Arteta is a man on a mission. To rival fans, his only mission is to outspend any other club and to simply “buy” a Prem title at any cost. To be fair, we have seen him oversee the spending of more than £200m so far, and the window will remain open for another six or seven weeks. You would think that integrating three new players, two of them likely starters, might be enough of a transition, but Arteta seems unconcerned with such trifles. Indeed, to hear him tell it, he might just be getting warmed up.
Talking about Arsenal’s business to date and the time that remains, Arteta said, “it’s a lot of time still in the market and our expectations are in some of our players as well. So we have to see how things develop in the next couple of weeks. We will be alert, there’s still time to do things, there’s still time for exits obviously, so I’m sure things will move.”
While he alludes to selling a few players, the import there seems to be around seeking out and signing other players. Among other areas, we seem need to cover for our starboy. Bukayo Saka played nearly every minute of the Prem season, making 38 starts and playing 3,194 minutes. Defenders are not going to get any gentler, and there are very few signs that referees will get any better any time soon. Neither Marquinhos nor Vieira is ready to deputise for him other than perhaps 10-15 minutes here and there when we’ve got a comfortable lead. Finding a winger who’s good enough to step up might be the most important bit of unfinished business.
Having already sold Xhaka and Mari (remember him?), we could and probably should part ways with Cedric, Lokonga, Tavares and Elneny, each of whom has been made redundant by other signings. Tierney is another name that comes to mind, but selling him would leave us without cover for Zinchenko. I’m still unsure why Arteta doesn’t seem to rate Tierney even if he can’t quite play the same inverted role that Zinchenko plays. He’s also a capable CB, the position he plays for Scotland.
The bigger issue is the possible departure of Thomas Partey. Persistent rumours of interest from Juventus and Saudi Arabian club Khaleej FC could eventually see the Ghanaian move on. Those excited about a potential bidding war to drive up his fee should remember that this Juventus we’re dealing with, and Khaleej FC has apparently never paid a fee for a player. According to transfermarkt, all of their incoming transfers have been free. There must be something else going on there. Selling Partey and Xhaka would leave our midfield a little thin Jorginho is an important leader but is getting older, and Elneny is sticking around more for his genuinely pleasant personality rather than his skill on the pitch.
Could we really see two more significant signings to push our spending past the £300m mark? Chelsea spent £530m just last season, showing that the connection between spending and suceeding isn’t always as strong as it might seem. By contrast, Arteta seems to have a clear vision for the kind of players he wants and the way he wants them to play, making for smarter spending.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Those of us of a certain vintage might remember waiting until the very last day (and at times the very last minute) of the transfer window before learning of any major signings. To date, we’ve announced three, and there’s plenty of time (and, apparently, money) left. Who will it be next?
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