Saturday, September 30, 2023

A Good Striker, Top Class Midfielder and A Proven Defender: Arsenal’s Best Transfer Window In Years?

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Arka Tarun Mukherjee
Arsenal fan and football expert, Arka Tarun Mukherjee actually used to play cricket at semi pro level. An ardent student of football tactics, ATM is very passionate about the tactical aspects of the game and has a dream of being a football manager in the future.

It is a really good time to be a Gooner at the moment. Yes! It’s the transfer window and the Gooners are happy! Seems unbelievable but true.  Arsene Wenger has tried hard in this transfer window and finally has been successful in addressing the positions which needed to be bolstered badly. The window started with an early capture of Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach, making the Swiss midfielder the third most expensive signing in the history of the club. Xhaka’s capture gave the fans a glimpse of how Wenger worked behind the scenes for the transfer to happen, by initiating the process as early as a year ago when he first spoke to the player on phone and made it clear to him that he envisioned him to be a part of the future of Arsenal’s midfield.

Granit Xhaka is an excellent capture not only because he is a world class player but also because what he brings to the table. A rare mix of determination, fighting spirit and a tough tackler with the finesse and poise of a deep-lying playmaker who has an eye for a pass, wonderful range and vision and has composure, makes the player a rare breed.

Xhaka is like Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin mixed into one (Not quite Cazorla yet! but similar to him).  For some time now the Gunners have lacked a leader with combative abilities who would back his talk with his walk sort of thing, Granit has some very prominent leadership skills and would solve the problem which the team had since the departure of Vieira as a result.

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - AUGUST 07: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal during the Pre-Season Friendly between Arsenal and Manchester City at Ullevi on August 7, 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images)
GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN – AUGUST 07: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal during the Pre-Season Friendly between Arsenal and Manchester City at Ullevi on August 7, 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images)

Arsenal’s striker search was a lot trickier, Right after securing the signing of Xhaka, Wenger activated the release clause of Jamie Vardy which was set at £20m. While personally I still feel that Vardy would not have been ideal for the Gunners as he gets exposed playing against deep defences far too often and having him on the team would have meant the use of two strikers for he allows for less tactical flexibility.

Vardy decided to stay at Leicester and the search for the striker continued. A host of names were linked for several days and finally Arsenal signed Lucas Perez from Deportivo La Coruna. Perez is not the player you would identify as your top target in your first go mainly because not many are aware of his varied talents in the forward areas except for those who follow the La Liga.

Slipping under the radar of the huge superstars of La Liga in Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez, Benzema, Neymar and Griezmann, Perez is perhaps the only player who fits ticks all the boxes for the need of the fans and the specifications that Arsenal’s gameplay demands. Pace, finishing, link up play, versatility, work rate selfless attitude – everything you would want, this player has it in him with the only exception of aerial prowess even though he can hold up the ball well up front. At £17m, Perez is the best option hands down.

Finally, after injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista Wenger acted on the region which warranted an action even before the injury crisis, that was the central defence. After serious negotiations, the club forked out a considerable £35m for Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi, a defender who has been a proven performer in both club and international level and also has the experience to lead the backline. Despite grabbing a player of wonderful potential and talent in Rob Holding, Mustafi is a signing which would suit the team and the fans the most. Not only would he be an able deputy for Koscielny, his relative young age would mean that he can be an ever-present figure in our defence for years to come.

Judging by the quality of the signings, how their attributes seem tailor-made for the necessities of the squad and their experiences, it has to be said that Arsenal and Arsene Wenger has had a transfer window which the fans have dreamt of for a long time but never got to experience. Wenger has spent close to £100m in this window and their summer business might well be the turning point for Arsenal’s future in the Premier League and most importantly in the Champions League as well.

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