Arsenal’s season was a bonafide disappointment, but they did shine on the transfer market. THT reviews Arsenal’s top three deals from 2017/18
Long before Arsenal’s transfer window began at the end of last season, the club had just won the FA Cup for a record 13th time, and Arsene Wenger had agreed to new terms on a two-year deal. Despite some noteworthy uncertainty surrounding Arsenal’s player contracts, namely that of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil as well as Wenger’s, the fans looked forward to what was expected to be a busy transfer window.
Arsenal fans have long been wanting the club to spend significantly on transfer signings and knew well the impacts good signings could make on a team. They have been falling behind teams like Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and even Liverpool. Call it Arsene Wenger’s reluctance or the club’s typical stringent approach, they needed to flex their financial muscle to compete.
The Gunners did start brightly, signing Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer from Schalke, and the Bosnian instantly became a fan favourite thanks to his physical displays and his Community Shield heroics. Although he would not go on to fit in the list of their best deals of the season, he sure did add quality depth to the squad.
But who made it to the top three deals involving Arsenal during last season? And the fact that Arsenal broke their transfer record twice, but did any of those players make the list? THT analyses Arsenal’s top three deals from last season which had a genuine impact on the club.
Alexandre Lacazette makes the list; first for Arsenal breaking the record for player transfer fee, and second Arsene Wenger finally signing a genuine, mobile front-man since Robin Van Persie left Arsenal for Manchester United.
Arsenal have, in the past, huffed and puffed around the market on the lookout for a reliable striker. Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud did not prove their worth as the right replacement for Van Persie. Wenger did try his hand with Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez in that position, and despite the latter impressing, Wenger still wasn’t convinced.
Alexandre Lacazette was finally signed after some lengthy proceedings. But he was the striker Arsenal were looking for a long time, someone who scores goals and gets in the game with others. Lacazette got on the action right from the first game onward, and although more was expected of him, he did finish with a respectable 17 goals.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan-Alexis Sanchez swap
Despite signing Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal fans were more worried about the outcome of the Alexis Sanchez saga. The Chilean almost joined Manchester City on deadline day of the summer window, but fortunately or unfortunately he stayed on. That last minute saga hurt his displays from there on. Alexis Sanchez only scored 6 goals from August till January.
Until a point of the January window Manchester City, as expected, were the firm favourites, and with only six months left on the contract, Arsenal were set to sell their star player for a cut-price amount. In came Manchester United in the last minute and made a deal happen with Arsenal as Henrikh Mkhitaryan went the opposite direction, in what was a rare swap-deal and no cash.
Arsenal fans had witnessed Mkhitaryan’s quality before. On his home debut against Everton, he made three assists. The Armenian went on to play a useful role in Arsenal’s remaining Premier League games as well as in their run to the Europa League semis.
Arsenal did not wait for years to break their transfer record again. In only a matter of six months, Arsene Wenger decided that he needed to bring another genuine goalscorer, not because of Lacazette’s then much publicised goal drought, but due to the departure of Sanchez.
Arsenal left it late after Dortmund and Aubameyang were embroiled in a dispute, but eventually they did pay £56 million to bring the prolific Gabon international to the Emirates. Aubameyang made an immediate impact scoring on his full debut off a Mkhitaryan through ball, and the fans then started to see what he is truly capable of. The only disappointment, however, was his ineligibility to play in the Europa League.
Aubameyang could only play in the Premier League and did his part in scoring ten goals in less than four months at the club. His all-round play and speed were also highly productive during his limited time. On the other hand, while everyone feared Aubameyang’s arrival might bring the end to Lacazette’s career, the two have surprisingly combined well to form what looks like a lethal partnership heading in to the next season.
For all three of Lacazette, Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang, a full pre-season will do their conditioning and training required for next season. Because neither of them is playing at the World Cup as well as many other first-team Arsenal players including Bellerin and Ramsey, the club needs to get these players together and train them in a way they become winners next season.