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Saturday, September 01, 2012

Arsenal in Summer Transfer Window 2012: A Brief Reflection

Summer transfer window 2012 in England closed on Friday with the total spending by the premier league clubs reaching around a staggering £490m, just £10m shy of record spending of summer 2008.

Arsenal was uncharacteristically active in the market from the very beginning of the window. In fact, they sealed the first of their three signings: Lukas Podolski from FC Koln (£11 million)- even before the end of the last season.

Soon after the announcement of the signing of Podolski, manager Arsene Wenger, knowing the intention of wantaway striker Robin van Persie, looked for another striker and brought in French league’s joint top scorer Olivier Giroud from reigning champion Montpellier for a bargain price of £13 million. Then Wenger once again justified his reputation as being a transfer market specialist when he signed Santi Cazorla from cash-trapped Malaga for a cut-price fee of £16.5 million.

However, the departure of last season’s top scorer Robin van Persie to Manchester United and midfielder Alex Song to Barcelona prompted a reaction from a section of Arsenal fans. The reaction reached its peak at the end of the deadline day of transfer window as Wenger did not buy any other player. Arsenal also sold two young and unsettled players Kyle Bartley and Henri Lansbury to Swansea and Nottingham Forest respectively for a combined fee of £2 million.

Overall, Arsenal once again made profit in player transfer and could offload some of its misfits like Park Chu-Young and Nicklas Bendtner to Celta Vigo and Juventus respectively. Both the players moved away from Emirates on a season-long loan with an option inserted in their deals to make their moves permanent next summer.

However, reports in the media suggest that some Arsenal fans are discontent with Wenger for not signing a defensive midfielder. Some are even doubtful about the club’s credibility as a big club. A section of fans believe that Wenger did not even use the £50 million transfer funds that were at his disposal; let alone the millions accumulated through RVP and Song sales. In a statement, Arsenal Supporters' Trust revealed that they were ‘frustrated’ by the club’s transfer dealings.

Defending his decision of not making any late bid, manager Arsene Wenger said that he still considered his squad strong enough to be one of the contenders of the league title. He also indicated the impending return of midfield duo Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky, and defender Bacary Sagna from their respective injuries. Wenger had earlier said that he would make one or two signings if he found a top class player and stressed that there was no need for signing an average player.

I would like to quote a few words from Australian daily The Age, “ARSENAL was facing criticism from frustrated supporters yesterday as it was poised to end another summer transfer window in profit on its player trading.” I am really surprised to know that someone could be criticized for making a profit, when the whole world is just craving for more and more profits.

It is true that Arsenal drew their first two matches of the campaign and will visit Liverpool on Sunday, looking for their first goal of the season. No doubt, Van Persie’s departure has taken a heavy toll on the team, but that does not mean that he is irreplaceable. If Arsenal could survive without Henry, Bergkamp and Vieira, then they could do the same without RVP. One thing that almost everyone misses is the fact that RVP needed 6-7 years to produce a truly exceptional season. Then don’t you think, Podolski and Giroud should be given a couple of months at least?

Cazorla already looks settled in the playmaker’s role. Arteta is playing very well in the role of central midfielder, while Diaby, though looked a bit rusty in the opening two games, could make his presence felt sooner than later. Ramsey is still young and learning his trade. Now, just add Wilshere and Rosicky to the group, and Wenger will have a sweet selection problem very soon. Arsenal’s defense also looked improved and a lot more organized in the two goalless draws.

When I see the teams like Leeds United and Portsmouth, I really think that Arsenal is lucky to have someone like Wenger to deal with transfer market in a period when it built a new stadium. With the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules coming into effect in a couple of years and Arsenal boasting of some exciting talents like Serge Gnabry, Chuba Akpom, Hector bellerin and Thomas Eisfeld, the Gunners truly have a bright future ahead of them.

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