While there may technically still be a short amount of time left for transfers between Premier League clubs and EFL teams, it seems likely that the bulk of Arsenal’s work in the transfer market has now been done for this season.
The Gunners will likely be coming out of this feeling like they did pretty well in comparison to some of their rivals, as they strengthened in a few key areas and bagged the big-name signing of Thomas Partey on deadline day.
Here’s a closer look at what went right and what went wrong for Arsenal in this summer’s transfer window…
Willian – A free transfer of a proven, experienced Premier League performer has to go down as pretty good business. Willian was a world class star for Chelsea for many years and showed no signs of slowing down with his fine form last season. Although the Brazilian has been slow to get going for Arsenal and is unlikely to be much of a long-term presence at the club, this is a solid signing to give Mikel Arteta more options in attack.
Gabriel Magalhaes – One of the finest young defenders in Europe with a run of strong performances for Lille last season, it seems clear Arsenal have done very well indeed to win the race for Gabriel. Corriere dello Sport claimed Manchester United and Napoli were also in for the 22-year-old, who surely has a big future at the highest level and who could no doubt have strengthened many other top teams. For Arsenal to get a player of his calibre in without the lure of Champions League football is very impressive.
Thomas Partey – This is pretty much the perfect midfield signing for Arsenal. Thomas Partey has a bit of everything to his game and can quite legitimately claim to be one of the best in Europe in his position based on his superb performances in recent years. The apparent lack of interest from other top clubs is surprising, but take nothing away from Arsenal, who did what was required on deadline day to raid Atletico Madrid for one of their most important players and deliver a big, big upgrade on their other midfield options.
Runar Alex Runarsson – A low-key signing to give Arsenal a reliable goalkeeping option on the bench, Runar Alex Runarsson might not see much playing time any time soon, but looks solid enough to do a job if required.
Dani Ceballos – Not a new signing as such, but to get this guy in on a second loan from Real Madrid is only going to help Arsenal in midfield. The classy Spain international adds real quality and creativity to the team and it’s some fine work by the club to get two years of him in their team without paying a transfer fee, even if eventually they might be keen to finally make this move a permanent one.
Emiliano Martinez – A strong run in the side last season will have bumped up Emiliano Martinez’s price tag a great deal, and in the end you have to say Arsenal have made a very decent £17million (fee per BBC Sport) for a backup player who came up through their academy. Time will tell if Runarsson can provide as good cover for Bernd Leno, but this should go down as a pretty decent sale by the Gunners.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – A forgotten man at Arsenal, Henrikh Mkhitaryan ended up being a real flop and was allowed to leave on a free for Roma. The Armenia international was at the Stadio Olimpico on loan last season and there’s little reason to think he’ll be missed.
Matteo Guendouzi – Loaned out to Hertha Berlin, it’s clear Matteo Guendouzi needed a move away. Some fans will have hoped it could be permanent, but this perhaps gives the young Frenchman a chance to get back to his best with regular playing time, hopefully returning a better player ready to come into the team, or at least with an enhanced reputation and price tag if he remains in the shop window.
Lucas Torreira – Similarly to Guendouzi, it seems unlikely Lucas Torreira has much of a future at Arsenal, so they’ll hope his loan to Atletico Madrid can either help him develop ahead of a return, or boost the chances of a future permanent sale.
In this section it’s also worth mentioning two key players who ended up not heading out of Arsenal, with the north Londoners securing big wins by keeping hold of both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Top scorer Aubameyang has been a world class goal-scorer in his time at the Emirates Stadium and losing him would have been a major setback, but he recently signed a new contract to commit himself to the club.
Meanwhile, versatile youngster Maitland-Niles has shown real promise since Arteta took over and at one point it looked like there was a real risk of him looking to move on, according to the Daily Mail. Thankfully, a move never materialised, so he can continue his remarkable progress with Arsenal.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, there may well be some disappointment that a number of flops remain at the club.
Despite no longer being key members of the first-team, Arsenal still have to pay the wages of Mesut Ozil, Sead Kolasinac, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
Some might also argue that the likes of Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Reiss Nelson might also have been offloaded or loaned out, though these are least slightly more potentially useful players to Arteta for the campaign ahead.
Having failed to shift ageing and unwanted players like Ozil and Sokratis now, however, one can imagine this will only become harder in upcoming transfer windows, with Ozil’s wages in particular likely to be a big drain on the club’s finances.
Houssem Aouar – As widely reported by The Athletic and others, Arsenal failed to do a deal for Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar. In the end, they’ll probably be happy enough with Partey in that area, but Aouar could have offered something a little different, perhaps playing in a more advanced role as a long-term replacement for Ozil, or for Ceballos if he doesn’t end up staying permanently. Perhaps one for a future window, but for now there’s sure to be some regret that this classy talent couldn’t be secured as other top clubs will surely provide strong competition for him at some point.
Philippe Coutinho – There was plenty of talk about a possible loan move for Philippe Coutinho right up until late on in the transfer window, but it never materialised. Quite how strong the interest really was is unclear, but there is an obvious link between the Brazil international, with his agent Kia Joorabchian also representing AFC pair David Luiz and Willian. Coutinho might also have benefited from more playing time away from Barcelona, having been loaned out to Bayern Munich last season. For now, however, fans are unlikely to mourn this deal that wasn’t, as it would undoubtedly have come with some big risks.
As I was told in August Coutinho is a player Arsenal want. Movement stalled with Bayern focused on winning the CL but with new Barca supremo Koeman looking to reshape his squad expect the Gunners to make a concerted effort to land the former Liverpool talent on a season-long loan
— Layth (@laythy29) September 23, 2020