The players who have not participated in the World Cup tournament have started streaming back for the pre-season by Monday. That same Monday Sokratis Papastathopoulus was officially announced as our newest signing. Meanwhile our available players are being welcomed by a host of new faces with Emery at the head. Are they in for a culture shock? Many are going to run out of their pop corn. That we already know. Also, do we all feel the new energy that has come with the new order. There is a definite spring in our steps. I hope we are able to ride on it expertly.
The end of the transfer window is five weeks away. Not a bad time to take stock and project. So far we’ve made three, no, four signings (no more bets on Torreira); Leno as brave as they come between the sticks, Lichsteiner intense and focused, Sokratis a warrior and Torreira a terrier. Be rest assured of blood and thunder before the conceding of a goal. That’s clearly the project.
In a 25 player squad, we should have a minimum of two players per position. We look at how we stand with numbers. The under 21 players are asterisked.
GOALKEEPERS:- Cech, Ospina, Leno, Macey and Martinez. A keeper that cost the club over £19m (Leno) is expected to be the first choice goal tender. Either Cech or Ospina has to go. Cech would fetch less money in the market but would lighten our wage bill by £100,000 per week. The job of finding a party that can inherit that wage bill wouldn’t be easy. This should decide it for the club and Ospina at £40,000 per week and with a higher market value is more likely to go. Macey goes on loan while Martinez who is home grown is made the third choice keeper.
RIGHT FULL BACK:- Bellerin and Lichsteiner. The latter, on a one year deal is probably recruited as a psychological leader of the team. All skill and no fight failed us. He is welcome.
LEFT FULL BACK:- Monreal, Kolasinac and Jenkinson. There is some talk of Real Sociedad being interested in Monreal. He looks like he has at least 2 more good years left in him and Kolasinac has not fully convinced defensively. Further, I can’t see Jenkinson or as yet any academy player as a viable 2nd choice back up. With restricted budget it would be best to keep Nacho while Jenkinson is sold. Third choice should always be reserved for academy players. It’s developmental and cheaper.
CENTRAL DEFENCE:- Mustafi, Chambers, Holding, Papastathopoulus, Koscielny (out with injury) and Mavropanos*. That’s six players where four can suffice as Emery is not known to use a 3-man central defence. I don’t expect any more recruitment here even though Koscielny would not be registered in the first half of the season. By the time he comes back Mavro could be sent out on loan for more game experience.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD THREE:- Ramsey, Xhaka, Elneny, Torreira (as good as signed) Maitland-Niles*, Reine-Adelaide* and Willock*. Seven is a good number for the engine room of three but overall they look light in experience and quality particularly with Ramsey’s proneness to injury a factor. There are so much rumours connecting us to midfielders, Steven Nzonzi, Ever Banega, Andre Gomez, Tanguy Ndombele and others. What I can sift out of it all, is that we are looking for another number for the midfield. If so there must be sales for funds. Willock could be loaned out.
OFFENSIVE THREE:- Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, Aubamayang, Welbeck, Perez, Campbell, Akpom, Iwobi, Nelson* and Nketiah*. Eleven numbers here require that some have to go. We need money to help fund an extra central midfielder. The first four names above are comparable to any four anywhere. They are untouchables. Of the rest, Emery and Arsenal’s philosophy of youth development, might see the club retaining only the three of Iwobi, Nelson and Nketiah.
THE FA 17 MAXIMUM NON-HOME-GROWN PLAYER RULE:- Cech, Ospina, Leno, Macey, Lichsteiner, Monreal, Kolasinac, Mustafi, Koscielny, Sokratis, Xhaka, Elneny, Torreira, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, Aubamayang, Perez, Campbell. Nineteen non-home-grown players. Even without any further foreign signing two player here cannot be registered. Couple it with the need to raise funds, cut down wage bill and achieve better balance in the distribution of the numbers over different positions, it becomes clear that some players have to go. My guess is in the direction of Ospina, Jenkinson, Campbell, Perez and Welbeck in that order.
This stock taking, analysis and projections has tried to take many things on board; the EPL rule on non-home-grown players, the FA wage bill restrictions, the club’s emphasis on the development of youth, the tight transfer budget for this window as well as the fact that we want to compete.
With these conditions in mind what are your opinions, dear fellow Gooners?
By Pony Eye