Thursday, December 7, 2023

Deadline day: will anything happen? + Arsecast 302

You know, I haven’t spoken or interacted with a single Arsenal fan who thinks we couldn’t do with a new face, or two, before the window shuts today.

There’s a genuine feeling that we need something extra in order to compete all the way to May – especially when Chelsea have been active, and Man City are, by all accounts, looking to flex their financial muscles (steroid boosted as they might be) at some point today.

The focus has, for the most part, been on Julian Draxler. A player of incredible potential but one who has only just turned 20. As much as I’d like him, and I really would, I’ve expressed reservations before as to whether he’s the right man to fire Arsenal to the title. He could have an impact like Reyes, providing a real and instant boost; or he could come to a new club after an injury spell, and struggle with fitness, adaptation and, like it or not, the pressure that comes with a £35m+ price tag.

If we pushed the boat out for Ozil it’s because we knew we were getting the finished product. A player who had developed in the Bundesliga and been polished off by three seasons at Real Madrid. If there’s a reluctance to play a massive fee for Draxler now, I do understand it, especially when it might well impact on the budget we have for other things in the summer.

I don’t know what Schalke are looking for exactly. It does seem as if there’s a release clause in the summer, so if I were them now I’d be holding out for a lot more, looking to make hay at another team’s desire to take him before that clause kicks in. Maybe they’re willing to sell but not at the price we know we could get him for in the summer. And although it might sting as others around us go crazy with their bottomless pits of cash, we’re still not a club who can just throw £40-45-50m at a transfer without thinking it all the way through first.

The question now appears to be who we can take in at short notice who might have a significant contribution to make between now and the end of the season. A young striker on loan from abroad? A veteran on the same kind of deal? Or a typically Arsene Wenger out of left field signing? It’s just impossible to know with this club.

Arsene admitted yesterday that we were ‘active’ but not close to signing anyone. Which sounds to me like they’ve made all kinds of enquiries but have yet to make up their minds. Perhaps they were waiting on deals for principal targets to happen or not happen before they pull the emergency chute. Either way, we have to hope that the need to add to the squad is recognised and acted upon, even if we probably won’t get the mega-signing many have been hoping for.

It remains to be seen what will happen between now and 11pm. Obviously I’d like us to bring one or two in. We’ve got deadline day form in years past, so it’s not impossible. Having announced a massive PUMA deal at the start of the week, it would be disappointing to go through the transfer window without adding to a squad that could really benefit from just a bit more depth and quality.

I recognise fully how it’s more difficult to get players in January, and that we might have longer-term plans, but we’re right in the thick of a title fight for the first time in, what, 5 or 6 seasons? There’s a monstrous schedule coming up in February and March, and while I get we have to balance what we do now with what we’ll have to do in the summer, but it would feel a bit like an opportunity missed if we didn’t go for it today.

Anyway, all we can do is wait, bite nails, check Twitter, Sky Sports, under rocks and anywhere else there might be any transfer info. As we here at Arseblog love you dearly and want to ease your pain, we’ll be live blogging the entire day so you don’t have to do all the digging and can just get all the updates in one place:

The Transfer Deadline Day Live Blog.

There you go, it updates automatically when things happen so you don’t need to refresh. Just to qualify this, by the way: we reserve the right to live blog from the pub later because, you know, end of the month, Friday evening, and beer, but we’ll do our best to keep you right up to date until it closes at 11pm tonight.

As I mentioned yesterday, there might well be some activity going out of the club as loan deals are put in place for some players. Already Benik Afobe has gone to Sheffield Wednesday for the rest of the season, while reports from France suggest Ju-Young Park is in discussions with FC Nantes about a loan deal back to Ligue 1.

I’d suggest players like Frimpong, Miyaichi, Eisfeld and others could be part of the action today. Whatever happens, it’ll all be covered on the live blog.

Now though, time for this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by Tim Stillman to discuss Southampton, transfers and the thorny question of ticket prices (something Tim touches on in this week’s column).

There’s the usual waffle, plus your chance to win a t-shirt from Art of Football (JensThierry and Dennis), so stayed tuned for details on that.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here 27mb MP3).

The Arsecast is also available on our SoundCloud channel, where you can leave comments and such, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android. You can now also find it on the Stitcher podcasting app for iOS and Android. Or, you can listen without leaving this page by using the player below.

Right, that’s your lot for this morning. Let’s keep fingers crossed for a good outcome to the day, reflections on that and more tomorrow.

Until then.

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