Saturday, 3 September 2011

Arsenal FC Transfer Window Evaluation Part 2

Following on from yesterday's assessment of transfers out, we shall today look at transfers in.

IN: Carl Jenkinson (£1m)

The first transfer of the summer was the arrival of the relatively unknown Carl Jenkinson for a small fee of £1m. The purpose of this transfer is as a squad player and generally a backup player. Arsenal’s injury crisis has thrust him into action far sooner that I imagine Arsene Wenger would have hoped. To be fair to Jenkinson, he has performed fairly well aside from one shocker to which it would be unfair to blame him completely given the level of performance throughout the team.

Outside of the injury woes Arsenal presently find themselves in, this could prove to be an astute signing which could provide more reliable cover than Eboue at right back.


IN: Gervinho (£10.8m)

After a fantastic season last year for Ligue 1 Champions Lille, Gervinho has landed himself a lucrative contract at one of the biggest clubs in the world. This was a player who out-assisted and out-scored the leagues player of the year and former team mate Eden Hazard. He was very effective for Lille and early signs are that he will be very effective for Arsenal. The pace at which he runs at defenders is equally as frightening as the directness at which he does so. His final ball has been left wanting but with an assist already under his belt and some time to get accustomed to his surroundings; this signing has the potential to be one of the best of the summer and at just under £11m represents a great buy for Arsenal.


IN: Alex Oxade-Chamberlain (£6m - £12m)

Whilst a lot has been made of the transfer fee involved and the apparent interest of other “top clubs” for the teenage sensation; one thing is clear, Arsenal bought the player in spite of public perception. It was seen at the time as a signing of luxury and want as opposed to that of need. That is a fair assessment even now. It would be unfair of anyone to expect a player of only league 1 experience to make the step up and set the Premier League alight. One must only be wondering what must have been going through the youngster’s head when he came on in the Manchester United defeat given he had turned them down. Despite the lack of need it is clear that Wenger really wanted the lad. He has bags of pace, heaps of talent and mountains of potential which will in turn make him a great signing. Seeing as this is one for the future as opposed to someone expected to shake up the Arsenal set up at present you have to concur that this is a great signing.


IN/OUT: Joel Campbell (£1m)

Another transfer that comes into the category of “one for the future”. This was another drawn out process and despite the international presence and the potential this transfer has no real bearing to the transfer window as he was loaned out due to problems with his work permit.


IN: Park Chu-Young (£3m)

On the surface another astute buy; he is not expected to set the Premier League alight but has been purchased in order in order to provide experienced and reliable back up. His qualities are in abundance; a good work rate, great crosser and in particular great in a dead ball situation but most of the focus seems to be on his erratic finishing from the wider public. This is an excellent buy on paper and certainly ticks all the boxes given his talent and experience and is a marked improvement on the backup players available to Arsene Wenger in the forward positions at present.


IN: Andre Santos (£6.2m)

Prior to the beginning of the transfer window, many in the media felt the main area Arsenal needed to strengthen was the defence. The external pressures were further enhanced following the sale of Gael Clichy. The initial intentions seemed to be that Kieran Gibbs would be promoted and would be given the challenge of trying to improve the Arsenal defence. It seems that his injury problems are prevalent as ever and Wenger has reacted by buying an experienced left back that has Brazilian international experience as well as Champions League experience. On the surface then, it seems that this is an ideal acquisition, however despite his great quality going forward there are serious reservations about his defensive capability. It remains to be seen how he will adapt to the rigours of the Premiership and how capable he will be at defending. The best part of this signing is it will allow time for Gibbs to develop and both will provide decent competition for the place.


IN: Per Mertesacker (£8m)

This on paper seems exactly the signing Arsenal fans have been screaming for all summer; tall, strong, hugely experienced and most importantly a centre back. I feel this may be one of the signings of the transfer window. I know his form has not been as strong as previous years and there are concerns over his speed but his reading of the game is second to none and he has all the ingredients to be an immediate hit. He will hopefully provide the experience the defence has needed and you can see him forming a formidable partnership with Thomas Vermaelen, with decent cover in Koscienly.


IN: Mikel Arteta (£10m)

He is fast becoming one of Arsenals most popular players and this is without even ever putting the shirt on. A lot of people wondered how Arsenal would replace Fabregas and whilst the incoming player lacks the same level of ability but has huge experience and importantly huge experience in the Premier League. This will enable some of the younger players the time to develop and this way they can be deployed more effectively as opposed to thrown in at the deep end. This will be a great signing if he can remain fit as he will fit in seamlessly into the Arsenal team.


IN: Yossi Benayoun (LOAN)

This has the potential to really surprise some people. By having such a hugely experienced player in the squad will help but to have someone that can come on when things aren’t quite going right and be able to pop up with a goal it is immeasurable. What has been most striking about Arsenal this season is the lack of people on the bench that are proven performers. With a player of this calibre on the bench things are more promising. He has the ability to make a huge impact and I think if he can remain fit he may just get himself a fair few goals in a system that will suit him perfectly.


A combination of some astute buys and a loan meant that despite bringing in 9 players this window only £46.2m – £52.2m was spent. This sounds like a lot but when you put it into context; with an initial budget of £30m+ and then an additional £75m you can see only half of the £105m available was spent. So whilst the last minute surge into the transfer market and some great quality signings you can’t help but think one or two additional world class players could have been bought in to ensure that the club are in a position to challenge with the Country’s best.

That is not to say that it is only possible to do well in the transfer market by spending money. In fact, Wenger has done very well and made the team exponentially stronger when compared to the start of the season. That being said you can’t help but think this was a missed opportunity to further add to the talent.

Despite the nit-picking, looking at the transfers in their own regard, I would assert that this has been a positive transfer window adding the experience and talent needed to not only challenge but help push the wealth of talented young players onto bigger and better things. If another world class, marquee signing was made I would be tempted to rate the dealings as 10/10, as it stands though:


Evaluation of Players In and Out.

So with 9 players in and 9 players out it is almost as you were. Except that, at the top end of the quality scale Arsenal have lost two hugely talented players in Fabregas and Nasri. There departures aside you have to look at the fact that a lot “dead wood” has been cut. Players were given chances way beyond their ability suggested and that was whilst they were being handsomely rewarded. This was one of the biggest problems with the Arsenal squad last season and you could say it is a problem they have largely addressed. Players like Denilson, whilst not awful were not able to perform unless their hand was held by more talented players alongside them so it was crucial for the advancement of the club players like him were moved on. The difficulty of the task of getting rid of the squad players highlights how they were clearly overpaid.

It is then fair to say that generally, the talent that has come in has been of a higher standard at an average than what has left. Apart from at the top end where Arsenal have lost world class players in midfield and replaced them with good quality players.

A certain step down in quality at the top end but a more competitive squad would be an apt summary of Arsenal’s dealings in the transfer window. Overall I would describe the squad as stronger when compared to last year but in that they have lost two world class players and a creative edge and as such give Arsenals transfer deals an overall:


Had they kept one of their two midfielders and added the same quality I would have given a 9.5/10. One player could have made all the difference and given the level of money left at Arsenal’s disposal it is clear that a world class player could have been bought in.


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