Our window assessed by Gurjit
On conclusion of the transfer window I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some of the business we have done so far. The gaps in the squad have been fairly apparent for some time so let’s assess how well we have plugged them, what has been missed, and a few words about how they might fit in.
What I would add is that It’s important to remember that this is the real world and not FIFA (or Chelsea it seems), so if we are realistic we were always going to be left short in some areas of the squad, as it would be better to not recruit at all than recruit badly. I’m also very much a fan of signing choice older players, as experience is something that appears to be underappreciated in the modern era – this is however another area where we have to be careful and really consider what league the player is coming from, and how long they will be able to help the team.
Elneny – not a transfer but given his time out on loan and his re-establishment into the first team, I thought it worthwhile to bring him up. Elneny gets a lot of stick for his style of play from fans, but we ought to remember what he is and that is not a creative midfielder. Whilst I don’t think he will add loads of value to the team this season, as a player who can come on, recycle the ball and have a tidy game he is a useful option to have in the middle of the park depending on opposition.
Ceballos – Loan. This is a good move from Arsenal especially when we consider his form at the end of last season and what he can bring to the team. It is still a concern for me how consistent he is and I’m hoping to be proved wrong and I’m especially interested to see how he will fit into our midfield (on which there will be some words later).
Gabriel – Transfer. I didn’t really know too much about this guy before he came in and I wouldn’t trust any supporter who said he did. I read a little story about him and how he struggled to establish himself as a first choice centre back in his previous teams, and how this meant hard work and taking his chance when he got it. This says to me that we have brought in a very committed player and after watching his first few games I have to say that so far I’m fairly content so far. He had a wobble at the start of the Fulham game and I was in an almost “here we go again” mind-set, but since then I’ve not had cause to complain and I’m looking forward to seeing him in the side.
Saliba – Transfer. He has finally arrived after his loan last season and there was talk of him going out again. As things stand he is staying (domestic window still open) and that could well be a good thing. I’d urge fans not to get carried away and be expecting him to be starting in the league – he is a young player from the French league and will not be able to cope if thrown straight in. I’m looking forward to seeing his development but I suspect that this season, unless something drastic happens, we will mostly see him feature in cup games. This is not a bad thing however and given the amount of CB’s we have, I don’t see the need to rush him and risk stunting his development.
Partey – Transfer. The big one that we’ve all been waiting for. Atletico are an extremely disciplined, defensive and tough to break down team, and Partey was at the heart of the midfield. Sounds like something we need, right? We’ve been lacking a Defensive Midfielder for a long time and although I’ve not seen a lot of him, what I can say is given the team he is from and the type of player he is, he is going to add something to this squad that is very much needed.
Willian – Free Transfer. This has been one to divide fans and rightly so, given he is an ageing player who we have signed on a contract which can easily been seen as too long. I think Willian is a great addition to the squad as he brings creativity, experience in the league and competition to the wings – but only for one season. I could be proved wrong but this feels like a mistake as I can’t see him being an important player for more than a season.
Runarsson – Transfer. I can’t say too much about this guy, but hopefully we will get to see a bit of him in our cup games. After the departure of Martinez we did not need to spend our funds on an expensive well known goalkeeper, so this should be a wise move providing our scouts know what they are doing.
Centre back gap – this depends on formation, however I think that in realistic terms we have plugged this gap as well as we could considering our budget. I am expecting for most games we will expect to see a choice from (or all of) Gabriel, Holding and Luiz. With our teams defensive performances improving towards the end of last season, and with our improvement at the base of midfield I am expecting much better from our back line this season.
Midfield gap – defensively we should be sorted, creatively we still have a gap and this has dwelled on me a little – this is because I can’t figure out how we will be lining up to give us the best balance. My best guess at this point is that, form allowing, both Partey and Xhaka will start at the base to give the attacking midfielder more freedom to run the game and advance up the pitch. Who that will be is somewhat questionable as Ceballos did not perform well there last season and has done much better when playing deep. I strongly suspect that we will see Ozil feature there at least a little this season, and I don’t see why he shouldn’t be given the opportunity. What has been said repeatedly is that Ozil is a luxury in a team that is well set up to do the defensive work around him – so now I am more than a little curious about our midfield as we should have that safethy net now. Plenty may complain about my mention of him, however one of the biggest gaps in our side is creativity and it has to come from the current squad.
Winger gap – I wouldn’t have called this a significant problem but we do not have quite the level of quality out wide as we need. Saka is great but young, Nelson has been underwhelming and Pepe has struggled to find his feet. Some experience and quality will not go amiss – though again, not for more than one season! Personally I would have liked us to do something a little different and pick up Benrahma as he should provide a different kind of goal threat and attitude.
With the above in mind, and not putting too much on not getting Aouar I would say that as we have made good acquisitions at CB and DM (Partey is a hugely significant signing) this has been a good window overall. 8/10.
What do you think of our transfer business?