A Complete Arsenal Roundup

Unai Emery’s Arsenal have gotten off to a very decent start in this summer transfer window, the likes of which Arsenal fans have not seen in many years. After 21 seasons with the spendthrift Arsene Wenger at the helm, Emery has revitalized and completely changed the squad, with many fresh faces hoping to announce themselves this season in the Premier League. Below find the analysis of Arsenal’s latest transfers and departures, as well as projected depth charts for the beginning of the season.

Stephan Lichtsteiner – Free Transfer

Arsenal have been notoriously thin at right-back the past two seasons, since Mathieu Debuchy was constantly mired in injury and Carl Jenkinson never quite had first team quality. Calum Chambers most often deputized for clear first-choice starter Hector Bellerín in cup matches. While Bellerin was solid, he did not show the improvement many expected of him following his breakout campaign in 2014. Stephan Lichtsteiner, who joins from Juventus on a free, brings pedigree and leadership into an Arsenal squad that needs just those qualities. While some have concerns over his age (34), he played 32 games last season for a title-winning Juventus squad (he also won 14 trophies over the 7 years he spent in Torino). He should end up as the second-choice right back, but his experience will challenge Bellerin to improve his game and his leadership, as demonstrated by his performance against Tottenham in the Champions League, will be crucial for Arsenal’s Europa League campaign.

Bernd Leno – 25 Million Euros

In this market, with keepers like Allison being rumored to leave for upwards of 60 million euros, Arsenal can be pleased with signing an established keeper for just above market value. Leno, who has already played 399 matches at the age of 26, is a perfect transfer for an Arsenal side in desperate need of a long-term solution at the goalkeeper position. After last season, it is clear that the aging legend Petr Cech is no longer capable of starting in the Premier League, and David Ospina was less than satisfactory as a back-up. Arsenal benefitted from the sheer overload of German keepers that presumably kept Leno’s release clause so low: Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Kevin Trapp, Timo Horn, Ron-Robert Zeiler, and Rene Adler have created a rife market for German stoppers. Regardless, Leno should expect to become Arsenal’s first choice net-minder, with Cech filling in for Europa League games and Matt Macey or Emiliano Martinez starting the rest.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos – 16 Million Euros

Continuing the theme of smart spending, Arsenal paid well below market value to snag the Greek defender away from Borussia Dortmund. He becomes the third former Dortmund player to join the squad in the past 6 months, following in the footsteps of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. While his purchase appears to be a good deal, his sloppy performance against 5th division side Boreham Wood in Arsenal’s last friendly casts doubts on if he is a significant upgrade to a thoroughly average Arsenal defense. As the Squawka comparison below demonstrates, he committed significantly more fouls than any of the other 3 main options at center-back. While Sokratis is always good for a long-range cracker, perhaps Arsenal could have invested in a different player. With 32-year old Laurent Koscielny likely out until 2019 with an Achilles injury (the same type of injury which caused Santi Cazorla to miss over two years of action), Arsenal could still benefit from a bigger splash in the transfer market. Young standout Çağlar Söyüncü would be a better addition to the squad.

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How Sokratis compares to other Arsenal defenders. Image: Squawka

Lucas Torreira – 30 Million Euros

Perhaps Arsenal’s greatest transfer this summer, Lucas Torreira looks poised to be Arsenal’s answer to N’Golo Kante: a midfield destroyer who can run, pass, and (unlike Kante) shoot. Despite being small in stature, Torreira had a breakout season at Sampdoria last year, and was a standout for Uruguay at the World Cup. As evidenced by his Squawka comparison matrix, he compares quite favorably to Kante, Wilfred Ndidi, and Naby Keita, three highly-rated players with similar styles. He displayed admirable ability to play long balls at the World Cup, which will be useful with the pace of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up top. This deal will cost the Gunners 30 million, reportedly to be paid over two seasons, which is not bad by any account: Arsenal paid exactly market value for the 22-year old. Hopefully, between Torreira, Granit Xhaka, and Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal’s midfield can reclaim the dynamism it has lacked since Santi Cazorla.   

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Lucas Torriera vs his peers. Image: Squawka

Matteo Guendouzi – 8 Million Euros

Arsenal were heavily linked with PSG academy project Yacine Adli, before he surprisingly agreed to stay with Les Parisiens. What do you do when you fail to sign one PSG-trained teenager with incredible hair? Naturally, you sign another. Matteo Guendouzi left Paris in 2015 on a free transfer, and has since established himself playing for Ligue 2 side Lorient, playing 18 games in their campaign last year. With the departure of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla, Arsenal were getting stretched in midfield, given the number of games the club will play in cups and in Europe. Guendouzi, 19, has the potential to be Herve Renard’s latest coup for Morocco as well, although if he can perform up to expectations he might have a future in the France side as well. A true carrilero, Guendouzi excels at positional awareness and soccer intelligence. He should fit in well as a rotational player in a possession-heavy Arsenal side. His 8 million Euro transfer has the potential to be a real bargain in the long run, although he is still unproven.


Jack Wilshere – Free Transfer to West Ham United

After 17 years in the Arsenal system, Super Jack’s time (and contract) are up. Wilshire joins London club West Ham, and supporters of both sides should be excited. Wilshire’s exit is in many ways emblematic of the expunging of Wenger’s English generation; Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, once thought to be the future core of Arsenal and England alike, have now all moved on. Arsenal fans should have no hard feelings towards the creative playmaker, and his legendary goal against Norwich should live on forever in the annals of Arsenal.

Per Mertesacker – Retired

Former captain Per Mertesacker has retired to become the head of Arsenal’s youth academy. He was aging, so the move makes sense, and he should have aims to become a manager in the future. This seems like a logical first step.

Santi Cazorla – Free Transfer to Villareal

Oh, Santi. He had been injured since late 2015, but it is still sad to see him go. He was one of the Premier League’s best midfielders for three years, mixing creativity with vision and fantastic technique, but what will stand out most is his heartwarming personality. He was always smiling, happy to do whatever the squad required. Every Arsenal fan should wish him the utmost of successes at Villareal.

Squad Depth and Possible Lineups

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Arsenal’s depth chart at the beginning of the season. Image: LineupBuilder.com

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