Not for the first time, Arsenal went right to the wire on transfer deadline day before finally getting out their check book. But when it happened, it was fairly spectacular as Mesut Ozil arrived from Real Madrid in a deal that nearly trebled their previous record transfer of £15 million. After facing much criticism for failing to delve into his much discussed war chest, Arsene Wenger suggested that the signing of the Germany international for £42.5 million vindicated his claims that he was looking to bring in performers of the highest echelon.
“I have said throughout the summer that we have been working hard to bring in top quality players to this football club,” he said in a statement on Arsenal’s official website. “This has involved many, many people across the Club and I have always had the full support of the Club in making decisions on the football side.
“Mesut is a top quality footballer who will be a fantastic addition to our talented squad. We are all looking forward to him joining up with us after his international matches with Germany and working with us as an Arsenal player.”
Ozil was the only player that Arsenal paid a transfer fee for during the window. However, the free transfer signings of Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini were joined on deadline day by Italy international goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano. The 27-year-old has arrived on a season-long loan deal from Serie B side Palermo.
“Viviano is a player that we have rated for some time and we are very pleased to have signed him on loan,” explained Wenger. “He’s experienced and has proved himself at a high level, and provides us with excellent cover to our existing goalkeepers.”
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The Gunners missed out on several targets throughout the transfer window and it appears there were more failed attempts to recruit players on deadline day. In particular, after being disappointed in his hunt for several strikers, Wenger is believed to have made last-ditch attempts to bolster his forward line in the final hours before the close of the window.
According to The Telegraph, Viviano’s Palermo teammate Abel Hernandez was one of the leading targets. After being highly regarded as an emerging player, the 23-year-old Uruguayan has been blighted by injuries in recent seasons. But, after his side were relegated from Serie A last seaso,n there seemed a good chance that he could move on and get his career firmly back on track. Yet, despite securing Viviano, a deal for Hernandez failed to materialize.
Two Premier League strikers were also thought to be on Wenger’s list of options to provide an alternative up front to Olivier Giroud. A loan move for Chelsea striker Demba Ba had been strongly mooted until late on Monday. However, with reports that Chelsea wanted a large fee as well as their reluctance to allow the 28-year-old Senegalese to join a rival at the top of the Premier League, Arsenal’s interest faded.
Similarly, an always unlikely deal for Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke couldn’t be pulled off. Arsenal had been linked to the Belgian front man earlier in the summer before he withdrew a transfer request and signed a new contract with the Midlands club. Still, Arsenal made a firm offer to try and lure the 22-year-old to the Emirates on deadline day, according to the Daily Star.
Still appearing a striker light, in quantity if not in quality, it could be that Wenger will keep Hernandez, Ba and Benteke on his radar heading into the January transfer window. Of the three, Ba appears the unlikeliest to arrive. Not only is there the complication of allowing a player to move to a rival, but Ba could well be cup-tied for the Champions League should Arsenal, make it through their tough group. Any deal would, in all probability, have to be a permanent one.
Aston Villa will certainly have no desire to allow Benteke to move on midway through the season, while the player may also have reservations about joining a big club and potentially not getting regular action just months ahead of the World Cup. Villa would also likely demand an even higher fee in January than they were looking for this summer and Wenger is not in the habit of paying over the odds for players.
A move for Hernandez could be feasible, especially if Palermo are struggling to make an immediate return to Serie A. Hernandez could well see a move to a club of Arsenal’s stature as a way of enhancing his chances to play a part for Uruguay should they qualify for Brazil next year.