It looks like Arsenal’s transfer window is really kicking into gear. The Gunners announced Gabriel Martinelli as their first signing of the summer on Tuesday and it seems William Saliba and Kieran Tierney could follow the Brazilian to the club.
Considered amongst the best young talent emerging from Brazil, Martinelli has been monitored by European clubs since he was 12 years old, with the likes of Manchester United showing interest in the past.
Martinelli is predominantly known for playing on the left wing, but he is a versatile player capable of playing anywhere across the attacking line.
Another deal in the pipeline appears to be William Saliba of St Etienne, who according to reports in France has also agreed terms with the club. Although a fee is yet to be agreed, the report which comes from FootMercato suggests that the player has provisionally agreed to a five year deal at the club. ESPN reported last week that a €25million deal was close.
Saliba’s stature combined with his calmness in possession has seen him draw comparisons to Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk who has perhaps become the world’s most valuable defender.
Arsenal are in desperate need of a top quality central defender, but cannot afford to buy world class players. Saliba has all the ingredients to become a world class player in the future and that is why he is a suitable target.
All three of these players have sell on value even if they don’t settle in well and that is the model Arsenal will have to follow if they want to compete at the top again.
It’s also reassuring to see the positions where Arsenal are looking to strengthen. Too often in the past the club have ignored the obvious deficiencies in the squad. It seems both Ivan Gazidis and Arsene Wenger shared the view that a players quality was more important than their position, age and profile, with the new management structure now coming to terms with an ageing and imbalanced squad.
As well as being young, the likes of Martinelli, Tierney and Saliba possess physical and mental attributes that are very impressive for young players. Martinelli speaks with confidence, looks physically strong and stands at 5ft 11 inches, a rare combination for a teenager arriving from the Brazilian leagues.
Saliba may only be 18 but it is clear to see he plays with maturity and confidence far beyond his years and he is physically a beast, standing at 6ft 4 inches and carrying a considerable frame.
Tierney is well known for his mental attributes, with great leadership qualities for a young man.
The club may also need to start looking at internal solutions to some squad deficiencies. Joe Willock could well step up as Aaron Ramsey’s successor next season, with the teenage Englishman impressing in the under 23’s and his first team appearances last season.
Freddie Ljungberg’s promotion illustrates the Gunners ambition to bring more young players through into the first team, increasing their value in the process.
Liverpool’s transfer dealings in recent years show how even with a low net spend you can sign world class players. Liverpool have managed to generate a good amount of funds from moving on young English players like Dominic Solanke and Jordon Ibe. The Gunners can take a similar approach with their latest crop of young players including Willock, Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe, Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka.
I feel many of those players are good enough to stay at Arsenal for a long time and bring back the excitement for the fans, but if they don’t, playing them will only increase their value.
Older players the club are being linked to are unlikely to come at much cost. Take Yacine Brahimi for example. SkySports say that the Gunners are in talks to sign the player on a free transfer and the Algerian’s wages are likely to be low in comparison to the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Brahimi is 29, but a winger that has evidenced his productivity in the final third in recent years and Emery’s squad is currently lacking any natural width. Should Brahimi and Wilfried Zaha arrive, added to the young talent of Martinelli, Nelson and Saka, the Gunners may finally be able to play with width in their attack.