Grading Arsenal's Transfer Window Activity

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2017

Alexis Sanchez ended up remaining with Arsenal.
Alexis Sanchez ended up remaining with Arsenal.Michael Regan/Getty Images

After deadline day for the Premier League's summer transfer window promised much but delivered little on Thursday, Arsenal's business for 2017 is complete. A flurry of speculation surrounded the future of Alexis Sanchez, but ultimately the Gunners opted to keep hold of the Chilean for the final year of his contract.

In this piece, we look at five of the biggest moves Arsenal made (or failed to make) in the window, offering an assessment of each before attempting to sum up their transfer activity with an overall grade.

             

Keeping Alexis

Arsenal's Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez reacts during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on August 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Anthony Devlin / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No u
ANTHONY DEVLIN/Getty Images

It was only a matter of hours before the deadline that Arsenal fans knew with any certainty that Alexis would be staying. Arsene Wenger had long said that was his intention, but Gunners supporters have been stung too often in the past to take those words entirely at face value. 

They were right to be doubtful: It appears the club were prepared to negotiate Alexis' sale with Manchester City, until the collapse of their bid for Thomas Lemar meant they opted to keep him around (h/t The Guardian's David Hytner).

From a football perspective, it's undoubtedly good news: Alexis is Arsenal's best player and stands to make a massive contribution this year. Allowing him to join Manchester City would surely have given them a huge helping hand towards the Premier League title.

Arsenal can take some pride in the fact that they have refused to bow to player power and made a decision that, in the short-term at least, is primarily for the benefit of the team.

However, how will Arsenal feel about their decision when Alexis walks away for nothing in 12 months' time? He has offered no indication that he would even contemplate signing a new deal in north London, so the chances are he may well end up at City in a year's time anyway—only without Arsenal receiving any compensation to reinvest in the team. 

With Mesut Ozil also set to leave on a Bosman transfer, Arsenal may regret not grabbing what cash they could while it was on offer. Next summer could prove to be expensive.

Grade: B

         

Selling Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Arsenal's English midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (R) vies with Liverpool's Spanish defender Alberto Moreno during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on August 27, 2017. /
ANTHONY DEVLIN/Getty Images

One man who did leave Arsenal on deadline day was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The England international joined Liverpool, and in doing so became the most expensive sale in Arsenal history.

Wenger will surely be pleased with this piece of business. Like Alexis, Oxlade-Chamberlain had less than a year remaining on his contract, yet Arsenal still extracted a huge fee for his services. Although he has shown signs of finding his stride in recent months, Oxlade-Chamberlain is primarily a utility player who has flattered to deceive at the Emirates Stadium. This is deal that Arsenal would have been foolish to turn down.

So why not an A+? Well, there's always the risk that Oxlade-Chamberlain could come back to haunt Arsenal. He has joined a rival club, and if he manages to fulfil his potential at Anfield, then Wenger is bound to be criticised for letting him go.

However, on balance, this was definitely a sensible step from Arsenal. If they really are going to let Alexis go for nothing, they need to bring in as much money elsewhere as possible. Selling Oxlade-Chamberlain was a straightforward way to boost the bank balance without seriously harming the strength of the squad.

Grade: A-

           

Signing Alexandre Lacazette 

France's forward Alexandre Lacazette reacts at the end of a training session in Clairefontaine en Yvelines on August 28, 2017, as part of the team's preparation for the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying football match against The Netherlands and Luxembourg.
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

It might feel like an awfully long time ago, but when Arsenal moved swiftly to sign Alexandre Lacazette, there was huge optimism about what he might bring to the club. Even now, it still looks like a terrific deal.

Arsenal have been chasing an elite striker for years, and Lacazatte would appear to have the requisite attributes to fill that void. He got off to a terrific start in his Arsenal career, scoring within 90 seconds of his Premier League debut against Leicester City. An unfair offside flag robbed him of a second goal in consecutive games, and it was a shock to see him benched for the subsequent match at Anfield.

He won't stay there for long. Wenger made Lacazette the most expensive player in Arsenal's history, so it seems all but certain he'll be starting on a regular basis before long. 

There is still work for him to do if he is to adapt fully to English football. Lacazette is clearly an able finisher, but it's not clear yet precisely how he will fit into the Gunners' all-round game. Nevertheless, the signs are good—Arsenal's long hunt for a quality centre-forward may well be over.

Grade: : A-

        

Signing Sead Kolasinac

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11:  Sead Kolasinac of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Leicester City at Emirates Stadium on August 11, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

In a market where prices seem to be spiralling out of control, signing a Bundesliga Team of the Year defender for free has to go down as a great coup.

Kolasinac has been an instant hit with the Arsenal fans, scoring in the Community Shield win over Chelsea and generally impressing with his imposing frame and buccaneering runs.

The one concern would be the fact that as yet he has not started in his preferred left-wing-back position. Wenger seemed fixated with using Kolasinac as a centre-half, when he would surely be better off in a more attacking role.

Once we see Kolasinac starting in his best position, his true value can be assessed. 

Grade: B+

         

Failing to do more business

All the discussion of Alexis and Lemar clouded the fact that Arsenal allowed the deadline to pass without improving their options at centre-half and central midfield. 

The midfield area has been particularly problematic for Arsenal in recent seasons, and it seemed clear they needed a mobile, dynamic player to help keep possession and protect the back four. Wenger has instead chosen to proceed with his current options, including handing a reprieve to former Bournemouth loanee Jack Wilshere. 

That's potentially a huge problem for Arsenal. The Gunners slipped to fifth last year, and two major signings are probably not enough to prompt a turnaround in their fortunes.

Grade: F

           

Final grades

Keeping Alexis: B

Selling Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: A-

Signing Alexandre Lacazette: A-

Signing Sead Kolasinac: B+

Failing to do more business: F

          

Overall grade: C

Arsenal's transfer window has been a strange one. What they did they did well, but they simply didn't do enough. If the purpose of keeping Alexis was to make Arsenal more competitive, why was the squad not fleshed out with a couple more quality players?

Their strategy is also somewhat alarming when you look towards the future. Even if Arsenal muddle through this season, they could be in for a nightmare summer in 2018.

          

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and follows the club from a London base.