By Jamrock Rover
The start of Euro 2012 is less than a week away now, and still, Arsenal have only managed to sign Lukasz Podolski so far.
With so many players competing for their countries over the next few weeks, the chances are transfers will be few and far between until July. With preseason training beginning in July, it could leave very little time for any new signings to arrive.
Last summer, Arsenal left most of their transfer dealings until deadline day, and it greatly affected their start to the season.
By the time the new players had bedded in, Arsenal had only taken seven points from their first seven games. Of course, they rallied after that and eventually managed to finish third with a few hiccups along the way.
After the sales of both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, nobody could have predicted Jack Wilshere wouldn’t kick a ball in anger all season long.
Added to the loss of Wilshere, Abou Diaby’s injury woes took a turn for the worse and he never managed to start a game all season long either. It meant Arsenal’s midfield duties were not shared out evenly, and the strain showed on some players towards the end of the season.
Arsene Wenger stated last summer that he would not be selling both Cesc and Nasri, as it would not be good for the club. When push came to shove, he had no option though, as both players obviously made it clear that they wanted to play elsewhere.
It’s not a new scenario for Arsenal fans to see their best players touted around supposedly wealthier clubs.
It happened in the past with so many Arsenal players, even when Arsenal were at their prime under Wenger and winning plenty of trophies. It seems that the captain’s armband at Arsenal has become a signal that a player is going to leave the club.
The current captain is Robin van Persie, and the previous three captain’s were all sold, while still wearing the armband.
At the moment, RVP is considering his options with only one year left on his contract, and he holds all the aces. He can choose to see out his contract and walk away on a free transfer next summer, or insist on leaving this summer.
Whatever he decides to do, I can’t see what the club can do to stop him.
I was a huge fan of Cesc and I felt a real sadness when he left the club, but no matter what players come or go, I will always support Arsenal. Withdrawing support is not an option for a real fan in my opinion—even if some of the fans are unhappy with how the club is being run.
I have no doubt that fans of the majority of other clubs feel exactly the same way at times, as well.
The long, drawn out summer transfer window can be a very frustrating time for football fans, and Arsenal fans are no exception.
In an ideal world, the club would go out and get the players they have targeted as soon as the window opens, but that’s not how football works. Very few transfers are straight forward any more, and they tend to take a long time to complete.
Any player Arsenal show an interest in is bound to be touted to other clubs with more money to spend by their agent. If Arsenal show an interest in a player, the chances are other clubs with a lot more money to spend will consider the players too.
The inequality in the transfer market caused by clubs with vast amounts of oil money has made buying players very hard for any club working within a budget.
It means Arsenal have to try to get players well before their prime, or try to pick up players other clubs aren’t overly interested in.
In recent years, Arsenal have spent big money on very promising talent such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott with varying degrees of success. If those players become as good as Arsenal hope they will, they will be worth far more than Arsenal can afford to pay.
It’s a risk for Arsenal to buy these players, and there are no guarantees of how good they will become.
The hope was that Arsenal’s youth team would provide a very strong team for years to come, but far too many of the youth players have failed to make the final step to become top-class players.
The current Arsenal first-team squad doesn’t contain too many players who have come all the way through the youth ranks at the club.
Even when Arsenal have tried to buy some younger players, they have seen those players touted to other clubs and lost out on them. It happened with both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, but the wishes of the players also had an effect on their eventual destinations.
I hope the vast amounts of money spent on the youth setup at Arsenal create a super team for the future, but there are no guarantees. The club have very little choice though, as they simply cannot afford to compete financially with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea in the football world.
There is no doubt Arsenal showed some real promise at times last season, and some additions to the squad right now could help them to become properly competitive again.
Sometimes I feel the Arsenal squad would be good enough to compete for the Premier League, but only if all of their key players stay injury free all season long. Realistically that’s not going to happen, and Wenger needs to be a little more pessimistic when considering his options for the new season.
Whatever happens during the current transfer window, I can’t imagine things could be quite as chaotic as they were for Arsenal last summer.
Ideally, the players needed will be added in the very near future, and space will be found for them by offloading some of the players who are no longer required. I won’t be holding my breath for such a scenario, but surely I can live in hope.