One area Wenger has been perpetually berated has been in his transfer dealings. Not because he doesn’t sign players but he is accused of not signing enough and also not splashing out on big names. Till date, Arsenal’s record transfer still stands below 20 million Pounds when smaller clubs have even splashed higher fees on targets. The just concluded season was not any different. Even though Wenger sanctioned the acquisitions of some players, they didn’t fit the super-signings fans were expecting especially after the demoralizing loss of Van Persie and Alex Song to Manchester United and Barcelona respectively. But let me point out here that been expensive doesn’t translate into been a super player. The transfer market has been inflated or how else do you explain players like Carroll and Downing costing 35 million Pounds and 17 million Pounds respectively?
Wenger rarely buys stellar names that cost pocket bursting fees, rather he buys decent players that have the room for improvement and can do the job in the interim. Instead of buying refined gold, he would rather buy the rough one and mould it to his taste.
In the course of a season, there are 2 transfer windows; summer ( opens July 1st and shuts August 31st) and winter (opens January 1st and closes January 31st). In the course of last season and over both windows, Wenger bought only 4 players and in this piece, I seek to espouse rate their contributions to the team over the course of the season. Come with me.
He was Wenger’s first signing. Reports had it that he agreed a switch to Arsenal as early as January 2012 but Wenger didn’t confirm him until July. He was expected to relief Van Persie of the goal scoring burden by helping to share out of it but he ended up assisting someone else (Olivier Giroud). In his maiden season, he didn’t do
badly. He has been played mainly on the left of Arsenal’s forward trio and despite struggling with a long-term ankle problem, he was able to muster 16 goals and 11 assists in all competitions in just his maiden season. That’s not bad for a start and for a player that cost 11 million Pounds if you ask me.
The Spaniard was Wenger’s second signing of the summer. He has been Wenger’s target for a while but Le Prof lost him to Spanish moneybags Malaga but had the chance to get him when the fountain of wealth dried and the Spanish club ran into financial conundrum. Since the exits of Fabregas and Nasri, Arsenal have lacked creative spark in the middle of the pack and that was something Cazorla helped plug. He didn’t do badly in his maiden season in the Premier League and with Arsenal. Like fish to water, Cazorla adapted to the frenetic pace of the English game. To imagine he played all of Arsenal’s 38 Premier league games is just stunning! He ended the season with 12 goals (all came in the premier league) and 13 assists in all competitions. Not bad for a start, I guess?
He was the last of the summer arrivals. He was brought in also to complement Van Persie but ended up replacing him. After his slow start to the English game which saw him not score a goal in his first 5 games, he picked up and eventually became a strong force and a pivotal presence in the Arsenal attack. He ended the season with
an impressive haul of 17 goals in all competitions and 10 assists also in all competitions. If you ask me, he did quite well for a new player with a truck-load of weight of expectation on his shoulders.
Wenger’s solitary winter signing. As the tabloids peddled names of Wenger’s targets and likely signings, his name was perpetually glossed over and didn’t pop up until the final few hours of the winter window. Later was it revealed that Arsenal had agreed a deal for him for the summer but it had to be fastracked to January owing to
the injury to Gibbs. He was brought in as a dependable back-up to Gibbs but in the course of the second half of the season, he proved that he is good enough to wrestle the starting spot from the English man. His contributions have been key for Arsenal. He has just a solitary goal and an important one it was, the goal that broke the deadlock against Swansea at the Liberty stadium. He also made the crucial assist for Cazorla to score the all important winner against Aston Villa at the Emirates. His arrival has brought to an end the long overdue Santos’ Arsenal nightmare.
It is amusing how a player that has been an Arsenal player for many seasons will be considered a new signing? According to Wenger’s school of thought, any player just coming back from a protracted lay-off or just signed a long term deal especially if his old contract was winding down is a like a new signing. In this regards, Walcott
is. The English striker has been embroiled in talks over a new deal and when he didn’t sign on before the end of the summer window, pundits thought Wenger will sell him to prevent him entering the final year of his contract like he did Clichy, Nasri and Van Persie but Wenger resisted the temptation to cash in on him and the decision paid off when he put pen to papers on a new deal in January. Keeping him as really been beneficial to Arsenal’s top 4 push. This season has proven to be the best and most productive of his career so far. With 22 goals and 14 assists in all competitions and how glad I am that he had it in Arsenal’s colours.
The season has ended and Wenger will be looking to add new faces to the squad, I just hope they have better impact than these aforementioned players.