Morning all, happy Friday to you.
Let’s start with the main story this morning, and that’s what appears to be the imminent arrival of Leandro Trossard from Brighton. Unless, of course, Chelsea decide to get involved, which might sound like a joke but I was in the supermarket yesterday and a little old lady was buying the last bag of potatoes when Todd Boehly came along, punched her in the face, and took the potatoes even though the potatoes preferred to be eaten by the old lady.
It looks like the fee will be £21m + add-ons which might take it to £27m, and while initially I thought his contract expired in the summer, it turns out Brighton took up an option to add another year so the fee makes a lot more sense in that context. I have some thoughts on this, and I can understand why – after you spend weeks and weeks pursuing a 22 year old potential wonderkid – signing a 28 year old from Brighton might feel a little underwhelming.
However, we talked about Arsenal having to pivot from one target to another, and when you can’t get a player you want, you don’t always have to go for something that’s exactly the same. You have to look at the market, especially in January when many clubs don’t want to let players go, and see who’s out there. For me, Trossard ticks a lot of boxes.
Premier League experience
Our recent recruitment of relatively young players has been a success, but it doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it – and let’s not forget that while they might have been young, almost all of them had a lot of first time football under their belts. Given the circumstances we find ourselves in this season, top of the table, the quicker any addition can hit the ground running the better. On that basis, with 116 Premier League appearances to his name, you’d hope the Belgian international can hit the ground running. Obviously there will be things for him to learn about what Mikel Arteta wants from his players, but he’s got the experience to pick that up quickly.
He can score goals, a hat-trick at Anfield this season with his ‘wrong’ foot was a good demonstration of his ability with both feet (something we know Arteta has a bit of a thing for when he adds to the squad), and he’s creative enough too. A cursory look at his shot creating actions stats on fBref stacks up pretty well with both Saka and Martinelli, even though he’s missed a bit of football for Brighton of late.
Front three depth
This season he’s played primarily on the left for Brighton, but has been used up front. I think that’s more out of necessity than choice, but when you’re a side with just one recognised centre-forward, it’s useful to have someone else who can play there. He has played occasionally on the right too. We have FA Cup, Europa League and Premier League to contest between now and May, and there is already a heavy burden on the two first choice wide players in particular.
Adding Trossard gives us the chance to rest/rotate. Having an option to come off the bench and make an impact is something he gives us too. Remember just a few weeks ago when we played Newcastle and Arteta felt none of his subs quite fit on the night? I don’t think he’d have had reservations about introducing Trossard. Maybe you nick the goal that grabs you two extra points that, come the end of the season, are vital.
Adding him, plus Emile Smith Rowe who is – don’t laugh – Like A New Signing, gives us greater depth for the hectic schedule ahead. It also hints, as the Mudryk pursuit did, to the manager having something different in mind for ESR. Martinelli + Smith Rowe + Mudryk for one position on the left never made sense, so let’s see what happens there.
The last thing we needed after a lengthy pursuit of a player ended unsuccessfully was another saga. There are now just 11 days left in this transfer window, and the quicker we made an addition the better. Obviously the fact he fell out with Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi meant we weren’t trying to prise a player away from a club didn’t want to sell. Brighton were open to his departure.
I’ve seen some people worry about that dispute, but as far as I can tell it’s not like he has a track record of bad behaviour. Albert Stuivenberg, Mikel Arteta’s assistant, was in charge of Genk for a short time, and Trossard was a player there at the time. He’d know his character, and ultimately, having spent so much time and having gone through some very difficult moments to weed out some undesirable characters at the club, the last thing Arteta is going to do is sign somebody who might undermine that. Especially now.
Reportedly Trossard hates it when he doesn’t play. Well, good. Who needs a player who is content to sit on the bench? Let him come in and compete and push those around him. I’ve really got no issue with that, and I don’t worry about disruption. I think the player will understand the circumstances he’s arriving in, what his role will be in the second half of the season, and the opportunity he has to be part of something that could be really special.
The other thing that spending £21m does – as opposed to £100m – is leave you with money over. We know Arsenal wanted both Mykhaylo Mudryk and Joao Felix. Those would have been expensive deals but they were willing to do them. Trossard is, by recent standards anyway, a bit of a snip when it comes to price. It means there’s still money left to do more in this window.
Whether that’s another attacker, whether it’s a central midfielder (although that’s a little more complicated – for more on that check out today’s Arsecast), or something else, we’ll have to wait and see. I suspect we’ll add one more before the end, but as to who it might be and when, your guess is as good as mine.
The deadline for Trossard to be available for this weekend is midday today, he has to be signed and registered by then to be in the squad to face United. It’s possible, but I’m not 100% it’ll happen, so let’s see. All in all, I think he’ll be a useful signing, and when you’re pushing for your first Premier League title in nearly 20 years, sometimes useful is exactly what you need.
Right, let’s leave it there for now. For some extra reading this morning, Tim’s column this week looks at Oleksandr Zinchenko.
As I mentioned, there’s a lot to chat about on the Arsecast, including what else we might do in January, so check out my chat with Amy Lawrence below. Have a good one.