Transfer deadline day is normally 24 hours filled with hearsay, hyperbole and hypocrisy.
But this years incarnation raised some truths that will hopefully be a watershed for Arsenal Football Club – and push for change.
This hectic and somewhat frenzied and unpredictable of transfer windows revealed some startling transfers. None more so than both Messi and Ronaldo on the move. But for us Gooners, we saw our club splash out more than any other club in the Premier League.
More than the bottomless pockets of champions City and European champions Chelsea.
And it is in the contrast between us and these two sides that lifts the curtain on our recent failures – and shows us what we needed to know.
That it doesn’t matter who we sign.
Until we put in place the right people in the right positions and arrange proper processes, we will be mired in mediocrity.
Let’s look at our outgoings, shall we?
Only one of our outgoing players generated a fee. Chris Willock for £25m to Newcastle wasn’t bad business – but Director of Football, Edu, has terminated more contracts in his time as Director than he has actually generated a transfer fee.
And all the rest of our departures, aside from Willock?
Hector Bellerin. Reiss Nelson, Alex Runarsson, Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi, William Saliba. All have been shipped out due to being surplus to requirements, but our negotiations team couldn’t twist the respective club’s arm for a permanent deal?
To put it into context, Chelsea just sold Tiemoue Bakayoko – a player who hasn’t played a first team game for the Blues in nearly two years – for approximately £20m.
These players, Nelson and Saliba aside, stand next to no chance of coming back into the fold and grabbing a starting spot. So why couldn’t we find a buyer, instead of letting another year tick down on their contracts, heading for a free exit?
Daniel James, a player heavily benched last season, was sold to Leeds for THIRTY MILLION POUNDS. And we couldn’t get a brass farthing for the likes of Torreira?
Then we look at the incoming transfers. While Ben White looks like shrewd business, if perhaps a little inflated, the rest seem to be very much for the future.
Sambi Lokonga looks to be a fantastic signing but it’s very early days but none of them were being hotly pursued by the bigger clubs. Martin Odegaard is a great fit, especially after last season dried up in terms of chances created, and Tomiyasu is a good profile fit for what Arteta is building in his team.
But now, after two full transfer windows where he has had the ability to call out targets and obtain them, is the time for Arteta to deliver.
The pressure is on the Spaniard and the jury is out, especially after the way Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been handled. Wouldn’t a loan have suited all parties? Unless AMN is coming into the midfield – a solution preferred by many right now – then AMN will continue to be wasted on the bench.
Then there are the curious cases of Guendouzi and Saliba. Both are some of the most talented youngsters to come from France in years. Despite their talents, they have failed to work their way into Arteta’s reckoning. And with every loan they have while being frozen out at Arsenal, their precious contracts are dwindling down.
And with it, the chance for a lucrative transfer fee.
With Saliba, it is extremely perplexing, given we shelled out £50m for Ben White and according to Saliba’s figures for this year and last, he is an absolute beast at the back and deserves at least a shot at holding down a spot. The fact he still has no appearances for Arsenal is mystifying.
So contracts are not being handled well. Nor transfers.
And until that mess is sorted, Arteta will be fighting a losing battle.
If Arteta lasts until January’s window, he needs to be firm and ensure he remains focused on results.
If he could just have some people behind him that would offer stability instead of unsteadiness, then he just might be able to eke out better results.
When Chelsea are showing us how it’s meant to be done, you know something is very wrong…