Arsenal Transfer News: Grading the Gunners' 2013 Deadline Day
After a frustrating summer transfer window and the heartache of missing out on several players already this summer, Arsenal finally made amends on deadline day.
Spending a club-record £42.5 million, the club landed highly sought-after playmaker Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid, per its official website, in a deal that will no doubt be talked about for days and weeks to come. Arsenal also wrapped up a deal for Palermo goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano, per their official website, with several other late moves unable to be finalized for different players.
So how did Arsene Wenger and the Gunners fare on deadline day after a tumultuous summer? Read on as we grade their official (and attempted) signings.
Mesut Ozil, CAM/CM, Real Madrid—A+
No other grade can be given for Arsenal in regard to the signing of Ozil. He's simply that good of a player and will be a huge addition for the club in 2013.
His arrival at the Emirates will have a profound impact on the style of Arsenal's attack, with the likes of Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud likely to benefit most. The Gunners will now have multifaceted playmaking ability with the likes of Cazorla and Ozil, which—similarly to Gareth Bale alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid—will make it very difficult for opposing defenses to shut down their attack.
Expect Cazorla to play from a wider role (like he did at Malaga), with Ozil occupying the middle. Bleacher Report's Karl Matchett does a good job breaking it down.
Mesut Özil has signed for Arsenal. No player in Europe's top 5 leagues has delivered more assists since August 2010 (47) #afc— CastrolEDGEfootball (@castrolfootball) September 2, 2013
His arrival alone could very well spell a top-four finish again for Arsenal.
Emiliano Viviano, GK, Palermo—A
Wrapped up quite early on deadline day (at least compared to the Ozil saga) was the season-long loan by Arsenal of Palermo goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.
Having already sold Vito Mannone this summer, the Gunners were seemingly in the market for another goalkeeper to provide competition to Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski. They were ideally looking for a No. 1—ideally to bump Szczesny down the pecking order—and while Viviano could well be that signing, there's no guarantee he'll be as good as the current shot-stopper at the Emirates.
Paolo Bandini of The Guardian reports that Viviano does have a history of injuries and that those have affected his chances of reaching his full potential.
Whether the same happens at Arsenal still remains to be seen.
All that said, Viviano comes to Arsenal on a loan with option to buy. Hardly a gamble. Just not sure he's better than what they have. #afc— Paolo Bandini (@Paolo_Bandini) September 2, 2013
Either way, for a season-long loan, it's hard to fault the Gunners too much given they haven't really spent anything to get him. If he turns out to be average and simply plays backup to Szczesny, then it didn't really cost them anything to sign him. And if he turns out to be brilliant, well, Wenger will again be looking like the Messiah of North London.
Demba Ba, ST, Chelsea—B
An interesting prospect that started to emerge midway through the day was the rumor of Arsenal attempting to sign Chelsea striker Demba Ba on loan.
According to reports throughout the day (which were conflicting, at best), the Blues were seemingly prepared to let the move go ahead until the Gunners signed Ozil. BBC's David Ornstein reports that Chelsea were prepared to sell to Arsenal given they didn't see them as a huge threat, but once they had Ozil, they had become more of a threat to the Blues.
That move forced Arsenal to cancel Nicklas Bendtner's transfer to Crystal Palace.
There's little doubting that Ba would have been a huge addition for Arsenal alongside the likes of Giroud at the top of their attack and would have thrived ahead of both Cazorla and Ozil. The London club is perhaps a striker short and could definitely have used the help at the top of its attack—even if it was just for a season-long loan like the proposed move for Ba.
Perhaps Jose Mourinho just beat Wenger in mind games? Who knows.
Anyone else wonder if Chelsea never had any intention of loaning Ba to #afc but entertained 'negotiation' to prevent them looking elsewhere?— Paolo Bandini (@Paolo_Bandini) September 2, 2013
Either way, it's hard to fault Arsenal for not getting the deal done with Ba given Chelsea's hesitance to sell after letting Romelu Lukaku leave on loan once more.
But at the same time, the Gunners would have liked him...
Yohan Cabaye, CM, Newcastle United—C+
For all the talk of Arsenal holding out for a world-class midfielder, it seems the club was very interested in signing Newcastle United's Yohan Cabaye.
I'm told Mike Ashley let Cabaye listen to phone negotiations last week + he heard Arsenal say: "25 million a lot for a reserve" #moodchanger— James Pearce (@Pearcesport) September 2, 2013
Until this happened, that is, per James Pearce.
Whether the Gunners were really interested in a move for Cabaye or not is something we'll likely never know, but the fact remains that Arsenal could have used another midfielder. Yes, they have talent—and I'm not for a minute trying to rouse the beast by suggesting the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta aren't talented—but the biggest question mark is around depth.
Do they have the depth required to play 60-65 games this year? And if not, what's going to give? After all, all three have either current (or previous) injury issues?
Interesting to see how that one plays out for Arsenal this season.
Javier Mascherano, CB/DCM, FC Barcelona—F
Giving an F for the attempted transfer of Javier Mascherano might seem like a harsh move for Arsenal, but it's a poor move on a number of different fronts.
Here's the report from the Daily Mail:
Arsenal have been knocked back in their enquiries over the availability of Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano. The discussions never got beyond the Gunners asking whether the La Liga side would be willing to enter into negotiations for the 29-year-old, as the answer was a categorical "no".
The reason why it's a terrible move from Arsenal is simple.
Firstly, Barcelona aren't going to sell Mascherano. That much was seemingly clear from the commencement of deadline day, and with Real Madrid making several big signings over the summer, the Catalan club no doubt wants to be as strong as possible in La Liga this year.
The question then becomes for Arsenal: If they wasted time trying to sign Mascherano, who else did they potentially miss out on signing?
Arsenal should have added another...
Arsenal needed to add someone in defense this summer, but they didn't. Injuries have wreaked havoc on their defensive line this year and, against some of the best attacks in the world (both in England and the Champions League), will cause real problems if they can't field the starting team they want (and potentially need).
Arsenal are short in defense, and they didn't fix it. Instead, they tried to sign Mascherano from Barcelona and could well have cost themselves a Champions League knockout berth in the process.
Despite all of that, there can be absolutely no other grade for Arsenal this deadline day given the incredible signing of a certain German international from Real Madrid.
Ozil is a prestigious talent and will be a huge boost to the Gunners midfield, and while there were other areas that perhaps could have been strengthened but weren't, Wenger emerged from deadline day this year as one of the biggest winners of them all.
Arsenal spent some money and look what happened.
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