Arsenal are traditionally slow starters when it comes to summer transfer business, but with the World Cup coming towards its conclusion, the biggest focus for the club will be on ensuring readiness for the coming season.
It’s a time of year for renewed hope and expectation, and for Arsenal fans this year, it should be even more so. Heading into the 2014-15 season as FA Cup holders, and with a squad as stable as it has been in recent memory, the club are in a position to build on a largely successful previous year.
So with a fresh start and another, hopefully more successful pop at the Premier League title this year, here are FIVE outcomes that will make for the perfect transfer window this summer.
He’s been a vital cog in the Arsenal side for the past three seasons, but there were more than one or two signs last season that Mikel Arteta’s time at Arsenal was coming to an end. He’s the wrong side of 30, and doesn’t possess the type of physicality in the centre that can Arsenal fans have longed for since the departure of Patrick Vieira nine years ago.
Arsene Wenger has been heavily linked with an interest in Morgan Schneiderlin, Lars Bender, and Sami Khedira since the end of the season, all of whom may be considered an upgrade on the Spaniard. Each of the three have age on their side, as well as technical qualities which could fit into the Arsenal way of playing. Arteta still has much to give, but Arsenal need to start looking beyond him now.
Wenger isn’t the type to go spending willy-nilly in order to replace outgoing players, and is more inclined to look for internal solutions to problems that arise. Club captain Thomas Vermaelen is widely thought to be looking for a way out, with Manchester United the most likely destination.
Whilst he may have suffered an almost permanent dip in form over the past 18 months, Vermaelen is still one of the highest quality replacement centre-backs in England. If the club can’t persuade him to stay then a replacement will be required, and you wouldn’t put it past Wenger to neglect the need. Keeping Vermaelen happy will keep stability in an already fairly stable defence.
If there is one thing that Arsenal fans want the most right now, it is a viable replacement/partner for Olivier Giroud. And what’s more, a ‘world class’ one at that. Giroud found himself overburdened last season as the club lacked a suitable alternative, allowing fatigue to kick in.
It is widely believed that Wenger is homing in on Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez as their number one target, and this will doubtless please the vast majority of Gooners. He has consistently shown his class for club and country. Coming off the back of an impressive domestic season and World Cup for Chile will stand him in good stead to hit the ground running, if and when he eventually signs at the Emirates.
One source of considerable pride at Arsenal is their continued reliance and trust on young, inexperienced players. Whilst a lack of big-money signings in the past few seasons has been a huge grievance to many, the growth of players such as Laurent Koscielny and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are hallmarks of the brilliance of Wenger’s management.
With new sponsorship deals and clearing of huge debts, the finances are shaping up that Arsenal can compete for a different tier of footballer than yesteryear. But they shouldn’t wholeheartedly veer away from what got them here in the first place. Keeping the faith in unexpected signings should go hand-in-hand with signing more accomplished players.
Deadline day splurges have become commonplace for Arsenal in the past few years as they have seemingly neglected the necessity of early summer signings. The club need to ensure they don’t follow a similar path this summer in order to bed the new players in, in preparation for the new season.
Allowing players to acclimatise to their new surroundings, teammates, and any unfamiliar styles of football are best done in a period where competitive football is absent from the calendar. If the club allow the clock to tick through to the final hours and haven’t completed the business they require, then they may well risk a start to the season as shaky as that of the 2011-12 campaign. The early bird catches the worm. The late one gets Park Chu-young.