Arsenal 2014/15 transfer review
Arsenal started this season as FA Cup holders looking to improve on their fourth-place finish in 2013/14 season.
This was the second season after the period when Arsenal could not fully compete on the transfer market as they were building and paying off the Emirates Stadium. That meant the Gunners had the freedom to splash out on marquee signings while retaining their best players.
Key players out
In order to assimilate more competitive strikers, Arsenal had to permanently divorce themselves of the services of decent players like Carlos Vela. They received £12m from Real Sociedad after passing on the option of re-signing the Mexican.
Vela had scored 47 goals in 126 matches for the La Liga club but the deal, along with the departure of strikers like Nicklas Bendtner, was necessary to trim the squad.
Arsenal also had to let captain Thomas Vermaelen go as the Belgian central defender struggled to command a place in the starting XI. The signing of Calum Chambers added further competition for places in centre-back positions so a £15m deal for Vermaelen was the only solution.
First-choice right-back Bacary Sagna left on a free transfer.
Key players signed
At the back Wenger turned to Mathieu Debuchy to replace Sagna. For £12 million, Debuchy was a good signing for Wenger because the French full-back had already established himself as a competitive Premier League full-back during his time at Newcastle.
Debuchy’s arrival also bought time for the versatile Chambers to properly develop. The 20-year old arrived for £16m looking to break into the starting XI rather than assume a potentially overwhelming role as a regular starter for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Of the £84m Arsenal spent last summer, £51m was allocated to the signing of Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez as Wenger looked to supplement Olivier Giroud’s goals. Both Sanchez and Welbeck are industrious strikers who can drop into midfield to graft without the ball.
Sanchez alone cost the Gunners £35m but that deal now look like a steal. The Chilean has contributed to Arsenal’s cause from different avenues. Sanchez has been scoring from set-pieces, he can carry the ball and skip past players with his dribbling abilities and he brought a genuine winning mentality to Wenger’s men.
David Ospina completed this £3m move to replace Lukasz Fabianski. Wenger probably assumed that the Colombian would remain as a backup keeper to Wojciech Szczesny. Ospina has stepped up well when Szczesny suffered a dip in form.
Gabriel Paulista is another decent signing at £11.2m. The 24-year old Brazilian has all the key aspects a team needs from a central defender: he is quick, good when defending one-on-ones and promises to form a solid partnership with Laurent Koscielny if he displaces Per Mertesacker.
Arsenal’s key signings – Sanchez, Ospina, Welbeck and Chambers – have all played big roles in their season. The Gunners are a stronger outfit compared to the one that was battling with Everton for a fourth-place finish last season. They are capable of mounting a stronger title challenge next season if they have another successful summer.