At the end of the last season, when Arsenal finished second in English Premier League, their fans expected that Arsene Wenger would finally buy a couple of world class players who will be able to help them winning the Premier League after more than ten years, and reach the further stages in the UEFA Champions League.
But, like always, they ended up disappointed. There were many problems in the lineup last season. Most evident were a lack of quality central defenders, defensive/central midfielders and a world class striker who could score 20+ goals in a year.
There were many speculations about possible marquee signing in the recent transfer window. Almost every day, the names like Zlatan Ibrahimović, Gonzalo Higuain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alvaro Morata, and Alexandre Lacazette appeared in the press like possible Arsenal signings this summer.
Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy is very different than one of other great European managers. He is frustrated because there aren’t many available players in the market. Those who are available are very expensive, in his words, overpriced. But, in the last days of August, Arsenal have signed Lucas Perez, from Deportivo La Coruna for €20.0m. He had a splendid last season in Spanish football.
On the 37 matches, he scored 17 goals, but when he signed for Arsenal, their fans were surprised, because they didn’t have an idea who Lucas Perez was. Everybody expected that Joel Campbell would get more opportunities to play this season, but, he was sent on loan to Sporting Lisbon. Like in the last two years, Danny Welbeck is out injured again.
When it comes to midfielders, Arsenal has released Mathieu Flamini, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta. Flamini hasn’t been a valuable asset to the team. When it comes to Rosicky and Arteta, they had many injury issues. The young and talented German Serge Gnabry left the club on the last day of summer transfer window and joined Werder Bremen for €5.0m.
Jack Wilshere was sent on loan to Bournemouth. Before the European Championship in France, Arsenal has completed a transfer of Swiss international Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach for €45.0m. He is a solid player, and he could be very useful to Wenger, but, he’s evidently overpaid.
The defence is most likely the weakest part of Arsenal squad. They were searching quality central defenders for the whole summer. Rob Holding, a 21-year-old centre defender, completed his transfer from Bolton Wanderers for €3.0m. Bolton fans declared him as the best Wanderer in the last season. Arsenal struggled with injuries of defenders. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny were sidelined in August. After them, Gabriel Paulista experienced the same faith, and Wenger had a big problem.
The season was about to start in seven days, and Rob Holding was the only central defender available for the first game vs. Liverpool. Since Arsene Wenger was unable to find a proper substitute for injured players, Rob Holding played the first game paired with Calum Chambers. That proved to be a dreadful solution. Liverpool scored four goals, and Arsenal lost. Wenger started panicking and realised that he has to buy a quality defender.
Valencia had to sell German international Shkodran Mustafi due to financial problems. Negotiations lasted for almost two weeks, and they were finally over in the last few days of August. The transfer saga was completed for a fee of €41.0 mil. Wenger was finally happy, but that didn’t last so long. Mustafi suffered an injury playing for German national team in a friendly game, before his debut in Arsenal’s shirt. Luckily, Laurent Koscielny recovered, and he is at Arsene Wenger’s disposal.
It’s the same story every summer. Arsenal fans always have huge expectations, but after a while, they realise that their team isn’t capable of winning trophies and playing well in Champions League. They should be jubilant with a potential 4th place in the Premier League this season because both clubs from Manchester and also Chelsea are just too strong for them.
Additionally, there are other quality teams like Liverpool, West Ham, Tottenham, and of course, the reigning champions Leicester City, so it will be a long season for the manager who spent over €100 mil without bringing a top player at the club.