Arsenal entered the summer of 2017 with plenty of question marks. Could they entice top players without the Champions League? Will they start to overhaul the roster? Will their two superstar players sign new contracts? Coming off of finishing outside of the top four for the first time since manager Arsene Wenger arrived in north London, the Gunners were in desperate need of some major moves heading into the 2017/18 season.
In their first move on the summer, Arsenal managed to sign Sead Kolasinac in a free transfer after his contract from Schalke expired. Although many Premier League fans may not have been familiar with the defender, the 24-year-old Bosnia and Herzegovina international was included in the Bundesliga Team of the Year from the previous season. Despite the fact that the combination of Nacho Monreal and Ainsley Maitland-Niles has held down the left back position as of late, Kolasinac looks to be a very capable player.
Next, the Gunners broke their transfer record to sign Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon. The France international is a well-known striker and a natural goalscorer. His nine Premier League goals are currently more than any other player in the squad. While these were the only two incoming players during the summer for Arsenal, their 2017/18 moves would not be done just yet.
Konstantinos Mavropanos, a Greek center back, was brought in during the beginning of the January transfer period. The young defender is seen as one for the future, and was a smart purchase considering the club’s lack of depth at that position in the youth ranks (one of their only thin areas). Next came a swap deal, something that you rarely see in world football. Alexis Sanchez, whose contract was set to expire in June, was dealt to Manchester United in exchange for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Sanchez is certainly a significant loss for the Gunners; however, his attitude was undoubtedly detrimental to the team over the last five or six months in particular.
Following the addition of Mkhitaryan, Wenger pulled off a tremendous coup to land former Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabon international is widely regarded as one of the top strikers in the world and will certainly add firepower to the team, which currently has the second-fewest goals scored among the ‘big six’ Premier League clubs.
To go along with the new players to be brought in, Arsenal also had quite of few departures as well. Wojciech Szczesny, Gabriel Paulista, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Francis Coquelin, Theo Walcott, Mathieu Debuchy, Olivier Giroud, and the aforementioned Sanchez were all shipped out. None of these players are woeful, and all contributed positively to the team in some way over the years; however, the Gunners currently have a better overall roster now than they did at this time last year.
With the summer additions of Kolasinac and Lacazette, Arsenal had an extremely large squad. Shedding some players that were not exactly starting games every week is ruthless, but it did make sense when considering the quality of players that the club has brought in.
Gunners brass has also managed to significantly overhaul his roster, yet actually make about a £17 million profit when looking at both transfer windows as a whole. This fact may upset some, as many Arsenal fans just want the club to spend as much as anyone during transfer windows, but the renovation was done in an intelligent way.
Hinds £2.5 mil
Szczesny £10 mil
Toral £3 mil
Gabriel £10 mil
Gibbs £7 mil
Ox £40 mil
Coquelin £12 mil
Walcott £20 mil
Giroud £17.5 mil
TOTAL: £122 million
Lacazette £46.5 mil
Mavropanos £1.8 mil
Aubameyang £56 mil
TOTAL: £104.3 million
Along with the positive transfer moves, Arsenal also received a considerable boost when Mesut Özil announced he signed a new three-year contract extension with the club on Thursday. This breakthrough was just as important, if not more, than the Mkhitaryan or Aubameyang deals. Özil is a world-class midfielder, and is unquestionably in the running for the most talented playmaker in the world.
As the Gunners currently sit sixth in the table, this team will have to gel quickly to make a run at the top four this season. Along with a strong finish in league play, the Gunners also have the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City and the Europa League knockout phase to look forward to as well. Arsenal fans will not be happy about their current spot in the standings, but there is reason to be optimistic moving ahead with this team.
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