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What did Arsenal do on their summer vacation?

The squad is very different now than it was in May.

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Perekrestok grocery store in Moscow
Been shopping? No, I’ve been shopping!
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That’s that, then. The 2019 summer transfer window has (insert overused window-operating cliche of choice), and now that the dust has settled, let’s take a look at the changes to the Arsenal squad since the last time an Arsenal player kicked a ball in anger. We’ll have a more nuanced look at what the new players might mean in terms of formation and style of play in a subsequent post; consider this your 2019/2020 inventory post, as it were.

Keep in mind, also, that players can still be sold to European clubs until the August 31 continental transfer deadline, and there might still be one or two loan deals to be concluded. Other than that, though, this is what Arsenal did this summer:


David Ospina, sold to Napoli

Laurent Koscielny, sold to Bordeaux

Carl Jenkinson, sold to Nottingham Forest

Petr Cech, retired

Stephan Lichtsteiner, went somewhere I’m sure

Danny Welbeck, signed with Watford on a free

Aaron Ramsey, sigh

Eddie Nketiah, loaned to Leeds

Alex Iwobi, sold to Everton


William Saliba, defender, signed from (and loaned back to) Saint Etienne

Dani Ceballos, midfielder, loaned from Real Madrid

Gabriel Martinelli, forward, signed from Ituano in Brazil

Nicolas Pepe, midfielder, signed from Lille

Kieran Tierney, left back, signed from Celtic

David Luiz, center back, signed* from Chelsea

*all but done as I write/publish this, but nothing officially announced yet

For a summer that started with the promise of very little, Arsenal actually did a really nice job of overhauling the squad. Whether you agree or disagree with specific moves, it can’t be denied that the Arsenal front office went into this summer with a plan in place, and they by and large executed that plan. This is not something any of us would have thought the club would be capable of this time last year, so massive credit to them for settling in and getting to work.

With the mix of players and situations - some loans, lots of young players, and a bit of experience - it looks like the front office is approaching this season as a bit of an all-in gamble on returning to the top four in Emery’s second and final contracted year. If he does well with this squad, the club gets back to the promised land, he gets his option year exercised (at least), and Arsenal are back where we all want them to be.

If he doesn’t, Arsenal will probably start over next season with a new coach, but with a lot less squad improvement to do to get better results out of said new coach. Either way, this was a much bigger summer than we all thought, and on the whole, a lot better.