It’s been a busy close-season transfer window for Arsenal. While the acquisitions of Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla have been encouraging, already the window is starting to acquire a tinge of that familiar old feeling: disappointment.
While the somewhat acrimonious loss of Van Persie was predictable and has now been largely accepted, the departure of Alex Song was less expected and clear cut. While club ‘insiders’ have been planting seeds of doubt as to Song’s commitment to the Arsenal cause, particularly in training, he has been a key member of the squad for the past few seasons, building his influence from midfield and last season contributing a significant number of assists. Yes there were further problems; he wasn’t really acting as a defensive screen, and there were rumoured to be contract grumbles. However selling yet another key player without a top-quality replacement brings back fears of repeating transfer-window shambles we’ve seen in the past.
In all honesty I’d have been happy with our transfer work, even the loss of Song, had Wenger managed to acquire a quality replacement like Nuri Sahin. A truly gifted midfield passer, our interest was concrete yet Arsenal lost out to Liverpool – a club not even in the Champions League. It’s been alleged that Liverpool’s bid gained preference because of Brendan Rodgers good relationship with Jose Mourinho, Sahin’s coach at Real Madrid, and it’s a reminder that Arsene’s sometimes standoffish character can come back to bite him in his transfer activity. But now the Sahin ship has sailed, and not for the first time.
Much as with Cazorla, this isn’t the first time Sahin has been available so why are we so slow to react? Sahin, the youngest player in Bundesliga history when he made his debut, left Borussia Dortmund for around £10million last season. A snip, and while we may not have been able to compete with Real Madrid for appeal surely it was worth a go? Cazorla meanwhile moved to Malaga after his club Villareal were relegated, and while Malaga’s new financial issues meant they had to sell we could have been enjoying his considerable skills for a year longer if we had jumped in. Now the Permier League flavour of the month, the exquisitely skilful and powerful Moussa Dembele of Fulham, is likely to move and we are nowhere to be seen. Why aren’t we competing for these high calibre players when there’s a slot in midfield and they are available?
For me it seems as though stubbornness, in persisting with what we’ve got, and simply being off the pace in the transfer market, is putting our ability to get anything from the coming season at risk.
Joel is a Gooner and writes for Powerleague, the leader for 5 a side in London.