Although it was impossible not to view last season as progress, when it came to an end, Mikel Arteta made it very clear that he had no intentions of resting on his laurels.
“We have built that core and foundation,” he said prior to the penultimate match of the campaign against Nottingham Forest. “It’s a lot of quality, youth and enthusiasm surrounded by a lot of good people with the right experience and leadership around them. We have to continue to do that because the demands, expectations and challenges next season will be even higher. We cannot get confused of what we are today but have a lot of clarity of how we’re going to get what we want in the next seasons.”
Thus far the clarity Arteta spoke about has been evident for all to see. Edu revealed to football.london in March that plans had already begun for the summer transfer window. “I always make myself comfortable going into the transfer window when we’ve prepared how to face those challenges,” he said at the London Football Awards when asked about the work Arsenal had done in the transfer market. “In the Premier League there’s a lot of clubs and a lot of good managers so the competition is hard. So as soon as you prepare well, you feel comfortable.”
This preparation has allowed them to their business done early. While many of the rest of the footballing world have been taking a break over the past few weeks Arsenal have been hard at work. The deal to bring in Kai Havertz was completed remarkably quickly. Arteta identified the German as someone to help him develop the left eight position and having informed Edu the transfer was swiftly enacted. It’s yet more proof of how smooth Edu, Arteta, Richard Garlick and the rest of the Arsenal transfer team are working now.
They probably would have wanted their interest in Declan Rice to be less public, but they’ll be happy the deal is done. This one was a long time in the making. Arteta first met with Rice at his home earlier in the year to convince the England midfielder that the Emirates Stadium was where his career ambitions would be best served. This was key to sealing the move as competition came in from Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Manchester City across the past month.
The interest for Jurrien Timber stayed quiet for much longer. Arsenal held talks with his representatives in London prior to the end of the campaign. Ajax wanted to play hardball and ask for a fee in the region of £50million for their academy product, but again the Gunners’ transfer team worked with great synergy to negotiate the Dutch side down to around £34.2million (€40million).
With these three pieces of business Arsenal will head towards a gross spend of more than £200million before mid-July. This is by no means the end though.
A lot of the Gunners’ business going forward now will depend on sales. Granit Xhaka has already joined Bayer Leverkusen for 25million. As football.london has previously reported, Arsenal are open to offers on Thomas Partey, Flo Balogun, Charlie Patino, Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Nicolas Pepe, Auston Trusty, Runar Alex Runarsson and Cedric. Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney could also leave. With that money Arsenal hope to generate north of £100million. This will be used to fund further deals if they are deemed necessary.
Should Partey leave, then he will need replacing. Romeo Lavia is the player who is being most heavily linked at the moment and would certainly fit the profile of player Arsenal want to bring in. Edu is keen to add more youth into the six position where Jorginho and Mohamed Elneny are currently the other options. The Gunners have shown an interest in Moises Caicedo, but it does seem unlikely that both him and Rice will be brought in this summer, despite their attempts to bring him in in January. Martin Zubimendi is another player who has been of interest, but he is currently understood to be very happy at Real Sociedad.
Beyond that, there is scope for another forward to come into the squad. Moussa Diaby was heavily linked at the start of the window, but that has gone cold for now. It’s worth noting that after Reiss Nelson extended his contract this week, the Gunners are satisfied with their offensive options. Arteta is keen to add more firepower to his squad, but it will again depend on the work Edu is able to do in the sales market. Exits for Balogun and Pepe could create a space in the squad for one more body before the window slams shut on September 1.
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