As strange as it may sound, sixty-million pound is no longer a lot of money. Sure, to you or I, such a sum would leave us with our jaws close to the floor, eyes bulging, panting in disbelief, but for new Arsenal Manager Unai Emery, it is far from sufficient if he is to guide the Gunners to the summit of English football.
A Premier League news update suggests that this is indeed the level of finances that Emery will have to work with, a figure that prompted ex-Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit to say, “When I hear about the amount of money Emery has to spend, I can't believe it. Where are you going with £60m? You're going nowhere.”
Without the lavish bank balance needed to compete with the likes of Chelsea and the two Manchester Clubs, Arsenal will be forced to be shrewd in their acquisitions; something both Emery and the new head of recruitment, Sven Mislintat, are well accustomed to.
The area in the biggest need of improvement is in goal.
David Ospina has proven time and again that as a back-up he is ideal however he lacks both the physique and the mindset needed to guide a club of Arsenal’s stature to the places they want to go. And while Petr Cech will go down as an all-time Premier League great, time has caught up with the towering Czech, to the point he now looks little more than ordinary.
An outlandish suggestion would be to sign the now free-agent, Gianluigi Buffon. As he has proven with both his Serie A and Champions League exploits, Buffon remains a player who orbits the top tranche of keepers. What goes against the Italian is his age, and after having their fingers burned already with Cech, perhaps a more youthful purchase is in order.
A player who ticks the boxes marked ‘young’, ‘talented’ and ‘affordable’ is Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno. The 26-year-old with over 200 Bundesliga appearances, is widely reported to be available for a fee in the region of £22million. The one chink in Leno’s armour is his concentration, a weakness that has seen him repeatedly make unforced errors, most notably in the Champions League. However, with more games under his belt and some more hands-on coaching, it is not unthinkable that Leno could be included in the top bracket of keepers.
The final goalkeeper worth consideration is Paris Saint Germain’s Alphonse Areola. Having been scouted intensively for the last four years, there is little to the Frenchman that will surprise the Arsenal hierarchy. Working with Emery for the last two years, building a fine working relationship, a reunion may just be on the cards.
Entering a transfer window without Arsene Wenger’s hand on the tiller for the first time in twenty-two years, there is a sense of both excitement and urgency around the Emirates stadium. The lethargy that has blighted many a transfer has now been lifted, something of paramount importance in a World Cup year where any delay will see a huge hike in prices.