I usually try and find logic behind every signing, every contract renewal. I attempt to open my mind and see what the clubs management are doing in their decision making.
For example, it is clear and obvious why Mohamed Elneny has signed a one year extension.
He has proven himself time and again to be a reliable, if unexceptional, midfield. Elneny is adequate cover for Thomas Partey.
We have other areas of the pitch which need drastic improvement and investment. Elneny staying for another year allows us to focus on those areas.
In 12 months time, we might be looking to invest in a replacement for Partey rather than an understudy, if his injury issues continue.
It makes a lot of sense to keep Elneny, continue developing Albert Sambi Lokonga, and make a decision on that position next summer.
The pending Eddie Nketiah contractual renewal is not as easy to justify. But I have given it a go.
With us short on strikers and Alexandre Lacazette ill and out of form, Eddie was given the opportunity at Arsenal that he has waited his entire short career for. And he stepped up.
In those final 8 games of the season, he scored 5 goals (compared to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored 4 in last 12).
Every since he was young, he has always been a deadly goal scorer. But it was his all round play that really impressed me.
He was no longer the weak, gangly kid that only came to life when their was a sniff of a goal. He has filled out and come in leaps of bounds.
His hold up play impressed me as much as his goals to games.
We need a striker that is able to hold the ball up, bring others into play. As well as run the channels and press. Eddie has shown all of this in that short stint.
Whether this marked improvement is enough to see him be our 2nd choice striker is exactly the reason why many are questioning the contract renewal.
Europa League Consequence
Is the contract renewal a consequence of our failure to make Champions League football?
We all probably expected the club to make 2 forward signings this summer. But with no Champions League football, can we get away with just one and promoting Eddie?
The premier forward signing then starts in the league, and Eddie starts in Europe and the cups. Workload shared.
We struggled for so long trying to accommodate Aubameyang and Lacazette with no Champions League football, often to the detriment of both.
Does it just make more sense to have a clear number 1 and number 2 driver (F1 reference) rather than two fighting it out for the top spot?
But is Eddie good enough to come in for 20-30 games if whoever else we sign picks up a long-term injury?
Gabriel Jesus Incoming
It is becoming fairly clear and obvious that Gabriel Jesus will be an Arsenal player next season.
Fed up with being an “in and out” player at Manchester City, not getting the consistency of starts, he desires a move to fulfil his potential.
I would be very surprised if we signed him only to also buy another similar level striker (Alexander Isak, Dominc Calvert-Lewin, etc) and told him to fight it out. I think he would not join.
That then leaves us looking at an understudy for Jesus rather than competition.
So the level below those mentioned above is the likes of Ivan Toney and Ollie Watkins. But are these that much better than Nketiah to justify a £40million transfer fee?
Both Toney and Watkins are better than Nketiah, but both also more than 3 years older.
I would expect if Nketiah was playing for Brentford or Aston Villa, playing week in week out, he would quickly reach their level and surpass how many goals they score.
So instead of splashing out a big transfer fee on an average English striker, it makes sense to give more opportunities to the lad we have who is at a similar level
And Other Targets
Like with Elneny, keeping Nketiah frees up the cash to sign other targets.
People have mentioned the £100,000 salary, but if we let him leave and signed Watkins or Toney they would also want a similar salary. The only difference is keeping Nketiah will save us £40million.
This £40million could be spent on someone like Cody Gakpo who has the raw talent to be better than them all.
Gakpo is a left winger for PSV Eindhoven. He can play in all 3 positions behind the striker and there is a feeling with his physical attributes he could play up top.
Keeping Nketiah potentially opens the door for his signing.
Gakpo will be competition for Gabriel Martinelli on the left hand side and cover for Bukayo Saka on right hand side. Alongside Emile Smith Rowe, we would then have 4 decent wide options (Nicolas Pepe will leave).
Up top, we would have Jesus and Nketiah. But also Martinelli and Gakpo.
If you take the forwards as a group: Jesus, Nketiah, Saka, Gabriel, Gakpo, Smith Rowe. 6 players for 3 positions.
There has also been a lot of talk about Adam Hložek in recent weeks.
The Czech striker looks a star in the making. But is just 19-years-old.
Can I see a situation where we sign him (for a reported £19m) to be long term competition for Jesus? Yes. But in the short term we need to keep Nktieah around to bridge that gap, allowing us to develop Hložek over the next 12 months or more rather than throw him into the deep end.
In summary, with Europa League rather than Champions League football, one top striker is all that is on the shopping list this summer.
We need to spend sensibly and £40million on a back up striker is not prudent.
There is also a lack of decent options out there. The likes of Calvert-Lewin and Isak are too expensive (if we sign Jesus). Whilst Toney and Watkins are no better than Nketiah.
Final thought: Do many clubs across Europe have two top strikers any more? Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham all rely on just one. And then invest heavier into wide forwards that fill in down the middle when required.