COLOGNE, GERMANY - AUGUST 12: Lukas Podolski of Arsenal celebrates with the fans of Cologne after Pre-Season Friendly game between FC Cologne and FC Arsenal at Rhein Energie Stadium on August 12, 2012 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Well that was fun.
Very much unlike this time last year, Arsenal decided today that the business they'd conducted earlier in the summer was enough the club needed in order to compete this season. As evidenced by your votes, many of you wanted to see the club reinforce possible areas of concern through incoming transfers and loans this week. That, um, didn't happen, and it's clear how you feel about it.
However, past the last couple weeks of intense focus, there's been movement in both directions at Arsenal. So how about we step back off the ledge for just moment while we analyze and breakdown the moves the club made this past transfer window, shall we?
Lukas Podolski £11,000,000
Olivier Giroud £13,000,000
Santi Cazorla £16,500,000
Dejan Iliev £training kits and shin guards
Considering how past transfer windows played it, it was a nice surprise to see Arsene Wenger move so quickly in the transfer window that it was generally assumed that he was trying to not only appease Robin van Persie that the club was moving in the right direction, but that he learned his lessons from last-minute phrenetic activity that made up Deadline Day 2011. The deal to bring the German international in from FC Koln was finalized before the last ball was kicked last season, which suddenly brought visions of a deadly partnership between the two decorated forwards to all supporters. Then almost immediately after Lukas was introduced and photographed with the famous red-and-white shirt, rumors of yet another forward - an out-and-out center forward, at that - later materialized into the form of French international Olivier Giroud, member of last season's Ligue 1 champions Montpellier joining up the ranks. While many continued to hold out hope that van Persie was staying on, the amount of money spent on a 25-year-old capable of only playing in van Persie's preferred position seemed a bit curious. Of course, after RVP released his infamous Statement, it was later revealed by the club that Giroud was brought in as a direct replacement for the Dutchman.
Proving he still has an eye on the market and how it reacts based on certain breaking events and situations, Wenger pounced on the opportunity to provide his squad the playmaker the club lacked from the departure of Cesc Fabregas by snatching up Santi Cazorla of Malaga FC at a price far lower than his actual market value, a target of his last season and suddenly expendable once it was known the new "sugar daddy" owners decided their little play toy wasn't much fun anymore by nearly driving the club into oblivion by failing to pay wages of players and coaches. And it wouldn't be a transfer window without Arsene buying a youth player from some far-off land, so he decided to right this wrong by purchasing the 17-year-old Macedonian keeper Iliev from Macedonian Third League side Belascia.
This is the space where Nuri Sahin's name should be. Unfortunately, thanks to Jose Mourinho being a complete jackass (and maybe due to his prior working relationship with Brendan Rodgers while trolling it up and collecting trophies at Chelsea...and maybe due to Wenger's insistence of a purchase option at the end of the loan), this long-assumed move fell through at the last-minute, possibly against the wishes of Sahin himself, and Liverpool was there for the taking immediately afterwards. Sucktastic, right?
IN (Like a New Signing):
Enough said. Actually, take that back. Anyone who isn't excited for Wilshere's return to the pitch needs to go to their nearest pharmacy and fire their arms into one of those free blood pressure machines. You may not have a pulse.
Robin van Persie £22,000,000
Alex Song £15,000,000
Carlos Vela £4,200,000
Henri Lansbury £1,000,000
Kyle Bartley £1,000,000
Oguzhan Ozyakup £1,000,000
Pedro Botelho £???
Jeffrey Monakana (Free)
Tom Cruise (Free)
There's been enough said up until this point about van Persie and Song, so I'm not really feeling going into more of the depressing details and opinions about their individual behavior that precipitated their moves away from the club that gave them their only shot to become the stars they are. Rather, I'd like to focus on players who've done everything asked of them, only to either fall short of the talent that was expected of them or discover their names suddenly buried at the bottom of the depth chart. Players like Vela, Lansbury, Ozyaku, Bartley and Cruise spent spell after spell away from the club, striving to become the sort of player Wenger could count on when filling out his weekly squads in the EPL. van Persie said something along the lines of "I'll always be a Gunner, no matter what happens," then went about undermining the club in the most gruesome and ugly way possible. A Gunner never does that to his/her own. No, Robin, you are not a Gunner, much less for eternity; Carlos, Kyle, Henri, Oguzhan and Tom, feel free to consider yourself true Gunners for life. They made little noise and set about showing the world they cared deeply about becoming the best player possible. They represented the sort of behavior and work ethic we all should want in a player at the club, and I would like to take this space to wish them the best of luck in their new clubs and continued success as a player and professional.
Benik Afobe to Bolton
Daniel Boateng to Oxford United
Phillip Roberts to Inverness
Denilson to Sao Paulo
Nicklas Bendtner to Juventus
Joel Campbell to Real Betis
Ju Young Park to Celta Vigo
Wellington Silva to Ponferradina
Samuel Galindo to CD Lugo
For many of these players, their loans away are for their direct benefit; gaining match experience on a regular basis helps build the foundations for these players' long-term careers at Arsenal. Jack Wilshere still talks about how his time at Bolton two seasons ago helped introduce and develop his style of play in a league as rugged as the EPL. However, the loan deals for Bendtner, Park and Denilson show that the club still have some work to do regarding the transformation of the highly-controversial wage structure. These are players Wenger and the Board would love to sell outright, but the fact that they can't get anything close to their market value simply due to the high wages they're on means they have to settle for loaning them out in the hopes another year off their contract will make them more attractive for a transfer next summer.
All in all, as inactive as the club was on Deadline Day 2012, one cannot simply say they weren't inactive all window. Many will argue that the club's overall net spend was approximately less than one million pounds and that a club with the type of resources Arsenal hold should spend much more than that nominal amount, which is certainly a valid and debatable topic. In the meantime, let's welcome the ones who've decided the best route to enriching their careers was at Arsenal, and say goodbye to players who both left us with great memories and potential unfulfilled.