As the clock struck 11pm in England on Monday, the summer transfer window and so-called silly season came to a close. A transfer window that had a lot of movement and broke several records culminating in the most money spent in one window, with a total of £630million. Teams smashed their own club records. Tottenham’s moves for Paulinho, Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela made them break their own transfer record three times. And of course, there was Gareth Bale’s world record move to Real Madrid.
Before the window started, everyone was expecting Arsenal and Manchester United to spend big. United craved new additions to their midfield but failed with bids for Cesc Fabregas, Thiago, Ander Herrera and Sami Khedira. All that left Manchester United with, at the end, was a last minute deal for Marouane Fellaini — a deal that could have happened in late July when the Belgian’s release clause could have given Manchester United an opportunity to sign the midfielder for £23million. Instead, United left the deal to the last minute and spent £27.5million.
At the Emirates, Arsenal fans were expecting a bumper summer of transfer signings. With the club continuing to make money and having paid off their stadium debt, Arsene Wenger finally had money to spend. A team that needed desperate improvement after a fabulous run at the end of the season only just saw them nick the final Champions League place from their fierce rivals Tottenham.
This was the summer that was going to see Arsenal spend big, sign world class players and have a squad that could finally challenge for major trophies once again. But since the transfer window opened on July 1, Arsenal had only signed Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini, both on frees. Defeat against Aston Villa at home on the opening day of the season piled even more pressure on Wenger to spend. But the lack of signings was not without trying.
Failed moves for Luis Gustavo, Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez saw Arsenal still without a world class striker and a strong holding midfielder. But on deadline day, Wenger finally dipped into his transfer kitty and smashed the club transfer record by signing Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil for £42.4million.
Ozil is one of the best playmakers in the world. His stats say it all and he truly is a world-class player. The German has proven his qualities at Madrid and tore England apart in South Africa during the World Cup in 2010. With the arrival of Gareth Bale and Isco, Ozil was no longer needed at Madrid and was forced out.
Although Ozil is a brilliant signing for Arsenal, is he a player that they really need? Their squad is worryingly thin. And after clearing out all their fringe players, only bringing in four players is slightly worrying. A quality goalkeeper to compete with Wojciech Szczesny was needed and although they signed Emiliano Viviano on loan, a top class keeper is still required. They made no additions to their defense, and this is an area of the pitch that Arsenal look vulnerable. Highlights of the Aston Villa game show their defensive frailties and not strengthening their back line may come back to haunt them if injuries occur.
A central defensive midfielder and a world class striker were also needed. Teams look to bully Arsenal and with no real leader in the midfield since Patrick Vieira left, teams will continue to look to dominate Arsenal in midfield. With Olivier Giroud’s impressive start to the season, a quality striker may not be so high on some Arsenal fans wish list. But if there is an injury to the Frenchman or he starts to lose form, Arsenal will struggle to replace him. Sanogo is inexperienced and will struggle to lead the line for a top club and Theo Walcott is better from the right and doesn’t have the presence to play upfront on his own. Lukas Podolski could do the job but he is currently injured until the end of the year. Nicklas Bendtner has always struggled for form and is not the player he thinks he is.
Arsenal’s signing of Ozil is an incredible one. However other areas of the pitch needed strengthening before signing a playmaker. A lot of Gunners will be excited by the German’s arrival and have every right to be. He oozes class. However, this deal distracts some fans attentions away from the problems that Arsenal have in their team and have not addressed.
Although the signing could be a change in fortune at The Emirates, the deal could be likened to that of Frank Ribery to Bayern Munich in 2007. Munich were struggling in Europe and begun to build their squad and stopped buying mediocre players. The Ribery deal gave them the confidence and the ability to buy some of the world’s best players and just six years on, Bayern Munich are the best team in Europe.
Arsenal will do well this year but qualifying for the Champions League is as much as they can expect. Their squad is too thin and teams will continue to look to bully them. However next summer, they must build on this Ozil deal and strengthen in the areas that need it most. That is the only way they can improve and challenge for major honors.