Arsenal Spend Big
Arsenal have spent big in the summer of 2016. Not only big, but they have reinforced in the areas that many people have been saying that they have needed to fix for several years.
Only time will tell if the new recruits will meet the required demands of the, never satisfied, Arsenal supporters. So let’s take a look at who they have picked up and what their prospects are.
Granit Xhaka ₤35,000,000
The first recruit of the summer, very early on, recruited even before the European Championship.
Xhaka is a 23 year old, highly rated, defensive midfielder from Switzerland, who has spent the last four seasons in the Bundesliga at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
This is no stop gap recruit, unlike Elneny, who appears to have been brought on board to give the incumbents time to recover from injuries and still have a chance of reclaiming their places. While some Arsenal fans believe that ‘all that is new is good’, I am not sure that Elneny will ever truly make the grade in the Premier League. But he will provide competition for a place in the starting line up and cover, for the less vital games.
Xhaka is a whole different prospect and in his few appearances so far, he has already proved influential. The only concern is his disciplinary record and unless that improves, could mean that he is not available for as many games as he is needed to be.
Rob Holding ₤2,000,000
A central defender, the key position where Arsenal have been lacking for some time. Gabriel was recruited, but similar to Elneny may prove not to be enough. For me, Gabriel makes far too many mistakes to ever be reliable in this key role.
Holding is a 20 year old, English lad, who was picked up from Bolton Wanderers, when several Premier League sides were interested.
With Mertesacker and Gabriel injured and Koscielny rested early in the season, Holding has already made more first team appearances than he would have been expected to. While lacking experience, he has done well so far, even maintaining his position when Koscielny was brought back into the side. Only time will tell.
Takuma Asano ₤800,000
A talented young striker and very much one for the future. However, Asano was refused a work permit to play in the Premier League and was immediately sent out on loan to VfB Stuttgart, for the season and possibly two.
Arsenal seem to recruit these Asian players purely to increase the club’s profile in this lucrative market. I would be surprised if he ever makes many first team appearances for Arsenal.
Kelechi Nwakali £3,000,000
Highly rated Nigerian teenager Kelechi Nwakali is very much an academy recruit and is expected to go out on loan very soon. So this talented midfielder is another one for the future.
Lucas Pérez £17,100,000
The fans have been crying out for several seasons for a world class striker. At £17,100,000 and 18 goals last season, I am not sure if Lucas fits the bill. Other Premier League clubs, specifically Everton were chasing his signature, but Arsenal beat them out.
The days of Henry, Van Persie and Adebayor (for one season) as a lone striker bearing the goal scoring burden, are long gone at Arsenal. Goals have been spread around in recent years, with many chipped in by the wealth of talented midfielders. So far this season, six goals have been scored and no player has scored more than one.
We will simply have to see if Lucas‘s skills transfer to the Premier League and if he thrives at Arsenal.
Shkodran Mustafi £35,000,000
This is a huge spend for a central defender. But for me this is the key role that needed to be filled. Arsenal have lost, or drawn, so many games in recent seasons, with a single goal denying them 3 points. So anyone who can stop goals being conceded could be the difference between finishing top four and finishing first in the league.
Mustafi comes highly rated. At 24, he already has a dozen senior caps for Germany and a World Cup winners medal in his trophy cabinet.
I would expect him to walk straight into the starting line up and maintain that place, alongside Koscielny, for the foreseeable future.
With Holding, Mertesacker and Gabriel, once fit, providing back up, what has been Arsenal‘s Achilles heel could now become a position of strength.
So things are looking up on the new player front. But to balance that out, some quality players have been lost. Arteta, Flamini and Rosicky were all released at the end of last season. Calum Chambers has been loaned for a year to Middlesborough and Joel Campbell to Sporting Clube de Portugal.
Jack Wilshere has gone on a season long loan to Bournemouth and Serge Gnabry has been sold to Werder Bremen.
I appreciate that it is difficult to keep so many players happy, when only eleven are allowed on the field at a time. I also appreciate that regular first team football could be very good for the players out on loan. But, with Arsenal‘s infamous record for injuries, releasing so many players feels uncomfortable, if not outright dangerous.
From a glut of right wingers, that position feels a little light on now, with only the injury prone Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain as recognised wingers. Campbell made a huge contribution last season, when he was given the opportunities and Gnabry has just completed a sensational Olympic campaign. So I am sorry to see either of them go.
A fully fit Jack Wilshere is an asset to any team. So, if he is going to be fit, I would rather see him at Arsenal.
That said, with the squad now assembled and a bit of luck regarding injuries, this could be a big season for Arsenal and they have as much chance as anyone else of going that one step further and claiming the Premier League title this time around.
By Max Power