……. No, he’s much better than that – the man’s a bloody genius!
I don’t know the figures, but I would guess that there would have been in excess of 50 players transferred to Premiership clubs last summer, yet I believe we have made the three best signings of all.
Obviously there is a team involved in securing transfers, but since Arsène shoulders all the blame from some quarters, I’m choosing to give him most of the credit. The scouts and Gazidis’ department will have played their part, but a manager who apparently scrutinised the minutiae of every detail in the building of the Emirates is sure to be the driving force behind such important matters as recruiting playing staff.
We have signed 3 players of real quality, in key positions and without competition for their signatures from any other top clubs. That is some feat. I wonder how many other managers would have been suitors had they seen the way these players have performed for Arsenal so far this season – I’m guessing plenty.
Taking the players in the order in which they were signed:
We’d been after Chamakh for more than a year and Arsène would no doubt have dearly loved to sign him last January, but he stuck to his principles and refused to pay the overinflated price Bordeaux slapped on the player. We secured his services on a free transfer in May this year.
Arsenal got the better deal. Clubs with lesser managers may see a limitless bank balance as the only route to success, but our boss likes to make the books balance. Chamakh played his part in the process by always saying he wanted to sign for us as I’m certain other clubs would have been interested if his agent had touted him on the open market.
Chamakh has all the attributes a manager could wish for in a front man. He works tirelessly, he can hold the ball up, his first touch is assured, he brings others into play, he is a good header of the ball and he can finish. We’ve been lacking a ‘Chamakh’ for the last 3 seasons, and now we’ve signed the real thing.
This guy was the most controversial and criticized of our summer signings. A reported price tag of just under £8.5m was seen by many as too high a price for a virtual unknown from the second division of French football – I wonder how many who witnessed his performance against our London rivals would say that now.
My hope was that in time, he would turn into a player of Vermaelen’s calibre. I’m not normally the most patient of supporters; for once I haven’t needed to be. He gets better every game. He has made a couple of expensive gaffs but his reading of the game, timing of tackles and bravery has far outweighed the mistakes which I expect to disappear as he gains experience. His body language is completely different to when he took to the pitch against Barnet. He is as Arsène described, ‘a warrior’
In some ways, this was my favourite signing of all. In stark contrast to my greeting of the news of the last minute deal for Mikaël Silvestre, this time, I was ecstatic. I hadn’t expected us to sign a player of Squillaci’s quality. Here we had a fully fledged 6’1” tall French international centre back plucked from Sevilla for the very reasonable sum of 4m euros. We all new we needed quality reinforcements in defence and here was our answer.
Squillaci has shown just what we have been lacking in recent years. He’s an experienced player who is a strong solid, no nonsense defender. More importantly, he’s a player who can rotate seamlessly with TV and Koscielny. He has hardly put a foot wrong on the pitch since joining us and already has an excellent understanding with the rest of the defence.
I’m tempted to suggest that the performances of Koscielny and Squillaci have contributed to Almunia’s confidence and his improved form so far this season. If that is the case and he maintains his current level, the fact that we didn’t sign a keeper over the summer will not be viewed as a major error.
The headline to this article might be viewed by some as a cheap way of getting bloggers ‘clicking’. Well in this instance, I make no apology.
If you agree with the piece you won’t mind and if you disagree, at least I’ve made you consider how brilliantly well we’ve done – three top class players for a total of less than £12m. All are players in the Arsenal mould. They have enriched the squad to the point where we can withstand injuries to key players and still compete at the highest level.