Transfer Talk: Arsenal's summer so far
With the transfer window in full swing, ESPNFC's Arsenal blogger James McNicholas discusses how Arsene Wenger's side are shaping up ahead of the new season.
IN -- Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona, 35 million pounds), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle, 10 million pounds)
OUT -- Bacary Sagna (Manchester City, free), Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea, free), Nicklas Bendtner (released), Park Chu-Young (released), Chuks Aneke (released), Daniel Boateng (released)
SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW ASSESSMENTS
PREMIER LEAGUE: Arsenal | Aston Villa | Burnley | Chelsea | Crystal Palace | Everton | Hull City | Leicester City | Liverpool | Man City | Man Utd | Newcastle | QPR | Southampton | Stoke | Sunderland | Swansea | Tottenham | West Brom | West Ham
For the past few years, Arsenal fans have heard talk of an 80 million-pound war chest. However, until the acquisition of Mesut Ozil last season, Arsenal were relatively parsimonious in the market. That deal appears to have signaled a change in the way the Gunners operate. The myth is edging toward reality. With the coffers swelled by lucrative commercial deals with Puma and Emirates, Arsenal are operating like a financial powerhouse once again. They have already spent 45 million pounds this summer and certainly have the resources to go beyond that without remotely threatening the club's stability.
Rate your business so far
I'd have to say 9/10. Arsenal's most pressing needs were in attack and at right-back, and the club have moved fast to add Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy.
Debuchy is not an eye-catching signing, but he's a very sensible one. He keeps Bacary Sagna out of the France team, so it seems logical that he'll make a decent replacement for him at club level, too.
The signing of Sanchez is the one that's generated most excitement among the Arsenal fans. The Chilean will inject pace and imagination into Arsenal's front three, whether he plays out wide or through the middle. After his outstanding World Cup displays, Arsenal fans cannot wait to see Sanchez in action in the Premier League. He seemingly has all the necessary attributes to succeed: skill, speed and courage.
Who should be sold?
Having released Nicklas Bendtner and Park Chu-Young, Arsenal have already cut loose most of the deadwood in their squad. Another who could follow them out of the door is Francis Coquelin, who has returned from an underwhelming loan spell with Freiburg.
There's also the matter of Johan Djourou's future to be resolved: The Hamburg website seems to believe he's joined them permanently, whereas Arsenal still list him among their own defensive contingent.
If Joel Campbell fails to impress in preseason, he could yet be sold while his stock is still high off the back of his World Cup performances.
The big question mark, however, is over club captain Thomas Vermaelen. Arsene Wenger admitted after the team's first preseason friendly against Boreham Wood that he could not guarantee the central defender would still be at the club in the coming season, and rumours of an impending move to Manchester United are gathering momentum.
Who should be signed?
Arsenal still need a goalkeeper to replace Lukasz Fabianski. Colombian David Ospina is the man most frequently linked with the post, but the club are also long-term admirers of Cardiff City's David Marshall.
If Vermaelen does go, at least one centre-back will be needed. However, as yet, there haven't been many names linked in that area. Some have suggested that Vermaelen could be used in a swap deal for Chris Smalling, who was a target for Arsenal while he was still at Fulham. However, Smalling's recent form at United has been anything but reassuring.
Arsene Wenger may also dip in to the market for a holding midfielder, with the German pair of Sami Khedira and Lars Bender being mooted as possible additions. Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta aren't getting any younger, and Arsenal need someone to bring muscularity and discipline to their midfield. Of those two, Bender is the more naturally defensive player and could thus provide a more fitting counterpart to Aaron Ramsey's box-to-box style.
Problem solving: What do you need?
Although many fans are eager for the club to add a defensive midfielder, Arsenal do at least have several players on the books already who could do a job in that role. In pure numerical terms, what they really need is a centre-half. Bacary Sagna offered cover in that position last season but has since been lured away by Manchester City. Now it seems Vermaelen could follow him on the path to Manchester.
Most Champions League clubs have four senior centre-halves. If Vermaelen leaves, Arsenal will have just two. They need someone who can provide both cover and competition for the first-choice pair of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.
Ajax's Joel Veltman could be a suitable replacement. He has two good feet and strong positional sense. At 22, he ought to have the requisite patience to play understudy to Mertesacker and Koscielny in the short term.