Arsene Wenger has never been one to do all of his transfer deals as early as possible, but it is of paramount importance that he changes that attitude for this particular summer.
Since Arsenal finished fourth this season, just over the horizon lies a Champions League qualifier which, under the new UEFA rulings, shall be infinitely harder to win than some of the games the club has had in previous seasons against the likes of Sparta Prague and Dinamo Zagreb. Now, Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Fiorentina haunt the draw.
Therefore, Arsenal need to move quickly. There should be no anxious waiting up on August the 31st in eager anticipation of a deadline day bargain. Regardless of the players whom one thinks the club should be signing, the fact is that they should arrive in June, in order to give them the best possible chance of settling into the side before the early start of the season.
There is very rarely any negative attached to signing players early in the summer. For example, whenever Manchester United need to inject new life into the squad, they immediately bolster the team by announcing signings as early as June 1st. This was exemplified by when they signed Anderson, Nani and Hargreaves in quick succession in the summer of 2007. Arsenal need to take a leaf out of their book; no more deadline day deals in order to shave a couple of hundred thousand of pounds off the price, the purchases have to be made quickly and forcefully.
The added bonus of getting the transfers done as early as possible is that a feel-good factor surrounds the club in the build up to the new season. This is particularly relevant this season, given that the season ticket prices have increased, and there are real doubts about the power of the club in the transfer market, and whether the ambitions of the board mirror those of the supporters.
Should the Champions League qualifier at the Emirates arrive without any kind of marquee signing having been purchased, the atmosphere around the stadium will match that of the last few games of the season just gone; songs of ‘six percent, you’re having a laugh’ will inevitably be replaced with chants of a somewhat more positive nature.
So this summer is extremely important for a number of reasons; not only does the squad need to be strengthened considerably in various areas, but the rebuilding work needs to be done sooner rather than later, not only to increase our chances of Champions League qualification, but also to state intent for the season to come, and to put Arsenal back on the map.
Read more of Alastair Bayliss’ articles at Gunnersphere