Maddison IN; Willock OUT – the transfer window slowly rumbles on

This transfer window seems to be taking an age, really dragging on.

Arsenal’s first game of the season is in less than 10 days time. But the transfer window still has another 27 days to go.

A couple of years ago the Premier League trialled changing the rules on the window – having it close on the eve of the beginning of the season.

This was done to try and create a “fairer” playing field ensuring teams started the season with their squad and would be unable to make changes until January.

The problem is the rest of Europe did not follow England’s leave and it all ended up a bit of a mess.

So we return to the more traditional window with all nations aligned and it shutting on 31st August.

It might be because the season is starting later than normal but it just feels like there is still a long way to go both until the start of the season and the end of the window.

With Ben white, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Taveras, I am please with the business we have done so far. But there is still plenty of rebuilding to go; and much of it dependent on players departing.

As it stands, the we have 2 holes in the squad a 2nd choice keeper and a creative midfielder.

We have been linked with the likes of Aaron Ramsdale and Sam Johnstone; but in recent weeks speculation about both seems to have quietened down. That 2nd choice keeper is a must though.

Yesterday speculation of a big bid for James Maddison intensified – with Arsenal happy to seemingly offer Ainsley Maitland-Niles and / or Reiss Nelson as part of the deal.

A move for Maddison would be exciting (it is easy to forget he is just 24-years-old) and would make Arsenal’s squad “complete”.

I think the deal will happen, and it is just a case of Arsenal waiting for the Joe Willock to Newcastle deal to go through and Leicester and (probably) Maitland-Niles to come to an agreement.

Signing Maddison for £40million and Maitland-Niles whilst selling Willock for £20million would be very good business. We would basically be swapping two fringe players for a starter with a net cost of around £20million.

If Arsenal get Maddison over the line alongside a new keeper, I would expect only two more possible signings.

A right back will come in if Hector Bellerin finds a new home, and a new striker if Alexandre Lacazette is sold.

It feels a natural time for Bellerin to leave, but like Granit Xhaka only if the deal suits Arsenal.

Arsenal would need to reinvest any funds from Bellerin in a replacement – so a loan deal would make no sense.

Likewise if the incoming transfer would not go a long way to paying for Bellerin’s replacement, a deal should not happen.

Like with the Xhaka deal, it would be silly to undersell the player, which could leave us short in signing a replacement. The result of this is why change targets to someone cheaper and end up signing someone who is not as good as the player that left.

This is the situation the Xhaka to Roma transfer left us in.

Roma reportedly bid £10million for Xhaka. Who realistically would we have signed as a replacement for that sort of price with money being so tight?

Bellerin is similar.

It would just be a dumb move to sell him for £15million and then have to spend £30million on someone who is marginally better; or £20million on someone he is no better.

Lacazette is a headache.

The French striker is a popular member of the squad and emerged as a leader and role model last season. But he has just 1 year left on his contract.

It would be irresponsible for Arsenal to offer him a new deal – Lacazette will be 31 at the end of the season.

We are in a similar situation with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. And if we ended up with two ageing strikers on long term contracts it would tie up too much money for too long.

That is why I think there is legs in the talk surrounding Lautaro Martínez.

Martinez reminds me of a Carlos Tevez / Sergio Aguero.

A hard working forward with a big bum and will cause teams trouble in the Premier League.

I can certainly see a front 4 of Pepe / Saka, Maddison, Aubameyang and Martinez working.

Arsenal will not raise much selling Lacazette, so a move for Martinez will only occur if we shift on a couple more players.

If Arsenal can raise some money selling Eddie Nketiah & Reiss Nelson (if he is not used as part of the Maddison deal), chuck in Willian’s wages and shift Lacazette, a deal for Martinez could be financed.

A move for Martinez will probably happen late in the window, and only after we have cleared out those attacking players now surplus to requirements.

Putting the squad down on paper, it is easy to get excited.

If (and it is a big if) Arsenal get Martinez and Maddison over the line, that will be: Pepe, Saka, Maddison, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang, Martinez, Martinelli, Balogun as the 8 options for the 4 players behind the striker.

That should be enough fire power to drive us to top 4.

There is plenty of time to go in this window and hopefully we can make the sales required to bring in our targets.


Partey, Xhaka, Lokonga, Elneny and Azeez. Happy?

It has been a Boris Johnson sized u-turn as Granit Xhaka has gone from out the door to signing a new contract in a matter of weeks.

With the Swiss midfielder now staying, it is highly unlikely that Arsenal will invest further into central midfield having already purchased Albert Sambi Lokonga for £17.5million from Anderlecht.

Lokonga’s performances in training and pre-season is likely to be one of the reasons Arsenal have stuck with Xhaka – alongside no club in Europe having much money to pay Arsenal’s asking price.

The Belgium midfielder came with the backing of Anderlecht manager Vincent Kompany and Thierry Henry – who is part of Roberto Martinez’s nation team set up.

But his performances thus far have come as a surprise and he is closer to being a regular first team player than perhaps Edu and his team realised.

It is the performances of Lokonga that has perhaps led to Arsenal sticking with Xhaka rather than spending £30m+ on an Yves Bissouma.

Why make that investment if the club now think that in 12 months Lokonga could be the main man?

So if we are going into next season with Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Lokonga and Mo Elneny, are we happy?

I have always liked the balance in Xhaka and Partey in the middle of the park.

Partey is the power, the one that presses, whilst Xhaka is more static and disciplined.

Xhaka is the man to get the ball from front to back fairly quick whilst Partey is more likely to travel forward with the ball at his feet through the midfield. It is a midfield that can work.

Backing those two up is then Elneny and Lokonga.

I like Elneny.

He is a simple player who does not try too much. Just a solid individual. Will never win you a game but rarely make a mistake t lose you it. Solid 7 out of 10 player. Sort of many you need in the squad.

And Lokonga is the unknown.

He could make a similar impact as Patrick Vieira all them years ago, burst on the scene and be pushing for a starting place as the season goes on.

I would imagine that Elneny would replace Xhaka and Lokonga will be the Thomas Partey understudy.

4 in the middle might feel light, but it has to be remembered we do not have European football next season.

The 5th option could be Ainsley Maitland-Niles or Joe Willock; however I expect both to leave us before the transfer window shuts.

You then have 18-year-old Miguel Azeez.

Azeez has come back from his summer break looking stronger. The boy is becoming a man.

Whilst he missed out on the senior squads trip to Scotland due to injury, he impressed against Watford with a well taken goal.

At the weekend he was left out of the Mind Series squad, instead playing with the U23’s at Ebbsfleet, again scoring a goal.

Young players need to play to continue developing.

Whilst some might be calling for him to be a regular of Mikel Arteta’s first team squad, would sitting on the bench week in week out as 5th choice midfielder be detrimental for his future development?

He would be best off left with the U23s. He is just 18 remember.

Play regular football with his age group, but also train regularly with the senior team.

That way he gets the game time he needs to develop, but can step up to the senior team if there are injuries.

So Partey, Xhaka, Lokonga, Elneny and Azeez. Happy?


Europe is broke

The reality is, teams across Europe have no money.

Premier League sides have spent a combined £511million so far this summer.

Next up is the Bundesliga and Serie A, who have both spent £81million.

Ligue 1 clubs have spent £213m and La Liga clubs just £111m combined.

Real Madrid and Barcelona currently have huge financial constraints after decades of spending beyond their budgets. And over in Italy Champions Inter Milan are in financial meltdown whilst Juventus are looking at loan deals.

PSG are the only team in France splashing money, whilst German sides are basically spending what they bring in.

This leaves the likes of Arsenal struggling to sell players.

Unless another English club comes in for someone like Granit Xhaka or Hector Bellerin, Arsenal will be forced to accept a small bid (or a loan deal) from a European side if they wish to sell.

Roma’s biggest signing of the season so far is Rui Patricio. The former Wolves keeper moving for £10.35m. They have spent £23million total.

It is not that they are being cheap when it comes to the Xhaka deal. They just do not have the money to sign him.

And the lack of money in Europe is causing headaches to not just Arsenal but also the likes of Chelsea.

When you look at yesterdays game between Arsenal and Chelsea, both teams were littered with players neither club wants but are unable to sell.

Bellerin, Willian, Runarsson, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Drinkwater, Barkley, Zappacosta and Batshuayi.

Every Premier League club is in a similar situation. Half a dozen players that they can not move in.

The problem is most Premier League sides have spent their initial funds. Further funds will only be spent once they move players on.

But Europe is causing a blockage n the system.

West Ham, for example, can not move on their unwanted players which would raise say £20-30m which in turn would allow to buy Ross Barkley. Those funds would then allow Chelsea to go and buy someone from Inter Milan.

Inter Milan would then have more cash which would allow them to come to Arsenal and sign Bellerin.

Football economy works no different than any other economy. You need money to keep things moving. If you have one break in system, the system can collapse.

And that is where we are at.

Clubs need to sell to buy. But no one has any money to buy.

The lack of funds across Europe means sides are struggling to sell players to free up funds and squad space for further investment.