It’s easy to use ‘what if’ as the narrative for any Arsenal story but the club’s current issues could have been averted by just securing another decent central defender.
As soon as the Arsenal recruitment team knew that the deal for William Saliba included a loan to Saint-Étienne, Arsenal should have gone for broke and secured another. Someone such as Dayot Upamecano, with whom they are constantly linked and someone that they still have designs on.
So, let’s rewind to last summer. Bellerin was injured along with Rob Holding. Arsenal then surprised many by securing the services of Kieran Tierney but he was injured. That’s three defenders out injured and one on loan before a ball touched the Emirates turf.
That left Arsenal with virtually the same twitchy defence as the previous season and perhaps at that point, someone in a position of power should have said:
“Wait a minute, won’t that mean that we’ll have another indifferent season where we are defensively frail. Shall we buy some additional cover ?”
Apart from investing in a long term solution, an opportunity to steal Gary Cahill looked likely and that deal would have been not too dissimilar to that of David Luiz.
Cahill signed a two-year contract worth around £75,000 per week with Crystal Palace, after he was released by Chelsea on a free transfer. In fact, Cahill would have been cheaper than Luiz who gets a weekly sum of £131,832.15.
Who’s better value ? I’ll let you argue that one at your own convenience.
You can also argue that Luiz has similar credentials and that there’s not that much to choose between them and technically you’d be right. They are both reaching the end of their career and perhaps Arsenal should have got both.
Cahill has pedigree with an impressive CV that includes vast experience in defence in the domestic and European leagues and would surely have been good value for Arsenal in the interim.
I’m not moaning about how much was invested in the summer, which was said to be around £138 m but one would have thought that a recurring failure of Arsenal’s last six or more seasons should have been rectified by now, both in the short term and long term.
With the endless analysis that Arsenal attract, this may be the predominant reason for yet another season of failure come the last game of the season.
There are now rumours that Saliba may be subject of a bid from Real Madrid before he even kicks a ball in a red and white shirt. The defender who cost a ridiculous £27m is currently working his way back to fitness after breaking his foot.
Football London reported what Dr. Rajpal Brar, a rehabilitation expert, said of the injury that Arsenal supporters should have nothing much to worry about:
“A fissure of the fifth metatarsal likely means Saliba has a small crack in the long bone on the lateral outside part of his foot,”
“This injury most commonly occurs on the base of the fifth metatarsal, which is divided into three zones. We haven’t been given any further anatomy details but here’s what we do know.”
“There’s been no indication Saliba underwent a surgical procedure and if one was required, it would have almost certainly taken place already.”
He will arrive back for pre-season training, but what is unclear is who his long term partner will be. Arsenal can’t afford to make the same mistake again and three purchases in the summer should do the trick.
A replacement for Xhaka, a new centre-back and a creative midfielder are required and Arsenal could easily lose Kolasinac (£18m), Ozil (£22.5m), Mustafi (£16m), Sokratis (£18m), Xhaka (£36m), Elneny (£6.5m), and Chambers (£12m).
£129m should offset the considerable expense of three good quality players and prove better value than the £15m loan deal for Dani Cabellos for a single season.