Arsene Wenger hasn’t just bought a world-class forward in Alexis Sanchez, as well as addressing a number of gaps in his squad through the signings of Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers and David Ospina.
There isn’t any doubt about the club’s willingness to spend. Last summer, the spending, as big and influential as it may have been, came extremely late in the day. The following window in January, where Arsenal were crying out for a striker, or just some form of inspiration, a loan deal for Spartak Moscow’s Kim Kallstrom was completed, in spite of the reported cash reserves at the Emirates.
Going into this summer’s window, Wenger made it quite clear that a holding midfielder was needed. Mikel Arteta has performed courageously in that role since arriving from Everton in 2011, and Mathieu Flamini performed well in bursts last season, despite the negative reaction that surrounded his signing.
But unlike transfer windows of the past, there is little pressure on Wenger to get that area of the team sorted out, largely because everyone expects him to do so eventually.
That expectation wasn’t present in the past. It was a glimmer of hope struggling to the surface in a sea of resignation that the manager will stick rather than twist.
In terms of targets, Sami Khedira has been playing hardball over his wages, and Sporting’s William Carvalho won’t move unless the Portuguese club get their valuation of the player paid in full.
On both fronts, each club, Real Madrid and Sporting, know they’ll have to sell their player eventually. The European Cup winners are in danger of losing Khedira on a free next summer – and having just spent £63million on James Rodriguez and £24 million on Toni Kroos, that really shouldn’t be an option.
As for Sporting, Carvalho is too good to be limited to the Portuguese Liga; he’ll follow other highly-rated talents in moving to major clubs around Europe.
It’s for that reason that Wenger has every right to wait and see how things pan out. In fact, the best thing to do is to look to Real’s signings of this summer. Prior to the World Cup, it seemed unthinkable that Bayern Munich would allow Kroos to leave, and again ahead of the tournament in Brazil, no one was really talking about James as a big mover in this window, certainly not Real’s blockbuster signing.
But situations change, and there’s still plenty of time left in the window.
And in any case, Wenger does have two options to fall back on in Arteta and Flamini. Neither are good enough anymore to carry the burden for the entire campaign, but both will see minutes throughout the upcoming season, so where is the real damage in letting them partake in the season opener against Crystal Palace? If the best deal for Arsenal happens towards the back end of the window, then so be it.
All the indications point to Khedira being the player Arsenal bring in to fill that holding midfield role, because while there is clearly interest in Carvalho, Real are under more pressure to move their player on now. But again, that situation could change over the coming days and weeks.
Defensive midfield is the most important area Arsenal need addressing. Olivier Giroud may be the team’s obvious centre-forward choice, but there is far from a shortage of goal scorers in the squad. Going the other way, however, Arsenal have been unable to stem the tide of opposition attacks, particularly against title contenders last season.
There is no doubt that Wenger will buy what the team need, but with so much positive action taken already this summer, the Arsenal boss can afford to take his time over what appear to be a set of complicated transfer targets.