All summer long, Arsenal fans have heard a familiar tune—a club insisting it would spend after its top stars departed in years past, and a club that had yet to make a single major signing while most of the top contenders outside of Manchester United improved.
But finally, it seems the Gunners are close to bringing aboard a quality player in Bayern Munich's Luiz Gustavo. And what's more, Gustavo seems genuinely excited about the prospect of joining the team.
"My contract with Bayern runs until 2015 but it is very important that I play first-team football to keep getting called up for Brazil. I am in a very delicate situation at Bayern and this needs sorting out. I have personal and professional reasons to move," he said on arrival in Basel for Brazil's friendly against Switzerland. "I have heard about the Arsenal interest. It's a big club we're talking about here so of course I'd like to play for them."
Gustavo has also reportedly been targeted by the 2009 Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg, while Napoli are also interested, but it is a move to the Emirates that really catches his eye. "Arsenal play a very attractive brand of football and are in the Champions League. They also have a very clever manager in Arsene Wenger. Even when Bayern beat them in the last Champions League [on aggregate] you could see they are not pushovers."
Sure, Gustavo isn't the sort of elite name that Gooners crave. He's not a game-changing striker most supporters believe the team needs.
But the Gunners really need a true defensive midfielder to free up players like Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey to play farther up the pitch, where they are more effective. Gustavo brings that, along with an understanding of Arsenal's technical and pass-oriented attack, as he played a similar role for Brazil in the Confederations Cup.
He should have a major impact on Arsenal if he comes, and that should please Gooners. He'll help solidify the defense, he'll finally give the Gunners a physical presence in the middle of the pitch and he'll be hungry with a World Cup spot for Brazil on the line.
It would be the type of signing that helps the team more subtly than adding a premier striker would, but helps the team nonetheless.
What is revealing about Gustavo's comments on Arsenal is that he presumably wants to join the club, meaning he should be signed shortly. It makes too much sense not to happen, though of course we were saying that about Gonzalo Higuain, too, weren't we?
Thus, the real question seems to be this—who will follow Gustavo to the Emirates? Will Liverpool or Manchester United relent and sell Suarez or Rooney? Probably not. Have Arsenal had a different target in mind and been negotiating on the sly?
Would the signing of Luiz Gustavo make up for an otherwise quiet summer?
Seems unlikely, but you never know.
If Gustavo is the biggest signing Arsenal end up making this summer, it will be a huge disappointment. Even though the Gunners have finally gone a summer without losing a key contributor, championship sides also add key parts during the summer.
Thus far, Arsenal haven't done so. Gustavo would be a nice start and would finally give Arsenal fans something to be pleased about, but it shouldn't change the same old summer tune that Gooners have been humming, in a minor key, for several years now.