This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
It’s not perhaps quite the same level as Sol Campbell’s infamous move across north London, but Arsenal’s reported swoops for William Saliba and Dani Ceballos certainly does hearken back to the summer of 2001.
Campbell’s decision to leave Tottenham and join their bitter rivals was shocking to say the least, and certainly symbolised the balance of power at the time. But fast forward almost two decades later, and Mauricio Pochettino’s side are in the midst of the summer transfer window having enjoyed arguably their finest campaign in recent memory. And yet it appears they still might get outdone by their north London neighbours.
The North London Derby of 2008 may never be matched for drama. Lewis from Norwich City Central explains why it’s his all time favourite derby in the video below…
Reports in recent weeks had suggested Arsenal were close to completing a deal for St Etienne’s Saliba, but Spurs attempted to hijack the deal with their greater financial resources. But, the 18-year-old has seemingly decided to opt to join the Gunners amid greater interest in their project and the side’s storied history with French players.
Ceballos on the other looked destined for a move to Spurs before Arsenal muscled their way in, and once again it appears another promising star may be on his way to the red half of north London, according to reports in Spain.
After the disappointing end to the campaign saw them fall short in their hunt for Champions League football for next season, there was an air of doom and gloom about what Unai Emery’s side could realistically achieve in the transfer window.
But perhaps the Gunners need not have feared. Speaking back in May, head of football Raul Sanllehi spoke about how the side’s failure to be in European football’s elite competition would not necessarily mean that they would be completely out of the running for the top players.
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The Spaniard said: “Fortunately enough, the image of Arsenal is strong enough. We are a reference in the football world, so when Arsenal knocks on the door of players it’s a different knock than other clubs.
“The image of Arsenal is strong enough to help us build a case about all the model we are bringing up, the new era that we are bringing up. It’s very exciting.”
So what could easily have turned out to be a real chastening time for Arsenal with the likes of Saliba and Ceballos choosing to join their great rivals, has become a timely reminder and boost that the club still has the pulling power even after their recent struggles.