Same old Arsenal, doing it on the cheap is probably your first thought upon reading the headline. But the reality is, transfer values mean nothing. What is more important is the quality of the player, rather then what they cost.
Sol Campbell, for example, was one of the greatest signings by Arsene Wenger. He was a free transfer and amongst the best centre backs in the world at the time. Meanwhile Virgil van Dijk cost Liverpool £75m.
As Sead Kolasinac has shown this season, if the right player is the right player, it does not matter if he costs nothing or £50m. The bonus of getting in players on a free transfer is that it leaves funds free to strengthen elsewhere.
Arsenal need to be in the market for a new goal keeper in the summer. We will be linked with a lot of stoppers. Jan Oblak is a big money target, whilst Jack Butland and Bernd Leno are more realistic. One name that has popped up recently is Eintracht Frankfurt’s Lukas Hradecky.
The Slovak-born Finnish goalkeeper is an excellent shot stopper, and if you stuck this seasons statistics through the computer, I am sure they would come out not too far off Bernd Leno’s.
Originally from Czechoslovakia (born before the break up), Hradecky as number one and fellow Czechoslovakian-born Petr Cech as number two could clinch the deal.
Staying in Germany, 22 year old midfielder Max Meyer on a free transfer seems a no brainer.
The all action central midfielder has lost his way in the last 12 months, but his natural talent is still clear to see.
With the players we currently have, we are likely to play 5 midfielders next season (3 central midfielders behind Mesut Ozil and Henrik Mkhitaryan). We are in desperate need of reinforcements in that area.
I expect us to sign a specialist defensive midfield, and the increasing likelihood is that Jack Wilshire and Aaron Ramsey will sign new deals. Add Granit Xhaka, Mo Elneny and Alex Iwobi, it will leave us with 8 players for 5 positions. There is certainly enough space for someone like Meyer.
The key for Meyer is his versatility.
For much of his career he has played in attacking midfield. He would provide great cover for Mesut Ozil and Mkhitaryan – who have both missed plenty of games through injury this season.
He can also play deeper as a deep-lying playmaker, meaning he can provide competition and cover for the equally injury prone pair of Wilshere and Ramsey. Taking into account how many games all 4 have missed this season, Meyer would get a lot of game time.
At just 22, he could also grow into a long term replacement for Mesut Ozil. He is still one of the hottest prospects in Europe.
At the other end of the spectrum from Max Meyer is Giorgio Chiellini.
Soon to turn 34, the Juventus vice-captain could add the experience lost with Per Mertesacker’s retirement and Laurent Koscielny’s injury.
The veteran centre back has never been one to rely on pace. Italian centre backs have a history of going on into their late 30s. Paolo Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Costacurta all performed to a high level beyond their 35th birthday. Chiellini, having never suffered a serious long term injury, could do similar.
Steve Bould played at Arsenal until he was 37, Tony Adams 36 and Martin Keown was 38 when he finally left us.
With rumours of Max Allegri to Arsenal going, he would have the inside track as to whether Chiellini still has it. And if he still does, it is plausible that the Italian will be the first signing of the new era.
With Italy not at the World Cup, Chiellini would get a proper break in the summer.
The problem with our defence in the last decade is it has lacked a leader. Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi have always been secondary defenders, looking to the primary one for positional and organisation. Chiellini next to Mustafi would give the German the guidance he needs.
And with youngsters Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Konstantinos Mavropanos in desperate need of a senior centre back, what they could learn from someone like Chiellini in the 2 or 3 years he has left could be invaluable.
Arsenal need to sign 4 or 5 players this summer. A new goal keeper, new centre back, new defensive midfielder and new attacking midfielder / winger. If we can secure even just 1 of those positions on a free transfer, it will free up a big chunk of cash to strengthen elsewhere.
It is not about doing things on the cheap, it is about buying the right player.