I trust Edu and his team.
Since he took for control of operations, he has not really put a foot wrong.
The Brazilian did an excellent job over 18 months dumping the old egos and replacing them with young, hungry, talented footballers. We are top of the league as a result.
When walked away from the Mykhailo Mudryk deal, many asked “what next?” and “who next?”. There was a long list Mudryk alternatives proposed by bloggers, including ourselves. But very few, if any, mentioned Leondro Trossard.
Around Wednesday lunch, the media suggested that we were interested. By 4pm Thursday it had been announced had been agreed.
It came out of nowhere and was completed quickly. Edu had a back-up plan.
On a side note, this deal shows we can complete deals quickly. All transfer take a different amount of time, a different ammount of negotiating. Some will take weeks and break down. Others will happen within 24 hours. Often it depends how far about on valuations the two parties are, and whether there is a “transfer chain”. It is a bit like buying a house.
Long-term readers of our blog will know I am not a fan buying a player for the sake of it.
You go too far down the list and you end up spending a lot of money on someone you do not really want. Within 6 months you are looking to replace them, but they are on a 5-year deal. Think Lucas Perez.
So is Trossard a Perfect Plan B or a Panic B that we will come to regret?
Perfect Plan B
Covers 3 positions
For the last few months, we have had plenty of discussions over what sort of attacker we needed.
Some have argued for an out and out striker (Ivan Toney-type), then there was the out and out winger (Mikhaylo Mudryk) and finally there was the hybrid – someone whocould cover both flanls and also do a job upfront behind Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah.
Trossard is the hybrid option.
Predominately a left winger, he has recently been playing through the middle for Brighton. Trossard has also played behind the striker and wide right.
He covers a lot of positions and also gives Mikel Arteta a few different attacking options when coming off the bench – including providing an extra central attacking midfield option.
Back up dancer
I think we can’t underestimate how the progress of Gabriel Martinelli has changed our transfer plans.
Last summer, many of us spoke about us “signing a top class left winger” who would come in ahead of the young Brazilian.
Martinelli’s form in the first half of the season saw him force his way into the Brazil World Cup squad, selected alongside the likes of Neymar, Vinicius Jr and Gabriel Jesus, as well as Richarlison, Antony and Raphinha.
Four of those on the list joined new clubs in the summer for fees ranging from £45m to £100m.
Just 21 and with 7 Premier League goals in 18, how much would he go for in the current market? £50m+? He has become the superstar left winger we wanted in the summer.
That means that the incoming midfielder could be someone who could cover Martinelli rather than replace him. And that needed to be reflected in the price.
Mudryk at £70m+ always made me feel uncomfortable. He would not walk into the team ahead of Martinelli and was therefore a big price for a back up player.
Trossard is much more reasonably priced.
£21million rising to £26m looks a good deal when compared to what Chelsea have recently paid for players.
They are paying £29m on Noni Madueke. – 20-year-old Englishman from PSV who has started just two league games this season for the Dutch outfit.
Tottenham paid £50m for Richarlison; the Brazilian does a similar job at Tottenham (cover in all 3 attacking position) as Trossard will do for Arsenal.
£21m for a squad player with his experience fees reasonable.
And a good contract
One worry I had when it was announced was how much we were tying up in wages and contract length.
4 and a half years would have been a big deal to give someone who is 28-years-old. It would have given us very little wiggle room if we wanted to upgrade on him in 18 months time.
The 3 and a half year contract feels more comfortable.
Wages have still not come out, but a 3 and a half year deal will mean we are not investing too much into him. He is, afterall, a back up player. No need to give him a 7 and a half year deal!
Premier League experience
We are in a title race.
Mudryk would unlikely have made an instant impact. It is going to take him time to settle into a new country, playing for a new team in a new league.
Trossard has played 122 times for Brighton in England. He knows the league.
Brighton – especially under Graham Potter – play a primarily possession based game. It will not be too hard for him to transition from Brighton to Arsenal.
One of the big reasons I wanted Wilfried Zaha was because he could make an instant impact. Trossard will hopefully do just that.
Trossard is expected to be on the bench against Manchester United tomorrow.
The Belgian is also capable of a high press. He is 4th in the Premier League for winning posession in the final 3rd. That makes him both an attacking and defensive substitution.
One good spell
Trossard’s stats since joining Brighton have not exactly screamed “top class player”.
18 goals in 100 Premier League games before this season did not exactly lead to too many rivals knocking on the door last summer.
This season he has scored 7 in 16 – although 3 of those came in a single game. 4 in the other 15.
That form and his contract situation led to some clubs taking an interest in January.
He has also not performed particularly great for Belgium. Is he just an average player who has had a good spell?
And that good spell led to issues within Brighton which could highlight an attitude problem.
Since the World Cup, he has gone missing for his club – reportedly walking off the training pitch claiming he was injured, and later storming out of the training ground when not selected to play.
This behaviour led to a war of words between Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi and Trossard’s agent which resulted in him beind dropped for disciplinary reasons.
“Leandro isn’t in the list of players for tomorrow,” De Zerbi said before the Liverpool game
“He left the session without saying anything to me. And it’s not good. I spoke with him and I explained this attitude, this behavior, I don’t like.”
It all pointed to a player who was trying to make his position at the club untenable and trying to force through a move in January – at the time probably to Tottenham!
Brighton had a year long extension. Had they triggered it they could have kept Trossard until the summer and then cashed in on him. But Trossard’s behaviour basically made him unselectable and forced Brighton’s hand.
He does not have a documented history of issues, and has previously worked with AirPod Albert when at Genk.
His behaviour in the last few months is a concern. Especially with our squad so united.
Saying that, Mikel Arteta has often spoken about players needing the right attitude, and surely would not have sanction a move if he was worried.
Not the superstar
Trossard is not the superstar we perhaps wanted.
When we were linked with Joao Felix and Mudryk, it does feel we have dropped down a few levels to sign Trossard.
How many players were between Mudryk (who was clearly top of the list) and Trossard?
In the last month we have been linked with Mudryk, Felix and, more recently, Moussa Diaby.
How many other players did we enquire about whilst negotiating for Mudryk before we got to Trossard? We may never know.
He might have been 3rd or 4th on the list. He might have been 10th.
There is always some trepidation when we miss out on a first choice target.
But then again, we walked away from Dusan Vlahovic, Lisandro Martínez and Emi Buendia and signed Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Martin Odegaard.
When Edu does have a Plan B, it always seems to be someone of quality and not a panic buy.
At the end of the day, Trossard is now an Arsenal player. And whether you think he is the perfect plan B or a panic buy, we now all need to back him.
We are top of the league, 5 points ahead of Manchester City. We just need to stick together and keep winning!