Posted By Godwin Onyemaechi
The Gunners failed to get their deadline day target despite making multiple offers for the Aston Villa midfielder
Arsenal fans woke up on transfer deadline day expecting to see a new midfielder arrive following Mikel Arteta’s comments immediately after the 2-1 win against Aston Villa on Wednesday night.
But instead the main action on the final day of the transfer window in north London was a midfielder moving on from the Gunners, with Ansley Maitland-Niles joining Southampton on loan for the remainder of the season.
Arsenal did try to make a late signing, with the Gunners making multiple attempts to prize Douglas Luiz away from Aston Villa – but they were left frustrated, with every offer rejected by their Premier League rivals.
There is no doubt the failure to land the Brazil international will have frustrated Arteta, who has consistently stated in recent weeks that he felt his squad was a bit short of what he believed was required.
And that was before he lost both Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny to injury.
“We are a bit short in that position,” Arteta said after Wednesday night’s game, when asked about his options in midfield.
“We have Sambi [Lokonga] and Granit [Xhaka] who can play there but we are looking at options in the market.
“The club has been super supportive to keep improving the squad and the team as much as we can, and if the right player is available and we can do it, we will try.”
And they did try for Luiz, several times. But on each occasion the reply was the same – no deal!
“Villa wouldn’t budge,” one source told GOAL.
Arsenal’s final bid for the 24-year-old went in about 90 minutes before Thursday night’s deadline, it was believed to be around the £25 million mark.
When that was rejected, they pulled the plug for good.
They weren’t going to go any higher for a player who had less than a year left on his deal and who wasn’t even under serious consideration prior to the injuries to Partey and Elneny.
Arsenal also believe Partey will be back relatively quickly from his thigh problem, with club doctors believing his spell on the sidelines will be “weeks, not months.”
But despite that, there is still a feeling that the club have taken a risk once again in the transfer window.
They have made some excellent additions and the trio of new faces this season, Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and William Saliba, have improved the starting XI immensely.
But with the Europa League starting soon, it does look like the squad has been left a little short to be able to compete on all fronts.
Jesus and Eddie Nketiah are the only real central striking options, while Bukayo Saka has no natural senior cover on the right hand side of attack following the decision to let Nicolas Pepe join Nice on loan.
They do have summer signing Marquinhos, but Arteta has yet to hand the 19-year-old his debut. Fabio Vieira, another summer signing, is also an option – but the £30m man is more suited to a central role.
That means that huge demand will once again be put on the shoulders of Bukayo Saka.
The England international has now played in each of Arsenal’s last 47 Premier League games – no Gunners player has clocked up more minutes than the winger since the start of the 2019/20 season.
So far his body has held up to those demands, but you feel that run can only go on for so long.
And if Saka were to pick up an injury, Arteta’s options would be limited.
That’s why the failure to bring in a winger – as well as another central midfielder – feels like a bit of a gamble.
Arsenal rolled the dice in January when they opted not to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang following his move to Barcelona and it was a decision that played a big part in them missing out on the top four.
So it is a bit of a surprise to see them end the summer window looking a little bit light again, especially as they have a European competition to contend with this season.
But club sources insist they are happy with the business they have done this summer and with the squad they have assembled.
There is an acceptance that at least one more addition would have been preferable, but they were adamant they wouldn’t panic and bring someone in just for the sake of it.
Arsenal have spent the past couple of years righting the wrongs of previous transfer mistakes and are determined not to undo any of that work now, just as things are beginning to settle down after a period of such dramatic change.
In all, they signed five players this summer with goalkeeper Matt Turner joining Jesus, Zinchenko, Vieira and Marquinhos. Saliba also returned from his loan spell with Marseille to bolster the squad.
There were plenty of departures, with Hector Bellerin the final one out the door just before Thursday night’s deadline when he completed his free transfer to Barcelona.
Pepe, Maitland-Niles, Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira and Pablo Mari were all allowed to go, while Alexandre Lacazette left at the end of his contract
Arteta has assembled a talented, young and vibrant squad that has started the new season in scintillating style – winning each of their first five Premier League games to race to the top of the table.
But with injuries already beginning to have an impact, it feels like the true test is just about to come.
What happens over the next couple of months will go a long way to determining exactly how the summer transfer window will be viewed