As is customary during the summer transfer season, I generally google search the term 'arsenal' and read all the news articles linking us with every footballer on the planet. In years past the narrative was something along the lines of Arsenal being linked with a lot of players, players other people have heard of, and then signing Park Chu Young. Last summer was us being linked to a lot of players, rumours of a medical, and then the player signing for Napoli. This summer, we've been linked to a lot of players, rumoured medicals, and we sign Alexis Sanchez..........WHAT?!
It's not even deadline day, and we've already bought a world class player? Doesn't sound like Arsenal at all. Of course, the Sanchez rumours had been going on for sometime now, but most people refused to believe it till appeared last night on Arsenal.com (the link has been provided for people still in disbelief). First things first, we have a great player. He's powerful, pacey, glorious dribbling ability, has a wicked shot, has played at a top level, and at the age of 25, his best years are still ahead of him. A lot was written about our attacking play last season, how we were devoid of pace without Walcott, how Giroud was our primary finisher with everyone else on the team being a creator, how we only managed to score 66 goals. Arsenal was crying out for a top class attacker, and in signing Sanchez, our attacking woes may have been solved.
From a pure footballing view, Sanchez has a lot to offer. He can play anywhere across the front three, on the flanks, as he's done for Barcelona, just behind the main striker as at Udinese, or even as a classic striker as we've seen him do for Chile. And let's face it, he was rather impressive for Chile. Where he finally plays is of course up to the boss, but he's flexible enough to play anywhere. He scored 19 La Liga goals from the wings last season, behind only Messi, and would go a long way in creating one of the best strike forces in the league, and perhaps even Europe. Furthermore, Sanchez has a great work ethic. Continuously haggling defenders, tracking back, for Chile he was the first line of defence. As far as transfer dealings go, 30 something million pounds for a player of Sanchez's ilk is pretty much a no-brainer.
Alexis Sanchez's footballing abilities aside, this transfer is pleasing for numerous other reasons. One of them is that no one is upset about Cesc Fabregas going to Chelsea anymore. Well, not as much at any rate. It was a known fact that Arsenal required a goal-scorer, and if 30 million pounds are spent on Sanchez rather than Fabregas, so be it. It was the necessary transfer, rather than the luxurious one. We had a problem in terms of goals. We addressed it. Another rather admirable aspect about this entire transfer was the efficiency of it.
Unlike the torturous summer of 2013, where we were simply bouncing from one transfer target to the other, this summer the club and it's officials settled on a transfer target, negotiated with one of the biggest clubs in the worlds for one of it's best players, and quickly signed him up. There was no dithering of old, no haggling, no endless talks. People talk a lot about the Ozil deal, but in my honest opinion, there's a huge difference between the two transfers. Ozil was a deadline day signing, after a summer of transfer dithering. I understand that he only became available after the Bale transfer went through, but it wasn't necessarily a planned one. Higuain, then Suarez, and then finally Ozil. This summer presents a different scenario altogether. It would appear that there are definite transfer targets, and the club is doing it's best to get them. Of course, the Ozil deal would have helped provide those in charge of transfers the requisite experience to conduct deals at such a top level, but the club itself deserves a lot of credit for conducting it's affairs in an efficient manner.
In my opinion, the most pleasing aspect of this entire transaction is that Arsenal is now looked at as one of the big boys once more. If Ozil's transfer was a hint as to what Arsenal's newfound financial power is capable of, then Sanchez's transfer is definite evidence of that. It means that last summer's record transfer wasn't a one off, rather the first in what can only be deemed as the flexing of the club's financial muscle. A lot has been said about the new Puma and Emirates deals, how the club could compete at a much higher level than before, and the club is putting money where it's mouth is. Ozil's transfer was pleasing as to how unexpected it was, and Sanchez's transfer is even more significant since we know what to expect now.
Of course, not every player coming in is going to be world class, or cost upwards of 30 million, but there is something comforting in the knowledge that when there is a need for a world class player, and such a player is available, the club is competent enough to buy him. At the centre of it all is Arsene Wenger. He may have come under a lot of criticism over the years for apparent penny pinching, buying bargain players, but 2014 was always going to be the year when Arsene would have substantial resources at his disposal, and thus far he has more than lived up to expectations. When you're competing against teams with unlimited resources such as Manchester City, Chelsea, PSG, and teams with resources greater than yours such as Manchester United, getting players such as Ozil and Sanchez cannot be easy. It would appear that Wenger is the difference. Despite what some supporters (and non-supporters) may say, he continues to be one of the most respected managers in the world, and getting top class players requires them being convinced of our club and it's abilities. To say that our manager has been convincing, would be an understatement.
Admiration aside, our transfer needs aren't over. We still need a Right Back (Debuchy seems pretty close), a holding midfielder and a back-up keeper at the very least. But for now, we should enjoy the fact that for the second summer in a row, a world class player has donned an Arsenal jersey. It's the dawn of a new Arsenal, and while the wait to see the actual team in action is agonising, the future is definitely an exciting one.
Welcome, Alexis Sanchez, our new No. 17.
PS: Sorry Nacho, hope you're ambivalent between No. 17 and 18.