Amid the customary celebrations following Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Manchester City on Saturday, there would have been plenty of groans from the pessimists. Theo Walcott is still scoring, great. Aaron Ramsey looks good, great. But here we go; Arsene Wenger is about to once again talk up his streamlined squad as being title contenders.
Naturally Wenger took that course, but he also acknowledged the lack of depth and obvious quality that’s required for a 55-game season. And it’s exactly what he should have said. Former transfer target Etienne Capoue has just signed for Tottenham for a fee that is right in Wenger’s ballpark, all the while the defensive midfield position remains unseen to on, at time of writing, 12th August.
But Wenger’s lack of action thus far may be vindicated soon enough. The manager, rather than aiming for the fence and potentially disrupting any ongoing deal, played it safe by hinting at Luiz Gustavo. Raphael Honigstein also mentioned the deal last night, suggesting that personal terms were the final hurdle in the deal.
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It can’t come soon enough. Capoue is good, often spoken of as the best defensive midfielder in France over the past two seasons. But Arsenal need bigger and better. Bigger being a league with a slightly higher standing than the well-trodden Ligue1, and better being something in the form of a treble winner with Bayern Munich last season. Gustavo may not have played much in comparison to Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez, but honestly how many players are there in the Bayern squad that wouldn’t be great signings for any club?
Far too often do Arsenal let good players slip the net. There is growing frustration, naturally, among Arsenal supporters, and the club have already failed to land big names over the issue of price. So where is the harm in picking up Capoue for £8.6 million? Why was he deemed a good target in January but not six months later? I understand I answered my own question prior to asking it, but the point is that Wenger really needs to get the ball rolling on those players who are seen as better quality in order to justify the passing up of those who have already moved.
It sort of mimics the whole striker dance of this summer. Many have gone; some of exceptional quality, but Arsenal have continued to stand around waiting for that ideal player. Maybe “ideal” isn’t the best choice of word for the current prime target, but it sort of is when talking “footballistically.”
Gustavo, as I wrote recently, is one of the best players currently available to Arsenal. Bayern are willing to sell, he’s better than Marouane Fellaini, and isn’t really valued at an uncomfortable rate, even though his signing could break the club’s transfer record.
A move for Gustavo could and should represent something positive in a hugely frustrating summer window. Let’s be honest, Arsenal have looked like they have no idea what’s going on. That whole fashionably late thing doesn’t work, but with around three weeks remaining until the window closes, everything should start to take shape for the club.
Gustavo is an instant fix for a problem area. Mikel Arteta is ageing, while it would be absolute negligence to rely on Ramsey for that role for the majority of the season, despite how good he’s looked. Arsenal need to show that passing on Capoue twice was the right move; that even though a bargain transfer was very much on the table, the increased spending power of the club would be put to good use.
There’s three weeks left of the window, but importantly there’s three weeks left for Wenger to show that this summer hasn’t been the total shambles it’s perceived to be.
Were Arsenal right to pass on Capoue considering the recent history of scuppered deals?
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