Arsenal had their busiest January transfer window to date, but was it a successful one for the Gunners?
It was an unusual January transfer window from an Arsenal perspective. It has never been in Arsene Wenger’s nature to make wholesale changes to his team in any transfer window, let alone a January window. But more than his need to change things around the team, dire circumstances decided the outcome of the many ins and outs at the Emirates.
The attacking area of the Arsenal team dominated the window, as Wenger cleared out the majority of his attackers to be replaced by quality reinforcements. As the departures have completed their move elsewhere, it will be interesting to see how Arsene Wenger and Arsenal play with this reformed attacking line for the rest of the season and beyond. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look in depth into Arsenal’s dealing in the market and puts forward its verdict.
Konstantinos Mavropanos (£1.9m), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Player exchange), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£56m)
Francis Coquelin (£12m), Mathieu Debuchy (Free), Chuba Akpom (Loan), Krystian Bielik (Loan), Theo Walcott (£20m), Alexis Sanchez (Swap deal), Olivier Giroud (£18m)
MVA (Most Valuable Addition) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Many would want to argue about the most important piece of business done by Arsenal in January. From a fan’s perspective, it definitely would be Mesut Ozil signing a fresh contract, which not only gave more meaning to new arrivals, it as well was a breath of relief for fans and players alike. Ozil signing the contract was important, but Arsenal’s club record signing is in the limelight, for now.
Many believed Arsenal needed immediate reinforcements in defence. True to the word, but what about the goals lost after the sales of Sanchez, Giroud and Walcott? How was Wenger planning to cover those cracks? On the other hand, the incoming player(s) needed to be more than just replacements, Arsenal needed a bonafide goal scorer.
Arsene Wenger thus signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a club record deal. Another big problem area for Arsenal this season was their ability to create plenty of chances, but score only a few of them. So Aubameyang’s arrival will actually give the playmakers behind him more meaning, as he is guaranteed to score goals from seemingly difficult positions too.
Arsenal’s signing of Mkhitaryan as well the presence of talisman Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Alex Iwobi and Aaron Ramsey will all get the best out of Aubameyang. The Gabon international would make things simpler at Arsenal, and all of the fans hope he is the consistent goalscorer they had wanted since the departure of Robin Van Persie.
Shrewd Work (a departure that benefitted both parties): Theo Walcott
Walcott’s 12 years at Arsenal have been a tumultuous journey. The winger and occasional striker scored more than 100 goals for the club since signing from Southampton. His departure was something of a scenario which Gunners’ fans had envisaged for some time now.
Despite being the second best goalscorer for Arsenal last season, Arsene Wenger has preferred Walcott from the bench in the Premier League but regularly started the striker in cup games and the Europa League this season. Walcott though was a valuable squad member; his departure more or less benefits all parties involved.
Everton paid £20 million for a player who was considered surplus in North London. Wenger has been reluctant to trust Walcott on occasions and would be happy to get the kind of money for a player seemingly out of his plans. Walcott’s departure also helped free up a chunk of the wage budget, meaning it made a lot of other new deals possible as well.
A change in Arsenal’s system has been mooted as the reason for Walcott’s absence in the starting-11, and so because Walcott’s style of play does not suit the team when they play a three-man defence. But Wenger has also started games with a back-four, yet Walcott was excluded for those too.
Everton, on the other hand, tried their best to convince Olivier Giroud to swap Arsenal for Merseyside in the summer, something that Giroud did not favour. Now in Walcott, they have a striker at the right age, and at the same time, the transfer fees come reasonably in an inflated market.
One might think how a team of Arsenal’s stature can afford to let three of their goal getters depart the club and still have a good window; The answer lies in Arsenal’s business with arrivals at the club. For Alexis Sanchez, the club could have got £60 million in the summer, but that value was drastically lowered as he only had six months left.
Alexis Sanchez eventually joined Manchester United and Arsenal got Henrikh Mkhitaryan in return. In getting Mkhitaryan, Arsenal got a player in his prime whose abilities did not suit United and Jose Mourinho. If the Chilean had run down his contract, Arsenal would have got nothing as well having to invest millions to replace him in the summer.
In Mkhitaryan, Arsene Wenger got a player who suits his system and style of play. A playmaker who can score as well take a chunk of creative burden from Mesut Ozil. The other signing, Aubameyang has already played with Mkhitaryan at Dortmund and is the goal scorer Arsenal need.
Aubameyang is a player known to find spaces and get into the right scoring positions, a player who will hugely benefit from Arsenal’s array of talent in the creative midfield department. He could be the goalscorer Arsenal fans have been screaming for over the years, and the club record signing is destined to be a hit at the Emirates.
Overall, Arsenal lost significant players but gained quality replacements. The replacements are the focus of this market as they are suited for Arsenal’s style of play as well proven stars. On the other hand, having sold non-performing players in Coquelin and Walcott, Arsenal got a good amount for them as well clearing deadwood from their ranks.
From a business side, Arsenal made nearly £50 million from player sales and invested £58 million on player purchases. Good deals for Arsenal considering the quality of investment and letting go of players who could have got a lesser fee in the summer. Our verdict on Arsenal’s window is hence a success.