We are only actually a few days into the Transfer Window but of course, the activity and bidding began well ahead of the 1st July opening. Certainly, by now the players Arsene and Arsenal have been linked to, or have indeed signed must begin to give us some pattern, a narrative or at least a few pointers for the new season. Perhaps listing what we know or think we know by now will allow us to draw some conclusions. The following is what I read, have heard or think I know:-
Arsenal have signed an attacking left sided defender, in Kolasinac, who can play left back of left wingback. When talking about the signing Wenger hinted that Monreal could be a left side central defender.
Arsenal have aggressively pursued Monaco’s young star striker, Kylian MBappe. This pursuit was fired by a relationship between Wenger and the player and his family but to date any offers have not been considered sufficient by the French Ligue 1 Champions.
Simultaneously, and perhaps strangely, Wenger has successfully wooed another French striker in Alexandre Lacazette, who we expect to be confirmed on a 4-year deal worth £180k per week today.
Arsenal have reportedly bid for Mbappe’s Monaco teammate, Thomas Lemar, on two occasions, whilst at the same time enquiring about Leicester City’s former PFA Player of the Year, Mahrez. The latter, is presumed to be a fall back for the French International. Either way an attacking wide playmaker, one not two, is on the shopping list.
There are strong vibes that Mesut Ozil has this week agreed to his new contract, the details of which we hope to hear later this week.
With the fleeting exception of a reference to Jorghino from Napoli, a player who I know Arsenal have watched throughout 2015/16, the club have not been linked to a central midfielder. However, there is speculation on when Santi Cazorla may be fit and rumours of West Ham interest in Jack Wilshere.
Xhaka, Elneny and Coquelin are all on long-term deals and there have been no reports on the latter two seeking to leave despite less playing time.
Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain, the latter keen to play more in the centre, have both been offered new improved deals. Neither have yet signed but indications, despite the press talk on the Ox, are that both want to commit.
As yet, Arsenal have not been seriously linked with any central defenders in the window, despite the fact that Wenger seems to have little faith in Chambers, Mertesacker’s age and Gabriel’s injury. Add to that Koscileny’s own admission that he is constantly nursing his Achilles and Mustafi has played all summer in the Confederations Cup.
The club are struggling to offload may of the players considered surplus to requirements, largely due the inflated wages they have on their Arsenal deals – Gibbs, Debuchy, Jenkinson are cases in point.
Ospina is leaving, Szczeney is against a return to North London and contrary to reports, I do not believe Martinez will be promoted. If The Pole cannot be persuaded to sign a new deal, he will be sold and the club will look to a new keeper to challenge Petr Cech.
Alexis Sanchez despite being widely reported to be desirous of a move has seemingly decided he will start the new season with Arsenal. However, there is NO indication at this stage, that he will sign a contract extension before August.
In addition, at the top end of the pitch Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott, reportedly the subject of bids or at least interest from other clubs. With both needing to play in a World Cup year and with Lacazette arriving and Mbappe still being talked about many thought one or both might jump ship or be asked to consider any offers. However, the word is that BOTH will stay and fight. This of course is on the back of them both being behind Danny Welbeck at the tail end of 2016/17.
Not all of the above is media reported, some of it is what I have been told or have surmised, but most of it will not be a million miles of the mark. So what does this activity thus far and reported activity both with our existing squad and potential new additions tell us?
- Arsenal and Wenger are determined to have a squad large enough and strong enough to compete on all fronts and that includes I think the Europa League. Those likely to leave barely played last season, so most of the newcomers will be additions to the squad mostly utilised last term.
- Whilst suggesting that Monreal could be a central defender in a three, not being linked to any other centre backs at the same time as being linked to additional wide playmakers, strongly suggests a return to Wenger’s tried and some might say tired, 4231.
- If Alexis, Ozil and one of Lemar or Mahrez are all here in August, with Iwobi, Welbek and Walcott still here as well, it does suggest the three players behind the striker once more. Of course, in Lacazette, the new target is hopefully more mobile and more lethal in front of goal.
- It would be difficult to make any case for needing Walcott, Alexis, Ozil, Iwobi and one of Lemar/Mahrez if there were only two roles behind Lacazette, Welbeck or Giroud. Also if Walcott is determined to stay he must know that his manager intends to switch back to a system he can play in as it was clear he could not adapt to 3421.
- Not being overly linked with a new central midfielder suggests perhaps that, with a new fluid foursome ahead of the central pairing, Wenger feels he has his sitting two. If this is Xhaka plus one, it is anyone’s guess who the partner might be. Ramsey flourished alongside the Swiss with the licence three central defenders gave him but he may not in the 4231.
- The hope is that Wenger, having seen the effectiveness of the 3421 will still use both structures, perhaps revering to the at the back in big away games and tougher fixtures.
Well enough of my ramblings for today. If you enjoyed it I will revisit and the Transfer Window evolves.