They say “alls well that ends well”, but as the transfer window slammed shut on Thursday evening, Arsenal fans would be forgiven for frustratingly lamenting the feeling of anti-climax.
A window that started so promisingly looks to have ended with Arsenal short in key areas. Despite the club’s intent to sign a wide forward this summer, no such player arrived, neither did a defensive midfielder.
Of course, that wasn’t for lack of trying.
Arsenal were nothing if not persistent in their pursuit of either position, but ultimately fell short. An unsuccessful deadline day dash for Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz will undoubtedly leave Arsenal fans feeling disappointed, but recency bias shouldn’t take away from what is, on the surface, a very exciting set of recruits.
|13/6/22||🇧🇷 Marquinhos||🇧🇷 São Paulo||£2.1m|
|21/6/22||🇵🇹 Fábio Vieira||🇵🇹 FC Porto||£34m|
|27/6/22||🇺🇸 Matt Turner||🇺🇸 NE Revolution||£5m|
|4/7/22||🇧🇷 Gabriel Jesus||🏴 Manchester City||£45m|
|22/7/22||🇺🇦 Oleksandr Zinchenko||🏴 Manchester City||£32m|
Arsenal main focus this summer, was on their incomings. The club set themselves up for Champions League qualification beautifully at the tail-end of last season, but, in the end, fell short. Squad depth was the main culprit, but so too was a distinct lack of firepower from their established strikers.
Mikel Arteta and Edu entered the transfer window knowing that they needed specific characteristics in the squad.
Filling key positions was, of course, essential, however, the club were more interested in the specific profile of player they could attract. Those with positional and tactical versatility were considered high-priority targets.
The club’s first signing of the summer, technically, was American goalkeeper Matt Turner, who joined from New England Revolution. The deal had been formally agreed as early as February, but would not go through until the summer.
Aaron Ramsdale’s fine form between the sticks meant that Bernd Leno, the club’s number one, found game time harder to come by and the club anticipated a sale in the summer, so looked to cover the position as early as possible.
Outside of Turner, the first signing of the summer for the club was Brazilian youngster Marquinhos, signed from São Paulo, though not without controversy.
The deal was formally announced in June, though fellow Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers felt that they too had an agreement with the player and that Arsenal’s usurping was a sign of bad faith by the Brazilian side. It seems unlikely that Arsenal have heard the last of this one.
In the world of social media, keeping transfers quiet is practically impossible, especially for major Premier League clubs; therefore, it came as a huge shock to the football world when news finally broke of the club’s agreement with FC Porto for attacker, Fábio Vieira.
Plenty of names had been reported in the press over who Arsenal would be targeting this summer, and Vieira’s name was conspicuous by it’s absence (and the fact he happens to share it with an Arsenal legend).
Vieira was signed as cover for Martin Ødegaard, with Mikel Arteta feeling that Emile Smith Rowe would be better suited to a wider role. The other benefit being that Vieira, a left-footed player, was also capable of taking up position on the right flank. If Arsenal failed to recruit a winger this summer, they would at least have Vieira to potentially rely on.
The capture of Vieira represented something of a coup for Mikel Arteta’s side. Not only was Vieira highly coveted around Europe, but he was also signed for nearly €15m under his reported release clause. The involvement of agent Jorge Mendes had been crucial to the deal and had allowed Arsenal to act before other clubs could co-ordinate their attack.
The main concern for the club heading into the new season had been a striker. The likes of Gianluca Scamacca, Lautaro Martínez and Cody Gakpo had been mentioned as potential targets, but Mikel Arteta had eyes for only one man, Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus.
The summer window felt like the perfect time to striker. The club’s longstanding admiration for the player notwithstanding, City’s summer signings of Julián Álvarez and Erling Haaland meant that Jesus dropped far down the pecking order.
Arsenal were not alone in their admiration for the player. Real Madrid had been keen to add Jesus to their ranks, but their lack of EU spots in the team made a move impossible. Fellow Premier League clubs such as Chelsea and Tottenham were also interested, despite this, Arsenal fancied their chances and were able to see off a last minute “gazumping” by Chelsea to secure the player’s signature.
The close proximity of former Brazil technical director Edu Gaspar as well as former City Assistant Manager Mikel Arteta, likely played a big part in Jesus’ decision, but so too did the apparent “data presentation” the club made to the player. The club presented a number of key metrics that they felt Jesus was underperforming in and methods about how Arsenal could help to improve. Edu himself had also spoken directly to the player, telling him that his previous season for City, in which he registered 13 goals and 12 assists in 41 matches, was not up to his usual standards.
This was hardly scathing criticism and Jesus responded enthusiastically to such an honest assessment and happily signed on the dotted line for a reported £45m fee.
Another key area that Arsenal had identified that addressing, was left-back.
Kieran Tierney is the club’s usual starter in the position, however, his injury record necessitates the creation of a Plan B. Nuno Tavares is highly-rated at the club, but the feeling was that a loan would be beneficial for the youngster. More game time meant that Tavares could hone his skills appropriately, just as William Saliba had done last season at Marseille. By sheer coincidence, Tavares also joined Marseille on loan.
This opened the door for a potential signing. The club’s first-choice was Ajax defender Lisandro Martínez. The club’s interest in the Argentine dates back to February, when the club began informal talks with the player’s agent.
Despite being a left-footed central defender (another position the club were keen to strengthen in), the coaching staff held doubts over the player’s height and his ability to contend with Premier League attackers. Therefore, the plan was to deploy Martínez as direct competition for Tierney, rather than for Gabriel Magalhães.
Negotiations took place with Ajax, but the Dutch champions were demanding a fee in excess of €45m, a figure Arsenal were unwilling to match.
Eventually, the club walked away from the deal, allowing Manchester United to swoop in and complete a deal. That United ended up paying a fee in excess of €65m speaks not only to United’s appalling negotiation tactics, but also to Arsenal’s willingness to not pay over the odds for players.
A key aspect of the club’s transfer activity in recent years, is the idea of having willing back-ups waiting in the wings. Fresh from their pursuit of Martínez, the club instead turned their attentions back to Manchester City, this time with Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Zinchenko represented an interesting addition to the squad. Not only would the Ukrainian be able to occupy multiple roles in midfield as well as at full-back, but his time under Pep Guardiola had folded him into an inverted fullback, one who could easily drift into midfield without leaving the space in behind.
Such a player would represent a major coup for Arteta’s side and mean that the drop-off in quality in case of injury would be virtually non-existent. Despite City’s pontifications, Arsenal were able to wrap-up a deal for a reported £30m fee, with a further £2m in add-ons.
Though Zinchenko represented the final incoming of the summer window, there was a fair amount of effort to recruit in other areas too.
The aforementioned left-footed central defender was one the club were keen to add, but was not considered essential. The club had, unfortunately, missed out on the chance to recruit Nico Schlotterbeck from Freiburg in January, but were unsuccessful, with the defender instead moving to Borussia Dortmund.
Other positions were considered far more essential.
Chief among them, was a right-winger.
Burnout for Bukayo Saka is a very real issue the club has to contend with this season and the reasoning behind their pursuit of yet another wide man. Nicolas Pépé was considered surplus to requirements, so the club began, in earnest, to consider alternatives.
Leeds United’s Raphinha was top of the shopping list. But weeks of protracted negotiations eventually bore no fruit. Arsenal were gazumped by Chelsea, who were, in turn, left red-faced by supposedly penniless Barcelona, who snapped up the Brazilian winger.
Not to be deterred, the club began to focus on other targets. Pépé’s departure made another signing more feasible, and the club were interested in Wolves’ Pedro Neto. This too proved unsuccessful, as the Portugal winger had recently signed a new and improved five-year contract, meaning Wolves had little interest in parting company with Neto, with their demands thought to be in excess of £50m.
Interest in Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk was also high, but the club never submitted a formal offer for the Ukrainian youngster.
There was a feeling among many that the club would make a move for Mudryk in the final weeks of the window, however, injuries to Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny (the latter of whom is expected to be out of action for several months), meant the club were forced to turn their attentions elsewhere.
Palmeiras midfielder Danilo has been of interest to the club for some time. The club had initially planned on moving for the Brazilian either in January or next summer, but the situation meant Arsenal brought their plans forward. Palmeiras indicated that they were not interested in parting company with the youngster at this stage of the season (the club were in the middle of a semi-final of the CONMEBOL Libertadores) and pointed Arsenal to his eye-watering £86m release clause.
Getting desperate, Arsenal instead turned their attentions to Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz.
Luiz had been on the radar of the club for some time, however, the player being in the final year of his contract and reportedly unwilling to commit his long-term future to the club, Arsenal sensed an opportunity to strike.
No fewer than three bids were lodged with the west Midlands club, with £5m incremental increases on their initial £15m offer. Villa flat-out refused any and all offers from the Gunners.
For his part, Luiz and his agents Giuliano Bertolucci and Kia Joorabchian pushed hard for the move to materialise, but the 11pm deadline came and then went. No deal sheet lodged with the Premier League and Villa resolute.
It spelt a fairly anti-climactic end to the window, but overall, the club are said to be pleased with the business they have concluded. The proof will be in the results as to whether or not it will be enough to tide them over until the January window.
|1/6/22||🇫🇷 Mattéo Guendouzi||🇫🇷 Marseille||£10m|
|1/6/22||🇬🇷 Konstas Mavropanos||🇩🇪 VfB Stuttgart||£4m|
|9/6/22||🇫🇷 Alexandre Lacazette||🇫🇷 Lyon||Free|
|20/6/22||🇹🇷 Omar Rekik||🇳🇱 Sparta Rotterdam||Loan|
|15/7/22||🇺🇸 Auston Trusty||🏴 Birmingham City||Loan|
|16/7/22||🇯🇲 Omari Hutchinson||🏴 Chelsea||Undis.|
|20/7/22||🇲🇽 Marcelo Flores||🇪🇸 Real Oviedo||Loan|
|30/7/22||🇵🇹 Nuno Tavares||🇫🇷 Marseille||Loan|
|2/8/22||🇩🇪 Bernd Leno||🏴 Fulham||£8m|
|3/8/22||🏴 Folarian Balogun||🇫🇷 Stade de Reims||Loan|
|3/8/22||🏴 Charlie Patino||🏴 Blackpool||Loan|
|8/8/22||🇺🇾 Lucas Torreira||🇹🇷 Galatasaray||£8.5m|
|11/8/22||🇪🇸 Pablo Marí||🇮🇹 Monza||Loan|
|15/8/22||🇮🇸 Rúnar Rúnarsson||🇹🇷 Alanyaspor||Loan|
|22/8/22||🏴 Brooke Norton-Cuffy||🏴 Rotherham||Loan|
|23/8/22||🇳🇱 Salah Eddine||🏴 Hull City||Loan|
|25/8/22||🇨🇮 Nicolas Pépé||🇫🇷 OGC Nice||Loan|
|1/09/22||🏴 Miguel Azeez||🇪🇸 UD Ibiza||Loan|
|1/09/22||🏴 James Olayinka||🏴 Cheltenham Town||Undis.|
|1/09/22||🏴 Ainsley Maitland-Niles||🏴 Southampton||Loan|
|1/09/22||🇪🇸 Héctor Bellerín||🇪🇸 FC Barcelona||Free|
While the incomings were certainly an enticing lot, they were not enough to cover up the rather dismal returns the club saw in terms of outgoings.
Arsenal have never been famed for their ability to sell during the Emirates-era, with Edu so far unable to top the £20m fee the club received after selling Emiliano Martínez in the summer of 2020.
As Arsenal’s rebuild under Mikel Arteta begins to take shape, the club have realised the only way to be able to shift some unwanted poundage from the wage bill has been to terminate contracts.
Since Unai Emery left the club, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sead Kolašinac, Shkodran Mustafi, Mesut Özil, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have all had their contracts torn up by the club, which has notably weakened the club’s negotiation stance. The latter of which is particularly galling, after Aubameyang completed a move from Barcelona to London rivals Chelsea on deadline day for a reported fee of £10.3m, to the chagrin of Arsenal fans, who were forced to watch the striker, who scored 92 goals in 163 appearances for the Gunners, leave for free.
Indeed, Arsenal’s biggest sale of the summer was made at the beginning of the window. Mattéo Guendouzi, who was loaned to Marseille last summer, moved to the French club permanently. The agreement in Guendouzi’s deal was that the deal contained a purchase obligation, contingent on Marseille avoiding relegation. Arsenal did make a profit on their sale, but a meagre £10m still represents a paltry sum for a player Arsenal had exceptionally high hopes for.
Another loan deal made permanent was Konstantinos Mavropanos. The Greek defender made his switch to VfB Stuttgart for an even paltrier sum of £4m, re-joining Sven Mislintat, Stuttgart’s Sporting Director and former-Arsenal Head of Recruitment and the man who bought him to the club in the first place. Again, the deal was a profit on the initial fee the club paid for the defender, however, given his performances last season, Arsenal fans were outraged the club were only able to recoup such a small fee.
Alexandre Lacazette waved goodbye to N5 after five-years service at the end of his contract. Though he faired distinctly better than other recipients of the number 9 shirt, Lacazette’s departure was not quite the sad affair that he would have preferred. Lacazette’s farewell message to the fans was a nice tough, but it would be difficult to call his spell at Arsenal “successful”.
Austin Trusty, signed from Colorado Rapids in January, was loaned out to Birmingham City, though Arsenal fans are unlikely to ever catch a glimpse of the American in the red and white of Arsenal.
The club were also once again on the wrong end of a Kia Joorabchian masterclass. The super agent was able to engineer a move away from the club for talented youngster Omari Hutchinson, who joined Chelsea. Arsenal fans had been excited at the prospect of Hutchinson being the next potential Hale End graduate to break into the first-team. They will now, rather gallingly, have to watch him strut his stuff in the blue of Chelsea instead. Arsenal do retain a hefty sell-on clause and have received an undisclosed figure as a transfer fee, but that is unlikely to soothe many hearts.
Meanwhile, the club once again made use of its exceptional relations with Marseille; loaning out Portuguese full-back Nuno Tavares.
Tavares’ departure ensured Arsenal ere able to bring in a new left-back and also guaranteed the former Benfica youth some more game-time. He has been joined in the French league by Folarian Balogun, who joined Reims.
The club were braced for the sale of Bernd Leno ever since January.
Leno has been usurped last season by Aaron Ramsdale, who represented a goalkeeper more suited to Mikel Arteta’s style of play. The club had signed US goalkeeper Matt Turner in anticipation of Leno’s departure.
However, Arsenal once again seemed to show their inability to negotiate outgoings with the required finesse.
Initially, Arsenal had wanted around £11m for Leno. Their argument being that Leno, already a Confederations Cup winner with Germany, was an established Premier League talent and one who, despite having 12 months remaining on his deal, represented a big figure for the club to rely on.
In the end, Arsenal sold Leno for a sickeningly low £8m. However, the deal is even worse when broken-down.
As is common with football transfers, the £8m reported in the press is made-up of various incentives and add-ons. In reality, Fulham signed Leno for £3m. The remaining £5m were based on Fulham surviving relation in consecutive seasons and on the amount of appearances Leno makes for the side.
It was an exceptionally low sum of money for such an experienced goalkeeper.
However, one transfer that will have pleased Arsenal fans was that of Lucas Torreira. The Uruguayan, once tipped to be one to keep an eye on, had fallen dramatically out of favour with Arsenal fans over his apparent unwillingness to acquiesce to a move.
Loaned out to Fiorentina last season, the Italian club opted against taking up the original purchase option in the player’s deal (£15m) in favour of a smaller one.
Both Torreira and Arsenal were baffled.
Torreira had been exceptional at Fiorentina last season and, after Dušan Vlahović’s move to Juventus, had been the club’s best player, yet they were attempting to lower the price tag of the player and lower their initial contract offer.
Neither Arsenal or Torreira were particularly impressed and the deal was cancelled.
Eventually, after much umming and ahing, Arsenal eventually agreed a fee with Turkish side Galatasaray for a reported fee of £8m.
However, Torreira once again looked ot have backed out at the last minute.
Torreira was far keener to join up with Valencia in Spain, particularly with Gennaro Gattuso, whom is one of the midfielder’s idols. However, Valencia were unable to stump up the requisite cash for the player and instead, Torreira was forced to join Galatasaray, bringing an end to his time at the club and being the last signing made during Sven Mislintat’s time with the club to leave.
After this, the club were forced into a series of loan deals.
Pablo Marí departed the club for Serve A side Monza with a purchase obligation if they avoid relegation, while Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson joined Turkish side Alanyaspor, though no purchase clause was included in the deal.
Perhaps to the surprise of many, the club also saw fit to loan out Ivorian winger Nicolas Pépé.
While the club had been hoping for a permanent move, the winger was allowed to join French side OGC Nice for the remainder of the season, again without a purchase clause.
Pépé’s loan leaves Arsenal short on the wings. While the club had hoped to replace Pépé with either Raphinha, Pedro Neto or Mykhaylo Mudryk, the club were unsuccessful in bringing in a replacement, begging the question as to why Arsenal had loaned Pépé out before a replacement had been sourced. The best Arsenal can hope for is that Pépé “puts himself in the shop window” with some good performances in Ligue 1 so the club may recoup some of the whopping £72m they spent to sign him.
Deadline day may have been dominated by the club’s failure to sign Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz, but the club waved goodbye to two long-term servants.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ move to Southampton may only be a loan move, but the deal does include an undisclosed purchase option. Given that Maitland-Niles’ deal runs out at the end of the current season, Richard Garlick ensured that the club activated their optional extension clause in his contract to ensure that they can receive some money for the troubled midfielder, the rest is now down to Maitland-Niles.
Héctor Bellerín, meanwhile, spent last season on loan at his boyhood club of Real Betis. Bellerín had hoped for a permanent move back to the club this summer.
Complications arose surrounding Bellerín’s salary and the club’s inability too fund a transfer fee for him. Betis had been hoping that Arsenal would unilaterally agree to terminate Bellerín’s contract, however, Arsenal were unwilling to do so.
As a result, Betis pulled out of the deal.
For a while, it looked as though Bellerín would remain with Arsenal for the duration of his final year of contract, however, on deadline day, it was announced that Bellerín had joined Barcelona on a free transfer. Bellerín is a product of the coveted La Masia youth academy at the club.
This transfer too, seemed to have eyes rolling.
Bellerín, who had one year remaining on his contract, was sold without a transfer fee. Though the club are adamant that they did not cancel Bellerín’s contract, fans will argue that this is merely two sides of the same coin, given the lack of compensation.
While Bellerín did, gentlemanly, agree to waver any money owed to him by the club to join Barcelona, it seems to be yet another poor bit of business by the Arsenal executive structure.
The club have included a 25% sell-on clause, however, given that Bellerín signed a one-year contract with Barcelona, a contract that does not include an optional extension clause, fans are left baffled as to why the club bothered to include the clause, given that Bellerín will likely not be at Barcelona long enough for the club to actually enjoy the benefits of it.
Of course, the wishful thinking here is that Barcelona are anticipating selling Bellerín in January, likely to Betis, who may have found some money by then, however, the pessimistic outlook is that Betis have no reason not to wait until his contract expires and sign him then.
While the incoming signings the club have made have been exciting and fruitful, the ongoing side leaves plenty to be desired.
In many ways, Arsenal have sold themselves short on multiple counts and the failure to extract genuine transfer fees is a disappointing return on investment.
|Net Spend||– £87,600,000 |