Rating Arsenal’s transfer window: Was it transformative or lacklustre?
Despite Arsenal finishing the 19/20 season on a high by winning the FA Cup, it was clear there was still a lot of work to be done. They had finished eighth in the league, outside of all the European spots. Mikel Arteta had worked wonders with the players at his disposal since arriving in December 2019, but he needed investment if Arsenal were to make serious strides towards the top four. Although it was a tough window, in a tough time for Arsenal, a lot of business has been done, but just how good has Arsenal’s window been? Let’s take a look.
Willian arrived on a free transfer after leaving Chelsea, and became Mikel Arteta’s first signing of the window. The Brazilian split fan opinion down the middle. Many pointed to the three year contract and other older signings with high wages who Arsenal are desperate to get rid of. The other half recognised the creative threat he possesses, an area Arsenal are weak in. In short, both arguments are valid. Willian does represent another player on high wages coming toward the end of their career, but the winger has enjoyed a career free of major injuries and has shown signs of being able to play at a high level well into his thirties.
Arsenal do lack in creativity, and they still do with the window now passed. Willian does offer a creative outlet from the wing, however. He recorded two assists in his first game for the club, with his instructions seemingly to drift inside when going forward, almost as a number 10. Mikel Arteta will hope Willian can provide Arsenal with the missing link to help fix their creativity issues.
Gabriel Magalhaes arrived in a deal worth around £27m from Lille at the conclusion of a transfer saga that involved Napoli, Manchester United, and Everton. Convinced by Mikel Arteta’s project, the Brazilian made his choice and signed a contract in North London. Despite being only 22, the centre-back has being nothing short of immense since joining.
Three games started in the Premier League, picking up three MOTM awards, and Arsenal’s Player of the Month award too. At such a low fee, the signing of Gabriel is looking like a masterstroke. It is, of course, very early days but all signs are pointing to Gabriel adding strength, dominance, passing ability, and aerial prowess to a back-line desperately in need of it. Great business by Arsenal.
When Mikel Arteta joined the club in December last year, Dani Ceballos was looking to be yet another failed loan move for Arsenal. However, Arteta made the move to give Ceballos a deeper role in the team and neither player nor manager have looked back since. The Spaniard was hugely influential in a strong ending to the season that saw Arsenal lift the FA Cup.
Ceballos will provide another option in Arsenal’s midfield this season, offering progressive passing, press resistance, and underrated tackling, and despite the loan still including no option to buy, many Arsenal fans will hope the 24-year-old’s move can be made permanent next year.
Where to start with Thomas Partey? To put it simply, Arsenal have secured one of the best midfielders in Europe in Thomas Partey. The Ghanaian alone is capable of taking Arsenal’s midfield up multiple levels. Not only is he defensively superb, racking up impressive stats in interceptions and tackles, but he is also very capable going forward. His dribbling stats are among the best of all players in Europe, averaging two successful dribbles per game with an 80% success rate overall.
Whereas Partey’s role in Diego Simeone’s team was more limited to a deeper role, it is thought Partey will be able to express his talents in going forward at Arsenal. In Partey, Arsenal have a player who can bring other players into the game, and allow Arsenal to dominate midfield battles. Partey can allow a move to four at the back for Arsenal, which is thought to be Mikel Arteta’s long term preference.
Though Arsenal were forced into triggering Partey’s £44m release clause, the price still seems to be a bargain. This signing is a statement of Arsenal’s backing of Arteta, and it’s a desire to be back among the top clubs in Europe.
Sensational. Rating: 10/10
Arsenal’s captain is obviously not a new signing. However, after months of speculation and the seeming resignation that the striker would leave, his new three-year contract feels like a marquee signing. Arsenal’s talisman proved his worth yet again in the FA cup final, scoring both goals that saw him lift the cup (after dropping it).
It was vital for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal that the striker stayed this summer, and he has done exactly that. He spoke of wanting to become an Arsenal legend after signing the contract and at the start of a new project under Mikel Arteta, this really does feel like the start of a potentially legendary period for the club.
Despite heavy and constant links to many of Arsenal’s players, very few ended up leaving. Emi Martinez, Matteo Guendouzi (loan), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (free), and Lucas Torreira (loan) all departed the Emirates. Fans will be frustrated with the failure to shift players such as Sokratis, Sead Kolasinac, and Shkodran Mustafi, but in truth the difficulty of doing so has been understated. Much of Arsenal’s ‘deadwood’ are on high wages given by previous regimes, making it very hard to command any fee at all. Particularly in this financial climate, clubs are having to be incredibly tight when it comes to expenditure and players are not inclined to take the pay-cut.
However, the failure to shift players out has still had after-effects. Mikel Arteta now has a selection dilemma on his hands and will have to leave two senior players out of the Premier League squad.
Reports before the transfer window painted a worrying story for Arsenal. They spoke of very little money to work with and ‘loan and swap deals’. However, Arsenal have surpassed all expectations and have signed four players capable of improving the first team immediately, as well as keeping their talisman.
While fans will be disappointed to miss out on a creative midfielder, namely Houssem Aouar, this has still been a very positive window for Arsenal. Top four and a much-needed return to the Champions League now look well in reach for Mikel Arteta’s men, and positivity flows through the club. A job well done by the Arsenal transfer team.