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Calm before tranquility: How Arsenal are wasting another transfer window

2.30K   //    24 Jul 2016, 17:41 IST
Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger’s transfer policies have often been questioned in recent years

A new transfer window begins and madness ensues for the next two months in European football. Clubs spending millions on their targets and offloading players they do not need. With the financial might of the English Premier League and a lucrative TV deal, clubs in the Premier League are financially capable more than ever to buy players from other European clubs.

With the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, West Ham, Stoke and even Middlesborough spending huge amounts of money on players, no wonder the Arsenal supporters are furious with the board and Arsene Wenger once again in failing to buy proven players that would improve their squad, additions which in all truthfulness they need. The story seems to be no different from last season when they were the only team in Europe's top five leagues who did not buy a single outfield player.

The summer transfer window for European clubs started on 9th of June meaning 41 days have passed since clubs were allowed to buy players and the only addition of note in the Arsenal ranks has been the purchase of Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka, who even though impressive in the European championships that took place in France this summer, is in all honesty, not the complete solution for a side whose ambition is to win the Premier League .

A lack of quality signings

Arsene Wenger Rob Holding
Wenger with new signing Rob Holding during a training session

The most glaring and obvious need for Arsenal to strengthen, as noted by pundits and fans alike, was in the striking department. The pressing need is for a signing who can score consistently in the Premier League and more crucially in Europe where Arsenal’s participation has become a mere formality. Arsenal’s current striking options include Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck.

While Welbeck was injured for most of the season, his goals to appearances ratio did not make for pretty reading even when he played. In two seasons at Arsenal he has made 49 appearances and scored just 13 goals. A return which is simply not good enough to lead the attacking line of a club which aims to be at the top of the Premier League table come May and also covets European glory.

The other option, Olivier Giroud, had a decent season but had a barren run in front of goal which lasted 14 Premier League games at a crucial juncture, and that lack of goals did affect Arsenal, who ended the campaign second to Leicester City. 

Another problematic area on the pitch for Arsenal over the years has been the lack of a leader at the centre of the defence. Per Mertesacker is past his best days, Laurent Koscielny, although a very good centre-back, is constantly in and out of the side due to niggling injuries and Gabriel is a relative newcomer who has not yet settled in. Fans of the North London club have been crying out for a commanding presence at the back, a cry which has been continuously ignored by Wenger who famously started the 2014-15 season with just six first team defenders.

In fairness to Wenger, he has signed a striker and a defender in the past few days. Takuma Asano a 21-year-old striker, who plays in the Japanese League and Rob Holding a centre-back from Bolton Wanderers. But these are signings that will hardly fill Gooners with any confidence who pay the highest amount for a season ticket across the whole of Europe .

At a time when their rivals are signing players of the calibre of Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan and Nolito, Wenger remains unperturbed by the lack of transfer activity of his own club. These type of signings, which Wenger suggests to as building for the future, have been a general trend at Arsenal over the recent years despite the club sitting on a stockpile of cash which makes it even more frustrating for the fans.

And going by Arsenal's chief Ivan Gazidis' claims about the current Arsenal squad being good enough of winning the Premier League title, fans should not be optimistic about any more signings. In a recent interview with ESPN FC talking about Arsenal's approach in the transfer market he said, "This approach, for us, gives us a very, very powerful balance because it's not just about spending money but about how you spend your money and doing it wisely, It's about having a strong core philosophy and values within the club that players buy into and our fans can be proud of.

"These are all things that lead to success, and when you look at Arsenal over the last four or five years, there's no question that the squad has been progressing in strength. We've got a squad now that we believe is capable of competing to win the premier league. We came in second last year, which was disappointing. But we're on the right track."

These comments are sure to infuriate the Arsenal faithful even more who are tired of seeing their club linked to every possible player available on the transfer market only to end up empty-handed at the end of the window.

Over the 20 years that Wenger has spent at the London-based club, he has bought players who were relatively unknown and turned them into world class signings with the likes of Patrick Viera, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry to name a few but the dynamics of the transfer market have changed with so much money being involved and Wenger who was once the king of transfer steals is now at risk of being too stubborn for his and the club's own good.

While every player that is newly signed at a club involves a certain amount of risk, investing a considerable amount of money on proven players for once would do Arsenal a world of good with the likes of Sanchez and Ozil proving to be astute big money signings.

If Arsenal stick to their policy of not breaking the bank to attract top talent, even the talented players they do have on their books might leave for pastures new in the near future. After all, players like them would want their club to show some intent in the transfer market.  Wenger’s reluctance to spend money during the transfer windows in recent seasons have cost Arsenal dearly and the board, as well as the manager, would be remiss to waste another transfer window, a thing which they have been often guilty of in the past. 

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