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Arsenal Don't Need a Good-Value, Under-the-Radar Signing

Everton's James McCarthy, right, fights for the ball against Southampton's Calum Chambers during their English Premier League soccer match at Goodison Park Stadium, Liverpool, England, Sunday Dec. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press
Charlie MelmanCorrespondent IIJuly 28, 2014

Arsenal fans can be forgiven for wondering whether they have been deceived by a dream this summer.

After all, none in recent memory have been nearly as productive or free of stress as this one. Last summer, in particular, was excruciatingly difficult, as an entire summer of sagas went by before Arsene Wenger finally bought Mesut Ozil on deadline day.

Not so this time. Despite the delay of the World Cup, Arsenal have locked down three new signings in crucial areas before August. And a fourth is on the way.

According to David Ornstein of BBC Sport, Southampton's Calum Chambers—a 19-year-old right-back, centre-back hybrid—is set to be announced in the very near future. The transfer fee, according to The Telegraph, is a whopping £16 million.

That brings Arsenal's total transfer spending this summer to approximately £54 million. This enormous sum might be brought down a few million quid because of reported add-ons built into Chambers' transfer fee, but it is remarkable nonetheless.

Two things in particular stand out: Every player who was purchased fills a position of need, and the Gunners haven't sold any senior players yet.

The squad already needed substantial reinforcement at the end of the season; Arsenal could little afford to offload any extant players to free up the cash to sign new ones. Quality was only a minor problem; depth, as it has been for years, is the central issue.

Wenger has addressed both with purpose and conviction, identifying specific and reasonable targets and ruthlessly pursuing them.

When Arsenal turned down the chance to sign Cesc Fabregas earlier this summer, fans expected Wenger to have a massive surprise up his sleeve to make up for the crushing disappointment of rejecting the prodigal son.

Did he ever.

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 28:  Alexis Sanchez of Chile controls the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil round of 16 match between Brazil and Chile at Estadio Mineirao on June 28, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Image
Ian Walton/Getty Images

According to the above-linked Telegraph article, in which Wenger essentially confirms that Chambers will be joining, the boss claims the young talent can provide competition at right-back, centre-back and in defensive midfield.

Arsenal are already covered at right-back, of course, but they desperately need cover in the latter two positions. Chambers does not play either centre-back or defensive midfielder naturally, but who better to develop exceptional raw talent than Wenger and his staff?

It is also rather incredible that the manager was willing to shell out this much cash for a 19-year-old, paying a premium for English talent in the process.

However, the last time he did something similar was when he snatched Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Ox was not only two years younger, but he did not fill two positions of desperate need, so there certainly is precedent here.

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 14: David Ospina of Colombia reacts after defeating Greece 3-0 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Colombia and Greece at Estadio Mineirao on June 14, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Quinn R
Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

But Wenger is spending big on Chambers and taking a gamble (his words) during a summer that has drained Arsenal's newly flush checkbook. That is an immense paradigm shift.

David Ospina was the only true value buy the Gunners have made this summer, at a paltry £3 million. A year ago, Chambers' total fee would match Arsenal's transfer record—imagine that!

Perhaps Arsenal will look to round out their summer business with one more signing some time later in the transfer window. After all, one never really knows who will become available as deadline day approaches.

But that familiar refrain, of which Wenger was so fond, is no longer trotted out as a perennial excuse for the club's inactivity in the transfer window. The blame never really did lay at Wenger's feet; he was merely doing the best he could with grossly inadequate resources.

We are now seeing his intelligence and strategy unleashed in full. Unbelievably, the only concern fans might have is how all the new boys will jell with so little time before the season starts and the World Cup sapping much of their opportunity to get used to each other during pre-season.

That is but a minor concern, though. The era of turning over every stone for value buys at Arsenal is, mercifully, over.

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