With a crash, bang and a bit of a whimper, the January transfer window slammed shut at 11pm on Monday night.
Unsurprisingly, considering their traditionally frugal spending and Arsene Wenger’s active disdain towards the mid-season window, Arsenal were one of the Premier League’s least busy clubs last month – signing just a single player in FC Basel’s Mohamed Elneny.
Question the Gunners gaffer as to why and you’d probably receive the same responses as always. Either ‘we did not have ze funds’ or ‘le players were not available’. In some instances – Lionel Messi, for example – that may be true.
But we know Arsene Wenger has a virtually bottomless pit of cash to dig into after spending just £10million on Petr Cech during the summer and contrary to Emirates belief, plenty of options on the market last month were worth the club’s consideration.
With that in mind, here are FIVE players the north London outfit could and should have signed during the January transfer window.
With a release clause just shy of £14million and Barcelona out of the picture after seeing a bemusing loan bid rejected, Nolito was there for the taking during the final week of the January transfer window.
At 29 years of age, the winger-forward doesn’t offer Arsenal much longevity. But he’d nonetheless have drastically enhanced Arsene Wenger’s attacking options for the remainder of the season and potentially provided the firepower to get the Gunners over the line in the title race.
Indeed, the Spain international has bagged 35 goals in 86 league appearances since signing for Celta Vigo in summer 2013 and has been enjoying particularly good form this season, recording eight goals and five assists in 15 La Liga outings.
Despite Arsenal being linked with Nolito since the summer, however, no bid ever materialised.
Halfway through the transfer window, manager Laurent Blanc not-so-subtly hinted he wouldn’t mind parting with Edinson Cavani and Arsenal are known to have courted the PSG striker’s services in the past.
Once again, age was probably a factor. The Uruguay international is now 28 and if the Parisians are to sell any time soon, they’d want to recoup at least half of their original £55million investment – which overall, hasn’t proved a particularly shrewd one.
But in the context of this season, Cavani would have been a phenomenal addition. His scoring record is exemplary, netting 104 times in 138 appearances for former club Napoli and 69 in 120 since arriving in the French capital three summers ago, and in terms of power and height, he’s perfect for the Premier League.
Perhaps the South American is a little too similar to Olivier Giroud in style. But with two imposing centre-forwards to choose from for the remainder of the season, Arsenal’s title chances would have drastically improved.
Many feel the Gunners need another body at the heart of defence and during the January transfer window, Schalke’s Joel Matip seemed like a pretty good option.
The Cameroon international measures in at 6 foot 4, is famed for his athleticism and has performed well in a variety of roles throughout his Miners career, namely both full-back positions, centre-back and midfield.
He’s featured exclusively at centre-half this term and produced arguably his best form to date, averaging 1.5 tackles, 3.3 interceptions, 4.8 clearances and 3.5 aerial duels per match whilst netting thrice in 19 Bundesliga outings.
With his contract set to expire at the end of the season, the 24-year-old was potentially available for a pittance last month. But it seems Arsenal didn’t even test Schalke’s resolve and the defender is now in talks over a new deal at the Veltins Arena.
Admittedly, Javier Hernandez was considerably less available last month than the rest of the suggestions on this list, having only moved to Bayer Leverkusen at the start of the season.
Nonetheless, the Mexico international has been nothing short of phenomenal since his Bay Arena switch, going on to bag a whopping 21 goals in 24 appearances – including five strikes in the Champions League’s group stages.
He represents something Arsenal don’t already have in an out-and-out poacher and proved his Premier League pedigree with Manchester United, recording three consecutive campaigns of double figures in the top flight despite predominantly featuring from the bench.
And although Bayer would have been understandably reluctant to sell, the fact of the matter is that they paid just £7.3million for the 27-year-old. Offering the German outfit around double that sum could have convinced them to part with him.
Arsenal fans seem pretty content with the signing of FC Basel midfielder Mohamed Elneny, despite the vast majority of them never actually seeing him play before, but is he really the calibre of player who can get the Gunners over the line in this season’s title race?
He may not be the most natural of fits with Arsenal’s technically-demanding style of football, as an imposing yet cumbersome midfield monolith, but long-term target William Carvalho could have had a huge impact for the north London club in this season’s six-point affairs against the likes of Manchester City and Leicester City.
Indeed, the Portugal international measures in at 6 foot 2, weighs in excess of 14 stone and his potential remains undoubted, having claimed the Player of the Tournament award at last summer’s U21 European Championship. He could’ve added a new dimension to Arsenal’s midfield and vital protection in front of their back four.
Sporting Lisbon are famed for driving hard bargains and certainly wouldn’t have parted with Carvalho on the cheap. But after making just one signing last summer in Petr Cech, it’s not as if Wenger didn’t have money to spend last month.