Well, even I the most skeptic of skeptics is pleasantly surprised at Arsenal’s good start to this all important of summer transfer windows. After ending the season on a high, after winning the FA Cup, the club has not wasted time in ramping up their recruitment drive both on and off the field.
Arsene Wenger’s decision to sign a new deal was divisive, to say the least, but not surprising. But clearly, the club knew there was no point in doing this without some sweeteners to placate a frustrated fan base. Whilst there has been no change to Wenger’s key backroom personnel appointments have been made to provide a stronger structure around the club. The club has appointed former Liverpool head of fitness Darren Burgess as head of conditioning, whilst Huss Fassy will work alongside Dick law on contract negotiations – an area we could do with a fair bit of improvement in. But perhaps the most interesting piece is that ‘Mad’ Jens will be coming back to the club as a first-team coach.
Only the most ardent of optimists will look at all of this and say the club is undergoing a radical overhaul. There will not be a director of football coming in and Wenger’s key lieutenants (Colbert, Bould, Primorac and Law) will remain at the club. But nor should these appointments be dismissed. It clearly, shows that the club is starting to think about the post-Wenger era. Slowly but surely more crucial appointments will be made, and then we can really get a good idea of where the club is looking to go in the next 5-10 years.
The transfer front has surprisingly been going rather smoothly. Transfer windows are often a frustrating ordeal for Arsenal supporters. I can recall numerous attempts at signing Julio Baptista in 2005 as the start of many frustrating summers. 2013 was truly ‘Peak Arsenal’ when we haggled over a few million for Gonzalo Higuain then submitted a pathetic offer of 40 million and a pound for Luis Suarez. In the end, we ended up with the ‘permacrock’ that was Yaya Sanogo – who contributed one solitary goal in his Arsenal career. But this year has been … well, kind of good. Within the first week of June, we sorted out our problem position of left-back with the free transfer of Sead Kolasinac from Schalke. Sead had an excellent year at Schalke excelling at wing back scoring 3 goals and assisting with five. But the signing that’s getting everyone talking is the record transfer of Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon.
It’s exciting because it’s a big fee, reportedly up to £52 million with add-ons considered, and also because it’s a striker, a position we have had issues recruiting for in summers gone by. His final season at Lyon was particularly prolific with an outstanding return of 37 goals in all competitions. At 26 years old we are truly getting someone at the peak of their powers who is ready for a step up. His record is particularly excellent when you consider that he was playing for a pretty inconsistent Lyon team, who failed to even qualify for the Champions League. The only striker who scored more goals was Edison Cavani, who had the luxury of getting service from world class players like Di Maria, Lucas Moura and Marco Veratti. Conversely, Lacazette had to rely on far inferior talents like Rachid Ghezzal, Mathieu Valbuena and Nabil Fekir to supply the ammunition. So a move to Arsenal will surely be an upgrade in terms of the talent he will be playing with – and depending on who stays.
So far so good. Let’s hope Arsenal can keep Alexis Sanchez . The prospect of him pairing up with Lacazette, and Ozil in behind both of them, makes me feel rather warm inside.
*Image credit, arsenalinsider.com