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What Arsenal’s failed summer transfers including Aouar and Edouard mean for January window plans

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Arsenal’s summer can be deemed an overall success, given there was much work to do and a majority of it was successfully completed. But Edu, Mikel Arteta and the rest of the staff working on transfers likely always knew this would be more than a one-window turnover process, even with the summer 2020 transfer window being a longer one than normal.

There was simply too much to do, in and out, to make this a quick fix and get the Gunners back up toward the top end of the table – but it was, all the same, a good start.

So which deals didn’t quite get pushed through, and what work does that leave as attention off-the-field turns immediately toward January – which after all, is only two-and-a-half months away.

The ones which got away

On the incoming side, although Arsenal might well have been after other names who didn’t appear in the gossip columns, there were two main areas of the team which seemed to be in line for upgrades which never happened.

The first and most prominent was a creative, forward-thinking outlet in central midfield.

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Top of the wish list appeared to be Lyon’s Houssem Aouar, though other names were mentioned including Chelsea’s Jorginho. Aouar was clearly the preference, though, but a combination of lack of funds and the French international not being entirely convinced about the move mean it never quite happened.

Second of all, a striker was long-mentioned, but never really pursued it seems.

Perhaps this was an area that Arsenal were only looking at a new recruit for in case Alexandre Lacazette departed, or maybe if the salary taken up by the unwanted Mesut Ozil could be written off. In either case, players such as Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard and Moussa Dembele – another Lyon star – were often linked, but never close to a transfer.

No buyers found

The outgoing side of matters was more concerning, in truth. Arsenal’s squad remains bloated and imbalanced, with a clutch of defensive players obviously having little future under Arteta.

At one stage it seemed that Sead Kolasinac, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos all had moves lined up, the former to Germany and the latter duo to Italy, but for varying reasons they all fell through. Bringing in £10 million or more for a couple of those might not have made a huge deal in this window, but the saving on their salaries and leaving the manager free to concentrate on improving a more slim-line group on the training pitch would have been just as welcome as the incoming funds.

There were rumours and suggestions that any of Reiss Nelson, Folarin Balogun, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and even Hector Bellerin might be allowed to leave if bids came in, but either none materialised or the offers weren’t acceptable.

January sales

The mid-season market has to be more about offloading the extra, unneeded bodies, rather than Arteta beefing up his squad further.

Arsenal are clearly playing the long game with the Spanish manager, a sensible option given they have such a long road to travel from mid-table mediocrity back up to challenging for major honours. That means there’s no need to rush out, pay big in winter and hope for an immediate impact from signings.

If the chance is there to add a quality face then sure, they might go ahead with a move – but given their number of non-homegrown players and the squad quota limits imposed on top sides, selling two or three is the greater priority.

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Between now and the new year, Edu’s job should be twofold: monitoring and deciding early which players will significantly boost the first team for next season, and trying to find clubs to take an unwanted quartet off the Gunners’ hands.

Ozil, Kolasinac, Mustafi and Sokratis need to find new homes for their still-present talents, homes whose style and plans for the future fit the ability they have to offer.

Is Aouar still the player Arsenal want the most? It wouldn’t be a surprise, as his talent level is huge, but he has already noted he wasn’t overly bothered about missing out on a move to the Emirates and he’s likely to have more suitors a year from now. Keep an eye on the next biggest talents to snap up with the money raised and saved from other departures, and Arsenal’s long-term plan for improvement will still be well on track.




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