Arsenal had to sign someone. After missing out on Mykhhailo Mudryk, Arsenal could not afford to not sign anyone in the January transfer window. And while Mudryk has exceptional promise as a footballer, there was considerable risk. He would have to adapt to the demands of Mikel Arteta’s system, and would have to adapt to the Premier League. In that sense, Trossard comes with Premier League experience, and coming from a team that, under Roberto de Zerbi and Graham Potter, has some similarities to Arsenal.
Indeed, a further complication is that every single club knows Arsenal had to sign a forward. The whole world could see the game on Sunday, when Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, and Eddie Nketiah were all out of energy by about 75 minutes, but only Martinelli was replaced—by a left back, Kieran Tierney.
Furthermore, Trossard is actually a good player. There have been some concerns about buying a 28 year old, because it deviates from the project. But the aim of the project is to win the league, and Arsenal are in a position to do it. Adding Trossard, a good player, with Premier League experience, improves that position. Arsenal didn’t need someone who could be the best left winger in the world in three years; they needed someone who can start in the Cup against Manchester City in a week and against Everton in two weeks, and could be counted on to contribute. Essentially, what Arsenal needed was the knowledge that a player could come in and would have the surety of technique and quality that he wouldn’t bring down Arsenal’s overall level.
Trossard is a two-footed wide player who has scored against Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool, including a hat trick against Liverpool earlier this season—all with his weaker left foot. This is a player who operates primarily from the left, but because he is generally two-footed—he has taken the equal amount of shots from right and left foot this season—you can see how he could operate on the right. He’s also played upfront for Brighton, giving Arteta another option, especially as Eddie Nketiah is the only fit center-forward, and Emile Smith Rowe is untested as a false 9.
Leandro Trossard • Just My Type— AFC Visual (@afcvisuals) January 19, 2023
Made a quick comp on our soon-to-be new player. Hope you'll enjoy it! pic.twitter.com/sUvIytwOBz
Beyond that, though, Trossard has a level of technical quality that means he fits into Arsenal’s team. With his left foot, he is capable of quick combination play, and with his right foot he has an excellent long range pass, and his presence in the team will allow Arteta’s side to do what they’ve done best season and keep the ball in attacking areas. Indeed, there are some areas where he’ll add to what Arsenal have in the forward areas, and can allow Mikel Arteta greater flexibility and the ability to change based on opponent—especially once Emile Smith Rowe is brought to full fitness. He’s a smart runner off the ball, and his xG per 90, at .3, would only be behind Gabriel Jesus, Nketiah, Saka, and Martin Ødegaard at Arsenal—indicating that he gets into decent scoring positions.
Trossard is also a good presser. Brighton’s first goal in their 4-1 win against Brighton earlier this season comes about because of Trossard pressure. What Arsenal are getting is a player who can start in multiple positions and allow the team to keep up its level of quality. It’s not a squad player in the mould of Palo Marí or Cédric Soares—a backup that years later seem like pointless expenditure—but rather a genuine squad player, someone who’ll always be the 13th or 14th player in a game if not in the first eleven. Given where Arsenal are at this point in the season, it’s exactly what Arsenal needs.