We are nearly half way through the summer transfer window and Arsenal have still only made one major signing. For many Arsenal fans this is a frustrating time of year. We are usually linked with some top class players with proven goal-scoring records but never actually go in for them. But what we do know is that Wenger isn’t afraid to let deadline day go down to the wire: in the past we have seen him buy players just minutes before the window has ended. Instead of rushing at the last minute to make signings that you may have just bought in a panic to strengthen your squad, why not analyse your options earlier on in the transfer window and have your new players in for the start of the season? Why doesn’t Wenger get his transfer business done before the season starts?
Arsenal’s search for a clinical new striker and for a reliable new centre back to partner Koscielny continues. With Wenger seeming quite calm about the situation, Arsenal fans urgently want him to sign what they hope will be the final pieces in the jigsaw. Putting the signing of Takuma Asano to one side,so far Wenger has only splashed the cash on one player, paying over £30m for Granit Xhaka. However, with the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Elneny and Coquelin already battling it out, surely the midfield is the least of Arsenal’s worries. More pressingly, Arsene has got to look for competition for Giroud. And it’s not as though Arsenal haven’t been linked with top class strikers recently, in the form of Morata, Higuaín and Lacazette. Even if Wenger has to spend over £40m, these three have all proved that they can score goals in Europe, with Lacazette getting 27 goals in 33 games in the 2014/15 season, and 21 goals last season, even though he was ruled out with an injury for some of it. Higuaín has enjoyed the season of his life at Napoli, getting an unbelievable 35 goals in 36 league games, and, at his peak age of 28, this could be the prefect signing for Arsenal.
Morata at a young age looks like he could be a good player for the future, even though he currently lacks the goal-scoring prowess that Higuaín and Lacazette boast. We saw his impressive performances at the Euros, holding the ball up well and chipping in with three goals. He could be a handy signing.
In the past we have seen Wenger being unwise with transfer dealings. A couple of years ago, Arsenal could have signed Luis Suarez from Liverpool. Liverpool wanted over £40m for him and Wenger decided it would be clever to put in a bid just £1 above the asking price. Barcelona signed him and now he is debatably the best striker in the world. That was probably a missed opportunity, for with the addition of Suarez, Arsenal could have had goals going in left, right and centre.
What we do know is that Wenger isn’t afraid to sign players on the last day of the transfer window. We saw evidence of this when he signed Danny Welbeck on deadline day from Man United a couple of years back. This was quite a shock signing as not many people expected it. And although Welbeck has had quite an injury-prone career during his time at Arsenal, we have seen him put in some good performances when he has played. At only around £15m, and without the goal-scoring record of Higuaín and Lacazette, it does seem that Wenger is fearful of spending a vast amount of money on a striker. Arsenal also broke their transfer record fee on deadline day three years ago when they signed Mesut Ozil for £42.5m.
With the kind of money involved in the deal, I don’t think that this was a rushed signing by Wenger. He must have been watching Ozil very carefully if he was brave enough to part with that kind of money. It has to be said that Arsenal fans were over the moon after Wenger signed Ozil, but it did take a long time for him to get used to the English game. In the first part of last season especially, however, Ozil lived up to his price tag, bagging a lot of assists.
We saw Wenger’s hesitancy in the transfer market backfire on him at the start of the 2011/12 season. Arsenal suffered an awful start, including a disgraceful 8-2 defeat to Man United, where there seemed to be a lack of experience and leadership in the team. Wenger then seemed to panic, and in the dying moments of deadline day, signed the experienced Arteta, Mertesacker, Benayoun and Santos.
So what are the pros and cons of leaving transfers until the last day of the window? On the plus side, at least you are strengthening and improving your squad, albeit at the last minute. On the down side, deadline day signings miss the first few games of the season, and often take much longer to gel with the team as a result. Hopefully, Wenger will sign a striker with a good goal-scoring record in good time before the start of the season, but recent history suggests that he is often happy to go down to the wire.