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Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has signed players in this transfer window who will be boosting his first team squad. In this series, let’s have a look at who the personal have been and why they have been bought for the FA Cup winning Arsenal team.
The strange thing is that Arsene has not been in London as the signings have been made. No where I am suggesting that these have been made without his consent but it is a bit strange to see the manager not present when the players are signed and/or first arrive at the club.
Anyways, it’s Arsenal and Arsene, and if one has followed them from a while then it’s safe to say that they don’t do things in a normal fashion. It’s prudent, it’s classy, it’s not always right in fans eyes but it’s the way majority of the clubs in world football will like to run their business. Yes, business. Football clubs in Europe, especially the top clubs, are full-fledged businesses. They are revenue driven. Owners demand their teams to finish in the top league positions so that their team can play in the top level European competitions. It not only generates major television revenue but also gives value to team sponsors. The team is seen on worldwide basis and therefore creates fans worldwide. More fans means more merchandise sales, especially shirt sales, which is one of the many ways of generating more revenue. They also need managers to understand the complexities of balancing the books. Now the Financial Fair play ruling (Platini’s legacy to European Club football) has made it imperative for the clubs to show financial prudence. Who, in the last decade or so, has done better player business than Arsenal and Arsene Wenger?
Let’s look at the first major signings he has made this summer.
Arsenal were one dimensional in the forward line. French striker Olivier Giroud was leading the line. He like runners to run behind him from the mid field. He lacks pace but did improve his hold up play last season. He scored 16 goals and also had 8 assists. To win the league these numbers are not enough. On the other hand, he was the lone recognised striker at the club. He needed support. Fans were crying out for a striker in the January transfer window but Wenger stuck to his guns and gave Sanogo his backing. North bank faithfuls were calling for a better option.
Now, in comes Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean had a great world cup and looked very lively in his national team that looked technically good, physically sharp and tactically astute. This 25 year old, former River Plate, Udinese and Barcelona man, cost £35 million and now the red faithful in N5 have a belief that Arsene has played a masterstroke. Sanchez came to prominence in the European football when he came to Udinese in Italy. His partnership with Antonio Di Natalie was highly rated and in 2010-11 Serie A season scored 39 goals between themselves.
Such strong were his performances that the potential was seen by then Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola and on he went to Barcelona. His numbers were very good in the Barcelona colours. Please do not compare them to Messi. The main thing to look at his numbers is his conversion rate. In the last 3 seasons with Catalan team, his conversion rate was 30.8% in first season, 25.8% in second season and 30.2% in the third season. Compared to Giroud and Walcott (who was being considered to lead the line) Sanchez has much better conversion rate. One needs to remember that Arsenal, as a team, create chances and are in need of a finisher. In Sanchez they have found one.
Biggest thing about him is the versatility that he brings to the team. He is quick, he can play wide and there is a possibility Wenger will convert him into an out and out striker. His speed and movement behind the defence will be the key if he plays through the middle. He is technically very good and having played in the Serie A and the Spanish league his tactical play is of top quality. If he plays wide on the left then it will pose another difficult conundrum to the opposition teams. Imagine a fit Theo on the right and Sanchez on the left…..enough to worry the opposition full backs? He is a perfect Arsene Wenger player, who can be moulded into his team’s style of play and make him an integral cog in his red machine.
After buying Ozil last season for £42 million from Real Madrid and now Sanchez from Barcelona, Arsenal manager and the board have shown big intent. From the outside, it looks like this season Frenchman means business. Some pundits are already calling it the signing of this upcoming season. It seems too early to say but it definitely is a great signing for north london club and overall for the English football league fans.
In the next part of this series the focus will be on the void first created and then filled in the right full back position.