A month ago, all of this would have been unbelievable.
Back then, Arsenal’s only signing was Gabriel Martinelli, an unknown Brazilian teenager playing in the lower divisions in South America.
Little did we know that by deadline day, Head of Football Raul Sanllehi would have done a madness.
Nicolas Pepe, David Luiz, Dani Ceballos, Kieran Tierney, William Saliba, Gabriel Martinelli.
All on a supposed budget of £45m.
Raul Sanllehi is a witch.
The most exciting signings were made with an eye on this season.
Nicolas Pepe is a speedy, tricky winger wanted by Europe’s elite this summer.
He had 22 goals and 11 assists in Ligue 1 last season for Lille. The only other player in Europe’s top 5 leagues to achieve 20+ goals and 10+ assists was Lionel Messi.
Despite the fireworks provided by the Lacazette-Aubameyang partnership last season, Arsenal’s attack lacked a true wide player. Pepe brings exactly what was lacking. His world class pace with gel perfectly with Lacazette and Aubameyang, bringing Arsenal’s ability to attack on the break level with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.
His dribbling and quick passing will also help break opposing defenses down inside the box, something that led Arsenal to struggle against the bottom half of the table.
Nicolas Pepe is a terribly exciting signing, giving Arsenal a terrifying three-pronged attack.
David Luiz fills the gaping hole at centre half, and at the bargain price of a reported £8m.
The 32-year-old is clearly a signing for this season. The Brazilian star has produced many highlight seasons, but his propensity to be aggressive and the odd mistake has some fans nervous, but with few alternatives at the moment with Koscielny leaving and Rob Holding injured there is certainly a role to be played.
His experience and ball-playing ability will bridge the gap until next season, with William Saliba coming in from France and the younger CB’s in the squad more acclimated to regular first team football at this level.
A first-team ready centre half was at the top of the to-do list this transfer window, and Sanllehi has delivered with David Luiz.
Dani Ceballos is an incisive passer signed on loan from Real Madrid.
He is a clear attempt to fill the void left in Aaron Ramsey’s wake. When the Welshman left for Italy, Arsenal were left with mainly defensive midfielders and more deep-lying playmakers. A midfielder to bridge the gap between attack and defensive and provide chances for the trident of Aubameyang-Lacazette-Pepe was desperately needed.
A loan signing for the 23-year-old makes sense from a financial standpoint. Many have pointed out that it comes without an option to buy. However, when Mateo Kovacic signed on loan from Real Madrid to Chelsea last season, it was also without an option to buy. But the Croatian just joined Chelsea on a permanent basis this summer anyway.
It feels as if a similar deal could easily be done next summer if this loan spell goes well.
Raul Sanllehi did not sacrifice the future in an effort to win now.
Pepe and Ceballos are still young, and he made several signings with an eye towards the long-term.
Kieran Tierney is one of the more promising fullbacks in world football. Arsenal were able to sign the 22-year-old for just £25m, a steal when players like Aaron Wan-Bissaka are going for double that fee.
The attack-minded left back provides a solution at that position potentially for the next 10 years. With Nacho Monreal aging out of the game and Sead Kolasinac far from a certainty (despite his boxing abilities), Tierney provides coverage in a position of need immediately and in the long term.
The only worry is his hip issue, which will keep him from stepping straight into the team sheet.
William Saliba is maybe the most exciting of the long-term signings.
The 18-year-old French centre half at Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 exploded onto the scene last season with a strong showing in helping his club finish in fourth place. Loaning him back to Les Verts for one more year makes sense. He is still just 18 and stepping straight into the Premier League might be more than he could handle after just 6 months of first team football.
However, if Arsenal had waited until next summer to sign him, his €30m price tag could have doubled with what defenders are going for these days (e.g. £85m for Harry Maguire).
One more year to develop is the right move, especially with David Luiz coming in to provide immediate coverage.
Gabriel Martinelli is a bit of an unknown.
The Brazilian teenager comes highly rated from new executive and compatriot Edu. The forward had a strong preseason, and it will be exciting to watch his development.
He is expected to start in the reserve teams until he has his feet under him in England.
It was not just the incoming business that was masterful.
Arsenal have always struggled with getting appropriate compensation for outgoing players. The deal for Serge Gnabry—Bayern Munich’s player of the season last year, who was sold for well less than £10m—is a prime example, in addition to Aaron Ramsey leaving for free to Juventus.
Laurent Koscielny leaving was a bit of a disappointment.
The Frenchman was a long-serving member of the club, with many standout moments. Goals in cup finals, goals securing Champions League football on the final day of the season, bailing Arsenal out of tricky situations. He will be sorely missed.
But he will be turning 34 in a month and moving him on while getting a fee in return is exactly the kind of ruthless business that the club has been crying out for.
Raul Sanllehi was right to move him on at this time, no matter how much the Twitter video of his announcement at Bordeaux hurt.
Krystian Bielik’s sale is maybe the best business of the window.
Arsenal have been far too reluctant to move on youth products when their value is at its peak, instead waiting until they haven’t panned out and selling them for pennies.
Getting upto £10m for the Polish youth international is marvelous. It was able to fund the much-needed signings for the first team and gets a player who likely would have not played at all this season of the books.
Dominic Thompson is a player whose sale to Brentford is in the same mould.
The 19-year-old defender was miles from the first team. Getting £3m from the Championship side clears out some room at the club while returning a decent fee.
Carl Jenkinson lived out every fan’s dream.
The boyhood supporter of the Gunners finally left the club after joining in 2011. However, from a business standpoint, the right back rarely played and if reports are to be believed, management had been trying to move him out for years.
Recouping funds for stronger players was the right move, and Sanllehi was able to finally get it done.
Alex Iwobi had been linked with a £30m move to Everton. This bid was rejected, but Arsenal got them up to nearly £40m and Iwobi agreed a five-year deal.
The Premier League transfer window has closed, but the rest of Europe is still open. There is still the possibility of moving other fringe players.
Elneny and Mustafi have connected with various clubs throughout the window. If Raul can get them out, it might be time to build his statue.