This summer’s transfer window is set to be among the most important in the history of Arsenal. As yet another title challenge went up in smoke as soon as the going got tough, it became clear to all observers that for all their talk of a corner having been turned, Arsene Wenger’s men remain some way short of being genuine title contenders. Worryingly, it is difficult to see what they can do in July and August to rectify their situation.
While many fans remain adamant that Olivier Giroud needs replacing–or at least able back-up–the list of world-class strikers available to Arsenal is more or less non-existent. Big-money summer moves are all-but certain for the likes of Atlético Madrid’s Diego Costa, Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandžukić and Real Madrid’s Álvaro Morata, one would expect them to receive offers from clubs able to offer more seductive packages than that on offer at Arsenal.
The same goes for German midfielders İlkay Gündoğan, Lars Bender and Julian Draxler, all targets of Wenger’s at one time or another over the last few years. Their reputations have risen to the point that any offer received by Arsenal will only be considered once Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester City & Co. have each confirmed that their interest will not be followed up by an offer.
The arrival of Mesut Özil on the summer 2013 deadline day proved that Arsenal are indeed a viable destination should the rest of Europe’s elite pass up the chance to sign a superstar, but this was very much the exception that proves the rule: Özil left signing for the Gunners as late as possible in the hope that a more desirable offer would materialise.
Therefore, what faces Wenger this summer is less a conventional fight to sign the best players available and more a final struggle to prove to the footballing world that he can still convince world-class players to sign for his club – a once proud institution that has been reduced to paying for rough diamonds and hoping that the genius in charge of training can cut them into something coveted the world over.
Should reinforcements fail to arrive this summer, there is cause for optimism. If Liverpool’s title charge has shown us anything it is that sensible and innovative coaching can take a squad with no significant summer additions to the brink of glory. If Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Lukas Podolski can stay fit for an entire campaign, they should furnish Arsenal with the quality required to consistently put teams to the sword.
Such optimism pales in the face of reality, however. As José Mourinho delights in reminding him, the clock is ticking for Wenger and with every abortive title challenge his credibility diminishes that little bit further. Failure to act this summer could see the last of it disappear forever.