Arsenal: from escaping the disaster through exciting plans

By Tony Attwood

“Arsenal have grand ambitions to strengthen Mikel Arteta’s squad this summer and technical director Edu is hoping to wrap up several new signings before the 2021/22 season begins.”

And so Football.London are telling us that Arsenal have signalled their interest in signing Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli by tabling their first “official bid” for the 23-year-old,” although he’s been sitting on the list of nearly 100 players we are supposedly thinking of signing for a little while.

But it is a much more laid back approach from that of just a week or two ago when the talk was of major changes to what was the third best defence in the league last season.  Have they been reading Untold – I rather suspect not.   However the mood has changed.

So, what do we know of the player?  Well, he’s 23, he’s a midfielder, he’s over six feet tall, and for reasons that I don’t understand he wears number 73.   He had a big falling out with Milan, possibly brought to the fore by their regular changes of managers, with new incumbents not particularly feeling moved to play him.

Here are his details…

Dates Team Games Goals
2016/19 Milan 48 2
2018/19 Sassuolo (loan) 29 2
2019/21 Sassuolo 67 4
2013 Italy Under 15 5 0
2014 Italy Under 16 2 0
2013/15 Italy Under 17 25 1
2015/16 Italy Under 19 16 1
2017/19 Italy Under 21 23 2
2020 + Italy 13 3

Meanwhile Sport Witness tell us that “Nuno Tavares will take a Covid-19 test today and if that’s negative he’ll travel to London to go through quarantine and sign for Arsenal.”  You may recall we covered this transfer with details of the player in an earlier report.

What is interesting is that there seems to be a move by the club to buy in younger players, and it appears that may well be a core part of the club’s plans following the difficulties in the first third of last season, which left Arsenal sitting 15th in the league and looking like contenders for relegation…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
12 Newcastle United 13 5 3 5 17 22 -5 18
13 Crystal Palace 14 5 3 6 19 25 -6 18
14 Leeds United 14 5 2 7 24 30 -6 17
15 Arsenal 14 4 2 8 12 18 -6 14
16 Burnley 13 3 4 6 8 19 -11 13
17 Brighton and Hove Albion 14 2 6 6 16 22 -6 12
18 Fulham 14 2 4 8 13 23 -10 10
19 West Bromwich Albion 14 1 4 9 10 29 -19 7
20 Sheffield United 14 0 2 12 8 25 -17 2

Those difficulties, as we’ve covered before, came about through the dramatic change of playing policy, which removed tackling as a prime method of defending.  This as we know turned out to be very effective, cutting the number of yellow cards dramatically and sending Arsenal back up the league, but the legacy of those first 14 games remained of course.

The feeling seems to be that all newcomers to the club will need to be inducted into this approach (unless Mr Arteta has another idea up his sleeve in terms of a tactical change), and that is much easier to do with younger players.

That doesn’t mean that older more experienced players will not be signed at all, but it does suggest where the emphasis lies.

However not all commentators want to let go of their traditional line of approach, no matter how much evidence is pushed their way.   Sport Witness for example is proving to be most insistent that nothing has changed as they lead with

“Finishing eighth in the Premier League last season, Arsenal, led by Mikel Arteta, decided it was time for some sort of revolution within the club.

“It’s widely expected that players will be sold, while there will be an influx of new signings in order to ensure the woes from the previous campaign aren’t repeated.”

It is a point of view of course, but not one that is backed up by any facts – although I would agree that “Mikel Arteta, decided it was time for some sort of revolution within the club.”   However the evidence points to that decision being made a year ago, and the revolution happened in the first third of last season – which explains the league table above.

But they do come up with another new player linked with Arsenal: “Piotr Zielinski, now on holiday after a disappointing Euros campaign by Poland’s expectations.”  He’ll show up on our list of rumours in a few days time.

Meanwhile in another twist to the emerging stories Just Arsenal News has announced Arsenal cannot unveil Tavares until 10th of July due to Covid protocols .  That sounds a bit dramatic but as they explain later “On arrival, the left-back with then have to go into isolation and if he has another negative test after 5 days in London then he will be free to go to London Colney for his medical ”

So seemingly the protocols are there to stop the spread of the Uefa Variant which is now on the move in the UK following the Wembley internationals. The number of cases of the virus in the UK grew by 9,983 in the past week – and the full impact of the internationals is yet to be felt.

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