Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Marquinhos signs + a ‘second striker’ vs another wide forward

Well well, we made a signing.

The first deal of the summer has gone down, and it’s Marquinhos from Sau Paulo, announced yesterday by the club. The 19 year old will cost a little over £3m, and will arrive in London in the coming weeks for pre-season.

Technical Director Edu says:

We’re delighted to have completed the transfer with Sao Paulo, as Marquinhos was a player we had been watching for a while. At 19, he is still very young, so he is a player for the future. We look forward to Marquinhos now joining us for pre-season, making his new home, and continuing to grow and develop with us.

The other day I wondered if he was going to be the extra wide forward we needed in the squad next season, and I guess Edu’s comments about how he’s one for the future probably answer that. It was interesting to read that Wolves, who had serious interest in the player, had basically arranged for him to go on loan to Grasshoppers, so unless he’s a very quick developer, it’d be a surprise if he was deemed ready for Premier League action for us.

There could be Europa League opportunities for him, of course, and while someone like Gabriel Martinelli has shown you can come from lower down the Brazilian ladder and make an impact pretty quickly, even he needed time to develop and to ‘add some gears‘ as Mikel Arteta said last season.

That still leaves us with space in the squad. On the right we have Bukayo Saka and, as it stands, Nicolas Pepe. That’s a subject that came up during yesterday’s Arsecast Extra and while it seems like what should happen next is obvious, it’s far from uncomplicated. I think the player will want to go, I think Arsenal will be happy for him to depart, but where is he going to land and who is going to cough up a decent fee for a player in the doldrums?

A £72m transfer fee also comes with £72m wages, and as we know the previous football executives at this club handed out very substantial contracts to their signings. It didn’t seem like that was something they worried about too much, as players like David Luiz and Willian arrived on big, big money, so I assume that Pepe’s wages are more or less commensurate with his transfer fee (still our record outlay).

It’s fair to say his stock has fallen after a season in which he started just five times in the Premier League, the last of which came in October of 2021. There’s also the fact that we still owe Lille money as part of the deal, so even if we do manage to find a buyer, it’s possible that what we get doesn’t cover what we have to pay his former club. All in all, it’s a tricky one, but I still expect him to go this summer. The bottom line is that actions speak louder than any words, and his lack of involvement last season tells you everything you need to know about where he stands with the manager.

Links over the weekend to West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen and Leeds’ Raphinha do then make some sense in terms of their playing profiles, but do you make a very expensive signing for a position where you already have your guaranteed starter (Saka)? You could obviously make a very good argument as to why it’s a good idea. Increasing the depth and quality of your squad is important, and there’s more football next season with the Europa League. Plus it leaves you better able to cope with the demands of the Thursday/Sunday schedule + increased travel etc etc, and the five subs rule means greater involvement from the bench from now on.

As the ‘two striker’ debate continues, maybe the idea is to add greater depth to the wide attacking areas. Gabriel Jesus, if he arrives, and Eddie Nketiah as the two centre-forwards don’t give you a huge amount of variety (even if they’re not exactly the same kind of player), but Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe on the left, with Bukayo Saka + 1 (Bowen, Raphinha) on the right certainly does. Add that extra bit of craft in central midfield when you bring in someone like Youri Tielemans, and it does go some way to changing the attacking profile of this team.

Let’s see what happens. I’ll leave you this morning with the Arsecast Extra, in which we discuss all the transfer rumours, Mikel Arteta’s beach pictures, and lots more. Happy listening.


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