So that’s it, the transfer window is closed until January, the squad we have is the squad we have (for better or worse), and we can now concentrate entirely on what happens on the pitch (which sounds unfair, but that’s literally the sport).
Let’s have a look at what went down yesterday, and some of what didn’t.
The Japan international was the only arrival on the day, signing just before the 11pm deadline from Bologna for £16m. He’s a right back who can play centre-half too, giving us a player with some defensive versatility.
He looks very strong in the air, he’s tall (over 6′) and at 22 years of age he fits perfectly into the strategy we’ve implemented this summer – bringing in players in their early 20s. Mikel Arteta says:
Takehiro is a strong defender with good experience in Serie A and at international level. He’s a versatile defender with great defensive qualities, high technical ability and composure on the ball. He will be an important member of our squad.
It’s clear the right back situation had to be addressed. There was room at the inn after a high profile departure, and given our options were Cedric, Calum Chambers, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles – who may or may not want to play in that position depending on which way the wind is blowing – it was important we got a player in.
Let’s see what he’s made of when he pulls on the red and white. A welcome arrival.
He signed for Real Betis on loan, apparently taking a pay cut in the process (although I’m not 100% how that works given it is just a loan. Surely he can take less from Betis, but what he’s contractually obliged to get from Arsenal he’ll still earn?).
I think it’s a real shame that a player who was so exciting when he first broke through didn’t reach the heights we thought/hoped he would. I know everyone talks about the ACL injury, and obviously that’s had an impact, but we started to see a fall off before that – at least in terms of his pace – and I think there was an ankle problem which really took its toll on him.
Nevertheless, he’s been one of my favourites down the years, he represented the club well on and off the pitch, his social conscience and his willingness to use his platform to support that was always impressive to me, and I hope he can get himself back on track at Real Betis. He’ll be back next summer with a year left on his deal, and hopefully a good season in La Liga will do him and the club good when it comes to what happens next.
After a wasted season last time around (just 440 senior minutes), it was important for him to go somewhere and play. A season in the Eredivisie with Feyenoord is a great opportunity for him to remind people of his talent. He signed a one year contract extension before departing, so he now has a deal until 2023. Like Hector, a good showing for the Dutch side could open more doors for him, and, assuming we choose not to keep him, possibly generate some revenue via a transfer fee.
Fare thee well, Icespina. I wish him and OH Leuven in the Belgian pro-league the best of luck. The loan has an option to buy, and I sincerely hope he does well there.
Reportedly a move to Crystal Palace fell down after personal terms failed to be agreed. I don’t know quite what that means, whether it was wages, bonuses, contract length, or something else, but it does suggest Arsenal accepted a bid.
I think it’s a real shame he didn’t get a move because he’s at an age where he needs to play, and his chances of doing much of that at Arsenal this season are minimal. Even with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in front of him, he’s got Gabriel Martinelli and Folarin Balogun to contend with too. The last two are young players whose futures will be here, and for whom playing time should be prioritised over someone who is probably going to leave on a free next summer.
The money from any transfer would have been useful, obviously, but the bigger issue is the Eddie himself won’t get the playing time he needs.
He stays after ‘clear the air’ talks with Mikel Arteta yesterday, and to be honest, I don’t mind that much. The last few days have been a bit of a mess, and I don’t think anyone has covered themselves in glory to be honest. When details emerged of Everton’s proposed two year loan deal, I can fully understand why the club rejected it. It wasn’t to annoy the player, it was because it was a crap offer, so fair enough.
There was obviously not much of an improvement from Everton so even if he’s frustrated and annoyed at having to stay, I have some sympathy for Arsenal’s position. As I said yesterday, stuff like this happens in football all the time, it’s not ideal, but dealing with it is what being a professional is about.
With just four central midfielders on the books, I think there could possibly be chances for him there, and as he’s now willing to play at right-back (or even wing-back), I’d rather see him there than Cedric or Chambers who should be sent to the Cedric Chambers, the new name for our right-back dungeon (which is where both of them should be after their dismal displays so far this season).
It’s amazing to think he’s still here, and actively involved, but there was no deadline day move for him. He had been linked with Fenerbahce but that reportedly broke down over his wage demands. You can understand why he’d look for a lot, because he’s on a lot here and if they said no, he can just stick around until next summer. However, the window in Turkey remains open until next week, so if some agreement can be found and Arsenal activate ‘pay-off mode’ again, maybe he might go.
THE WINDOW OVERALL
It remains to be seen just how these guys are going to do, and how quickly they can develop, but there was a clear strategy to our buying this summer. Two 21 year olds (Tavares and Sambi); two 22 year olds (Odegaard and Tomiyasu); and two 23 year olds (Ramsdale and White).
I think you can reasonably ask how far these players move the needle in the very short term, but we’ve spent close to £150m, and if you wanted to see the manager get financial backing, he’s assuredly had that. I think James did a good Tweet:
Tomiyasu White Gabriel Tierney
Saka Odegaard ESR
Can’t imagine there’s an Arsenal fan out there who isn’t at least curious to see how what that team might look like.
— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) August 31, 2021
We’ve paid substantial money for these lads, let’s get them in the side. At the very least it’s a young team to get behind, and it’s now down to Mikel Arteta to get a tune out of them. There’s a freshness about it that – right now at least – generates a spark of optimism, and that’s very welcome considering our start to the season.
What I would say is this though. For a team which had issues scoring goals, signing a goalkeeper, three defenders, one central midfielder, and one attacking midfielder, doesn’t add a great deal of firepower (bearing in mind we also let go two attacking options in Willian and Reiss Nelson – although how much you think we’ll miss them is another question). So, improvement in goalscoring has to come from getting more out of the players we have – and the plan must be for these new players to be part of a platform to do that.
I think we can expect more goals from Aubameyang this season compared to last; I think we could get more end product from Saka, Pepe, Smith Rowe and Odegaard; Lacazette will be Lacazette and chip in with his usual total; and then perhaps you look at someone like Gabriel Martinelli who can add something to that too – a big part of Arteta’s job this season is to get more goals from him.
I would really have liked a central midfield signing during this window, and that’s not a criticism of Sambi. Even keeping Xhaka – which I wouldn’t have done, but there you go – there was room for a player who could bring something different and add some quality. With all due respect to him, when Elneny is so close to the first team, you know you can improve so it’s a bit of a shame we didn’t.
I think we all recognise it’s been a very challenging summer for football and football clubs across Europe who have been impacted financially by the pandemic and a season without fans generating ticket revenue.
All the same, the fact that we’ve only sold one player in this window (Joe Willock) doesn’t reflect particularly well on Edu in his role as Technical Director. This is very much his purview and while there’s some money coming next summer from the obligations in the Matteo Guendouzi and Dinos Mavropanos deals, it’s not a great return. Especially when you consider we had some homegrown players, whose values in this current market are stronger, and who should have been of more interest to other Premier League clubs.
I can’t say for sure what the remit was, but in a summer when we spent £150m, I’d imagine there was a need to bring in more than the £20m we got for Joe, and the few loan fees we’ll have been paid. If there’s credit due for implementing a clear strategy when it comes to arrivals, that’s offset by a disappointing window when it came to departures.
Whether it precipitates any change we’ll have to wait and see. There are whispers that Edu isn’t quite on solid ground, but time will tell. We have, at least, trimmed the squad down a bit, Willian is gone and that in itself is pleasing, but it’s hard not to wonder how someone else, someone better, might have managed this aspect of our summer business.
As I said at the top, this is our squad now, these are our players, and the manager has to start making it work, asap. He’s had pre-season, he’s had substantial backing to bring in players, and there’s no hiding place anymore. Results have to improve, and I really hope they do.
I want Arsenal to win, to score goals, and to be competitive. I’ve genuinely found the last few weeks a bit hard to take. Clearly it’s no good when we lose and when things are bad, nobody likes it, but the relentless negativity and anger is difficult to live with. I’m not saying people don’t have a right to feel that way, of course they do, but on a personal level it’s all been a bit relentless of late.
The best and only solution is for Arsenal to win football matches, so I highly recommend to them they start doing that. Thanks!
Right, that’s it for this morning. We’ll have a transfer window round-up podcast on Patreon later today, more from me here tomorrow.