January has come and gone, and the window has closed once again. In deep contradiction to their normal modus operandi, Arsenal had an extremely busy transfer season. Gunners fans said goodbye to a pair of 100-goal scorers and still largely find themselves excited for the remainder of the season. Strange times, indeed. We asked our writers at Arsenalfootball.co to rate the transfer window for the club, and their comments are below. But first, a summary of Arsenal’s ins and outs for the January window.
Arsenal January Transactions
Konstantinos Mavropanos (PAS Giannina)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United) Swap
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund)
Mesut Özil extends contract through 2021
Francis Coquelin (Valencia)
Theo Walcott (Everton)
Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
Alexis Sanchez (Manchester United) Swap
Marcus McGuane (Barcelona B)
Mathieu Debuchy (St. Etienne)
Jeff Reine-Adelaide (Angers) Loan
Chuba Akpom (Sint-Truidense) Loan
Krystian Bielik (Walsall) Loan
Kelechi Nwakali (MVV Maastricht) Loan
Stephy Mavididi (Charlton Athletic) Loan
Tafari Moore (Wycombe Wanderers) Loan
Ben Sheaf (Stevenage) Loan
Julio Pleguezuelo (Gimnastic de Tarragona) Loan
ArsenalFootball.co Writers Rate the Transfer Window
The Gunners did well to command high transfer fees from the sales of peripheral squad members which nearly cancelled out the record signing of Aubameyang. Despite not receiving a fee for Alexis, the Mkhitaryan swap deal gives the team a solid veteran playmaker who should help his new club right away.
Meanwhile, signing Mesut Ozil to a new contract is a huge boon for Arsenal, who were facing the reality of losing their two best players in the same season. The team also did well to secure loan opportunities for several young players as well as sign one for the future in Mavropanos.
The negative aspect is, however, glaring as the Gunners did not secure defensive help. For a side that is leaking goals at a record rate, that failure may be significant. Overall, a good but not quite great window for Arsenal.
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All things considered, Arsenal had a near perfect transfer window. Pierre-Emerick Aubaeyang is a substantial improvement on Arsenal’s current strike force. Henrikh Mkhitaryan isn’t a Sanchez replacement but offers immediate quality and years of control. He’s a playmaker who can help the team now and in the future.
Re-signing Mesut Ozil was imperative. He was one of the few Champions League calibre players on the squad, and if the goal is to make it back there, retaining players of that level is the first step.
Defensively, there was more to be desired. Mavropanos was a good start, but he doesn’t provide the immediate help the squad needs. Until the Gunners bring in a talented central-defender, and/or a solid CDM, the issues that have come to define the squad in the last half decade will continue to persist.
Overall this is one of the better transfer windows we have seen from Wenger – doing it all at a net spend of roughly £11 million.
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While much will be made of the Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang arrivals, the list of outgoing players is positively immense. In addition to the eight loans, the club rid itself of a great many past goals in the hopes of rediscovering its attacking identity for the future. These signings have lifted the spirits of the Gunners faithful in an otherwise dreary season.
Exciting as these arrivals may be though, they fail – once again – to address the squad’s most glaring weakness: goal prevention. Even still, the club’s strategy seems clear. They have streamlined their attacking options – and lost some depth in the process – in the short-term and will likely address defensive issues over the summer. It’s a risk, but realistically the team is probably locked into the sixth position in the table, so excitement might be the order of the day.
Though not yet official, the contract extension of Mesut Özil should not be overlooked.
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With the stature of the club and the resources it has in place, this window may yet prove to be another smoke and mirrors moment unless ambition behind the scenes changes in the long-term.
Signing Ozil, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan to long-term deals provides a great opportunity to build from the front, but the club failed to address the most pressing needs, yet again.
Firstly, Mkhitaryan was certainly not the first choice Sanchez replacement. Regardless of opinion on Sanchez, he was a match-winner and the opposition would revise tactics in order to deal with him, or risk being torn apart. Mkhitaryan has failed to make much of an impact on the world since his move to Manchester United and this transfer reeks of desperation. Arsenal were faced with a pitiful sum for Sanchez or taking a player that was surplus to requirements at United, but a player nonetheless.
Secondly, the Aubameyang signing was a welcome one but doesn’t address the need to spend big on a goalkeeper, a centre back and, most importantly, a defensive midfielder. Having lost Francis Coquelin – no tears being shed there – the team is in desperate need of defensive recruits. No amount of top-class attackers can make up for an abysmal defence.
This is Groundhog Day. Arsenal are treading water and will likely use any major coups in this window to justify lack of spending in future ones. They’ve cleared deadwood, but confused luxury signings with necessary ones.
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