Raul Sanllehi may yet regret his dismissive tones about the January transfer window. In 2018 the head of football at Arsenal told the Mail,
“I don’t believe much in the winter window. There are exceptions but if you have the right planification in the summer and the team are performing at the level you expect, you should not go to that window or try to avoid it. It’s there for emergencies, a big injury or if something is really not working and you need to recover there. I give much more importance to the summer windows.”
Well, the ‘planification’ wasn’t right because Arsenal failed to shore up a broken defence that was plagued by injuries and then, worse still, engaged in the dreadful loan deal of William Saliba.
Things got worse with the addition of David Luiz, another Chelsea player that was way past his best and one that hasn’t added anything defensively.
One can assume that Arsenal’s current plight can now be deemed an emergency and that Sanllehi is about to dip deeply into the transfer market to remedy the faults that were right under his nose last summer.
But the Spaniard hasn’t got a great track record and whilst at Barcelona, Sanllehi made matters rather worse with his involvement in the transfer policy at the time.
With all the changes behind the scenes, someone somewhere overlooked the obvious and thought that a minimal spend on the backline would be good enough to patch up Arsenal’s inept defence.
That was like trying to put the tyres of a Volkswagen Beetle on a formula one car but Arsenal’s plan went massively down the toilet under Unai Emery.
The defence was exposed in the Europa league final against Chelsea in May 2019 but nothing was done about it. Instead Arsenal looked at the midfield and attack, perhaps thinking that a strong attack would cancel out any defensive weaknesses. It didn’t.
At this point in time, Raul Sanllehi is very much under the microscope with Arsenal’s decline now completely underway and this January’s transfer window offers a genuine opportunity to arrest the slide.
If, as reported, Arsenal are not willing to provide major sums to support their new manager, Mikel Arteta, then there will probably be an explosive reaction from supporters.
More importantly, if this is the case, Arsenal may not be able to claw their way back to the summit of the premier league. That wouldn’t reflect well on the Kroenke’s or Raul Sanllehi and in the world of blame, the Kroenke’s will always come first, second and third.
We’ll soon be able to see which way this story is heading and if Raul Sanllehi has the power or trust he is rumoured to have. Fans will hope he has.