The January transfer window is officially closed. Arsenal used the period to continue Mikel Arteta & Edu’s overhaul of the roster, but this window was dominated by outgoing players rather than incoming new ones. The Gunners loaned / sold / free transferred five senior players, trimming nearly £640K from the weekly wage bill, which sums out to between £10-15M through the end of the football calendar on June 30th.
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles: loaned to Roma, €500K fee, no option / obligation to buy
- Sead Kolašinac: contract terminated, signed with Marseille
- Calum Chambers: sold to Aston Villa, undisclosed fee with add-ons
- Pablo Mari: loaned to Udinese
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: contract terminated, signing with Barcelona
- Matt Turner: reportedly purchased from New England Revolution, expected to join Arsenal in the summer
- Auston Trusty: purcahsed from KSE-owned Colorado Rapids, expected to join Arsenal in the summer, be loaned out in Europe next season
The outgoing transfers leave the club with 21 senior players, 3 of whom are keepers. The Gunners have 10 senior players and somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 youth players currently on loan.
I’d point out that the January window is the more difficult of the two in which to do business, especially big money moves and that COVID (and Brexit to a lesser extent) complicates things even further. And as I’ve said several times this window, sometimes the best move is not making one at all. Desperation moves, short-term fixes, and trying to buy wins are how you wind up in the contract and roster mess from whence the club brass have been working to extricate Arsenal.
Fun fact: there are now just four players on the current Arsenal roster (not including players currently on loan) who played a senior, competitive match for Arsene Wenger — Rob Holding, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, and Alexandre Lacazette.
As we’re all undoubtedly aware, Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are the only true strikers at the club for the remaining 17 Premier League matches, although I suspect we may see Gabriel Martinelli or maybe even Nicolas Pépé leading the line at some point. Both Lacazette and Nketiah are on expiring contracts, so the Gunners will have some work to do in the summer to rebuild the talent pool at striker. More importantly, they’ll have find a player to carry the bulk of the scoring load next season.
The Gunners might find themselves a bit thin at the base of the midfield given Thomas Partey’s struggles with injuries and Granit Xhaka’s propensity to get sent off and suspended. But I think “gambling” (if you can even call it that) that those two backed up by Sambi Lokonga and Mohamed Elneny should be sufficient to get through the rest of the season. Come summer, Arsenal will need to reinforce the position — Granit Xhaka was nearly gone last summer, Thomas Partey will be 29, Mohamed Elneny is a squad player at best, and Sambi Lokonga is inexperienced.
Arsenal seem relatively set on defense. The club could do with a backup right back that isn’t named Cedric Soares and isn’t the starting RCB Ben White. They’ll also need to buy another left-footed centerback if Mikel Arteta wants to stick with his dominant foot based thing. Who knows if / how William Saliba fits into the picture next season.
But those are all questions to be answered in the summer transfer window. Edu & Arteta trimmed the wage bill significantly, hopefully with an eye to another group of shrewd signings come July 1st.
Arsenal have 17 matches left this season and as good a shot as any of the clubs around them to finish 4th to get back into the Champions League. We know what the roster and lineup will look like for those games. Time to put up or shut up.