There will be a room somewhere in London Colney. It has a door that always remains locked. The only people to enter that room are Arsenal’s senior management. Raul Sanllehi, Edu, Unai Emery. Sometimes you might get a senior scout in their. The likes of Francis Caggigo.
It is the war room, where the transfer decisions are made.
In the room will be white boards filled with players names. They will cover all positions and be a range of players, from young prospects like William Saliba and Gabrielle Martinelli, through established stars such as Nicolas Pepe and Kieran Tierney to senior pros such as David Luiz.
Names on the board will be in excess of 100, covering every eventuality and “what if?” scenario.
On a side note, this is why a lot of transfer speculation is often not BS. Many of the players we are linked with we do have an interest in. We are scouting. Their name is on the board in the war room. What the media often exaggerate is just how interested we are in the player, just how close we are to signing them.
For example: What if Arsenal get down to the last day of the transfer window and need to sign a cheap, experience central defender. There will be a list of candidates on that board who fit that criteria. And one of those names would have been David Luiz.
There would have been 3 different lists of central defenders. All containing around 10 players. They would be listed in preference order and regardless of availability.
You would have had your young, up and coming defenders. The aforementioned Saliba would have been on that list. Probably top taking into account how quickly we got the deal done. The list is players for the future.
The second list would have been “key targets”. Players who are established who would be the clubs preferred targets if a deal could be done. The likes of Daniele Rugani and Samuel Umtiti would have been on this list.
Finally the 3rd list would be labelled something along the lines of “cheap and experienced”. Players who can do a job in the short term, who would not cost too much money. It is the 3rd list that Chelsea would have picked up Rob Green from when they decided they had to sign an experienced, senior, home grown 3rd choice centre back.
Arsenal would have been targeting defenders from that middle list first and foremost.
Dayot Upamecano, Rugani and Umtiti would have been targets this summer. Players that would have been discussed. But with the transfer window shutting today, Arsenal have had to move on from those players and look at the emergency list. The players who are cheaper, could make an immediate impact and are easily obtainable.
David Luiz fits the bill.
At 32-years-old he is in the twilight of his career, but that means Arsenal would know exactly what they were getting.
On his day an excellent central defender, one of the best in the league. But a player with flaws who will make errors that cost you a goal or 2 over the course of the season.
The question Sanllehi, Edu and emery would have asked is “Is David Luiz better than our current options?”
With Rob Holding out and Laurent Koscielny gone, his comparators would have been Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi. Despite his age he is better than both.
A short term solution to a long term problem for Arsenal.
It gives the club a further 12 months to scout and recruit a long term solution at centre half. It lets Rob holding return to fitness and prove if he is the solution. It gives William Saliba the season of 1st team football that he needs.
Financially, Arsenal are basically exchanging Laurent Koscielny for David Luiz. Not a bad deal.
In 12 months time I would still expect Arsenal to sign a new central defender. We may well go back in for Upamecano.
In the long term, we only really have Holding and Saliba. We will need to add a 3rd senior central defender next summer (I do not believe Calum Chambers is a realistic answer) to the pair, who will then be backed up by Kostadinos Mavropanos and Zech Medley. Add in David Luiz as some senior experience and you are set for 2020/21.
David Luiz might feel an odd signing and against what Arsenal have done this summer, but there is plenty of logic behind how he will end up an Arsenal player.