Friday, March 1, 2024

Edu on the summer plans

Morning all. Can you believe it’s been over a day since Arsenal signed a player without signing any more? Ridiculous carry on.

As Fabio Vieira is added to the list, there’s still lots to do, and I didn’t have time yesterday to touch on the interview Edu did with the official site following the announcement of the former Porto player. There’s also quite a good behind the scenes video to check out as the Technical Director shows the new signing around, but we caught glimpses of Per Mertesacker, Richard Garlick, Vinai Venkatesham and others who are working on getting these deals done.

Edu talks about how many people are involved:

“There are so many people working for one signing. We are working really hard because we have a lot of people around it.

“We have the guys from the scouting side, the analysis, the data, we have our CFO, we have our legal team, we have our CEO and we have our board. We have a lot of people engaging to make signings happen.”

We often think about teamwork as something that happens on the pitch, but it’s clearly important off it too as we look to strengthen the squad this summer. Making a plan, and one that everyone more or less agrees on is one thing, but executing it is something else entirely. And while I don’t think we should underestimate the bit about making the plan in the first place, I suspect that’s more about the manager and Technical Director identifying the needs of the team, and then beyond that more people are involved to facilitate those deals.

The most promising thing about last summer was the fact that Arsenal’s transfer strategy was exactly that: a strategy, and not a series of deals which didn’t make much sense beyond a desperate attempt to put a sticking plaster over existing problems and get back into the top four. As exciting as it was to bring in Nicolas Pepe in 2019, for example, it was the complete opposite of what then Head Coach Unai Emery wanted, and as we contemplate his departure this summer, the absence of (footballing) strategy around that transfer is evident in what we’re going to have to do to sell him – which is take a huge loss and acknowledge that for both player and club it has turned out to be a terrible deal all told.

Speaking about what they’re planning to do, Edu says:

“We have to go to the market and sign exciting, exciting players with the right age, right attitude, right mentality.

“We want to see a club like Arsenal with a young squad, an exciting squad with a big, big future. As I said last summer, the idea to have a young squad is to give them an opportunity to play together for two, three, four, five, six seasons together.”

I don’t think it’s quite a Project Youth©® reboot, because that involved players quite a bit younger and much less experienced than the ones we’ve brought in. Go back to last summer and the likes of Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu, and Martin Odegaard were all young rather than youth, but well established as senior professionals at their clubs or via loan spells.

I don’t know exactly what else we’re going to do this summer, but when you look at the names like Gabriel Jesus, Raphinha, Lisandro Martinez, Youri Tielemans (even thought that one seems less likely than it did a few weeks ago), we’re talking players in their mid-20s with their best years ahead of them, but with lots of playing time under their belts. Players who, ideally, will come in and contribute straight away but who might also retain some value in the market if things don’t work out the way we might like.

The plan is so obvious that even Gary Neville should be able to understand it without the need for a blackboard, and easy to comprehend illustrations.

But of course everyone is anxious for more, and on that Edu continues:

“I’m quite excited, I think we have some good conversations and positive conversations to be fair. I hope we can give the fans some good news.”

The Fabio Vieira deal showed that even in this day ultra-connected day and age, things can happen without too many people knowing about it. Whether subsequent signings will be more like that, or the completion of deals that we know have been in the works for some time, remains to be seen. Perhaps a little from Column A, a little from Column B, but I have to say I feel more confident about the club doing good incoming business than I have for quite some time.

That said, how we deal with outgoing business to try and get the best deals possible for departing players, and perhaps change the perception of Arsenal as a selling club is a really fascinating part of this summer. There’s plenty to do in that regard in a market that remains relatively challenging if you’re a Premier League club and Europe is the mooted destination for most of those players, but it is inextricably linked to our incoming business in terms of revenue etc, so let’s see what they do.

Right, I’ll leave if there for now, till tomorrow.

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