There are two mantra’s that I use with Arsenal in the post-Wenger era:
- It is not what you spend but who you buy
- Arsenal are a long term project; changes will not happen overnight
Due to this, I do not expect Arsenal to buy a central defender in January.
Following the defeat to Southampton with a makeshift defence, a few fans responded with the fairly logical “we need to go out and buy a centre back in January”. Whilst I understand where they are coming from, we do not need to buy a centre back in January.
What we need to do is buy the right centre back, regardless of whether they join in January or the summer. What we should not do is panic buy someone who we do not quite want, tying up transfer fees and salaries.
Panic buying in January is the short term solution. We could go out, spend £40million on a centre back who is not high or our list, and end up missing out on preferred targets who could come available in the summer.
We saw this with the acquisitions of Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez. Both were panic buys. Players who we did not really want. Players who we overpaid for and ended up stuck with.
Over the next two transfer windows, we need to recruit a winger, a left back and a central defender.
Unlike Manchester City, we do not have unlimited funds to go out and spend £42million on Eliaquim Mangala, not fancy him and spend £28million on Nicolas Otemandi a year later. Not like him either so spend £47.5million on John Stones and 18 months later still spend £57million on Aymeric Laporte. all the while Vincent Kompany still being the teams best centre back.
We can not afford to get it wrong. We do not have a bottomless pit of transfer funds.
Therefore we need to buy the right centre back, regardless of his price. We can not afford to panic buy someone to cover for 6 months, before dipping into the transfer market again in the summer to buy another centre back.
We would be better waiting for the summer, if the right man is available in the summer. If he is available in January, go for him in January. Sven Mislintant and Raul Sanllehi know what they are doing. They do not need me to tell them that the next 6 years is more important than the next 6 months.
Arsenal’s defensive crisis was only for one game.
Against Tottenham in the League Cup, and moving forward into 2019, we have Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis.
If the right man is available who improves on those 3, then we move for him. If they are not available, I am comfortable that all 3 are of the quality and experience to see us into the top 4 this season; and then next summer we go for the defender we need.
We need to focus on the learn term. See how Jurgen Klopp has built a strong Liverpool squad over half a dozen transfer windows. Arsenal will follow their blue print (and hopefully actually win some trophies whilst rebuilding).
Wait for a Virgil van Dijk to come available, do not waste your money on Marcos Rojo, then Eric Bailly and finally Victor Lindelof, and still moan you need to buy a new centre back.
If the solution to our defence is not available in January, we should not panic buy.
In January, No centre back is better than a poor centre back.