“Spend some money.” The Arsenal fans were honest with manager Arsene Wenger on the final day of last season albeit they added a crude word to that request which emphasised their disdain. Wenger still listened.
In a BBC Radio 5 Live special on the Gunners, the former managing director of Liverpool, Christian Purslow revealed Arsenal had spent up to £75 million on summer transfers alone. Yet at times this season, you wouldn’t have known it such has been the bipolar nature of the Londoners performances.
Some have accused Wenger of losing his managerial powers but the recent signs are bright after results against Spurs and Liverpool. What’s more the penchant Wenger appears to have developed for German players is something which should excite Emirates onlookers. Germany have of course reached the final of the last two major championships they’ve played in and the Bundesliga thrives with many young home grown talents emerging.
He is yet to attract any of the country’s best young talents though. For instance, Mario Götze’s signature proves elusive as the 19-year-old continually pledges his allegiance to Borussia Dortmund. This isn’t too surprising.
Götze is part of an extremely promising team who look likely to secure back-to-back league titles. What’s more he’s playing for his home-town club in front of a passionate crowd at the Signal Iduna Park. Arsenal doesn’t quite have what it takes to lure Götze away at the moment.
However, former Werder Bremen centre back Per Mertesacker joined Arsenal in August. The towering defender has a very good reading of the game which somewhat compensates for his distinct lack of speed. The 27-year-old became the first German to play for the Gunners since Jens Lehmann.
Wenger’s next acquisition must have given false excitement to some Arsenal fans – a 19-year-old German midfielder signing from Borussia Dortmund. Alas it wasn’t Götze. Thomas Eisfeld was brought to the Emirates with the long term future in mind, something not unfamiliar to Arsenal. The third signing could prove to be the best.
Although it’s not official, it’s widely understood a deal is in place to sign Lukas Podolski in the summer “Prinz Poldi” has the talent to succeed in the Premier League. He’s single-handedly kept Cologne’s season alive as they teeter towards the relegation area.
The question mark over the 26-year-old is over whether he is mature enough to thrive abroad. As a Polish-born German, the likes of Wojciech Szezcesny, Lukasz Fabianski and Per Mertesacker could help Podolski to settle. His time at Bayern Munich wasn’t too impressive but Arsene Wenger looks to be working on the assumption he has developed as a person since then.
The fact Wenger has managed to attract German players from German top flight may not seem significant but it’s something of a rarity in the Premier League. The Bundesliga is an exciting place to be currently and players like Götze will have noticed this, as well as the last few high profile departures from the country.
Mesut Özil, Sami Khedira and Nuri Sahin have all moved to Real Madrid in the last two summers. Knowing this sort of team is aware of the talent in the Bundesliga has probably encouraged more to stay in the hope they can be picked up by Real or even Barcelona. They’re two sides you’d be mad not to wait for, considering how both have played of late. Even though Sahin has barely featured in Madrid, not many tend to turn down Real and doubtless it would be a similar situation for other Bundesliga stars.
Arsenal does not have the same draw but nevertheless it’s still a very striking proposition. The standard of the Premier League and the money which comes with helps to attract a very high calibre of player. Wenger’s German signings of Mertesacker and Podolski are good but they’re not the best on offer in the Bundesliga.
If Wenger can attract that higher calibre player to the Emirates, it will help to return the Gunners to the Premier League title race once more. The fact he’s active in Germany though is a very heartening sign for Arsenal fans.
Article originally written at Gone With The Rhind
For more on the Bundesliga and the Premier League, follow @arhindtutt