Are Arsenal getting carried away with their English core focus?
We certainly appreciate our home comforts! In a week when Belgian talent Albert Sambi Lokonga became the second summer recruit to pass through the Emirates turnstiles, recent media reports indicate Arsenal will now focus on bolstering their English core ahead of the new Premier League season.
The club’s penchant for homegrown signings is understandable, and the progression of players including Mason Mount, Phil Foden and starboy Bukayo Saka at domestic level highlights the abundance of English quality on the market. However, as rumours of potential moves to north London for Tammy Abraham and Aaron Ramsdale intensify, are the club in danger of getting carried away?
Although a number of contracts expired last month and further departures are expected in the coming weeks, Arsenal are still struggling to strike a balance between homegrown and non-homegrown personnel.
At present, The Gunners’ bloated squad has 23 of 25 places occupied and can only house one more non-homegrown signing before outgoings as per Premier League regulations, although under-21 players such as Nuno Tavares can continue to be signed at will.
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Do the Tammy Abraham and Aaron Ramsdale rumours indicate Arsenal are too obsessed with improving their English core in this summer transfer window?
Mikel Arteta has made efforts to increase our English contingent, with Emile Smith Rowe becoming the latest Hale End graduate to commit his future to the club on Thursday, while Ben White will soon complete his protracted move from Brighton after a reported £50m agreement in principle was struck last week.
However, the prospective costly arrivals of Abraham and Ramsdale are a somewhat concerning development as, even though they each have the potential to succeed, closer analysis suggests they may not be worth the gamble.
Despite boasting an impressive record of 48 goals during two loan spells in the Championship, Abraham has been reduced to a fringe role in the Chelsea set-up. The former Aston Villa loanee made just 12 league starts last season- with only three coming under the guidance of Thomas Tuchel- and failed to play a single minute in the knockout stages of the Blues’ triumphant Champions League campaign.
Furthermore, having ranked 12th in the league for big chances created last term, it appears that Arsenal’s goal-scoring troubles owe not to an inability to convert but rather a lack of creativity between the lines and, with five strikers already on the books and fewer games to fulfill than ever, surely £40m for an out-of-favour Abraham would be better spent on a creative midfield presence?
Meanwhile, after allowing the homegrown Emi Martinez to join Villa only one year ago, the Gunners’ supposed predilection for an English goalkeeper also seems bizarre, with the absurdity compounded by our reported pursuit of the somewhat unspectacular Ramsdale.
To his credit, the Sheffield United shot-stopper could be a decent option for us, and he has received Player of the Year awards at both Bramall Lane and Bournemouth respectively in each of the past two campaigns.
Nevertheless, the 23-year-old’s asking price of around £30m would make him the sixth most expensive goalkeeper of all time and he is simply not worth that sort of money, especially when there are cheaper-and arguably better options available – and that any signing in this department would essentially provide a mere back-up option for Arteta’s side.
Considering the fiasco last summer when Sokratis and Ozil were omitted from the finalised squad due to excessive numbers, it is encouraging to see Arsenal finally acting in an uncharacteristically-proactive and prudent manner regarding team management.
However, these costly deals do not represent good value for money and the club must not let their desire to establish an English core detract from their ultimate ambitions, which are to significantly improve the team and once again compete at the top end of the league table.