Tag Archives: signing

Missing Personnel – Do We Finally Have Squad Depth?

Our summer transfer activity rightfully created a buzz for this season.

After having our optimism dampened by continuous articles surrounding our meagre budget, the players captured by the club – with some help by our impressive backroom team – were enough to lift the spirits and the hope around our fanbase.

Not easy to do after the way last season ended.

The season has now been underway for a fair amount of time, and results have been decent, but not mindblowing, but it’s easy to forget that we are still operating at less than full capacity.

None of our rivals have our problem. The majority of their key players are in the team and slowly wearing away their ring rust. Us? We’ve missed an entire defence.

The backline is conspicuously our weak link. Our midfield can adapt with the personnel to combat different threats, and our frontline is amongst the most potent in the league.

Our four (or five dependant on the approach taken by Unai Emery) has been in dire need of reinforcements and is operating without definite first choice personnel.

With Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney all absent through injury, we have no doubt been hampered – and who else could claim otherwise? Even the likes of Man City would find room for at least Hector Bellerin. Pep is well known for his love of a roving wing-back – and Bellerin certainly fits that bill.

Holding and Bellerin

The players who have come in to fill the void have done admirably. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has shown he is a worthy member of our squad who has plenty in his locker. The combination of Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac have both played at left-back but with Monreal now at Real Socidead, it leaves the attacking Kolasinac as our only recognised left-sided player – meaning Tierney’s return can’t come soon enough.

Then there is our centre-back predicament. Our club captain Koscielny has now left the club, we have future prospect William Saliba back at St Etienne and we couldn’t manage to sell Shkodran Mustafi for love nor money.

It has left us with the granite-tough Sokratis, the returning from loan Chambers and new boy David Luiz.

This isn’t the worst talent pool we have had to pick from in recent years, but when you recall how Holding was performing before his long-term injury struck him down – and how quickly he had adapted to Emery’s tactical changes – it shows that not only will he most likely find himself straight back in the team when he finds his feet – but how badly we miss him.

Could other teams cope with missing three of their first choice defenders?

Could Liverpool manage without Virgil Van Dijk, Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold?

What about City and Aymeric Laporte, Kyle Walker and Zinchenko?

One at a time, maybe two at most, but all three?

We have been unable to push forward with our plans at the speed we should be. Unai Emery must be commended with coping without this talented trio and keeping us competitive and at the fighting end. It would be easy to stumble and drop points like it was going out of fashion, but it is noticeable that we have not needed to point at our missing players. We’ve simply got on with things and earned results when we’ve needed to.

Of course, our attack has bailed us out at times, but isn’t it testament to our squad depth that we are where we are, without three of our first choice defenders?

For the first time in countless seasons, we now have the substance in our squad pool to contend with the numerous injuries that befall an Arsenal squad. We now have ample cover and players who are malleable enough to mould themselves how Emery requires them.

It will take a few months until we see the best of Holding, Bellerin and Tierney. When they are fit though, we have a first eleven to challenge for honours.

I mean, just look at how well we’ve done without them…

Welcome to Arsenal, Gabriel Martinelli!

The wait is over – we have finally signed a player this summer!

Brazilian teenager Gabriele Martinelli has signed from Sao Paolo-based Ituano, for a fee thought to be in the region of £5m -£6m.

Most people who claim to have knowledge of the kid will be lying through their teeth. TV coverage is hard to come by for Ituano fixtures, so what can we find out about this promising youngster that was courted so vigorously by Francis Cagigao and Edu Gaspar?

Well, Martinelli has a decent record for someone so young, which has led to him training with Barcelona in the past. The kid has been watched intensely via video, with Cagigao’s strong Brazilian links playing a pivotal part.

 

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Image credit – Arseblog

It has been Martinelli’s displays in the Sao Paolo Championship though, that have alerted clubs to Martinelli’s ability to sniff out a goal. He was awarded Best Newcomer and the region’s team of the year.

Not only that, but he is Ituano’s youngest ever debutant. Not bad for a country famed for its continuous production line of talent.

Martinelli joins an illustrious list of Brazilians to have played for Arsenal. Gilberto Silva, Julio Baptista, Silvinho, Gabriel Paulista, Denilson and even Edu himself have all represented the Gunners.

Martinelli isn’t expected to be first-team ready this season, and will most likely be plying his trade for the Under-23 side, but he could feature in some pre-season friendlies, which could give him the opportunity to make his mark – and for us fans to see what he is capable of.

This signing is aligned with the club’s new strategy of youth first. Whether that be through foreign recruitment or progression through the Academy, Arsenal are focusing themselves on finding the right player and ensuring they blossom at the club.

Martinelli recently trained with the Brazilian national side. With a move to a top European club giving him the platform to make a bigger impact, Martinelli could well be featuring for the Selecao sooner rather than later – the ball is in his court.

When interviewed by the club, Martinelli sounded very ambitious, saying “It’s a dream since I was a child and also my family’s dream for me to be playing in Europe and playing for a big team like Arsenal. I am going to take this opportunity.”

He also revealed that he models his game on Cristiano Ronaldo. If he manages to obtain that level, we can say this was an astute purchase!

We have now broken our duck for this transfer window, and it could prove to be a very exciting purchase.

Welcome to Arsenal Gabriel Martinelli!

 

Sokratis – Just What We Needed

Arsene Wenger’s final season in charge was blighted by poor form, which led to his lowest ever finish as Arsenal boss.

This was a symptom of a brittle weakness that saw us carved open by teams who smelled blood, pouring from our soft underbelly. Teams who had no right, on paper, to destroy us in the manner that they did.

It was our defence, from monitoring runs in midfield through to naive offside traps, woeful zonal marking and a general lack of organisation. This was the culprit that saw Wenger’s reign end in such circumstances.

The very same players are available to Unai Emery in his first match in charge. Both men couldn’t be more contrasting in their approach, and one thing that can fill us with optimism is the Spaniard’s dedication to looking at our opponents.

Still, all the video’s in the world looking at the minutiae of another team’s attack won’t be of any use if the personnel expected to act on Emery’s commands are inept.

Laurent Koscielny is 32 and will be out for the first half of the season through injury.

Shkodran Mustafi has strengths, but in terms of organisation and maintaining concentration he very much failed last season.

Konstandinos Mavropanos looks a real steal, but has made just a handful of appearances. A dip will come, and we don’t know when, how long it will last, or what it could cost us. One for the future.

Rob Holding had a fantastic debut season, but last season showed how far he still has to go before he makes it. Looks increasingly likely to go on loan to get the first team games he needs.

Then there is Calum Chambers. The England prospect looked to be on borrowed time until the latter half of last season, but Chambers excelled when called upon, and an extended contract is a symbol of the faith placed upon him. He looked to be the chosen one to lead this defence forward – but if he is, he’ll have to wait until next season after going on loan to Fulham for the campaign.

Sokratis at former club BVB

Sokratis Papastathopoulos is a recruit straight from the contacts book of a certain Sven Mislintat. The former Dortmund man is a seasoned veteran in terms of seasons spent in the top flight, having been with BVB for five seasons. Before that, he was at Werder Bremen for three seasons.

Interestingly, he was at AC Milan for two seasons, having been bought after impressing at Genoa. He made just five appearances in two years at the San Siro however, but what it does show is that he has experience from different leagues, which only serves to highlight why he will be so important.

Sokratis is now thirty years old. It means he will be our first choice centre back for probably a maximum of three to four years. What he can teach Holding and Mavropanos though, is invaluable. He has the potential to be a real hit in the teaching stakes, and the kids could soar next to such a grizzled warrior.

Sokratis is aerially strong and isn’t too rash either, something we can level at a host of other defenders in our past, and perhaps in our present. The partnership with Mustafi perhaps has shades of Campbell and Toure about it, with each defender performing different tasks. While Mustafi may not have the pace of Toure in his pomp, he is more than athletic, and is no slouch, as shownoften in recovering some messes he created himself in his time with us.

Sokratis has the physical edge we have been looking for, and he also is one who knows the seedier part of the game, a cynical slant, which will wipe the happiness from strikers faces, as opposed to before when they held no fear.

This signing is exactly what we need. Sokratis may only have a limited amount of miles on the clock, but if used right, and with the right partner, this could be a stroke of genius from our recruitment team.

Who Is Matteo Guendouzi?

It flew under the radar a little, but we made our fifth summer signing just after the Lucas Torreira announcement, and it looks to be an exciting one for the future for Arsenal.

The young French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi signed on the dotted line for the Gunners, and the purchase from Ligue 2 Lorient shows that Sven Mislntat and his backroom team were intent on providing Arsenal with a long term midfield option that could prove to be a bargain.

Guendouzi is a ball-carrying midfielder who made his first team breakthrough with Lorient two seasons ago, and last season settled into a first eleven role, and with Lorient playing in the second tier, the French club were in the right position to sell their brightest talent.

What do we know of Guendouzi? This purchase took some research. I had heard of the name but never seen him play, but the French football experts certainly rate him, and liken him to an earlier transfer target of ours – Yancine Adli.

Physically strong and adept at transitioning play with the ball at his feet, Guendouzi is just as much at home at the base of the midfield as he is a box to box role.

Guendouzi made 18 appearances for Lorient as they just missed out on an immediate return to Ligue Un. His career started in Paris however, as he began his youth career with PSG. The 19 year old has already played for France U18, U19 and U20 level.

Guendouzi is not without his risks though. He had a run-in with the coaching team last season after being hooked at half time during a game, and our new Under23 coach Freddie Ljungberg will have to instill the famous Arsenal team values if Guendouzi is to prosper here.

The transfer fee of 7m is a modest one for a highly coveted 19 year old, but it also speaks of a player who could make a massive difference should the environment suit him.

What does next season hold for the 19 year old? Well, a run in the Under23’s looks likely, to gauge how close to a first team debut the Frenchman is. He has already played a smidgen of top-tier football, but the difference between that and making a mark on the Premier League is a chasm.

Unai Emery has commented on the young signing, and his words reveal that Guendouzi is very much part of his immediate plans;

We are delighted Matteo is joining us. He is a talented young player and a lot of clubs were interested in him. He has big potential and gained good first-team experience last season with Lorient. He wants to learn and improve and will be an important part of our first-team squad.”

With Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Mohamed Elneny and fellow youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles vying for midfield spots, Guendouzi will really have to shine to get the starts he will be craving, but with a full schedule of games and potential injuries to contend with, this signing very much makes sense.

Identifying talent at a young age is pretty much what Sven Mislintat is renowned for – and what we hired him to do. This signing though, will be the first time that the German has really put his name on a transfer, so it will be very interesting to see how Guendouzi prospers.

It’s an exciting time for us Gunners. This summer’s purchases has reaped experience, proven winners, tenacity, strength and a sprinkling of promise. Guendouzi seems to firmly fall into the latter, but with each display, we will see if he can offer what he promises.
Welcome to Arsenal Matteo Guendouzi!

Welcome To Arsenal – Lucas Torreira!

It’s official – Lucas Torreira is an Arsenal player.

Arsenal unveiled Torreira yesterday, with photos and videos aplenty coming from the Arsenal media team. His signing heralds a new dawn for our club, it seems to be the moment we have finally purchased a player who can cure the ills of our midfield of late.

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Torreira’s signing has cost the club in the region of 25m Euros, and with stats like his, it’s easy to see why.

Unai Emery was there to welcome the Uruguayan to London Colney, and told the Arsenal media team;
In Lucas Torreira, we have signed a young player who is a very bright talent in the game. A midfielder with great quality, I have enjoyed watching his performances for Sampdoria in the past two seasons, and we all saw him do very well for Uruguay in the World Cup. He is a young player already with good experience, but who wants to keep on growing. We welcome Lucas to Arsenal and look forward to him joining us soon for pre-season.”

Emery touched upon the diminutive midfielder’s amazing displays at Sampdoria, where he made more tackles than anyone in the last two seasons, showing he is consistent as well as combative – two qualities we have lacked at times.

He is no one-trick pony either, as he amassed 87% pass completion and averaged a chance created per game last season, showing he can mix it in the final third too.

Being only 22, he may need a period of acclimatization after he joins up with the squad in August, but when he picks up the pace of the Premier League, he has all the skills necessary to provide our team with the perfect destroyer in the centre of the park.

Torreira showed he has levels too, which may negate the need for a month or two of finding his feet. He appeared in all five of Uruguay’s games in their run to the World Cup Quarter-Final’s, and his displays were full of verve and strength, not once did he look out of place.

Torreira will wear the No11 shirt when he finally dons the jersey, and we may have to wait to see him make his debut, but we can rest assured that he is finally confirmed and he is definitely ours, after weeks of hearsay.

Welcome to Arsenal, Lucas Torreira!

Sokratis Signs For Arsenal – Here’s What To Know About Our New Defender

Sokratis Papastathopoulos has finally signed on the dotted line for Arsenal, after a delay in officially announcing the defender.

In what must be one of the worst kept secrets in recent transfer windows, Sokratis has signed and been declared a Gunner after joining from Borussia Dortmund after five years with the German club – for a fee thought to be around 17.7m.
The 30 year old was officially declared by the club yesterday, but what do we know about our new defender?


Well, we know that former Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel has said Sokratis is ‘obsessed’ by defending, and that he is Vice Captain for Greece. He was at Werder Bremen before joining BVB, and has a fixation on the backline perhaps thanks to his time in Italy with AC Milan and Genoa.

Sokratis joins Bernd Leno and Stephane Lichtsteiner as Arsenal new boys this summer, and will also join up with former Dortmund teammates Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. A sure fire sign that Sven Mislintat is involved heavily in the recent recruitment process.

Sokratis revealed to the Arsenal media team he had spoken to his former comrades about joining, saying “I spoke to them a lot. They said to me the best thing about the club is that it’s one big family and of course they called me a lot of times telling me to come here.”

Sokratis, when asked about his thoughts on his new club, said “Arsenal is one of the biggest three teams in the Premier League, and one very big club. It has a lot of fans and a big history.. I’m very happy to be here to help the team.”

Sokratis is another recruited player from this summer that ticks the ‘experienced’ box. With Stephane Lichtsteiner also in the 30 and over bracket and with heaps of top flight and international experience, It would seem Arsenal’s new boss is focusing on making an immediate impact, rather than looking to making a splash in the future.

It is also a big plus, as we have all been able to see we need a steady hand at the back with leadership qualities – especially when the ship is rocking. With both Lichtsteiner and Sokratis in the backline, we will have that reassuring influence that we have been wanting for quite some time.

With Laurent Koscielny out until at least December, it gives Calum Chambers and Sokratis time to gel and forge what could be an impregnable bedrock. The Greek defender can also help his Greek compatriot who shone briefly toward the end of last season and is another Sven Mislintat recruit – Konstandinos Mavropanos.

Sokratis ‘ main strength is his physicality, and his obsessive desire for clean sheets, which sees him put his body on the line when the pressure is on – something he will expect from his teammates. He is also half decent in the air at the back and on set-pieces, although his goal ratio is hardly prolific, with only eight goals in nearly 200 appearances for Dortmund, Bremen and AC Milan.

Our new recruit will give us immediate resources at the back and could be an astute signing and a valuable player for our defence, who sorely needed a player of his stature in some hairy moments last season.

Welcome to Arsenal, our new Number 5 – Sokratis!

Social Media, Lies and The Era of Transfer Hype

Social media is a keenly sharpened, double-edged sword.

If it weren’t for the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and its cohorts, then we would never see as much as we are used to now. We are spoiled as we get to peer ever deeper into the inner annals of our club, and we lap up every second as we devour lasciviously.

On the other hand though, its open nature gives rise to anyone with an opinion – and there are far too many idiots on this earth to avoid stupidity.

Like the Oort Cloud that circles our solar system on its outskirts, with so many opinions floating in the cyber ether, we are peppered with collisions from those who wish to cause a splash and nothing more. They feed from our reactions and they want nothing more than to claw in retweets, likes and shares.

This strategy, although not exactly complicated, has worked wonders. So much so, that new accounts are popping up regularly to spout their rhetoric and self-promoted wisdom.

We are all familiar with a host of these types – the ITK’s as we are all accustomed to labelling them – and their kind are a blight upon the web landscape at the best of times.

But when it’s time for the transfer window to creak open and signal business hours for clubs has officially begun?

The window is open, so let the bullcrap begin

It’s like a cloud of gnats, smelling blood. You can swish your arm at them and take out a few, but the cloud remains, supping at the goodness.

This window is no different, and with Unai Emery’s appointment injecting a little more enthusiasm than in recent years into our fanbase, the ITK brigade have set out their stall and attempted to lure the unsuspecting with their dross.

The gullible can’t be blamed – haven’t we all fallen for a steaming bowl of hyperbole once or twice? – but the proof in the pudding is that these accounts have thousands, tens of thousands – even hundreds of thousands of followers hanging on every click of their rancid keyboard.

Those of us that have learned our lesson are well aware that on the quest for truth, very few actually have what we are looking for – and that is genuine Arsenal news. BBC Sport’s David Ornstein is perhaps the finest purveyor of veritas we have in our midst, but the dearth of real news makes it even more understandable why the bullsh#%%ers are still in action.

A good friend of mine described these phoney’s in the best way, and it rings true.

The sheer amount of player names that are spouted by these idiots means that – by law of averages – they will have a name that they predicted will sign. They will use this emblem of luck to stave off all others who point out that there are 98 other names they have predicted will sign within the last week – and all were lies.

Law of averages.

We know that the inner sanctum of Arsenal is a tight-knit one – and if news isn’t meant to go out, then very rarely will we get a sniff.

So how can Ben from Hemel Hempstead – Assistant Manager at Urban Outfitters – know that Ousmane Dembele is in negotiations with Arsenal? Did he set Sven Mislintat up with a nice pair of chino’s and as a favour, the German gave his number out as a hotline?

Or perhaps Gareth, trolley attendant at Sainsbury’s, made sure that Raul Sanllehi got the last trolley for his weekly shop, and Arsenal’s man behind negotiations was so overawed by this generosity that he confides in Gareth on a weekly basis?

We only have ourselves to blame, unfortunately.

The footballing landscape has changed, and now rumour is almost a currency. Those that make outlandish claims or put their hands up to ‘confess’ that they have insider knowledge of a deal taking place that all fans would love to see materialise, enjoy the spotlight. News, at least the loosest sense of the word anyway, is what we all want, and these liar-mongers are more than happy to fill our timelines with their own particular brand of fertiliser.

Where one succeeds, others will follow, and now we have a giant asteroid field that none of us can escape unscathed from.

This window will perhaps be our worst yet. Links to players we all know won’t sign for us will blot our vision as we look at our screens, and we’ll be swept away in a torrent of crap, saved only by the lifejacket that is common sense.

So, that link that says we’re going to purchase that 60m winger? Give it to them both barrels.

Social media is double-edged remember, and we need to keep that in mind – so cry foul on those spurious rumours.

It’s time to fight back. Buckle up, this window is going to be a rough one.

My Book, Signed by Me!

What a surreal moment.

Sitting in the garden of my publisher’s house, signing copies of my book.

Signing my book!

Stacks of my labour of love all around me, my name on the cover an exhilarating reminder of what I’ve achieved.

I’ve dreamt of this moment. To say I’m an author, to scrawl my amateurish signature on copies of my book that people have ordered.

To sign something other than to certify I’ve received my Amazon delivery is a little weird!

The very fact that people have spent their hard-earned cash on just the premise of my book – that has blown me away. It’s a real thrill – and you all have my gratitude.

As I trotted out my signature over, and over, and over again, I then started to worry.

What if people don’t like it? What if they read it and then droves of 1-star reviews flood in declaring my work an odious turd of a tome? People pleading for a refund for the time they spent turning each page?’

It could happen, but I’ve still achieved my life goal.

I’m still an author.

I’d be destroyed if you don’t like it. The title-winning team of 1991 are the object of my closest affections – all I aim to do with this book is give them the adulation their spectacular efforts deserve.

I sincerely hope you all finish reading the book and come away knowing how good they really were – one of our finest, if not one of this land’s greatest. For that one season, they simply couldn’t be stopped by footballing means – or by points deductions or the skipper being sentenced to jail.

They were a phenomenal team, and the book hopefully highlights every glint of their shine.

Signing, signing, still signing. The ‘D’ in my signature becomes a little embellished.

A few special dedications for people who have helped push me.

Over 200 copies of my book stand before me – all with my signature. These were hours I won’t forget.

It may not sell well, but the fact it’s sold any is still strange to me. The book I’ve spent the best part of a year researching and writing – I now have my hands on it – and I’m signing it.

It’s finally here.

There will be two launch events, keep your eyes peeled on my Twitter – @JokAFC – for all the info when it gets announced.

You can still order, just go to – http://www.legendspublishing.net/product/almost-invincible-arsenal-the-class-of-1991/

I hope you enjoy the book!

Defensive Replacements Needed – Apply Within?

Sir Alex Ferguson became one of the greatest ever managers for many reasons.

His slew of Premier League titles and his two European Cups are the first things that jump up from his glittering C.V, but the bucketload of trophies aren’t what defines his career.

What really made him one of the finest exponents of management was his ability to repackage his team every five or so years.

Players such as Kanchelskis, Ince, McClair, Bruce and Pallister started his reign of terror upon English football, then there was the golden generation of Beckham, Butt, Giggs, Scholes and the Neville brothers that brought about another era of success. Then came Jaap Stam, Van Nistelrooy, Cole, Yorke, Ronaldo et al.

His eye for finding the perfect player was one thing, but he could almost smell when a player needed to be replaced. Like whipping off the top of a milk carton, his nostrils were able to decipher if a player had given his all and was passed his best.

Wenger now has a self-made miasma on his hands, and we will find out if he can do the same.

This does a little bit of a disservice to our current manager. Wenger has proved countless times in the past that he knows exactly when is the best time to get rid of a player. Vieira, Pires, Overmars, Petit – they all never reached the heights they did when wearing our shirt. Wenger knew, but what faces him now is a far tougher challenge.

Our defence in its current state is nothing short of a shambles for a team supposedly setting out to fight for top honours. We’re conceding to all manner of teams – relegation candidates, top4 chasers, european minnows, Championship teams. No matter what level teams are playing at, they go into a match with us confident they can cause us problems.

This is far from good enough, but why?

Personnel isn’t the issue. Injury woes or not, Laurent Koscielny is still one of the best defenders in the league. Shkodran Mustafi may need to improve his decision making, but he has all the cornerstones you need from a top defender, and Nacho Monreal is nothing short of a footballing marvel and severely underappreciated by experts.

The problem we have is they are not future-proofed.

Laurent Koscielny is 32 and will be 33 this year. He has missed a fair amount of games this season as his troublesome tendonitis problem rears its ugly head a little more often than before. It requires kid gloves and more recuperation than ever before, and the problem will only worsen.

Then there is Nacho Monreal. At 32, the Spaniard is only on a downward curve physically. He’s proved he’s adept at centre-back as well as at full-back, but in terms of playing on? We could maybe get one more quality season out of him.

We have Calum Chambers and Rob Holding waiting in the wings, and if they’re going to make it at Arsenal, then next season will be their litmus test. they will have more games to hone their skills, but they can’t wait for a more experienced partner or blame inexperience. They need to show they’re ready now.

If we don’t persevere with these two English lads, then we need to buy. There are plenty of talented centre-backs out there that have shown they could fill the considerable void left by Monreal and Koscielny, but what will Wenger decide?

Wenger’s biggest problem is that he shows far too much faith to players. Our defenders in question deserve a little to be fair, but football is a ruthless game, and they shouldn’t be playing if they will present a weakness. Can we honestly say that Wenger will replace them?

Our defence has nearly run its course and we need to be looking to replace them. If we don’t then the gap we see between us and the top will only grow. This summer is the time to do it.

Ferguson never rested on his laurels, no matter how much a player had achieved. If they were past the crest, then he would dispense of their services. Wenger must do the same.

Ozil signs extension – the best window ever?

This is perhaps the best news of all, dependant on your viewpoint.

Mesut Ozil has signed a contract extension after a protracted saga that ebbed and flowed between the German happy in London, to wanting to join Jose Mourinho at United.

Ozil has signed for another 3 and a half years and is now by far our highest paid player on £350k per week.

Regardless of whether the man – or any – has earned this sum of money, what we have to ask ourselves is whether we could have coped without him – would we be less of a team if he had left?

No, we couldn’t cope without him.

And yes, we’d be less of a team.

The facts don’t lie, and since Ozil made his debut in 2013, no other player has made more assists, nor created as many clear-cut chances than our playmaker.

This transfer window improved significantly when Henrikh Mkhitaryan signed. Of course, it was pretty bad to start with when Alexis left, but then we signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and we were on cloud nine.

We still wanted the news on Ozil though.

When it was confirmed, it made for probably the best transfer window we’ve had.

We’ve pretty much earned this transfer window.

Season after season, we look into the window and watch as the rest of the kids play with their new, shiny toys, while we languish outside, shivering in the cold.

We want those toys, but we’re told we can’t have them. We can’t afford them, so while our ‘friends career around on their racy new BMX, we’ve still got our sister’s hand-me-down, with peeling fuchsia paint….

…and a basket on the front.

So many windows we’ve looked into forlornly and with more than a little envy, but now, WE’VE got the BMX.

And the remote control car. And the Sega Mega Drive.