Gunner Thoughts

Arsenal Transfer Reflections + Grading the Window

The window has closed which means all we have left to do it, grade it, point fingers, and look toward the title.

One for the future that fits the project

One for the medium term to bolster the attack. To push Martinelli and Arsenal forward

One for the short term, the worst case scenario

….and One man to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

The business window is shut, the opportunities done. Finally, we can all return to doing what we really love: watching the Arsenal football. 

Coming into deadline day, Arsenal were a pretty single-minded club with one goal: land a defensive midfielder. 

As I wrote about yesterday, and during the week, Caicedo seemed like a mighty stretch with all the reasons in the world for Brighton to stop answering Arsenal’s call.

Jorginho emerged late in the window and was received with a response from many fans that I would describe as “hopelessly underwhelmed and forlorn”. 

Despite that, Arsenal did the business early on Deadline Day and landed Jorginho.

While some prayed their little hearts out that this early signing meant there was still time for a Caicedo push, David Ornstein wrote in The Athletic, “the north London club decided against pursuing a move for Moises Caicedo” in his morning, Jorginho announcement which should have curbed people’s belief in this all together. 

The Chelsea veteran transfers to Arsenal for £10 million plus £2m in add ons, with an 18-month contract which is, at least, far from hobbling to Arsenal’s project’s future, and a far cry from the “leisurely retirement” contracts the club gave past players like Luiz or Willian. 

As Ornstein foreshadowed, Jorginho would be the final incoming of the window, but Arsenal finalized two outgoings. First, Cedric Soares completed a loan to Fulham before the clock struck midnight meaning he will be there for the remainder of the season. 

The other outgoing of the day is more intriguing. Albert Sambi Lokonga completed a move to Crystal Palace on loan with no option to buy.

Some fans voiced a concern here as their heads quickly did the small-number math on Jorginho coming in and Sambi going out equaling no numerical improvement in central midfield bodies, but this transfer’s catalyst and value probably runs deeper.

It’s quite evident that Sambi is not having a good time here at Arsenal. Look no further than his despondent march down the tunnel immediately after the full-time whistle after the Manchester City match, in the FA Cup. And while it’s not the club’s job to ensure this young man has fun in his career, it is mutually beneficial.

What has become abundantly clear that is Lokonga is not ready to be Arsenal’s #6 — and may never be ready — nor does he have enough attacking verve in his game to be a fit for their #8 role. He’s stuck in no man’s land and in dire need of minutes and playing time to figure himself out and improve. Those necessary minutes would never be achievable for him internally. If Arsenal are going to see him improve, or salvage any value from him, a loan was necessary. And while you could be inclined to push that out to next year, it’s very likely that he would have asked for a transfer — and maybe still will.

This move opens the door for options, and if Arsenal are lucky, Vieira will inject a bit (a lot) of himself into Arsenal’s young midfielder.

Grading the window: 6.75/10

Bottom line, in the most basic of ways, the goal of the January window is to improve your team, which Arsenal have done. It may not be a window with long term, ceiling-raising potential, but it does provide much-needed depth, options, and viable selections for Arteta to work with.

  • 1 player for the future that fits the project’s mold
  • 1 player for now and the next few years that brings both immediate benefits and allows flexibility in future windows
  • 1 for right now only. An Elneny replacement. A parachute string to pull in case of emergency
  • None break the bank and two put us ahead for focusing summer spend

Trossard will rightfully wear the crown this window as Arsenal’s best signing, but as I said in yesterday’s blog, people are probably undervaluing what the other two offer — especially in the case of Jorginho. 

As a player he isn’t like-for-like with Partey, and probably would require tweaks to the system’s roles and responsibilities, but it feels too far to say he offers nothing. He’s can keep our attacking play ticking, keep the ball moving, retains possession and is capable of hitting the pass when it’s there. He will likely need assistance in the mobility department, and a little more defensive shielding from his midfield partner and the two fullbacks, but that shouldn’t come at the detriment of this fluid attack.

And again, this is in case of emergency. If everything works out as we hope, Jorginho will see exactly zero crucial minutes in the Premier League.

6.75/10 is an unorthodox rating, so I better explain.

As I said before, the bare minimum of a January window is to improve your team. Arsenal have landed three players and I think Trossard is a really nice signing with plenty of intelligence backing it. Coming into the window, Arsenal needed depth on the wings to push Martinelli and relieve him, and the club landed a player in their prime that can cover both wings for the next few years at a cost that didn’t break the bank.

And it may be fortunate they didn’t break that bank — as good as Mudryk is — because they had no intention of signing depth in the midfield until Elneny’s injury in training resulted in the early end to his season. While the club had to fall back their last option, they landed an experienced player that Arteta and Edu have shown an appreciation for in the past. They believe in Jorginho’s ability to contribute to the team, even if many fans are far from convinced.

Finally, the club landed a young, ball-playing center back to compete with Gabriel. It remains to be seen how good he is, or how much of an influence he will have this season, but Arsenal’s defensive depth looks incredibly solid.

When you look at Arsenal’s prospective best lineup (injuries not accounted for), it starts to look far more complete:


  • Ramsdale
  • Zinchenko
  • Gabriel
  • Saliba
  • White
  • Xhaka
  • Partey
  • Martinelli
  • Ødegaard
  • Saka
  • Jesus


  • Turner
  • Tomiyasu
  • Tierney
  • Kiwior
  • Jorginho
  • Viera
  • Trossard
  • Smith Rowe
  • Nketiah

Which makes this a better side than we saw on January 1st — success. If Arsenal can keep Smith Rowe healthy and see Jesus return to fitness in the next five weeks, they stand to finish the season incredibly strong.

Having said that, much like a gymnastic routine or performance in ice dancing, if you set yourself a high level of difficulty and only manage to wilt your way through the tricks, your score has to take some hit.

Arsenal aimed for the moon with names like Mudryk and Caicedo, for better or worse. While I can admire our intent, and would wager that few clubs in history have come up short in the same window with two £70m+ offers, coming up with none of the names and spending lots of time in the process should be accounted for in the scoring.

Do Arsenal purchase someone besides Jorginho if they were more realistic up front about Brighton caving and selling Caicedo? It’s very possible.

Because of that, I more or less gave the club 6/10 for landing 3 targets and adding depth in 3 spots; gave extra points for Trossard already looking like the real deal and playing a role in helping grab Arsenal all three points against United; gave points for the deals setting up Arsenal for success this summer; but docked points for the process and degree of underwhelming results comparatively.

It could cost us in other windows more than it did this one. Edu will definitely be under the microscope next summer, and carry a little bit of heat for the rest of this season as Arsenal try to get themselves their first title in two decades. If they fall short, I doubt the fan voices will fall short of his ears.

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