Arsenal Football Club are a team with a huge history, they’ve won the FA Cup 13 times, gone through an entire season unbeaten and been a home for some of the greatest players the English game has seen.
Yet, when it comes to their modern transfer activity, things are rather farcical.
The Gunners come into this transfer window with around £45m to spend. So, for Arsenal to try and bring Wilfried Zaha – a player rated at £80m by his side – to the club feels rather mistimed. That being said, when have Arsenal and transfers ever been straightforward?
Back in 2013, the Gunners put in a bid of £40m and a solitary pound for Liverpool’s Luis Suarez. It was, of course, laughed at. Yet, six years on, it turns out the Islington club haven’t learned from their mistakes.
The sure-fire way to annoy those you’re negotiating with is to make bids way below a players evaluation. Therefore, to throw a £40m less at Zaha rather sums up the nature of those in charge of Arsenal’s negotiations.
David Ornstein claims that the Ivorian would like to move and that things could get ugly if he isn’t granted a transfer. But therein lies one of their problems. If they were a Manchester United or Manchester City, they’d likely already have their man. Spending simply isn’t an issue for them.
However, step forward Arsenal, a club trying to spend their entire budget on a player.
But, putting money aside for a moment, it’s paramount to recognise that on a footballing level Zaha is far from what the club need right now, especially when their defensive issues are so blindingly obvious.
Yes, Unai Emery also require wingers, but when they’re after one as frustrating as Zaha, it’s rather questionable.
One of the major issues with the way they’ve played in recent years is the fact they’ve been so frustrating in areas where Zaha is prominent. Theo Walcott’s later years at the club and indeed Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi’s displays are evidence of the sheer lack of quality they’ve had in wide positions.
Of course, Zaha would be better than them, having scored ten league goals last term. However, Arsenal already have goal scorers in Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang to do that for them.
The unpredictability of Zaha makes him an exciting prospect but it’s that area that also makes him frustrating. For Arsenal to be after a player of his ilk during a window in which the pressing need defenders is glaring is quite frankly baffling.
Another large problem for the Gunners last season was their lack of creativity. No player claimed more than eight assists in the entire squad.
As a result, would someone like Ryan Fraser not be better suited to the Gunners? Arguably so.
The Bournemouth winger was linked with the club before the window opened and although being far less dynamic than Zaha, would give Unai Emery what he’s missing – creativity.
Zaha is good in front of goal, but ultimately he doesn’t create enough chances.
That alone should be enough to send shudders down supporters’ spines.
Arsenal need to keep things cheap and simple this summer. It may not be what fans are wanting to hear, but that’s the reality of the situation that’s facing the club.
It feels unlikely that they’d be able to land Zaha without selling someone already at the club. Could that be Aubameyang? Ornstein certainly seems to think so.
However, Arsenal cannot afford the Eagles’ star man, and they don’t need him either.
First and foremost, the defence needs to be addressed and if Emery and his team are pursuing forwards, they need to be ones who have creativity about them.
Zaha is a player capable of getting people off their seats but he is also someone that could have supporters groaning. Arsenal don’t need that, they need steady hands and someone with a consistent end product.
Fraser may just be the one to provide that.