Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi. Had I said them two names to you about 6 months ago, 70% of you would have said who and the other 30% would have pretended to know who they are whilst frantically searching out their Wikipedia pages.
But here we are, in August, and both are set to become Arsenal players. And we still do not know anything about either.
Mustafi came into most people conscious when he scored against Ukraine at Euro 2016.
He then failed to start another game as everyone quickly put him in their Fantasy Football team and just as quickly took him out.
As for Lucas Perez (is it Lucas or Perez?), anyone that says they have seen him play is most likely a liar. No one had heard of him 48 hours ago. The only thing we really know about him is the Squawka statistics doing the round comparing him favourably to Antoine Griezmann.
Two signings, one from nowhere, has led to accusations of Arsene Wenger Panic Buying.
I do find it interesting that the main paper and journalist running with this line is John Cross and The Mirror. How John Cross’s view on Arsene Wenger has done a 180 since his book came out is incredible.
5 years of his head being up Wenger’s arse whilst writing the book. As soon as he no longer needs Wenger, he starts slating the man just for hits on his articles and a regular slot on TalkSport. But I digress.
Were Perez and Mustafi panic buys? To understand whether they were, you have to understand how clubs come up with their transfer targets.
For those that have not read the brilliant book Nowhere Men by Michael Calvin, teams tend to follow the following process when identifying and securing a transfer.
First is establishing what type of player they need. If they play like Arsenal and are looking for full backs, they need to bring in an attacking full back who is good at getting forward, has plenty of stamina and pace. It is then up to the scouts to go out and find these players.
There is no point scouting a defensive, slow, full back if that is not the type of player you need. The scouts go out with the player description and attempt to discover that player.
For example, with Granit Xhaka, Arsenal clearly targeted defensive midfielders who had a good pass completion ratio. This is also why we signed Mohamad Elneny. We did not need a N’Golo Kante or Victor Wanyama, players who run around a bit but are poor footballers, as that is not how we play.
The players singled out by the scouts then become a list which usually go’s on a white board in a secret room. I will let the book take over.
So the likes of Lucas Perez would have appeared on the list. Probably not at the top. The top would have been, say, Antoine Griezmann, Julian Draxler, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and so on. As targets no longer became targets, either by joining other clubs, showing no interest, or being more expensive in fee or salary than we were willing to pay, they get rubbed off. And you move down that list until you get to a player that you reach a deal with.
In this case, that player was Lucas Perez.
Now there were reports that we rejected a chance to sign him a month ago. And again 2 weeks ago. This was not because we did not want him. But because at the time we were chasing other targets. He might have been 8th or 9th on the list, and when offered him, we were still pursuing number 3. The list is fast moving and it evolves.
There are normally numerous lists, with different players in different positions. Up to 9 or 10 players for each, maybe even more. And this is why we get linked to so many players. If they are on the list, we are scouting them regularly. Watching them week in week out. By the time you add the youth players with potential, the list of players Arsenal are watching at any one time can easily reach over 100.
This does not mean we are going to sign 100 players, it just means we are watching them. So when the lazy journalists link us to a player, there is actually some truth in it. We are probably watching him. But what the press do not know that player sits on the list. How seriously we are watching him. All they really know is we are potentially interested.
So Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi would have been on a white board in a locked from in London Colney which is only accessible by Arsene Wenger and his inner circle.
The players would have been scouted thoroughly and ordered by who is the priority. And over the summer that list would have worked through until we reach the point we did last night with two deals being doing for Perez and Mustafi.
My betting is that Mustafi was high up on a list. But we never really planned to sign a centre back this summer. And that we only started going for him once Gabriel became injured.
Perez would have been on a list, mid to low down on that list, with other targets above him. Likely added by the scout we poached from Leicester. Interesting that the 2 sides that were interested, Arsenal and Everton, have both poached Leicester back room staff. Those targets have not been secured, which is why he will find himself wearing The Arsenal Number 9 shirt next this season.
Now whether you think we worked quickly through the list, or have signed the right players, or have over spent or under spent, that is a different debate for a different blog.
Neither Perez or Mustafi were panic buys. Adding that sort of title to an article is merely to grab hits.
We might not have heard of either of them 6 months ago, but the Arsenal scouting and coaching staff would have. And we should welcome them to The Arsenal. Back them. If they give 100%, lets give them 100% back.
It might be too little to late. But we were not in a state of panic.