by .

There are a few ways Arsenal could take their transfer strategy this summer. They could go for a soft landing summer, where they pick-up players from the Premier League, or they could go for a harder landing, where they raid Europe for bargains.

Both of these offerings comes with pro and cons.

Soft Landing

The Premier League approach is basically a twist on what we’ve been doing for the last 5 years. The thinking would be centred on the exciting reality that we’re finally going to bin off some big senior names that don’t cut it over here. However you cut it, those players do an ok job and they’ll be difficult to replace for a number of reasons. The biggest thing they understand is how to operate in the league. They speak English, they have the stomach for the food, and they know how to manage their bodies.

Thomas Partey, one of the best in the business at his role, and one of the fittest came to the Premier League and spent more weeks out than at any time in his career. Why? Likely some bad luck, but also, we have the fastest and busiest elite league in the world. It took time for him to adapt. That cost Arsenal.

The thinking with a soft landing summer will be geared around having a fast start next season. This is a sort of short-termism that makes sense if you look at it from our football leadership’s perspective. Arteta gets pelters whatever he does, if he loses the opening three games because players haven’t adapted, he’s going to have Youtube channels calling for his head. Signing talent like Yves Bissouma or Reuben Neves reduces the chance of a hard landing. They know the league, they’re young, they’ll be additive from day one.

There are negatives with this approach. We’re not going to be picking off the best Premier League players. We’re not in the running for Jack Grealish. The players we’ll fancy will come with a fat price-tag and no guarantee of elite-level success. We’ll also not be top of the queue for talent outside the top 6 clubs.

It’s also clear we’ve been doing this sort of thing but in Europe for the last 4 years. Mustafi, Auba, Xhaka, Kola… it hasn’t worked. If you can’t take the cream from the Premier League, is it worth it?

Hard Landing

This approach is one that is dominating the links in the press at the moment. European football is in deep, deep shit at the minute. The pandemic wrecked the fragile finances of clubs that were badly run. These troubled clubs are successful on the pitch, look at Lille, they won the league and they’ve already lost their manager and they have clubs lining up to pick at the carcass.

This approach to transfers would be more focused on taking the very best young talents from around Europe at cut-prices while we can. If the transfer market was the housing market, this approach is going to distress buyer auctions with a bag of money and seeing if there’s a bargain to be had.

This is kind of what Arsene Wenger built his legacy on. Identifying value in markets that are weak, taking punts on low-risk, high-reward talent, whilst reducing the risk with elite coaching.

Onana, the 25-year-old keeper from Cameroon fits the bill here. He has 1 year left to go on his deal, he’s played in the Champions League, he’s an international, he’s cut-price because of the doping issue. There’s baggage there… a little bit like there was Nwankwo Kanu, but if it pays off, it’s a genius piece of business.

Same with the right-back situation. Do you spend £30m on Max Arons, who is a very good player, or do you take a chance on 24-year-old Zeki Çelik who just won Ligue 1 with Lille? One will likely be a lot cheaper. Both have about the same chance of succeeding.

We all know the objectives this summer.

  • Reduce errors in the system
  • Improve our work in the final third

There’s a financial issue at stake as well.

  • Create a functioning transfer ecosystem

Why are we failing financially when it feels like we don’t spend money? Because we are absolutely terrible at selling players.

If KSE are putting that Barclays loan towards players this summer, it cannot be used simply to ‘get us higher in the table’… that money has to come with strings. My strings I’d be asking Edu for?


If you sign Jack Grealish, you land yourself a player who really does move you up a level, but you don’t solve a business problem. That’s why he’ll end up at a club like City or United who don’t worry about business problems.

Arsenal needs to be sharper than that. If we’re signing creators, we really need to think about the potential value as well as what they can offer the team in the ‘now.’ It’s a fine balance to strike, but where are you getting more value from? Ruben Neves for £35m or Albert Sambi Lokonga for £12m? I can’t answer the scouting question, but the potential of Lokonga is that he could be a £40m player, and that for me is where the smart money is. Arsenal have not operated with much intelligence over the past 10 year, but maybe, just maybe, the clubs sees the way Liverpool operates and takes a touch of inspiration.

Clubs like Arsenal move back to the big time by taking lots of low-risk / high-reward signings. The benefits are obvious. But when you sign sharply like this, at worse, you break even when you come to sell. At best, you create a star that funds the next batch of uncut gems.

So how will the summer shape up? I have no idea. I suspect there might be a blend of both approaches, but the good news is the players we’re being linked with so far seem very, very smart.

Let’s see if Arsenal can finally deliver. It’s about time.


Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Uwot?

    Vintage gun.Danny mills is an Arsenal hating c**nt.Always always negative when it comes to us.Why? My theory is the carrot cruncher is still embarrassed when TH14 took the piss out of him at highbury when he played for Leeds.The whole crowd laughed.Twat.

  2. Pierre

    Are you saying ‘the slow merchant’ Odegaard numbers are better than ESR?”

    I think you’ll find that was Gbat .

  3. Kroenkephobe

    I like the cut of Campos’s jib. He looks single-minded, cerebral, aloof and temperamental. The Professor Pat Pending of world football.

    Could he become the signing of the summer? Assuming Edu remains in some form, the lusophone links could help us tap more deeply into some of the African, southern European and South American markets for young players.

    While we’re at it, let’s get diminutive Mexican ex goalkeeper Jorge Campos as GK coach!

  4. Valentin


    I would love to have Luis Campos at Arsenal, but French newspaper have him in talk with Real Madrid. Madrid are financially shot, so Perez may give him carte blanche to rebuild the team on the cheap or at least cheaper than the Galactico model that bankrupt them.

    Arsenal hiring Luis Campos would mean a de facto demotion for Arteta and a demotion or sacking for Edu.

  5. Valentin


    Danny Mills has the look of a man with a chips on his shoulder. As a player, he was trying to play the hard man that nobody can pass, but was exposed as a mediocre defender and he could not handle it.

    Since he retired, every time he speak, my estimate of his intelligence just dropped. It now reached a point where I just shrug when I hear he said something about Arsenal. I know it is going to be stupid and mean.

  6. Amin Farsea

    Hi Pedro,
    Thanks for this insightful article.
    I have just translated your article into Persian (Farsi) and I wanted to ask your permission to publish that. (obviously with referring to this post and mentioning that you wrote this)

    Can I do that?

  7. Dissenter

    I find myself liking David Luiz on his way out
    Saw that speech he gave the squad, he must have been a great team mate
    All the best to him in his future endevours.

  8. Dissenter

    “I would love to have Luis Campos at Arsenal, but French newspaper have him in talk with Real Madrid. Madrid are financially shot, so Perez may give him carte blanche to rebuild the team on the cheap or at least cheaper than the Galactico model that bankrupt them.”

    Perez will NEVER relinquish his hold on Madrid. He is the de facto DoF. Campos can’t be daft enough to go there. Good DoFs want control to be able to make anything happen.

  9. Pierre

    I’m not sure why some seem to think that Odegaard’s goals/assist/data are more impressive than Smith rowe’s.

    Season 20/21 as per whoscored

    Odegaard has a goal or assist for Arsenal football club in premier/Europ league every 322..

    Smith Rowe has a goal or assist for Arsenal football club in premier/europa league every 213 mins.( Smith Rowe also scored a goal in the FA Cup).

    Odegaard, a total of 4 goals/assists for Arsenal 20/21 season.
    Smith Rowe , a total of 11 goals/assist for Arsenal 20/21 season.

    Maybe there is some other data that tells us something different,.

  10. Thorough

    Ryan released though? Does it mean Leno is getting relegated for Onana or what? I refused to think about the other option. No way we go a season with Leno and Runnarson as 1 and 2. No freaking way.

  11. Mb

    I have a negative feeling seeing Conte go to spu*s.

    Luis Campos to Arsenal? That would be nice, don’t forget he discovered gems like B Silva, Fabinho, Lemar etc.

    Norwich rejecting our £30m bid? I’m suspecting it’s similar to Partey’s. We gonna keep adding a million every time it’s rejected. Aston Villa is the only problem, they got money too.

    Grealish? I would love to see him red and white but I don’t think we have that kinda money for one position, when what we need is a DM, AM, a RB, a striker and a GK at minimum.

  12. Emiratesstroller

    Arsenal’s goalscoring performance and assist record in last two seasons has not been great,
    but I don’t think that we need to make wholesale changes to improve performance.

    Aubameyang had a poor season, but I still believe that he is a great striker. I think that there were offield and health reasons which impacted on his performance, but he has been always a good “professional footballer” and hopefully last season was a blip. I hope sincerely that he will not be playing in Africa Cup next season.

    His backup at CF is Lacazette. It remains to be seen whether Arsenal will give him a new
    contract or sign a replacement.

    There will be serious competition for the three remaining positions in attack next season
    particularly if Buendia is recruited. Buendia can play both as a right wing and attacking
    midfield and scores goals. He wants to join Arsenal and is probably a cheaper and maybe
    better option than Odegaard who would cost more and I suspect wants still to prove himself
    at Real Madrid.

    Smith-Rowe, Saka, Pepe and Martinelli will all be competing for places next season and
    will offer goalscoring and assist options as well as youth to our attack.

    The central and defensive midfield options are more limited. Partey is expected to retain
    one of the two positions. If Xhaka leaves then we need a replacement. I thought that Benessiema looked like a very good player. My only concern is that both Partey and
    Benessiema are likely to play in Africa Cup in the New Year, which would be a big hole
    to fill in their absence.

    My sixth sense tells me that Willock could come back and be a decent box to box player
    and Arsenal have a couple of very talented youth academy players who might be promoted
    to squad in next couple of years in Azeez and Patino who could save us a significant amount of money in the future. Whether they are ready this season is a different question.