Today’s double-header of signings was a welcome boost after a positive pre-season tour of the United States for the Gunners – but more will be needed if we are going to go into next season in a stronger position than we finished the last.
The widely-anticipated signings of William Saliba and Dani Ceballos were announced in a fairly understated way via the club’s official channels this afternoon and with them came a collective sigh of relief from Arsenal fans.
It had been a nervous week waiting for the deals to get over the line, particularly amid rumours that Tottenham were looking to poach both players with late bids.
Ultimately, the young duo were persuaded to sign for the red half of north London though, and both look to be smart pieces of business.
It is worth remembering, however, that we won’t begin to see the benefits of Saliba until this time next year, as the Frenchman has been loaned back to his old club St Etienne for the season.
Ceballos, meanwhile, is a season-long loan signing, with no obligation to buy at the end of his term.
Together with Gabriel Martinelli, it means that we have only really made two signings this summer and, arguably, only one that can make any real impact on the team in the season ahead. Given that Martinelli is both young and coming straight from regional league football in Brazil, I don’t see him being propelled into first team action just yet. Like Mattero Guendouzi, though, I may yet be proven wrong.
So while it was good news to have these two signings in the bag, there is still a lot more work to be done between now and the middle of next month – very pressing work indeed.
Above all, we need a solution to the very obvious issues we have in defence. Work has been ongoing for Celtic’s Kieran Tierney but the Scottish side have so far proved reluctant to sanction a deal until they are satisfied by the terms.
With interest appearing to cool in the young Scot, and with no other deals on the horizon, the joy of the Saliba and Ceballos deals feels like it might be short-lived.
We need defenders and we need them now. We can only pray that the club has also realised this and, with Laurent Koscielny almost certain to be heading back to France this summer, our need is desperate.
Heading into the new season with a nearly-fit Rob Holding, Sokratis, Callum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi is, by any measure, a retrograde step and will leave us just as vulnerable as we were for the second half of last season.
It would be great if we could also clear out some of our dead wood and add another wide player too but, if we could only land one more player this summer, it would have to be a centre back, above all others.
Unai Emery has spoken in his various pre-season press conferences about the work going on behind the scenes to add to the squad and one can only hope that the work done so far is not the full extent of it.
Even after good performances against Fiorentina, Real Madrid, and Colorado in the last fortnight, we remain some way short of where most fans would like us to be going in to the Premier League season, and the source of most of that anxiety is our defending.
There is only a certain of amount you can eek out of players through coaching, only so much talent can be maximised. Sometimes, a player is simply not good enough and you have to wonder if that is the case for two or three of our current defenders.
For the financial future of the club, a return to the Champions League is of overwhelming importance and a centre back who can do the business could be the key to that.
Our business so far has been prudent and measured with a keen eye on value and on the future, and our signings so far this summer and much welcome. But we also have problems in our immediate future that need addressing and that is why our business cannot be done just yet, not if we want to be taken seriously in 2019/20.