Arsenal fans went into this transfer window expecting to be depressed even further as Budget FC shopped around Europe looking for Denilson’s clone.
£45m? What were we expected to do with that? How on earth could we close the gap that had opened up between us and the rest of the top four if we could only spend pennies in the market while losing a host of key players for nothing?
But none of us factored in the difference between Ivan Gazidis and Raul Sanllehi.
Instead, Arsenal fans were slapped awake not once but six times. Josh Kroenke wasn’t lying when he said ‘be excited’.
The joy of six and all that.
Are there any Arsenal fans out there who aren’t at least a little bewildered by it all? Most I know are just starring at their computers asking ‘What the hell was that?’ It was the opposite of what we’ve come to expect – smart, well-thought out, and effective rather than haphazard, desperate and barrel-scrapey.
Arsenal identified players and then signed them. That’s not how this is supposed to work, is it?
For the last 10 years or so when a transfer window opened, we all knew what Arsenal needed to do. We’d sit, waiting patiently for nothing to happen. We expected little and, still, somehow, ended up disappointed.
This summer, however, there’s no disappointment to be had apart from those who bemoan the loss of Alex Iwobi to help balance the arrival of Nicolas Pepe, a player almost exactly 12 months older but much more deadly.
I look at the ease with which Raul Sanllehi and co have cleaned Arsenal’s decks in the last 12 months. Joel Campbell, David Ospina, Takuma Asano and Yaya Sanogo are just a few of the deadwoods Ivan Gazidis couldn’t give away that Arsenal have shown the door.
We watched on as Arsenal were linked with expensive players all over the world, yet we knew that we couldn’t discount them because the club had already made fools of us all with Pepe. Even David Ornstein was blindsided.
£72m? Arsenal? Hilarious!
Targets were identified and players signed. There was no drama, no dillydallying. Boom, bang, bagged.
It’s a strange feeling for Arsenal to exceed expectations and feel like a football club with a clue again.
While Arsenal’s team has been slated for being weak on the pitch, they’ve been even worse in the transfer market. In short, under Gazidis and Dick Law, Arsenal were a pushover. It’s why their captain thought he could move for nothing this summer despite having a year left on his contract.
But Arsenal aren’t that football club anymore.
We’re now the club that got the guts of £10m for a youngster who has played twice for us and £3m for one who’s never played for the seniors at all.
We’re the club that refused to bend to the will of its captain.
We’re the club that got David Luiz to force a move across London despite signing a new deal and declaring his love for Chelsea just three months ago.
We’re the club that got Nicolas Pepe to blow off five of the biggest clubs in Europe to come to N5.
We’re the club that got William Saliba to sign for us even though Spurs offered more money for his signature.
We are The Arsenal.
Feels weird, doesn’t it?
This article was first written for Paddy Power