In recent days, Arsenal fans have cast the green eye of jealousy towards their title rivals transfer dealing. Our opponent’s movements in the market have once again raised a lot of questions of the board and the management. Even on this blog, we have questioned as to whether Arsene Wenger’s dithering could cost us a title challenge.
But thinking with a cleat head, should Arsenal fans be worried yet? After all, it is only the 14th July, there are still 26 days until the season opener against West Ham, and the transfer window does not close for another 50 days. Plenty of time to do our business.
What is seemingly putting the pressure on Arsenal is the actions of others around us. It seems every other club in the top 6 have made big movements this summer, meanwhile, we have sat on our thumb.
Is it true, however, that our rivals have done lots of good business this summer, and that Arsenal fan’s have every right to be jealous and criticise the board? Or is it, to put it bluntly, a figment of our imagination?
Starting with League Champions Chelsea, there transfer dealing’s highlight the ‘figment of our imagination’ statement above. So far their dealings include a young Brazilian called Nathan who they have immediately loaned out of a year, Asmir Begovic, who joins for £8m replacing Cech on the bench, and Falcao, a washed up old man who is replacing another washed up old man in Didier Drogba.
So Chelsea are at nett zero in their transfer dealings. Their starting 11 has not improved, and you can easily question whether the 2 new squad players are any better than those replaced. Begovic is certainly not better than Cech, and Drogba scored 13 goals against Falcao’s four in all competitions last season. Add in the experience and loyalty that Cech and Droba bought to the Chelsea squad and they have certainly gone backwards.
It is the dealings of Manchester United over recent days that seems to have got the back up of most Arsenal fans.
The acquisitions of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin signal intent, especially as it is being reported that they beat Arsenal to the latter, highlighting that Manchester United are back.
It is no question that Schneiderlin is a good Premier League player. One we have pursued for the last year, and expected to sign. He would have provided good competition to Francis Coquelin. But at £25m and £120,000 a week, would he have provided enough of an improvement to make him our 3rd highest paid player (and I am sure make the agents of Ramsey, Wilshire, etc knock on the managers door). The stats would seemingly say not.
As for Schweinsteiger, he was one of the best midfielders in the world. 3 seasons ago.
Since the 2012/13 season, Schweinsteiger performances have dropped up massively. Arsene Wenger over history has always been reluctant to offer players over 30 long term contracts. The way Schweinsteiger has fallen off a cliff highlights why.
Since leading Bayern Munich to the Champions League in 2013, Schweinsteiger has been hit by injuries. Missing 50 games in 2 seasons due to them. Infact, over the last 4 seasons, he not playuerd 30 league games, and only played over 25 league games once (the Champions League winning year of 2012/13). His powers are clearly on the wain.
With the Premier League being a much more physically demanding league than the German – where often Schweinsteiger and Bayern Munich could cruise through games, it is when, not if, Schweinsteiger’s body breaks down.
Had they signed Schweinsteiger in 2013, it would have been a WOW moment. The 2015 Schweinsteiger is still a big name signing, but like Falcao last season, he is a player who’s best days are behind him.
Manchester United’s other big signing, Memphis Depay, is a bit of an unknown quantity. A young Dutch international, he clearly has talent. Where he is unknown is that scoring 22 goals in 30 games in Holland is very different to playing in the Premier League. Manchester United might have just signed the new Arjen Robben. But they might have also just got the new Afonso Alves. At £24.6m, he is a lot cheaper than a young British player whom we will come on to later but it is still a lot of money.
He could turn in to a world superstar, but the worry for United would be if he is to replace Angel di Maria. They would be losing a world class player for a player with the potential to be world class. Not quite the same.
There last signing, Matteo Darmian, no one can claim to know anything about other than what they read on Wikipedia. He is a good example of the rise of Social Media and the effect it has on peoples though process. Manchester United fans are holding him up as a great signing, solving all their defensive issues last year, despite having never seen him play, and probably never having heard of him up until a week ago.
The source of their information? Someone else on Twitter saying he is a great signing, solving all their defensive issues last year, despite having never seen him play, and probably never having heard of him up until a week ago.
Manchester City have not yet signed a player. To think, we as Arsenal fans are getting frustrated, envious, even saying we have fallen further behind the top 2 from last year, yet the team who finished 2nd have signed no one, and the team who finished above us are at nett zero. What is there to be envious of?
Of course, Manchester City are on the verge of signing Raheem Sterling. Now he is a player who I have wanted throughout the back end of last season when it became clear that he was set to leave. Talented and young, he could have provided the competition for Theo Walcott, and if he develops, he could become one of the best in the world.
But then we have the issue. And it is a big issue. Whilst I would have loved to have seen him in an Arsenal shirt, for £49m and £200,000 a week, it would be a no from me. He is good, but not that good.
When you think Depay joined Manchester United for half the transfer fee, and just £85,000 a week, and Paulo Dybala joined Juventus for £22m and a salary of around £60,000 a week, it highlights just how much Manchester City are paying for Sterling’s passport. Twice the fee, twice the salary, for a player of similar age and similar talent.
Would I want Raheem Sterling at Arsenal? Yes. Would I want us to spend £49m and £200,000 a week on Raheem Sterling? Hell no.
Going through our other ‘rivals’, Spurs have done next to nothing, bar take their spending on centre backs over the last 5 years past that of the GDP of a small country – every year they seem to spend £10m+ on a new centre back, just to end up playing Younes Kaboul. There other two signings are just nothing to shout home about.
Liverpool have been the most active club in this years transfer window. But they are to be compared to your mate who is the most sexually active, but only bangs mingers. There is no point having 20 notches on your bed post if their combined rating is only 20! And that is the best way to describe Liverpool’s transfer window. Six players signed, £38.8m spent, and their side is no better. Losing Gerrard & Sterling, replacing them with Milner and Ings. OK. The signing of Firmino has got some excited, but like Darmian, no one had heard of him a month ago, but now he is a world beater.
When you give Kolo Toure a new contract, you know you are in trouble. The issue with Liverpool is with the new stadium, money is not freely available. Will the Sterling money allow them to make more big signings (Like Lambert & Balotelli) or have the basically already spent the Sterling money before they have received it? Wait and see. But its nothing to worry about.
Here is where I sit. At this point, no other club has really signed someone who has made me stand up and think “WOW, I wish we had have signed him”. Meanwhile, Arsenal have had Petr Cech, who would be an improvement on anything our rivals have.