1 Player Arsenal Will Regret Not Signing in 2015 Summer Transfer Window

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2015

MONACO - AUGUST 30: Edinson Cavani of PSG celebrates a goal during the French Ligue 1 match between AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain at Stade Louis II on August 30, 2015 in Monaco. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Arsenal’s transfer window was a mixed affair. It started brightly with the acquisition of Petr Cech—a goalkeeper with the quality to be the Gunners’ undisputed No. 1 for years to come. However, it had a disappointing denouement when Arsene Wenger failed to further strengthen the squad on deadline day.

In the end, Cech was his sole summer signing. The Gunners boss may come to regret his relative inactivity—particularly in the case of Paris Saint-Germain striker Edison Cavani.

MONACO - AUGUST 30: Edinson Cavani of PSG reacts after missing a goal during the French Ligue 1 match between AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain at Stade Louis II on August 30, 2015 in Monaco. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

The day after the window closed, Wenger told beIN Sports (h/t Sky Sports) that he was content with his business. He cited Manchester United’s move for Anthony Martial as an indication that there is not much value in the market:

What happened last night with Monaco, who sold Martial to Manchester United for 80 million euros, I've heard...Martial scored 11 goals in the French championship—that sums it up well.

That means it's not the money that's missing at the moment, it's not the desire of investment that is missing, it's the number of players available who can strengthen the big clubs.

The problem at the moment is finding the players that guarantees you are a better team after, and that example last night shows you very well.

Wenger’s desire to achieve value for money is admirable. However, Arsenal—like United—are a club flush with cash. They have the ability to push the boat out to get what they need in the market.

What Arsenal need right now is undoubtedly a world-class goalscorer

Anyone doubting that need only look at the figures for Arsenal’s start to the season. Thus far, their top goalscorer remains the opposition, with two of their three league goals coming via own goals. Thus far, only Liverpool, Watford and Newcastle United have scored fewer Premier League goals.

Paris Saint-Germain's Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani (R) reacts next to Monaco's Portuguese midfielder Silva Bernardo at the end of the French L1 football match Monaco (ASM) vs Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), on August 30, 2015 at the Louis II stadium in Mon

Cavani could have helped alleviate the problem. According to John Cross of the Mirror, he was the subject of a late inquiry from Wenger, but the veteran manager decided against taking the move further:

Arsenal did make moves for top strikers in the window. Karim Benzema was on their radar but never, ever got past first base. ... Similarly, they did make calls—including one in the last few days—about Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani.

But, again, Arsenal didn’t want to pay £50m for a player who is 28 and so has no sell-on value.

Cavani may come to be regarded as the one that got away. Although, as Cross mentions, Arsenal were linked extensively with Benzema throughout the summer, that move was always a non-starter. As Thierry Henry explained to Sky Sports:

I do not know if the boss wanted Benzema or not, but the player must also want to come.

What are you going to offer to the guy who is playing for one of the best teams in the world, knowing that he is playing there week in, week out, and performing well? How do you get Benzema from Real Madrid when he plays there? ... It is a difficult one.

Madrid were under no financial pressure to sell, and with president Florentino Perez enamoured with Benzema’s talent, the Spaniards were never likely to let him go—especially without recruiting a superstar replacement. 

With Benzema off the table, Cavani made for an obvious and attractive alternative. He’s never appeared to have quite settled in Paris. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic already installed at the club, Cavani has never been PSG’s main man.

At Arsenal, it would surely have been different. Although Arsenal have a strong crop of strikers in Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck, Cavani’s reputation and price tag would surely have installed him as the club’s first-choice centre-forward.

Each of Arsenal’s current set of strikers has his Achilles heel: Giroud is too slow, Walcott too work-shy and Welbeck too inconsistent in front of goal. In each of those matters, Cavani is superior. When he is on top of his game, he is surprisingly quick, a tireless worker and a ruthless finisher. His mere presence in the Arsenal XI would strike fear into opposition defenders. 

What’s more, it would send a message to Arsenal’s competitors. In each of the previous two summers, the Gunners made a major marquee signing. In 2013, they added Mesut Ozil. In 2014, it was Alexis Sanchez. A third elite attacking signing in succession would have lifted spirits among both players and supporters. Although Cech is undoubtedly a significant addition, signing a goalkeeper doesn’t set fire to the imagination in quite the same way.  

There is a pervading feeling that Arsenal cannot win the league until they acquire a striker capable of scoring 30 goals per season. Henry summed up the feeling of many observers when he told Sky Sports (h/t the Telegraph): 

I’m afraid, they need a top, top quality striker to win this league again. 

I think Giroud is doing extremely well. But can you win the league with him? I wouldn't think so.

He does a job, and he does it ever so well, but you can't win the league. 

Cavani would not have brought with him any guarantees, but he would have represented an upgrade on Giroud. He’s more mobile and more clinical than the Frenchman and is arguably a more natural fit for Arsenal’s intricate yet incisive approach play.

Giroud would still have remained an essential part of the squad. His hold-up play and aerial ability make him an ideal substitute. Welbeck and Walcott would have got game time both on the wings and in domestic cup competitions. However, Arsenal would finally have got themselves a forward capable of putting an end to the apparent curse on the No. 9 shirt.

Paris Saint-Germain's Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring his second goal during the French L1 football match Monaco (ASM) vs Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), on August 30, 2015 at the Louis II stadium in Monaco. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHE

His age and lack of residual value ought not to be an issue—Arsenal would not have been buying Cavani for resale but to help them recapture the domestic title. Such a signing is not about making a recoupable investment but more a statement of ambition. £50 million is an awful lot of money, but if it proved to be the difference between claiming the Premier League and not, then it’s a steal.

Arsenal are richer now than they have ever been. They are a huge club, and they ought to be behaving like one. That means speculating in order to accumulate and ensuring the squad has everything it needs to win major honours year on year. The acquisition of Cavani would have helped considerably. Wenger may come to regret not stretching his spending to lure the Uruguayan striker.

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and is following the club from a London base throughout 2015/16. Follow him on Twitter here.


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