Should Arsenal prioritize class or character this transfer window?

Arsenal (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Arsenal (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images) /

After consecutive eighth-place finishes, Arsenal is in dire need of a revolution of character as well as talent. One could argue that there has also been a dearth of leadership at the club since the departure of Arsene Wenger.

As the seasons have worn on several less than productive personalities have been allowed to negatively influence the dressing room. However, with the expensive departures of some key culprits, Arsenal has the opportunity to establish a new leadership core at the club.

The club is in a difficult but crystal clear situation. It needs an overhaul of the playing squad. The team needs to become younger, more athletic, more technically assured, and perhaps above all else, braver. In order to achieve these goals, Arsenal must find more players of the quality and profile of crown jewels Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney. These two players are clearly viewed as essential ingredients to any chance of the Gunners returning to its lost glory.

However, Tierney and Saka stand out as two players of exquisite skill, potential, and character. Finding transfer targets with a comparable blend of those traits could prove unrealistic for a club without European football struggling to break into the top six. If Arsenal is to cut its cloth accordingly, a general ethos may need to be formed around prioritizing either quality or character.

Should Arsenal prioritize class or character this transfer window with names like Houssem Aouar and Marcel Sabitzer being linked with the Gunners?

For example, Matteo Guendouzi recently signed for Marseille on loan with a reported obligation to buy. The young Frenchman showed great potential during his time at Arsenal but after a clear rift formed between him and manager Mikel Arteta, the door was swiftly shut on the midfielder.

It could be argued that Guendouzi’s character flaws were deemed to be too egregious to overlook, however one must wonder what he could’ve done with Mohamed Elnenny’s minutes and what his current could possibly be.

Likewise, it seems Arsenal will have to address this conundrum with some reported targets. Houssem Aouar is a player with a well-documented and somewhat sour relationship with Arsenal. After failing to sign the player last summer, reports have emerged again linking the North London side with the Lyon talisman. Those close to French football would posit that Aouar’s talent and ability are without question, but that he may not exhibit the intensity and consistency to truly lead a team in as desperate of a situation as Arsenal.

RB Leipzig midfielder Marcel Sabitzer is another name that has been somewhat tenuously associated with a possible move to the Arsenal. The 27-year-old Leipzig captain poses an interesting alternative to the mercurial Aouar.

At present, Sabitzer embodies an impressive player in his prime years. The Austrian midfielder showed his leadership and quality at Euro 2020, and there is no doubt he would immediately improve Arsenal’s midfield options for the coming Premier League campaign. Also, Sabitzer simply exudes a level of dependability and professionalism that is sorely lacking at the club.

Yet, Aouar is a player of vast untapped potential. With Lyon’s grim financial outlook, a cut-price deal for the exciting midfielder could prove to be a fantastic business if Arteta could properly man manage the player.

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Without European football, Arteta’s side is at a disadvantage in the transfer market, but with prudent and proactive recruitment there is a chance that Arsenal can use the lighter schedule to their advantage. With limited funds and opportunities, Arsenal may have to roll the dice once more between quality and character.