A review of Arsenal’s transfer window activity, including a predicted first choice XI for the coming season.
IN: Yaya Sanogo (free, Auxerre), Mathieu Flamini (free, AC Milan), Emiliano Viviano (loan, Palermo), Mesut Ozil (£42.5m, Real Madrid).
OUT: Andrey Arshavin (Zenit St Petersburg, free), Samir Bihmoutine, Denilson, Sead Hajrovic, Conor Henderson, Nigel Oldfield Spence-Neita, Joshua Rees, Philip Roberts, James Shea, Sebastien Squillaci (all released), Sanchez Watt (Colchester, free), Kyle EvecFilio (Twente, undisclosed), Martin Angha (Nuremberg, undisclosed), Craig Eastmond (Colchester, free), Johan Djourou (Hamburg, loan), Vito Mannone (undisclosed, Sunderland), Francis Coquelin (loan, Freiburg), Reice Charles-Cook (free, Bury), Jernade Meade (free, Swansea), Andre Santos (free, Flamengo), Joel Campbell (loan, Olympiakos), Chuks Aneke (loan, Crewe), Gervinho (£8m, Roma), Ignasi Miquel (loan, Leicester), Marouane Chamakh (free, Crystal Palace), Wellington Silva (loan, Real Murcia).
Arsenal have signed Mesut Ozil.
That alone ought to give them a ten out of ten rating on this list, but it’s worth remembering that the position the Gunners most wanted to strengthen over the summer was up front.
Olivier Giroud may be having a brilliant second season so far, but one injury to the Frenchman and suddenly Arsene Wenger may have to consider using Nicklas Bendtner, or – as a frightful last resort – Park Chu-Young.
Lukas Podolski is now most likely Arsenal’s backup centre forward, with Theo Walcott playing a role somewhere between winger and striker, but not really able to lead the line on his own.
Yaya Sanogo was brought in on a free transfer from AJ Auxerre, and whilst the 20 year-old is of course one for the future, the Gunners require a solution for right now, and that is why the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez, Karim Benzema and Demba Ba were sought after.
Sanogo may be called upon earlier than Wenger would like, though the Arsenal manager likely plans to select him predominantly in the Capital One Cup this season.
Whilst he didn’t cost anything, the signing of Mathieu Flamini already looks an astute one. With Jack Wilshere suffering from a stomach bug, the Frenchman had to be deployed in the first half of the north London derby, and was instantly brilliant, putting himself about and organising the team with genuine leadership.
Emiliano Viviano had a rather mixed season for Fiorentina last season, keeping less clean sheets in more appearances than Szczesny, and making his fair share of errors. Still, having sold Vito Mannone to Sunderland, Arsenal have done well to provide competition to Szczesny and his fellow Poland international Lukasz Fabianski.
Finally, the Gunners deserve praise for the transfer exits from Emirates Stadium too.
Deadwood was finally cut from the side, with Andrei Arshavin, Denilson, Sebastien Squillaci, Andre Santos, Gervinho, Marouane Chamakh and the aforementioned Mannone all departing, and it is those deals that have sufficiently freed up space on the Arsenal wage bill for Mesut Ozil to sign.
A final word for Ozil, for as when Bayern Munich signed Franck Ribery for €25 million in 2007, it is a statement of great intent – illustrating that the Gunners now have a place at Europe’s top table.
Ozil will bring irrefutable quality to the north London side, and is arguably the highest profile arrival to the Premier League in many years – and most exciting deal for Arsenal since Dennis Bergkamp.
Expect a striker recruitment in January.
Window rating: 8/10.
Aaron Ramsey is possibly unlucky to miss out in this side – as is Mathieu Flamini – but Mikel Arteta offers a disciplined option in front of the defence, and Wilshere’s ability to both pass and dribble beyond opponents will be crucial for Arsene Wenger’s side this season.
Both Ramsey and Flamini will certainly see their fair share of playing time.