Analysis of Arsenal’s Transfer Window Activities this Summer
For the first time in many seasons, Arsenal didn’t have any star player that wanted out and to add the fact that the club’s Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis, spoke about how the club had wads of cash to spend, the fans were in a very optimistic mood as the summer began in earnest. The 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup offered a good distraction and Arsenal had two of its ambassadors in the forms of Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal that represented the eventual finalists, Spain.
The Press did their bit in linking several players in and out of the club with Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic and Real Madrid’s want-away forward, Gonzalo Higuain, heavily linked with moves to the club. Manchester City swooped for the Montenegrin while SSC Napoli outbidded the Gunners to seal a deal for Higuain. With both forwards missed, Arsenal targeted Liverpool’s Luis Suarez which was an interesting twist that led to a battle of egos, a protracted saga and of course, that audacious £40,000,001 bid.
Arsenal were also linked with some defensive midfielders as they had a bid for Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender rejected and also missed out on Bayern Munich’s Luiz Gustavo to VFL Wolfsburg. There was also the constant speculation linking the Gunners with Swansea’s skipper, Ashley Williams.
Despite the several players that were missed out, the Gunners still successfully conducted business on both ends with a couple of players arriving at the club but a boatload of players were shown the exit door in a somewhat ruthless fashion. From the start of June 2013 till when the transfer window closed two days ago, so many deals have been made and players have moved in and out of Arsenal.
Here’s my take of the analysis of Arsenal’s transfer activity this summer with an in-depth look on arrivals and departures.
The Youngsters that Were Released
Following the end of the 2012/13 season, the Arsenal hierarchy chose not to renew the deals of the following Reserve Team youngsters – Martin Angha (joined Nuremberg), Jordan Wynter (joined Bristol City), Elton Monteiro (joined Club Brugge), Kyle Ebecillo (joined FC Twente), Reice Charles-Cook (joined Bury), Jernade Meade (joined Swansea), Philip Roberts (joined Falkirk), Sead Hajrovic (joined Grasshopper), Craig Eastmond and Sanchez Watt (joined Colchester United).
There are also some youngsters that were released but they haven’t found new employers yet and they include - Samir Bihmoutine, Conor Henderson, Nigel Neita, Josh Rees and James Shea.
A couple of the players on the aforementioned lists managed to get a game or two for the club but in the eyes of Arsene Wenger, they were deemed surplus to requirements and we purged out of the club.
Transfer Rating – 9/10: Most of these players would never had made their breakthrough into the first team and the club did them favors by letting them, so that they could find new teams to aid in their developments.
Johan Djourou to Hamburg (loan)
It’s really sad seeing Johan Djourou fall from grace so badly that he created a crater when he hit the ground. Just three seasons ago, Djourou was indispensable for Arsenal but the emergence of Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker ensured that Djourou was relegated to become Arsenal’s fourth choice defender.
After a brief stint with Hannover 96, Hamburg SV came calling, albeit a loan spell, and Djourou jumped at the opportunity of playing first-team football.
Transfer Rating – 8/10: With the World Cup coming this summer, Djourou’s chances of featuring with be bolstered if he plays first team football regularly.
Francis Coquelin to Freiburg (loan)
Le Coq had his breakthrough in the 2011/12 season and would have hoped that his chances of playing regularly would have been increased after the departure of Alex Song but unfortunately for the Frenchman, Mikel Arteta manned the position and was excelled admirably in the holding midfield role.
Coquelin’s chances of featuring reduced with each passing week and there was a time he voiced his frustrations about not featuring regularly. This season, Freiburg offered him some solace with a loan move and he didn’t think twice before making his decision to play for the German outfit.
Transfer Rating – 9/10: Coquelin was clearly out of favor at Arsenal and this loan move will give him some much needed match fitness and could do wonders to his confidence.
Joel Campbell to Olympiakos (loan)
Like the classic situation of Carlos Vela in the yesteryear, exciting winger / striker, Joel Campbell, has been loaned out again, as the club has failed in their club to secure a conditional work permit for the young Costa Rican. He has been impressive in his loan spells with FC Lorient and Real Betis, but he’s currently in new surroundings and we can only hope for another good spell with the Greek juggernauts.
Transfer Rating – 9/10: Campbell’s quality is undoubted but he can’t feature for Arsenal yet so a loan move is a great move for the player and the club.
Ignasi Miquel to Leicester (loan)
In his many years with the team, Ignasi Miquel has always been a fringe player and he features in dead-rubber games, against very weak opposition and in the worst case injury crisis. However, the towering center back doesn’t inspire confidence and he can be shaky at times.
His cameo performances in the Emirates Cup proved that he’s not ready to step up and Arsene Wenger deliberately chose to let him go despite the fact that the Gunners were short in numbers at the back, That speaks a lot in volumes.
Transfer Rating – 6/10: Miquel is one of those players you would expect to have been sold or released but for reasons best known to Chuck Norris and Lord Voldemort, he;s still at the club. We can only hope that he’ll improve after some exposure to first team action in the npower Championship.
Vito Mannone to Sunderland (£2m)
After providing cover for the injured goalies on a short term basis, Vito Mannone was on player that would awesome in one game and piss poor in the next. He was a distinctly average third-choice goalie that remained on the fringes for years but was offered a chance at first-team football when he moved to Sunderland.
With Simon Mignolet departing Sunderland for greener pastures in Anfield, Paolo di Canio’s punt for his compatriot, Mannone, is a highly welcome move and he would thrive in a club like Sunderland where he won’t be under any pressure to deliver but when I remember di Canio’s antics last season, I believe that Mannone would have to really step up.
Transfer Rating – 8/10: With Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski clearly ahead of Mannone in the pecking order, selling Mannone to Sunderland is a very good move.
Andre Santos to Flamengo (Free)
The cuddly Brazilian with an electrifying smile arrived on the transfer deadline day to man the left-back position that was vacant following Gael Clichy’s departure and another trademark Kieran GIbbs injury. In his first season with the club, Andre Santos had a decent campaign but he was an aberration last season and his act with Robin van Persie at half time put him in the fan’s bad books.
With the capture of Nacho Monreal, he was quickly shipped out to Gremio but the Brazilian outfit lacked the financial capabilities to keep Andre Santos on a permanent basis, so the club took a drastic decision to rescind his contract, allowing him to leave for free.
Transfer Rating – 9/10: With Kieran Gibbs injured on the tail end of the January transfer window, Arsenal didn’t think twice before swooping for Nacho Monreal. That speaks a lot in volumes.
Sebastien Squillaci to SC Bastia (Free)
Arsenal’s own Man of Steel, Sebastien Squillaci, was brought into the club with the “experienced” tag to help the younger defenders but it was the exact opposite as he was the kind of player that would make you tell the younger defenders to close their eyes when he’s playing. In his stint with the club, he was shocking and downright shambolic.
SC Bastia must be mindful of their latest acquisition because seeing him play on a regular basis could send chills down the spines of the club’s supporters most times because they can never predict the next calamity he’s about to make.
Transfer Rating – 10/10: Arsenal loss is definitely SC Bastia’s gain. Of course, I’m kidding.
Denilson Pereira Neves to Sao Paulo (Free)
There was actually a point in time when Denilson was always the first name you would see in Arsene Wenger’s team sheet and his 52 apps in the 2008/09 season was a testament of that. With the emergence of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, coupled with the fact that Abou Diaby is the apple of Wenger’s eye, Denilson went further down the pecking order and expressed his desire to leave the club – which was granted.
After two loan spells with Sao Paulo, Denilson returned to Arsenal after the Brazilian failed to meet the Gunners’ demands for the player but they cut their losses and terminated his contract, and as expected, he joined Sao Paulo again on a permanent basis.
Transfer Rating – 10/10: Instead of trying to fight for his place with Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, this Brazilian brought out a white flag and chickened out. Good riddance.
Andrey Arshavin to Zenit St. Petersburg (Free)
Before Mesut Ozil broke Arsenal’s transfer record into a thousand tiny pieces, a certain Russian magician called Andrey Arshavin had the honor of being the Gunners’ record signing following a protracted transfer saga in 2009. After showing off his immense quality in his debut half season with the club, Arshavin kept raking up the goals and assists but his lethargy, lakadaisical style of play and lack of work ethic saw him go out of favor with the same boss that fought tooth and nail to acquire his services years ago.
With the club choosing not to renew his contract, the Russian returned home to play for his previous employers, Zenit.
Transfer Rating – 8/10: In recent times, Arshavin had been a shadow of his of his former self and he always seemed to lack ideas when he was summoned. I guess he never really cared.
Gervinho to AS Roma (£8m)
There was actually a point in time last season when Gervinho topped Arsenal’s scoring charts following a series of consistent performances as a make-shift striker, but his inconsistencies showcased yet again and was epitomized by that shameful miss against Bradford in the Capital One Cup.
When his previous manager at LOSC Lille Metropole, Rudi Garcia (now AS Roma head coach) came calling, Gervinho wasted no time in joining the manager that made him score 36 goals in two seasons with Lille. Shame he never replicated the same form at Arsenal and I wanted to point my fingers at the low standards of the French Ligue 1 but for every Gervinho, you can also get an Eden Hazard and for every Marouane Chamakh, you can also get an Olivier Giroud.
Transfer Rating – 6/10: Gervinho was a player that provided cover on the wings and he showed his quality from time to time, but in all fairness, he will not be missed.
Marouane Chamakh to Crystal Palace (Free)
They say the best things in life are free but they also didn’t tell us that the freebies from the French Ligue 1 can be only enjoyed in the first six months. In Marouane Chamakh’s first 21 appearances for Arsenal, he scored 10 goals and created a boatload of penalties as he was a sly fox in the opposition danger area.
Following the return of the red-hot Robin van Persie, Chamakh was relegated to the bench but anytime he played, he looked like a player bereft of confidence. This summer, the club terminated his contract on his return from his loan spell at West Ham and Crystal Palace offered him a chance to continue playing at the top level.
Transfer Rating – 8/10: After becoming an asset in his frist six months at the club, Chamakh became a liability till his spell at Arsenal ended.
Yaya Sanogo from AJ Auxerre (Free)
Relatively unknown, unproven and probably well thought of.
Yaya Sanogo represents the shrewd Arsene Wenger signing of the yesteryear where he used his alchemy to change players from lead to gold. The youngster impressed in France’s Under-20 World Cup triumph but as expected, there’s no pressure on him to deliver and I expect the Capital One Cup to be his breeding ground this season.
Transfer Rating – 6/10: He certainly didn’t light any fireworks but the fans will be keen to see what he has to offer.
Mathieu Flamini from AC Milan (Free)
In a strange twist of fate, Arsenal’s prodigal son returned after five years in the wilderness and as expected, Arsene Wenger killed a fatted calf, handing him a contract and a jersey number to go with it. Following an ailment to Jack Wilshere in the North London Derby, the Flanimal was plunged into action and his combative and tenacious presence was felt as he and his teammates valiantly held the fort to a slender 1-0 victory.
With Arteta still out injured, the Flamster was bring some steel into Arsenal’s midfield and we can only hope to see the beast that forged a telepathic understanding with Cesc Fabregas in the 2007/08 season. That Flamini made the fans drool.
Transfer Rating – 8/10: Many fans wanted a marquee signing in this position but the manager has invested wisely in a player that has been there and done that at Arsenal. He’ll provide adequate cover for an aging Arteta and also adds depth to the team.
Emiliano Viviano from Citta di Palermo (Loan)
Wojciech Szczesny is an undoubtedly talented goalkeeper but there are times when complacency creeps into his game and he puts up an appalling performance or two. His replacement, Lukasz Fabianski, has also had his moments of quality from time to time but he didn’t earn the infamous nickname “Flappy Handski” for nothing as well.
In Emiliano Viviano, Arsenal has acquired an experienced Italian goalie that has also plied his trade with Interzionale and he will put the Poles on their toes as all three men will be vying for one spot, which will make things very interesting.
Transfer Rating – 7/10: Many fans wanted Julio Cesar, but in Viviano, Arsene Wenger has gotten a man that would provide adequate cover in goal as well as providing competition in the goalkeeping department, which in turn would make Szczesny play with a mindset that his place can be taken, and that would make him focus.
Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid (£42.4m)
I just had to save the best for last.
Arsenal has left the football world in a state of complete bewilderment and perplexion after acquiring the services of one of the brightest talents in world football, Mesut Ozil. With an astonishing 144 assists in his fledgling career, Arsene Wenger must be lauded for convincing such a top talent to come to a club where top talent leaving for greener pastures has become a norm.
In Ozil, Arsenal has make a statement of intent and I’d expect Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott to benefit astronomically as they would be odds on to receive more sleek passes from the German schemer.
Transfer Rating – 10/10: #Shikenah
This has been an interesting summer and we can now concentrate on just football and trust me, there’s a lot of football to be played.
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