Christopher Samba, Mikel Arteta and Mauro Zarate, these four players will cost us a total of £46M but will re-invigorate the squad, they will refresh the squad and add the extra spark that has been missing.
It appears that Wenger and the board are waiting to see what happens tomorrow in Italy, but regardless of the result Arsenal need to strengthen and this needs to start on Thursday morning.