“This time last year we needed 9 new players. We have only added Willian and Gabriel to the squad since then”.
I read that yesterday on Twitter and it got me thinking (dangerous I know).
Arsenal have had some criticism from certain quarters for only adding 2 players to their first team squad team “this time last year” but the reality is somewhat different.
Willian and Gabriel are new signings confirmed this summer. But they have not been the only signings confirmed by Arsenal.
The club also made the loan deals of Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares permanent.
“But they were at the club last year” the moaners moan.
Yes, yes they were. But they were not here this time last year, and having both picked up injuries, only played 4 games between them for The Arsenal in 2019/20.
No matter which way you spin it, Mari and Cedric are new signings that were not here this time last year.
Likewise William Saliba was not here this time last year.
Yes, he was signed last summer, but he remained in France on loan with Saint-Étienne. He was not available to Arsenal this time last year.
So that is Arsenal up to 5 additional players that were not available at this point last season,
Another out on loan was Eddie Nketiah.
This time last year, we would not have had a striker on the bench to come on for Alexandre Lacazette with 15 minutes to go and score the winner against West Ham.
We started games with Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lacazette. If that did not work we did not have an option to bring on.
I am sure one of the “9 new players” that we needed last season included a back up striker for Lacazette. Nketiah is basically a £20million new signing. Someone who was not available for selection this time last year
The development of both Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli is also key.
Arsenal fans a year ago would have been worried about the lack of options on the left wing. “All we have is Aubameyang, who is a striker anyway” they moaned. They would not have taken into account 17-year-old Saka and the new signing from Brazil who was bought for the U23s.
By this time last year, Martinelli had played just 6 minutes of football for Arsenal, coming off the bench against Newcastle. He would not be seen again in the Premier League until October.
Likewise Bukayo Saka was not in contention this time last year.
The season previous (2018/19) he was very much a reserve team player, spending most of his time in the Premier League 2 for the U23s.
He had 1 senior start to his name, in a Europa League dead rubber against Qarabag. His sole Premier League game was a 7 minute cameo against Fulham.
This time last year, nobody could have foreseen Saka’s rise from U23 player to Arsenal’s first team.
If we are talking about needing “9 new players from this time last year” Saka and Martinelli are certainly 2 of those.
What sums up both players meteoric rise is that a year ago today, Transfermarkt valued them at £6.2m and £7.2m respectively. Today they are valued at £31.5m and £22.5m. Both have stepped up from U23 to first team.
Cedric, Gabriel, Saliba, Mari, Willian, Saka, Nketiah and Martinelli.
8 players who were not in consideration as first team squad members this time last year. All now set to be important players for 2020/21.
Now if only we can get another 1 or 2 over the line, that will be 9 or 10 new players compared to this time next year.
And that is without even mentioning Mo Elneny (out on loan), Emile Smith Rowe (out on loan) and Joe Willock (U23).