Arsenal may not have landed the marquee stars many of us craved in this transfer window but, taken as a whole, the business the club was able to do has amounted to a decent summer.
We saw a half-a-dozens players come in, a few go out, some were loaned and some simply disappeared into the sunset. There is still more to be done but all that we required was never likely to be completed in one window, much less amid this COVID-affected market which has proved tough for most clubs.
For the first time in a long time, though, there seemed to be an over-arching plan; a profile of player that the club had set its mind on with half an eye on the present and half an eye on the future.
We welcomed promising talents in Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares while committing Kieran Tierney, Folarin Balogun and Emile Smith Rowe to new deals.
On the flip side, we waved goodbye to Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, Willian, Alex Runarrson, Hector Bellerin, and Joe Willock, albeit with few of that number attracting a transfer fee of any size. In a perfect world, we might also have disposed of Sead Kolasinac, Eddie Nketiah, Granit Xhaka, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and Alex Lacazette but, alas, attracting fees for players the club itself deemed surplus to requirements proved nigh-on impossible.
While time and future transfer windows will inevitably see the aforementioned move on from the club, more important for now is getting the players we have brought in up to speed, acclimatised and working together as a cohesive unit – something that has been sorely lacking in our early-season forays.
That all of our incomers are of a similar age and profile bodes well to that end. These young stars have room to grow, capacity to learn and time still to iron out any bad habits that may linger in their games. If Mikel Arteta can get them up and running quickly, we could put a confidence-boosting run together. In many ways, the manager’s own future depends on it.
The personal travails of the manager aside, he will surely be pleased with the crop of players he now has at his disposal, a group fast-approaching the sort of dynamic, focussed, willing-to-work collection of players he seems to favour. These are a group of young leaders in the making, a young group that seems willing to listen and learn and with the capacity to do so.
In many ways, this squad is the opposite of the sort of player we have seen depart the club during Arteta’s tenure – the Ozils and Guendouzis of this world. The age of the individualist, the free-spirit and lone wolf is fast coming to an end, this is the age of the team player – or at least it is while the manager still has his job.
But whatever else you make of our window, there can be no accusation that the ownership has sat on its hands while those around invested. Arsenal are by far the biggest spenders in the league this summer, out-doing the likes of Manchester City, United, and Chelsea – teams whose revenue and spending power dwarves our own.
And while that in itself does not excuse the string of poor decisions and general standoffishness we have seen from Josh and Stan Kroenke in years gone by, it does go some way to dispelling fears that the Americans were just here for the Premier League dividend. This is a public backing of the manager and the pressure will be on to deliver in kind.
However, with the window now closed and the ink dry on the new contracts, we must start at last to knuckle down and get some points on the board. The club has done some reasonable business in this window – not perfect – but enough to build a solid platform. It’s imperative that, from here, we start to build upwards brick-by-brick.
We are not at our destination yet but, after this summer, there is some gas in the tank. Now it’s time to put her in gear.