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Jul 10, 2014

Sanchez swoop shows Arsenal's aim

Arsenal have signed winger Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona.

Time travel is a concept that intrigues and fascinates many. Imagine the things you could do and see and change. On Thursday evening, I felt like I'd gone forward in time until transfer deadline day because Arsenal announced they'd signed Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona.

- LIVE: Transfer Talk

But this doesn't happen in July. We're supposed to wait until the window is almost closed, nails are bitten down to the quick. Then ... bam! ... you get a 42 million pound German.

A quick look at the screen brought me back from my non-88mph, not-in-a-Delorean fugue, and here we are on July 10 and the Gunners have spent big again. Around 30 million pounds, according to reports, this time to Barcelona for the services of the exciting Chile forward. A player who fans of every club watched with increasingly covetous eyes during the World Cup because he was just so good.

He's quick, strong, creative, hard-working and he scores goals. Oh, does he score some goals. This highlight reel of his top 10 at Barcelona is enough to showcase what he's going to bring to Arsene Wenger's side next season (and for the remainder of his long-term contract, all going well).

At the end of the last campaign, Wenger highlighted the area of his team he felt could be improved most, saying, "A team like City scored 100 goals, so you have to say that their offensive potential has been absolutely brutal and fantastic. We have scored 66 at the moment and that's certainly where we have room for improvement."

It's very difficult to imagine that with Sanchez that improvement won't be forthcoming. Without Theo Walcott, Arsenal's attack is shorn of pace -- no more. With only Olivier Giroud as a realistic candidate for the central striking position, Arsenal's options have been limited -- no more. The Chilean can also play alongside Giroud in a more conventional formation, and his ability to play from either wing means his versatility will be a boon also.

Obviously it's the first deal Arsenal have done this summer (although Mathieu Debuchy looks set to be official sooner rather than later), but once again we've seen the Gunners take advantage of their new spending power. After shattering their transfer record on Ozil last August, they've now spent a figure which is still twice as expensive as that previous landmark figure.

On the day that Arsenal formally launch their new kit with Puma, whose 30 million pounds per season has swelled the coffers alongside the money from the Emirates deal, we're seeing more evidence that they're becoming big players at the right end of the transfer market.

The experience of doing the Ozil deal stood them in good stead this time around, and with Wenger's reported meeting with Sanchez in Brazil, it's a long way from the years of trying to find bargains and cast-offs within a limited budget.

It's a signing to be excited about, not just for what the player brings to Arsenal, but what this kind of deal means for the club and its growing stature in European football. There's still work to do, with a goalkeeper and a midfielder of some description needed, but to say this is a good start is to massively understate what good work Arsenal have done.