Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin will not be joining Arsenal in 2014, if the latest reports are to be believed, and the Gunners once again look like they will enter the new Premier League season with limited squad depth.
On the same day that Metro reports the midfielder would prefer a move to north London rivals Tottenham over a transfer to Arsenal, Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger made it very clear his club was done selling players.
Krueger did an interview with Sky Sports Radio (h/t to Metro's James Phillips), explaining Schneiderlin is part of the core of players the club plans to build around:
They are part of the core that we have decided to keep in Southampton. Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin are not for sale and they will be part of the club as we enter the new season. In and around Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin and the rest of our core players we’re excited to continue to build forward.
The BBC's Ben Smith immediately applauded the chairman for his bravery in making such a statement:
Rafael Hernandez was more cautious, as the claims were, of course, made in the middle of a transfer window that has already seen numerous top players leave the club:
Whether Schneiderlin still leaves the club or not, it now seems all but certain he won't be leaving for Arsenal. And with the 2014-15 Premier League season fast approaching, that could be a problem for the Gunners.
Arsenal had a strong season in 2013-14, but their campaign came undone by the same thing that has ruined several of their seasons in the past—injuries. Fans can blame bad luck or Arsene Wenger's training methods all they want, but injuries are just part of the game.
They happen, particularly if a team plays Premier League football, competes in the Champions League and has cup competitions to worry about at the same time. Saying "this year we won't be hit by the injury bug" is foolish: It happens to every team, and it's something clubs have to learn how to cope with.
Top teams such as Manchester City and Chelsea have the squad depth to deal with injuries—Arsenal do not. An injury to Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil or Olivier Giroud would be far more crippling to Arsenal than Chelsea losing the likes of Eden Hazard for an extended period, for example.
Ivan Gazidis told fans the Gunners would add significantly to their squad at the end of last season, as reported by Sky Sports. Since then, Arsenal have added four players, per Transferleague.co.uk. Four.
Alexis Sanchez is a world-class talent who fills an attacking need. Mathieu Debuchy is a straight replacement for Bacary Sagna, and Calum Chambers is a project player who could be a starter at the same position at some point in the future. David Ospina will replace Lukaz Fabianski as the backup stopper.
So far, that's it. Two players to replace two departures, a youngster who could add depth to a back four but clearly needs a lot of seasoning before he's ready and a world-class attacking talent. No midfield depth. No extra striker to push Giroud and Yaya Sanogo, unless Wenger plans on using Sanchez there.
Joel Campbell? According to the Independent's Teddy Cutler, he'll be spending the 2014-15 season on loan at another Premier League club.
Yes, there is still time for the Gunners to add to their squad, and I fully expect them to make at least one more signing to bolster their midfield.
But for a club in dire need of depth, that's simply not enough. And at this stage of preseason, the chances of the club signing four or five more players are slim at best.
World-class talent will be hard to come by. Most of the top teams have finalised their squads for the season by now, with the only options remaining those players who have made it clear they absolutely want to leave.
Perhaps Sami Khedira can still join the Gunners, but his injury history makes the need for depth even greater.
Arsenal's spending during the 2014 summer transfer window hasn't been bad, and unlike plenty of other clubs, they've managed to do most of their business without drastically overspending.
But they've so far failed to address their biggest need, and with Schneiderlin now likely not joining the club, it looks like depth could once again be an issue as the Gunners get set to start the 2014-15 campaign.
The purchase of just one versatile player to add depth in the centre of the pitch would do wonders for the Gunners, as would another striker capable of filling in for Giroud.
As long as those two slots aren't filled, depth will remain a concern for the Gunners, and it could derail yet another promising campaign.
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