Arsenal have been silent in the January transfer window, Mikel Arteta’s first as head coach. However, while the squad is in need of investment, silence in this window is no bad thing.
The Arsenal squad is in a mess. It has been for some time. Even after what most people have viewed a successful summer transfer window, there are still plenty of issues that need addressing if this team is to ever finish in the top four and beyond again.
The fans are quite aware of this. Perhaps one of the hallmarks of modern football is the greater intelligence and awareness of the average supporter. They have a greater understanding of the mechanisms of the sport — on and off the pitch — than ever before. So trying to pull the wool over their eyes and convince them that a squad is good enough will no longer fly.
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It is quite apparent that Arsenal need significant, sweeping investment across the entirety of the squad. And with fans desperate to see the club commit to the Mikel Arteta era, there is an inevitable desire for that spending to come in this current January transfer window. In a short space of time, Arteta has shown vast progress despite the limited players he is working with and the right personnel moves could see the team make a late run at a top-four place given the poor form of their direct rivals.
However, while two or three transfers in the January transfer window would be helpful for the team in the short-term, when taking a longer-term view, it might be a good thing that business has been quiet thus far — and looks to be quiet for the remainder of the window, if some reports are to be believed. Yes, spending would be nice to see, but it cannot be willy-nilly. And this is absolutely crucial.
Arsenal invested almost £150 million in new players in the summer, including £72 million on Nicolas Pepe and £40 million on Kieran Tierney, David Luiz and Gabriel Martinelli. It is the greatest summer spending spree the club has ever conducted. Combined with being out of the Champions League for the third-straight season, it is a stretch that they have any significant finances to invest this January.
As a result, any deals that would be done this month are likely to be smaller, less impactful, cheaper ones, players on temporary deals who are past their primes but can be quick-fix solutions for the remainder of the season. Think Jerome Boateng or Thomas Lemar, those unwanted by their current clubs and available on the cheap.
Signing these players is fine, for now, but if it takes away from the budget in the summer, it would be smarter to simply go without. Arsenal would be far wiser to invest significantly in fewer players, signing genuine quality, not just adding meaningless numbers that don’t offer a significant improvement. Signing quality, not quantity is the key, and given their financial restrictions this month, the Gunners will do well to sign the former.
So while it is frustrating to see the club seemingly abstain from the January transfer window, it might not necessarily be a bad thing. Yes, fans want the club to invest their in their squad. It is only natural. But that investment must be meaningful, and for Arsenal and Arteta, that may well mean waiting until the summer.