The January transfer window has now closed, so let’s have a look at all the deals Arsenal completed.

Omar Rekik signing for Arsenal (Photo via Arsenal.com)
Omar Rekik signing for Arsenal (Photo via Arsenal.com)

Arsenal deals – Completed

Arsenal players – In

LONDON, ENGLAND: Martin Odegaard of Arsenal runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on January 30, 2021. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Martin Odegaard of Arsenal runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on January 30, 2021. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
  • Omar Rekik –  19-year-old ball-playing centre-back, signed from Hertha Berlin in a deal that was almost completed in the summer. He has joined the u23s initially.
  • Anna Patten – Former Arsenal player re-signed after finishing her studies in the US.
  • Mat Ryan – The Brighton keeper has signed on loan until the end of the season in a move nobody saw coming.
  • Martin Odegaard – The Real Madrid midfielder has joined on loan until the end of the season.

Arsenal players – Out

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal gestures during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on February 3, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 03: Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal gestures during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on February 3, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Arsenal deals – extended

BARNET, ENGLAND - JULY 24: James Hillson of Arsenal celebrates his sides first goal during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Barnet and Arsenal at The Hive on July 24, 2019 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)
BARNET, ENGLAND – JULY 24: James Hillson of Arsenal celebrates his sides first goal during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Barnet and Arsenal at The Hive on July 24, 2019 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)

Was Arsenal’s transfer window really that good?

by Stephen Bradley

With the 2020-21 winter transfer window coming to an end, let’s see how well Arsenal have managed to go about their business over the past month, and whether they can be happy with their work as a whole.

In:

Martin Ødegaard – Loan from Real Madrid until end of season

Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (L) gets instructions from Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta (R) as he comes on as a substitute during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 30, 2021. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP) /

There are a number of questions regarding this deal, and all of them can be answered with one word:

  • Is Ødegaard a good player? Yes.
  • Can he help them team climb the table and go far in the Europa League? Yes.
  • Is it a indicative sign of Mikel Arteta’s ability to draw players of Ødegaard’s ability to the club? Yes.
  • Is it a problem that this deal doesn’t include a buy clause? YES.

As happy as I am that someone of Ødegaard’s quality has been brought into the club, there is a whiff of short-termism about the deal. He can help now, absolutely. But what happens in five months when the deal is up?

There are only two outcomes in play here; Either Ødegaard plays superbly well for Arsenal, in which case Real Madrid will thank us for getting him back into form and bring him back to the Bernabeu, or he doesn’t perform well and Real Madrid offers us the chance to sign a player who we won’t particularly want. Neither are in Arsenal’s best interest.

RATING: Right now, it’s a 7/10. If Ødegaard is still at the club on September 1st, it’ll be a 10. If he isn’t, it’ll be a 4.

Matthew Ryan – Loan from Brighton until end of season

Mat Ryan after signing for Arsenal (Photo via Ryan on Twitter)
Mat Ryan after signing for Arsenal (Photo via Ryan on Twitter)

After watching Alex Runarsson underwhelm during Europa League games in the autumn, and then proceeding to flap at a Rihad Mahrez free kick last month as if he was trying to catch a bag of wasps, most Arsenal fans made up their minds that the Icelander was not the man to challenge Bernd Leno as the number one goalkeeper. So, it was pleasing to see that Arsenal’s hierarchy agreed and brought a more experienced set of hands into the club.

Frankly, pretty much anyone would have been OK here, as if Leno plays every game for the rest of the season then nobody will be upset. But Ryan is a Premier League calibre goalkeeper who is happy to be backup at the club he supports. I’d be more than happy to keep him long-term.

RATING: 9/10

Out:

Mesut Özil – Released on a free transfer

TOPSHOT – German midfielder Mesut Ozil (C) holds his new jersey as he poses with Fenerbahce’s president Ali Koc (L) and sport director Emre Belezoglu (R), during a press conference after he signed his new three-and-a-half year contract with Turkish football club Fenerbahce at the Divan Faruk ilgaz facilities on January 27, 2021 in Istanbul. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

Sigh. It’s such a shame that it had to end this way, with Arsenal virtually having to bribe a player to leave, even though that same player was virtually bribed to stay only three years ago. There is plenty of blame to go around, and nobody comes away from this saga smelling of roses. Our own Matthew Wade wrote this about Özil six years ago and it still applies today.

But…..

From February 1st, Arsenal won’t be paying Özil £350,000 a week anymore. It would have been far, far more beneficial to everyone involved if this had been managed to have been sorted out last summer, but it’s done now. End of. Everyone can move on and I can start copy and pasting Ø instead of Ö into columns now. Wøøt.

Rating: 1Ö/1Ö

Sead Kolasinac – Loan to Schalke until end of season

Shkodran Mustafi – Released on a free transfer

NORWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01: Sead Kolasinac of Arsenal and Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal acknowledge the fans during the Premier League match between Norwich City and Arsenal FC at Carrow Road on December 01, 2019 in Norwich, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
NORWICH, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 01: Sead Kolasinac of Arsenal and Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal acknowledge the fans during the Premier League match between Norwich City and Arsenal FC at Carrow Road on December 01, 2019 in Norwich, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

Let me give you a rather depressing fact; Kolasinac and Mustafi are only 27 and 28 years old respectively. They were both 24 when Arsenal signed them. On paper, these were both good bits of business, getting in established defenders who had shown good form, and were about to enter their prime.

Bringing both of these players to Arsenal was totally justifiable. But neither player has adapted well to the Premier League, with Kolasinac unable to play as a left-back in a back four, and Mustafi unable to rid his game of crippling yet inexplicable lapses in concentration.

I give Arsenal a bit more of a pass on Kolasinac leaving, since he was brought in on a free transfer, but watching £35 million walk out the door in Mustafi’s case is a bitter pill to swallow. Add that money to the potential pot that would have had Aaron Ramsey and Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s potential transfer fees in it too, if we didn’t let them walk out the door for nothing as well………ugh.

RATING: Kolasinac 5/10, Mustafi 2/10

Sokratis – Released on a free transfer

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal acknowledges the fans after the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Emirates Stadium on November 02, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 02: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal acknowledges the fans after the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Emirates Stadium on November 02, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

If there’s a blot on Sven Mislintat’s tenure as head of recruitment at Arsenal, it was his decision to bring in the Greek international from his former club, Borussia Dortmund. After the immediate success of his former club-mate, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, Mislintat thought that Sokratis would have a similar impact at Arsenal. Yet, whilst the Gabonese striker was a perfect fit for how Arsenal wanted to play, the Greek was anything but.

If this was 1991, Sokratis would be a cult hero. His game is a very old-school one, based around eliminating attacking threats with little sophistication. He is certainly not a bad player, but when the current manager expects his centre-backs to be as good on the ball as they are off it, it was always going to be a tall order for Sokratis to get back into the first team.

RATING: 5/10. Again, this should have been sorted out last summer, but at least Arsenal have managed to get his wages off the balance sheet when they don’t need his services.

Joe Willock – Loan to Newcastle until end of season

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – Loan to West Brom until end of season

A penny for Mr. Maitland-Niles’ thoughts at the moment. He wants to get into the England squad this summer for Euro 2020 (yes, it’s still being called that) and he reckons his best chance of doing so is as a midfielder instead of as full back. He’s probably right, too.

But, as it stands, Arsenal views him as a full back, and every club that inquired about him apart from West Brom, wanted him as a full back. It’s a crucial few months for the lad, and he’s about to spend them playing for Sam Allardyce at a club staring relegation in the face. Remember what happened with Serge Gnabry at Stoke? I’m just saying.

As for Willock, he needs game time under his belt, and desperately. Is he a number 8, or a number 10? Newcastle will play him as an 8, and it’s his best chance of showing he’s a Premier League footballer. It’s one thing not being able to displace Granit Xhaka from a team-sheet. But Jonjo Shelvey?

We’ll know exactly what we have with these two players after these loans, and that can only be good in the long-term for Arsenal. But if I were to pick who’s got the better chance of standing out, it’s Willock.

RATING: Willock 8/10, Maitland-Niles 6/10