Arsenal were in advanced negotiations with Barcelona over Emerson Royal; instead, they signed Tottenham target Takehiro Tomiyasu on deadline.
According to David Ornstein of The Athletic, Arsenal came close to agreeing on a move with Barcelona for right-back Emerson Royal. The Gunners, though, ended up signing Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna on deadline day, while Emerson joined arch-rivals Tottenham on the same day.
Emerson Royal and Takehiro Tomiyasu made their club debuts on the weekend for Spurs and Arsenal, respectively. Both players could have played for the other club because Tottenham were keen on the Japanese international earlier in the window, while the Gunners remained interested in Emerson.
Ornstein has suggested that at some stage of the transfer window, Arsenal held advanced talks with Barcelona over a swap deal involving Emerson and Hector Bellerin. A deal would have suited all parties concerned, only for Mikel Arteta to intervene and raise questions over the right-back’s integration into his system.
Meanwhile, Spurs came close to agreeing a deal for Tomiyasu, only for the move to fall apart. However, as soon as it became clear that Arsenal’s move for Emerson was in doubt, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy reached an agreement late in the window to sign the full-back from Barcelona.
Emerson started for Spurs over the weekend in their terrible loss to Crystal Palace, while Tomiyasu contrastingly had an impressive debut in Arsenal’s win over Norwich City. These full-backs have different qualities and were clearly signed to be their club’s first-choice right-back.
Arteta was reportedly the driving force behind Arsenal’s decision to sign the Japanese international. The manager wanted an inverted right-back to help the team defensively at the back, while Kieran Tierney leads attackers on the opposite flank.
Tomiyasu offers qualities lacking in the Arsenal backline, especially in the three or four players vying for the right-back slot. His superiority in the air and capacity to win ground duels was visible against Norwich, and Arteta would have been delighted with his integration and adaptation into the Arsenal defence, despite having had only two training sessions under his belt.
As for Emerson, Spurs struggled to get a foothold all game long, and his real qualities could be visible in the next few games. He was sub-par defensively, but Emerson came to be known for his attacking runs and gameplay during his time in La Liga.
As for who could be the better signing, a verdict might be available as the season wears on. Both are quality additions to a position the north London clubs desperately needed to reinforce.