Despite the rash of rumors linking Arsenal to several players such as Yann M'Vila and Jan Vertonghen, Arsene Wenger will not be buying anyone soon until he executes what he calls the second of his summer plans.
Although Wenger has said he'd conclude his summer purchases quickly to forestall a repeat of what happened last summer—when he delayed the sale of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri and was forced to make what some called "panic buying" in the eleventh hour of the transfer window—it appears that the purchase of Lukas Podolski, which indeed has been concluded very quickly, is the sum of his early signings, at least for now.
Speaking to Arsenal Player, Wenger reiterate his plan to make early signings, but this for now will be predicated upon the success of his second plan.
[We want to make early signings] if possible, yes. We wanted at least one target to be sorted out early.
Now we are in a position where the second part of our signings will be to take care of the players who are injured and to get them back for the start of next season.
I think of course about Jack Wilshere, and about Abou Diaby. Per Mertesacker I think will be ready at the start of next season. Then, if you look at our squad, we have quite a big one and before we buy again we have to look at how many players we will have.
My reaction to this is twofold: This is common sense, but it is also alarming.
First, note that no reference to money is made in this statement, although we must allow that not every conversation must spell out all mitigating factors of the coming transfer window or of Arsenal's summer plans. So, of course, monetary or budgetary concern must be assumed to be tacit even here.
Second, I have always maintained—as have a number of readers with whom I have conversed—that transfer purchases must be done in the light of the entire squad since every signing affects the entire picture.
It, therefore, makes sense that Wenger would not want to make any purchases until he is sure that the situation of all his players is sorted out.
First, he has to be certain that Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott are committing to a longer period at Arsenal than the one season remaining in each of the players' contracts. This naturally affects the striking option for the next several seasons.
If, for example, Van Persie decides to move on, this might prompt Wenger to look for a viable replacement.
Second, the squad has to be sieved, redundant players moved on, either permanently or through loan options.
[The situation of our strikers has] not [been] sorted out yet but we will do that, of course, at the end of the season...They need opportunities to play and some players didn’t get enough opportunities here during the season. We will try to give them an opportunity to play if they get the chance somewhere else.
This leads me to my third overarching point: To wit, this second phase of Wenger's plan, although steeped in common and business sense, has the potential to hamper the ostensible transition that I, and perhaps several others, have descried.
Take loan options, for example.
This surely can't be determined at this point.
I suspect that this can only happen deep or even late in the summer, so that if Wenger postpones further purchases until the situation of Marouane Chamakh, Carlos Vela, Nicklas Bendtner or Sébastien Squillaci is sorted out, what is bound to happen is a repeat of last summer.
After all, it isn't like there are clubs out there vying already for these players. The implication of this is that if these players or Wenger can't find clubs for them to move on to, no additional purchases will be made.
This is dangerous in the sense that if Arsenal truly want to win something next season, additional players can't stop with Lukas Podolski.
For while I agree with Wenger that the midfield situation looks good indeed—if everybody can remain fit—I still maintain that, for the system Arsenal plays, an attacking midfielder is absolutely necessary.
We haven't yet found a replacement for Cesc Fabregas, for example.
My conclusion is this.
If Wenger really wants to improve on the achievements of this season in the coming season, he has to sign other key players, and he has to move others on. The situation of players like Chamakh and Bendtner can't be left to chance.
If he determines that such players are no longer necessary for his purposes, then he has to advice them rather firmly to look for options beyond Arsenal. This should allow him to move ahead with signing the players he needs.
It doesn't make sense to me that Wenger retains Carlos Vela, Bendtner or Denilson only to send them on loan again. For me this is a weak way of telling them they're not really necessary or good enough for Arsenal. If so, then just sell them.
The loan option for younger players makes sense, but for players who have failed to make it at Arsenal, it doesn't.
In sum, it is good and even necessary that Wenger sorts out the squad to determine who is going or staying, but this, I believe, can be done without exposing himself to a repeat of last summer's sorry affair.
What players right now does he think will not figure in his future plans? Let them be told to look for other clubs. Is that not why they have agents, to help them find clubs?
To allow extraneous players any leisure in such a situation will only deter Arsenal from executing its own plans very quickly, something Wenger says he wants to forestall.