Why Arsenal failed to sign Alexander Isak as Edu bets on future of Mikel Arteta project

After 31 days, the January transfer window has finally closed.

With Champions League football seemingly on offer for the first time in half a decade, this window was always going to be crucial for Arsenal, who still had plenty to do despite an excellent summer window which saw them bring in Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Martin Odegaard and Takehiro Tomiyasu.

“We expect some activity as there are players and a couple of loans that we hope to have to finish,” Mikel Arteta said of his squad’s New Year’s Eve plans.

“But it depends. It’s – as we all know – a very complicated market, and it’s a short window, so we’ll see what happens.”

The Gunners had focused on the midfield and attacking departments, but as the transfer deadline approached on Monday, they had only managed to sign goalkeeper Matt Turner before a summer move, which means that there was still a lot to do. Several exits also had to be finalized.

With the day of the deadline now over, and the window finally over football.london looks back at what has been a busy 24 hours for Edu, and where that leaves them ahead of the rest of the season.

What happened?

Until deadline day, much of the transfer action around the Emirates Stadium was about club exits.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles had started the ball rolling by securing a loan transfer to Roma, before Flo Balogun joined Middlesbrough until the end of the season. Although the moves appear to suit all parties involved, their timing has come under scrutiny given the lack of numbers in Arsenal’s squad at the start of January.

Pablo Mari then joined Udinese for the remainder of the campaign after finding playing time hard to come by without European football this year.

Calum Chambers, meanwhile, had been granted a permanent move to Aston Villa and Sead Kolasinac had terminated his contract with the Gunners in order to seal a move to Marseille.

In the academy set up, Hale Enders Karl Hein, Tyreece John-Jules, Brooke Norton-Cuffy and Ryan Alebiosu had also left the club via loans to Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Lincoln and Crewe Alexandra respectively.

Despite all these departures, there were still more to come on deadline day.

Nikolaj Moller was the first member of the academy to leave, joining Dutch side FC Den Bosch on loan. It had been thought the Swede could challenge Mika Biereth and Khayon Edwards for a starting spot in Kevin Betsy’s Under-23 squad, with Balogun now out of the picture, after being recalled from a spell in the third German level with Viktoria Koln. , but this did not turn out to be the case.

Jordi Osei-Tutu, who had also been recalled from a loan spell at Nottingham Forest amid further injury problems, was then allowed to join Rotherham for the remainder of the campaign.

Tim Akinola was sent north of the border to get more minutes with Dundee United after struggling for game time with the Under-23s, while Under-18 starlet Amani Richards left on a permanent deal to reach Leicester City.

The big issue, however, concerned Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameynag has signed for Barcelona. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The 32-year-old hadn’t played since he was sacked as club captain from Arsenal last month for disciplinary misconduct, and Mikel Arteta had made it clear he was no longer part of the plans. the first team after omitting him from the traveling party who went on a hot-weather mid-season training trip to Dubai.

Despite interest from both sides in Saudi Arabia, the Gabon international seemed destined to join Barcelona on loan until the end of the season.

It seemed all but confirmed when Aubameyang was pictured arriving at Barcelona airport, only for it to later emerge that he had been on a trip to Catalonia before any financial deal had been agreed between the two clubs.

However, an agreement has finally been reached to allow the former Borussia Dortmund star to move to the Nou Camp on a permanent basis, meaning his Arsenal career is now over.

When it came to starters, Arsenal fans had little to celebrate.

Lino Sousa had already joined the academy set up from West Brom, and his arrival was enhanced by the signing of American centre-back Auston Trusty.

The 23-year-old comes from Colorado Rapids, which is also owned by Stan and Josh Kroenke, but was immediately sent back on loan to MLS until the summer.

What didn’t happen

This will be the chronicle that will probably irritate Arsenal fans the most.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the Gunners’ two main positional targets were central midfielder and centre-forward.

In the first case, it appeared that any action was unlikely before the day of the deadline.

Edu had attempted to secure a six-month loan for Arthur Melo, but Juventus’ desire for the deal to be an 18-month loan with an obligation to buy meant he could not proceed.

Bruno Guimaraes had meanwhile controversially joined Newcastle, while a move for Gini Wijnaldum or Youri Tielemans never seemed likely this month.

With Mohamed Elneny back from AFCON ahead of the next Premier League game against Wolves and Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey both back for this game, it was decided the Gunners could make do with what they had.

This has essentially ended any chance of Elneny leaving despite the Egyptian only having six months left on his contract in north London.

Up front, it looked like more action could be on the cards.

Arsenal had previously tried to strengthen the centre-forward position by signing Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina, but as reports football.london Early in the window, the 21-year-old’s desire was always to stay in Italy, and he ended up at Juventus.

After that attention turned to other targets including Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Lille’s Jonathan David, but as the last day of January approached it emerged that Alexander Isak was the most likely player to potentially join.

The Swedish striker had been scouted in London in the days leading up to Monday and was, in theory, the easiest deal to make given his £70m release clause from Real Sociedad, but the Gunners have ultimately chose not to.

Interest has also been reported for Espanyol striker Raul de Tomas, but sources close to the player revealed early on the day of the deadline for football.london it wasn’t going to advance this late in the window.

The failure to secure a centre-forward meant Eddie Nketiah ended up staying despite late interest from Newcastle who were keen to bring him in before his contract expired in the summer.

Meanwhile, youngster Omar Rekik ended up staying in north London despite interest from Championship side Stoke City, and Kido Taylor-Hart couldn’t move anywhere on loan due to a back injury. abdomen from which he is currently recovering.

where the club is missing

Well, the most obvious answer to that question is centre-forward.

As things stand, the club’s most orthodox number nines are Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah, who will both see their contracts expire this summer.

Gabriel Martinelli can play there if need be, but it is now likely that Arsenal will be there for at least two forwards this summer as they seek to resolve what has been a problematic position since Arteta took over.

Centre-back could also be a position of concern given that Gabriel, Ben White and Rob Holding are the only players to have played this position this season now on the books at Emirates Stadium.

Takehiro Tomiyasu is a regular in the middle of defense though and could end up covering there if need be, but asking him to slip would mean that Cedric – who is more of a traditional modern overlapping full-back than an inverted full-back that Arteta has tendency to prefer on the right side – will have to enter the team.

It has also been suggested that central midfield is a position where the Gunners could be a bit short given the problems they faced this month in which Albert Sambi Lokonga was the only senior orthodox option for games. against Nottingham Forest, Liverpool and Burnley.

However, the impressive development of Charlie Patino combined with the return from loan of Miguel Azeez and the availability of Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny means Arsenal have decent depth in this area of ​​the pitch.

Verdict on the window

As January draws to a close, it feels like Arsenal left themselves unnecessarily vulnerable at the end of the season.

Hopes are still high of securing the top four, and with the lack of depth throughout the squad there are fears the Gunners could sabotage their own chances of playing Champions League football next year.

In isolation, each departure can probably be justified.

None of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Flo Balogun, Pablo Mari, Calum Chambers or Sead Kolasinac were likely to get consistent playing time until the end of the season given that the only competition Arsenal still compete in is the Premier League, while getting Pierre- Emerick Aubameyang’s sizable salary on the books signals the removal of a sizable financial stone from around the club’s neck.

Arsenal technical director Edu speaks to Sky Sports.  (Picture: Sky Sports)
Arsenal technical director Edu speaks to Sky Sports. (Picture: Sky Sports)

However, it is as a collective that agreements will rightly be challenged.

If Arsenal play in the Champions League next season Edu will be touted as a genius for freeing up finances to fund a summer spending spree, but if not he will be derided as a saboteur in what could to be the best of the Gunners. chance to dine at the best table in Europe for a while.

It’s admirable that the club were unwilling to compromise on their stance of not bringing in players unless they felt the deal was a good one. Failure to do so in the past has left Arsenal with costly issues to address which have stalled potential for development and growth in key areas of the team.

But at the same time, it’s inherently risky, given how many people are allowed to leave.

How history looks back on this window will also likely be clouded by what the Gunners do in the summer.

If they are able to deliver an elite number nine and a long-term solution in central midfield, then this month’s transfer starvation is likely to be forgotten very quickly.

Arsenal’s actions this month have certainly divided opinion, but only time will tell if they were the right ones.

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