Arsenal’s four big signings: how they fit in the squad and the HG rules

By Tony Attwood

One of the problems with transfer rumours is that they tend to be confined, in the reporting thereof, to issues relating to an individual player, and not to the team as a whole.  It is not always thus, but this is the tendency.

If we take Lucas Torreira he is variously described as a defensive midfielder and a holding midfielder, and there is a feeling in the media that he is on his way.  According to the Daily Star who cite “Sky Sports man Dharmesh Sheth” .

“Stephan Lichtsteiner is in, Bernd Leno is in and Sokratis Papastathopoulos will sign on July 1.  Lucas Torreira as well, that looks like it’s imminent.

Torreira is a holding midfield player whose strength according to Whoscored is ball interceptions and his weakness is aerial duels.  They give his style of play as

  • Likes to shoot from distance
  • Gets fouled often
  • Likes to play short passes
  • Likes to tackle

and his general strengths are listed as having shots from distance, taking set-pieces, passing, tackling and concentration.

So where does he fit in, in a team that already has Elneny on a new contract, Xhaka as the start of the show for Switzerland, and Ramsey?   Could one really have a squad with all four players in it?  If so, are a couple of those players for the Europa League, League Cup and FA Cup, and covering for injuries?

I guess the most obvious answer to this is that Ramsey is seen as an attacking player just behind the main attack while Elneny is seen as the reserve and the player who will be used in the three knock out competitions.   Maitland-Niles presumably will be used elsewhere, and again primarily in the Cups.

Back on 12 June the Guardian wrote “Arsenal agree £26.4m deal to sign Sampdoria’s Lucas Torreira” and you don’t normally spend that sort of money on a player who is not going to be first choice in the Premier League games.   But then I’d expect Xhaka and Ramsey to be first choice.

But the media is fairly sure about these things: “Arsenal to spend entire transfer budget on Lucas Torreira, Bernd Leno and Sokratis Papastathopoulos” said the Metro last week.   But they like the rest didn’t see how the team would fit together.

Here are Torreira’s figures…

Season League Cup Total
Games Goals Games Goals Games Goals
2016–17 35 0 1 0 36 0
2017–18 36 4 2 0 38 4
Total 71 4 3 0 74 4

So clearly from that he is not going to come to a club and not be top of the pecking order.

Our figures recently showed that we probably have a couple of spaces in the 25 based on our estimations of who might leave (a particularly difficult piece of guess work when considering all the goal keepers at the club), but what about the “home grown” factor.

Now you can only have 17 non-home grown players, although many commentators like to write this the other way around saying you need eight home grown.   This however is a little misleading – the regulations are written in terms of “no more than 17 who are not home-grown”.  You don’t have to have eight HG players; you could have seven and a squad of 24 instead of 25.

Indeed Arsenal, last season, having a squad of 25 listed players, was in the minority of PL clubs.  Most clubs listed fewer than 25, because of the rule.

Here’s how it works out – the numbers on the left are just to keep count, not for any other purpose.

The non-home grown players likely to be in the squad next season.  Under 21s on the qualifying date set by the Premier League do not have to be included so the Home-Grown rules don’t affect them.

Player Contract end
1 Laurent Koscielny 6/30/2020
2 Henrikh Mkhitarian 6/30/2021
3 Andre Lacazette 6/30/2022
4 Mesut Özil 6/30/2021
5 David Ospina 6/30/2019
6 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 6/30/2021
7 Nacho Monreal 6/30/2019
8 Shkodran Mustafi 6/30/2021
9 Granit Xhaka 6/30/2021
10 Saad Kolasinac 6/30/2022
11 Petr Cech 6/30/2018
12 Mohamed Elneny 6/30/2020
13 Lucas Pérez 6/30/2020
14 Joel Campbell 6/30/2018
15 Leno
16 Lichtsteiner
17 Sokratis
18 Torreira

So assuming that Joel Campbell walks away at the end of the month when his contract runs out we are once again ok, although bumping up against the 17 man boundary if anyone else who is not home grown wants to join.

Thus if we do want another non-home grown player thereafter we will have to lose another man – Cech would be a possibility or Ospina.  Cech’s contract is up, unless he has renewed it and I missed it.

Overall it does all work as long as we don’t buy anyone beyond the four players listed in positions 15 to 18.   And if the manager really does want to keep four players who can play defensive midfield, he can, knowing that Elneny is the backup and Ramsey is being used further forward.

Those four, then, and the buying is over, or else it is one out and one in, from there on.




11 Replies to “Arsenal’s four big signings: how they fit in the squad and the HG rules”

  1. I don’t think Cech’s contract will expire this summer, as he has just been given the #1 jersey.
    Surely it expires next summer?

  2. There is, of course, the possibility that the formation will change and/or there will be a higher level of rotation. Both would accomodate replacements for Coquelin and Wilshere.

  3. let’s assume emery was free to pick the exact team he wanted at PSG (i wouldn’t bet on that, but let’s pretend): his favoured pick in midfield (whenever the three of them were fit) was always: verratti – motta – rabiot (behind mbappe – cavani – neymar); in that context recruiting torreira would make sense; we could have:

    hector – mustafi – kos (sokratis ’til december, or callum, or rob/mavropanos) – nacho (kola)
    torreira – aaron – granit (what a goal yesterday!!); with ainsley and mo as backups (europa, fa; efl, cups …)
    mesut (or mkhitaryan)
    laca – auba (+ danny, eddie, …)

    i still feel for the marooned (santi, jack, petr, …) but i have to admit such an XI looks yummy to me, all the more so since we’d have osei-tutu, amaechi, dasilva, nelson, smith-rowe, … ready to jump on the first opportunity to impress (i for one, have already been impressed, actually)

  4. The most reliable source of those players still under contract for next season is the retained list on the premier league website. Both Petr Cech and Joel Campbell are listed as contracted for next year.

  5. OT: Bellerin thinks highly enough of Ospina to select him in his WC 5-a-side. Quite interesting!

  6. Koscielny is surely out of the 18 listed above and won’t be registered for the first half of the new season’s campaign and that will bring the number to 17 none homegrown Gunners on the club books at the start of the new season.

    However, depending on what Unai Emery’s plan is as regard to more senior signings this summer which Arsenal can still do but if they loan out one or two senior Gunners out of the 17 or sell one of them or even the two as the case may be. And in this regards, I think the goalkeeper department will be axed where one of Cech and Ospina could be loaned out or sold. And the dangling axe could once again fall on one of Joel Campbell and Lucus Perez or both that will see them loaned out or sold this summer. And should this happens within the remaining 17 days to the deadline for signings by PL clubs in which Arsenal are yet to show the sign of selling any Gunner from their 17 foreigners list or in their 8 homegrown players list. But if they do, that will tell us that they will buy one to two new senior players again this summer to take the number of new players bought by the club to 6 this summer.

    I think Matt Macey, Carl Jenkinson, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, AMN, Cohen Bramall, Danny Welbeck are all the 7 senior English players regarded as home grown that I can remember now who are on the Arsenal’s list that includes the Spanish Bellerin to take the numbers to 8. But under Monsieur Arsene Wenger, the former Gunners boss, Carl Jenkinson and Cohen Bramall were loaned out. But with Jack Wilshere, an English man Gunner seemingly out of the club, Unai Emery may not loan out or sell more than one homegrown English man Gunner thils summer to buy a top quality senior English player. For, with the ongoing diplomatic spats between the Westminster and Kremlin, the signing of Aleksandr Golovin from CSKA by Arsenal this summer maybe blocked as three home office may not issued him work and resident permit. But could Arsenal instead sign Ahmed Musa from Leicester City? Hmmm. Complications! He can’t be signed by Arsenal this summer should another senior English player leaves the club.

  7. What does complicate matters is that when selecting a squad for European football the rules around HG aren’t quite the same. Just like the PL regulations 8 places are reserved for HG players 4 of that number are reserved for club trained players .To qualify as club trained a player between the ages of 15 & 21 has to be registered for 3 complete seasons with his current club.

  8. doc, there aren’t many aerial crosses on 5-a-side pitch, which is where his main weakness is.

  9. Tony, part of the issue is that Elneny and Xhaka are really more B2B players than pure DMs. They’ve both got a decent tackle (now GX has stopped diving in early) and defend space reasonably (one of Gilbertos strengths) but it’s not their natural position.
    Whilst Ramsey is an attacking MF who can cover as B2B or DM if necessary (DM provided he can stop the natural urge to get forward).
    All 3 of them are good enough footballers to have the odd game as MOTM in that DM position, but It’s difficult to be really consistent in a position like that when it’s not your normal game. It really is a position (like CBs) where the ability to read a game (usually through experience) is crucial.
    Probably the best option we already have is AMN at DM but he’s still very young for such a pivotal position, although personally I’d also like to see Chambers given a game or 2 there (Tinpot cup maybe) as I think it could suit him.

  10. I think Cech has one year, although Campbell may not, but he could also have a sikutary year left.

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