The January transfer window slammed shut yesterday, but not before Arsenal could make a few Deadline Day moves. All told, it was an active window for the Gunners, who reinforced areas of need for the squad and sent some players out on loan. Overall, I’d give Edu & Mikel Arteta a B+ grade for their work.
The Arsenal brass aimed high, first looking to bring in young players who’d have a long-term future with the club. That didn’t work out. Despite pursuing big money moves for Mykhaylo Mudryk and Moises Caicedo, the Gunners weren’t able to sign either. Chelsea’s ridiculous spending spree meant they offered significantly more for the Ukrainian winger. Brighton & Hove Albion stood firm in their conviction that the Ecuadorian wasn’t for sale.
So the Gunners turned to shorter term solutions, signing established players who’d fill the squad’s needs at least for the remainder of this season. It was refreshing to see the club turn to Plan Bs and get the deals across the line. The squad needed reinforcements. I’m sure we all had flashbacks to last January and the collapse down the stretch last season when Arsenal weren’t able to sign their primary targets this time around. Hopefully a deeper squad will avoid a similar fate.
Arsenal brought in Leandro Trossard to be another wide attacker, which will take some of the pressure off Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to play every match. Trossard had fallen out with Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi and was angling for a move away. The Gunners signed the 28-year old Belgian for a reported £21M with £5M in potential add-ons. He has hit the ground running in North London, playing well in both his appearances so far.
The Gunners Deadline Day move was somewhat of a surprising one that came together rather quickly — buying Jorginho from Chelsea for £10M + £2M in potential add-ons. Arsenal had a desperate need for cover at the base of the midfield with Mohamed Elneny’s significant knee injury, While Jorginho can’t do all the things Thomas Partey does (nobody can), he’ll be more than adequate cover should he have to step in. I really like the move for Arsenal. Jorginho is an experienced Premier League player with multiple titles to his name. He is a better player, particularly defensively, than most give him credit for.
The club also brought in 22-year old Jakub Kiwior from Spezia Calcio. The Polish defender will be the backup LCB, a spot where Arsenal didn’t have a true backup, and can deputize at LB. He also played CDM last season in Italy, so he might provide a bit of cover in the midfield in a pinch. The Gunners spent around £17.5M for his services, and he signed a “long term deal” with the club, presumably 4.5 or 5.5 years.
Arsenal sent three first team players out on loan: Cedric to Fulham, Albert Sambi Lokonga to Crystal Palace, and Marquinhos to Norwich City. The Cedric deal doesn’t really move the needle either way. I hope he has a successful few months down the road at Craven Cottage. The other two moves are more interesting. Can Patrick Vieira help get the young Belgian center midfielder back on track? Sambi needs to develop the defensive side of his game and desperately needs to rediscover his confidence. Marquinhos should do well at Norwich City. The Canaries are in the midst of a battle for a spot in the promotion playoffs, which should help the Brazilian get accustomed to the speed and intensity of the English game.
The Gunners also loaned / recalled and re-loaned several academy players.
With the transfer window closed, Arsenal can turn their attention to the task at hand — holding off what will undoubtedly by a robust title challenge from Manchester City. The Gunners are five points clear at the top of the Premier League table with a game in hand over City and two head-to-head matchups still to come. The Gunners are also in the Europa League and will find out their Round of 16 opponent later this month.
How would you rate Arsenal’s January window?