Arsenal CEO Vinai Venkatesham has offered up an explanation for the lack of signings made by the men’s first team during the January transfer window.
It was an active window for the Gunners in terms of getting players out, as Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Flo Balogun, Pablo Mari and Karl Hein departed on loan, and Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left on a permanent basis.
However, in terms of getting people in the opposite direction, Edu was ultimately unsuccessful despite making attempts to sign Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina and Arthur Melo from Juventus.
And now speaking at a fans’ forum event, chief executive officer Venkatesham has provided more clarity on why exactly transfer were not made.
Arsenal’s plan going into the window was to see if any deals that they were planning to do in the summer could be brought forward by six months, amid their general indifference to doing business in the month of January, Venkatesham revealed, according to those in attendance.
Despite now having a lack of depth in key positions such as at centre forward – where the misfiring Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nkeitah are Mikel Arteta ‘s only orthodox options to choose from – it is thought that the Gunners are comfortable that the remaining squad is enough for them challenge for the Champions League places.
Both permanent transfers and loan deals were considered to help bolster numbers, but ultimately it was decided that none were workable at the time.
This is in line with Edu’s policy of not looking to over-commit to long-term deals for short-term fixes. The Brazilian was keen not to panic buy as Arsenal have done in the past in the January window, as he seeks to develop Arteta’s project.
Speaking after his side’s final game of January against Burnley, Arteta revealed that while options were being explored, only ones that “raised the level” of the squad would be considered as right to bring in to the Emirates.
It can only be assumed therefore, that those type of players were not available to bring in during a mid-season window.
A lack of business in January though does leave Arsenal in a position where they will be required to spend big in the summer.
Lacazette and Nketiah are both expected to leave when their contracts expire, while Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mohamed Elneny are all likely to depart the club permanently, meaning that the centre forward and central midfield positions will need to be addressed.
“That’s part of the strategy,” Arteta said earlier this month. “As well we are going to have some contracts ending and we are going to have to make some decisions as well depending on where we are and whether we have the option to do that.
“We have players on loan as well, we have to understand where they are and where they can be and how much of a contribution they can have in the summer.
“Obviously, we’ll have to sign players in the summer, that’s without a question of a doubt.”
The men’s first team is not expected to be the only area where Arsenal invest in the summer.
Major works are expected on the stadium roof this summer, while the legends wraparound that is currently on the outside of the ground will be taken down, with the club set to consult with fan groups on what should replace it.
The big screens inside the ground – which have been faulty at times this season – will also be developed and new turnstile technology is set to be implemented to speed up entry for supporters amid lengthy waiting times at points earlier this season as fans returned following the COVID pandemic.