The transfer window finally closes with a snap for six months.
What teams have at their disposal will have to last them until January at this point, so any players looking for moves to and from Arsenal will need to wait another six months.
Here’s how Arsenal faired over the summer window:
|10/7/2021||🇵🇹 Nuno Tavares||🇵🇹 Benfica||£6.7m|
|19/7/2021||🇧🇪 Albert Sambi Lokonga||🇧🇪 Anderlecht||£17.2m|
|30/7/2021||🏴 Ben White||🏴 Brighton||£50m|
|20/8/2021||🇳🇴 Martin Ødegaard||🇪🇸 Real Madrid||£29m|
|20/8/2021||🏴 Aaron Ramsdale||🏴 Sheffield Utd||£28m|
|31/8/2021||🇯🇵 Takehiro Tomiyasu||🇮🇹 Bologna||£16m|
|24/6/2021||🇬🇷 Kostas Mavropanos||🇩🇪 Stuttgart||Loan|
|21/6/2021||🏴 Zech Medley||🇧🇪 KV Oostende||£1m|
|1/7/2021||🇧🇷 David Luiz||🇹🇷 Adana Demirspor||Free|
|6/7/2021||🇫🇷 Mattéo Guendouzi||🇫🇷 Marseille*||£10m|
|7/7/2021||🏴 Kieran Petrie||🏴 Swansea City||Free|
|15/7/2021||🇫🇷 William Saliba||🇫🇷 Marseille||Loan|
|13/8/2021||🏴 Joe Willock||🏴 Newcastle Utd||£25m|
|25/8/2021||🇺🇾 Lucas Torreira||🇮🇹 Fiorentina||Loan|
|30/8/2021||🇧🇷 Willian||🇧🇷 Corinthians||Free|
|31/8/2021||🏴 Reiss Nelson||🇳🇱 Feynoord||Loan|
|31/8/2021||🇪🇸 Héctor Bellerín||🇪🇸 Real Betis||Loan|
* Mattéo Guendouzi’s move to Marseille is a season-long loan, with a purchase obligation for £10m at the end of the loan spell.
Total Net Spend: -£110.9m
Overall, a fairly mixed bag from Arsenal. A huge amount of money invested, and comparatively very little received in return.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had an effect on the transfer window and on the way things have played out so far this summer, but a paltry £36m (£10m of which will not actually arrive in the accounts for another season as Mattéo Guendouzi is technically on loan for another season before the obligation comes into effect) to offset a stupendous £147m spent on new players is not a good look for Arsenal’s accounts this year.
Let’s take a look at Arsenal’s business this summer.
Arsenal’s incomings are a respectable bunch, decent signings that address the medium to long-term future of the club, but there is very little for the short-term.
Martin Ødegaard, Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu certainly fulfil issues the club has now, however, Nuno Tavares is signed as cover for Kieran Tierney (though the failure to offload Sead Kolašinac has immediately made the transfer redundant in the short-term); Albert Sambi Lokonga is a long-term replacement for Thomas Partey and Aaron Ramsdale is more of a Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson replacement at this point than a Bernd Leno replacement.
The deals that have been done have either been completed entirely too late or for a greater sum than the player’s market value.
Ben White is perhaps the best example of this. White is tipped for a bright and beautiful future in the game, however, questions are raised, even among his biggest supporters, over the whopping £50m fee that Arsenal have paid for the England youngster.
Whatever White’s abilities and potential are, they don’t seem high enough to merit such exorbitant spending. £50m should be signing you the finished article, not a “might be”.
White also seemed to represent the same problem as with other recruitments; the seeming lack of a Plan B.
For White, names such as Edmond Tapsoba and Jules Koundé were mentioned in passing as viable options, but neither ever really seemed serious. The same too can be said for Aaron Ramsdale. The prices being quoted are eye-watering for the players being mentioned and yet, Arsenal seemed totally unwilling to fish in another pond; Newcastle’s Freddie Woodman was again fleetingly mentioned, but overall, Ramsdale always seemed the priority.
As for the other signings, Mikel Arteta is well within his rights to demand of Edu, why were they not signed earlier?
Arsenal came out the other end of their 2-0 humbling at the hands of Brentford, with only three new signings, one of which was only starting owing to an injury to another player.
Arsenal showed against Brentford that they were in dire need of reinforcements and yet, there were none available. Martin Ødegaard would have likely lightened the load on Emile Smith Rowe and Takehiro Tomiyasu would have been a more welcome sight at right-back than Calum Chambers.
The age profile of the players is however a comforting notion. All the players signed are either 23 or under and represent the club thinking long-term, as opposed to the usual here and now signings that the likes of Willian represented.
The failure to not bring in a goalscoring midfielder or a striker will sting however. Lyon were practically begging to offload Rayan Cherki and Houssem Aouar, yet, Arsenal refused to take them on. As for strikers, Lautaro Martínez and Tammy Abraham were mentioned as viable options, but Arsenal never tabled a bid for either player.
There is also the bizarre dodging of Brighton’s Yves Bissouma. The Malian midfielder was calling Arsenal all summer and yet, Arsenal were uninterested in pursuing a deal.
There is always a frustration around Deadline Day deals. The same thing was true last season when the club unceremoniously snatched Thomas Partey from Atlético Madrid by activating his £45m (€50m) release clause. Why, if Tomiyasu was so high on the club’s agenda as their prime right-back target, did it take so long to sign him up?
The fee paid for the Japan international was not unaffordable and the club have need a new right-back since around October of last year, why was he only signed on the last day of August?
Some may point to the fact that Arsenal needed to sell before they could buy, but this too seems to have a flaw. Tomiyasu will be Arsenal’s fifth right-back.
Though Héctor Bellerín has left on loan, he will be back next season and will need to have his future resolved, unlikely to be happy to play second fiddle after a season of presumably being first choice at Real Betis. Calum Chambers and Cédric Soares are also still at the club. Arsenal have the option to extend Chambers’ deal by a further year and Cédric’s deal does not run out for another three years.
Elsewhere, Ainsley Maitland-Niles will also be hungry for game time as he too has nowhere to play after the club blocked his Deadline Day move to Everton and no chance of a reconciliation with Mikel Arteta anytime soon following his ill-advised Instagram SOS call.
Which brings us onto the outgoings.
It is worth prefacing before focusing on Arsenal’s outgoings that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the finances on all teams not named Manchester City or Chelsea (or Arsenal, given the relative spending to those two), so shifting players was always going to be a task.
With that in mind, it’s difficult to be too harsh on Edu’s inability to find homes for certain players.
However, on the other hand, there have been several situations this summer that have been very poorly handled from the start.
William Saliba’s situation is perhaps the best place to start. Saliba returned from a six-month loan deal at Nice prepared to break into the Arsenal first team and with David Luiz’s departure, he looked ready to finally accept a place in Mikel Arteta’s side.
However, questions were raised over the Frenchman’s experience, having only played 12 out of the past 24 months owing to the early closure of Ligue 1 during his time with Saint-Étienne and Arsenal’s failure to secure a loan deal for him until January of last year.
Saliba, it was decided, needed to have more experience at senior level, with the club keen for him to receive more top-level experience in the Premier League with Newcastle. However, Saliba opted for a move back to France, where he joined Marseille.
This too seems a baffling choice. Saliba cannot be as far behind the likes of Rob Holding or Calum Chambers in terms of being prepared and why did the club no insist that he take a loan in England to acclimatise? Instead, Arsenal have loaned him back to the only league he’s ever played in which, doesn’t provide enough experience that he needs.
It is also arguable that Saliba’s loan out also created the need to sign Ben White, as Arsenal lacked depth.
Elsewhere, the Granit Xhaka situation also raises several eyebrows.
Xhaka had been of interest to Roma for a while, with Roma manager José Mourinho speaking highly of the player and reiterating his stance of signing him for the club.
The two clubs ultimately failed to agree on a fee. Arsenal, to their credit, stood firm on their £17.1m (€20m) price tag and Roma failed to even come close to matching it.
So it seemed that Xhaka was destined for at least one more year in North London, which few could really argue with given his performances last season.
However, the club took the increasingly bizarre move to extend the midfielder’s contract, ostensibly to “protect his value”.
This seemed an odd move. Not only was Xhaka’s contract two years off expiring, but the one-year extension the club have given him makes it harder to rid themselves of the player as his value continues to plummet.
Although its early days in the season at this point, he’s not done much to show why he should be offered such a deal. A red card in Arsenal’s 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Manchester City was yet another cameo of the kind of performances Arsenal fans have come to expect from Xhaka.
However, there is some good to come from this summer in terms of outgoings. Arsenal were able to turn a huge profit on Joe Willock as he secured his move to Newcastle United for a staggering £25m and Arsenal were able to save a reported £20m on Willian’s contract after he agreed to a mutual termination and moved back to Corinthians in Brazil.
Then there’s Eddie Nketiah.
Crystal Palace allegedly issued a “take it or leave it” offer of £10m to Arsenal for the striker, which Arsenal turned down.
This seems to be the very apex of incompetence.
Not only is Arsenal’s valuation of the player entirely too high (the club reportedly wanted as much as £20m), but the fact that the club have turned down tangible money for a player that will walk for free next summer is baffling to the nth degree.
What value is there in keeping Nketiah? He is behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Folarian Balogun in the pecking order and even Gabriel Martinelli is starting more games than him as a striker, so why hold on to him? Surely it’s better to compromise on an offer to guarantee some funds than to stick with him for another year and lose him for nothing? In fact, his sale could have helped fund 62.5% of the fee for Tomiyasu and have resulted in a slightly better accounting sheet.
However, this is not even the worst situation this summer.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles came close to securing himself a move away last season. Wolverhampton Wanderers tabled a £20m bid for the young England youth player, and personal terms were agreed, however, a last minute intervention from Mikel Arteta saw Maitland-Niles ultimately stay put, having been given assurances of playtime.
Despite this, Maitland-Niles never really established himself int he team and was hastily loaned out to West Bromwich Albion in the January window.
This summer, Everton put in an offer of a one year loan with a purchase option at the end of the deal. However, given Maitland-Niles’ contract situation (his deal runs out in two years) Arsenal rejected the offer, encouraging Everton to return (if at all) with a more enticing option, either with an obligation to buy or a straight bid.
However, Maitland-Niles did not react kindly to this new development and took to Instagram to vent his frustrations with the club and his situation.
No sooner had the post been made that Maitland-Niles held talks with Edu and Arteta to discuss his situation. The club made it clear, he would not be sold and his Instagram stunt had earned him a spell of training on his own.
Now Arsenal are encumbered with a player who doesn’t want to be at the club and someone who is very angry with the club’s treatment of him, again, why keep him?
Arsenal’s outgoing business has been shambolic, poorly thought through and incompetent to the point where the club were penny-pinching on assets they were perhaps likely to receive any money for whatsoever.
Now the attention turns to what Arsenal can muster on the field. The distraction of the transfer window will no longer loom large over the field of play, now is the time for Mikel Arteta and his players to turn around their dismal start to the season.