Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Arteta’s first striker signing is a big deal

Morning all. Hope you had a nice weekend.

This week starts with the latest drip, drip, drip regarding Gabriel Jesus, with multiple reports last night that everything is agreed on a five year deal with the player, having already found a suitable fee with Man City of around £45m.

This is one of those where I think because it’s been in the pipeline for so long it feels a bit ‘Ok, come on … just get it done’, and perhaps we’ve lost sight a little of how big a deal this one actually is. With competition from other Premier League clubs, and probably interest around Europe too, we’re bringing in a 25 year old international forward from the reigning champions, without the lure of Champions League football.

I do wonder if, when we failed to finish in the top four, there might have been some financial persuasion to soften that blow, but Mikel Arteta’s previous relationship with the player must have helped, and the Brazilian connection with Edu would have made finding common ground with him and his representatives easier. Still, this is a very impressive signing. Not quite a ‘coup’ (in transfer terms), but nevertheless an important player from the most successful team in English football’s recent history is getting on board at Arsenal and is convinced by the project.

Gabriel Jesus may well have desires to be the main man somewhere, and likely saw some writing on the wall in Manchester with the arrival of two expensive forwards already this summer, but players who win things want to keep winning things. At City he’s won four Premier League titles, an FA Cup, and three League Cups. He will want to add to that collection of medals. This isn’t a bloke going on 30+ who is moving towards semi-retirement and fancies a few years at a nice club who won’t ask too much of him. That Arsenal is a thing of the past (fingers crossed).

He’s just gone 25, the demands on him will be high because we know that’s how Mikel Arteta operates, and the expectations will be big too because of his experience and pedigree. The aim next season is top four in the league, and going far – hopefully all the way – in the Europa League. He’s a key part of our plans in that sense.

Some might say that this is the single most important signing of the summer. When Mikel Arteta arrived at Arsenal he inherited two centre-forwards of varying styles, who had cost the club a total of £105m in transfer fees. He has never had to/been able buy a striker before now because of their presence, and this is his first tilt at upgrading/improving in that position. It’s a decent pick, if you ask me.

We’ll have our usual player profile/analysis pieces as and when the signing goes through officially, but I really like what Gabriel Jesus can bring to the team. He has physical presence, his ability to press from the front is another aspect to how I think we’re going to play next season (something hinted at by the Fabio Vieira signing), and with 95 goals and 46 assists in 236 appearances for Man City, he’s got end product.

Arteta will be hoping that his deployment as Arsenal’s main man and that added responsibility will help him take those numbers to another level. Speaking last season about what he was looking for in a striker, the Arsenal boss said:

“He puts the ball in the net, that’s priority number one. Goal threat. Any successful team needs enough goal threat in the squad. Without it, you have nothing. You can play good football but you need enough goal threat in the team.”

There’s no doubt Gabriel Jesus can do that, and when you add him to a collection of attacking players like Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, Fabio Vieira, Eddie Nketiah and maybe even Raphinha, you can see easily how this team can produce more next season.

The other aspect of this is that his age and experience means he’s there to take on some of the burden that we placed on three 20/21 year olds last season. After Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left, Alexandre Lacazette should have shouldered some of that, but in terms of goalscoring he fell well short. Gabriel Jesus will do that, which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect the others to produce too, but on the days that they don’t – which will happen – we have a greater ability to cope, where last season we didn’t.

As I said though, more to come on this, and hopefully more to come from Arsenal as this potentially very exciting transfer window continues.

Right, I’m gonna leave it there for now. James and I will be recording an Arsecast Extra for you in a while. Keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you’re on Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the #arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.

Pod should be out by lunchtime. Until then, take it easy.

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