With the transfer window now closed, you’re probably wondering how Arsenal could end up with just a 31-year-old midfielder that no-one really knew much about before Friday morning.
It’s easy to blame the club and, perhaps more specifically the manager. It’s common in Arsenal circles to believe that the club are incompetent when it comes to transfers and that no other clubs struggle to complete deals like Arsenal.
Spend just a few minutes talking to a Liverpool fan and they’ll tell you that they hold the same view, but of their club, not Arsenal. And they’re just the first club that comes to mind.
The fact is, if you aren’t Chelsea or Manchester City, prepared to pay ridiculously inflated prices, then the chances are you’re going to struggle. Arsenal are no exception. It isn’t always 11.11 when you look at the clock, that time just sticks in your head more so it seems like it is. That’s how it is with Arsenal transfer dealings as well.
On Friday evening a well-respected journalist tweeted to say that the Arsenal board had been prepared to pay the fee Schalke had been demanding for Julian Draxler but Arsene Wenger wouldn’t agree. He thought it was too much.
Without knowing what the fee was [common consensus seems to be that it is £37m but there is no indication that this is actually the fee]. £37m for a 20-year-old? Whose valuation would you trust? A manager with years of experience of developing youngsters or a board who are renowned for not being ‘football people’?
Of course, this is not saying that Draxler isn’t worth a big bid, but north of £35m? Really?
The problem that clubs run in to in January, and not just Arsenal, is that the pool from which to buy players from is significantly smaller than it is in the summer and the prices are far higher.
Clubs don’t want to lose their assets in the middle of the season, and to make a transfer happen you need the agreement of all three parties – buying club, selling club and player. If one doesn’t agree then it’s no deal. There is simply no way around that.
Saying that Arsenal have the money and should just pay whatever it takes is simply reckless. Arsenal are not City, or Chelsea or PSG and you should know by now that Wenger will not put the club at risk in the future by being careless in the present.
Perhaps he has been stubborn in the past when it comes to his valuations, but refusing to pay £37m for a 20 year old is not stubbornness. It’s simply not being reckless. There is a difference.
So why not buy someone else? Well who else would you have bought? And, after identifying them, can you guarantee that their club would sell them or the player would move?
Many Arsenal fans think that the lack of reinforcements in this window mean that they have blown their chance of a trophy. This might be true. But this Arsenal squad have shown that they can stay in touch with the oil-rich mega squads of City and Chelsea while suffering more injuries than the two of them combined.
They’ve managed to be the strongest and collect the most points over 2013, why should we think they will fall apart just because a transfer window has closed? Would one more player really have made that much of a difference?
None of us can know how things will play out and, of course, signings would have certainly made Arsenal stronger.
But they would have guaranteed nothing and that’s something that needs to be remembered.