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Tuesday Cannon Fodder: transfers

Brentford FC v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Good Tuesday morning, TSFers. We received good news yesterday evening — our building thinks power could be restored as soon as today. That won’t be the end of our saga because they still have to inspect and certify whatever repairs they make, but fingers crossed they’ll be able to fix everything quicker than the 5-day timeline they gave us.

This morning, I wanted to talk about transfers. Usually, January is a month rife with easy-pickings posts because Arsenal (and every club) are linked with anybody who has ever thought about playing football. This year, it’s been really tough to bring myself to write about any of them because Arsenal likely aren’t going to be making any big moves.

The Gunners are up against FFP / Premier League Profit and Sustainability rules after their £200M summer outlay, or at least that’s what we’ve been told. It’s why David Raya is on loan to the club with an option to buy rather than a permanent member of the squad already.

Any incoming has to be accompanied by an outgoing. There is a bit of wiggle room there, I believe. You can amortize the transfer fees for incoming players over the length of the contract and pay in installments. That’s how most deals get done. And I also believe you can book the profit for a sale immediately. So theoretically, Arsenal could sell, say, Eddie Nketiah or Reiss Nelson for £20-30M and use that money to “fund” a bigger purchase while not running afoul of FFP.

But then there is the whole “who is actually available,” “do they actually make Arsenal better” and “who wants to buy the players the club is willing to sell,” part of it. Remember, for a transfer to happen you need a willing buyer, a willing seller, a player who is open to a move, and the right price.

Arsenal’s biggest need, both in the short term and the long term, is scoring. I expect them to take a run at a big name striker this summer. Like, Victor Osimhen-level big, not Ivan Toney-level. That caliber of player — world class — isn’t often available in the January window, and if they are, they are more expensive than they would be in the summer. If I’m correct about Arsenal’s summer plans, buying someone like Ivan Toney is about the worst thing the club could do. It would be a massive outlay, would clog the depth chart, and are we sure that Ivan Toney makes Arsenal better?

Put together, it makes it difficult to get worked up about the January window. Arsenal may tinker around the edges with a Jakub Kiwior-level signing (and he hasn’t exactly come good at the club yet), but anything bigger than that, even a Leandro Trossard-level addition, seems unlikely. Of course, Trossard happened in part because an unexpected opportunity presented itself and the club were in a position to pounce. Perhaps something similar comes up in the next three weeks. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. Arsenal will largely be dancing with the ones that brought ‘em in the second half of the season.