Southampton could hardly believe the late Arsenal approach for Cedric Soares, as they expected him to leave for free in the summer.

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND – JANUARY 30: Arsenal unveil new signing Cedric Soares at London Colney on January 30, 2020, in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

David Ornstein reports for The Athletic that Soares’ transfer was a ‘pleasant surprise’ for Southampton. Given his expiring contract, the club assumed his representatives were working on an overseas exit. Then, his injury left them assuming he’d leave for free.

Instead, Arsenal came in for him. Southampton couldn’t see the logic in the move and put it down to agent relationships, but they were happy to do a deal.

From an Arsenal point of view, I suppose it doesn’t matter much whether Southampton understand the signing. Their willingness to sell meant a low fee and the option to keep Soares or let him go at the end of the campaign.

The worst-case scenario is that Arsenal waste a few million on a player they don’t play very often and decide not to keep. Even then, they have the option to bring someone else in at right-back this summer.

That’s the maximum cost too. According to reports, the loan fee is £1m or less, and his wages are £65,000 a week.

There are just under 22 weeks between deadline day and the end of June, so that’s £1.43m at most. Plus the loan fee, which equals £2.43m in total if they don’t activate any add-ons. If he does activate the add-ons, at least that means he’s playing.

It’s really not a big risk move. That makes it unlikely to yield a huge reward, but you never know.