Arsenal’s vulnerability has reached near-critical level at this point of the summer. Real Madrid played Arsenal like the high-spending, big market veteran that it is. The La Liga club called Arsenal’s bluff on the Gonzalo Higuain deal and ended up selling the Argentine striker to Napoli. It’s what you get when you’re new to this sort of game and other clubs are well aware of your apparent intentions and ability to spend.
But how much of Arsenal’s need to appease its fan base has distorted the real bargains out on the market?
Monaco, amid huge signings of intent in bringing the Porto band back together in Joao Moutinho, James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao (as well as Ricardo Carvalho), have also been surprisingly astute, picking up Jeremy Toulalan from cash-strapped Malaga for €5million. It’s not really prudence if it’s an unbelievable deal for a very good and experienced international. The question is where were Arsenal before the deal went through?
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It’s further proof that some of the best players don’t always demand inflated fees. Is Toulalan not a player Arsenal need? There can be no discussion as to whether he’d be a signing of necessity. A player in his mould and of his calibre as a defensive midfielder is absolutely necessary. A hitch may be with his age at 29, not being too much younger than Mikel Arteta, but issues like that shouldn’t matter when bargains are waiting to be cherry picked. There’s no doubt the Frenchman would have made an immediate difference at Arsenal, and maybe this highlights a wider criticism of the club during the summer months.
Even prior to Toulalan’s move to Monaco, it has to be asked where Arsenal were in 2011 when he made the switch from Lyon to Malaga. Would Arsenal have been dealing with a financial giant? Well not really. Malaga signed Toulalan for €12 million and were nothing of the financial power that Monaco and PSG are. Furthermore, the European football on offer at the Emirates over La Rosaleda could have been a deciding factor.
But Arsenal rarely seem to be able to work on multiple transfers at once. The truth is we don’t really know, but that’s the general impression that’s created. I’d love to think that the transfer department at Arsenal is a well-oiled machine working diligently and purposely creating a false mask of ineptitude. But that could be a little out there.
This summer has been so central to finding a world-class striker that there has seemingly been total neglect over other areas of the squad in desperate need of attention. Oh, the club have lodged bids for Marouane Fellaini and Lars Bender, but those resembled passing interest over what is at stake in the striker market. Just like Monaco and its counterparts in the market, Arsenal need to make an impression and names like Bender and to an extent Fellaini will do that. But if they’re not there, if all the money in the world can’t prise them from their clubs, players like Toulalan offer an excellent stop-gap until next summer’s window.
Toulalan has the Champions League experience that’s required at Arsenal, as well as the title success garnered from his days with Lyon. He aided in Ignacio Camacho’s development last season, something that could be used in Aaron Ramsey’s redefining as a deep-lying playmaker/holding midfielder. It’s win-win, and for a club who previously boasted of its spending capabilities being in excess of £70 million, a €5 million deal for a player who will add much, much more than just a backup is not something to fret over or pass up.
Have Arsenal missed a bargain in Jeremy Toulalan this summer?
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