The January transfer window is, by tradition, something of a damp squib for most clubs, a market only ever entered to paper over cracks or if a deal too good to miss comes up.
While there have been some successes for the Gunners over the years (the second coming of Henry, Sol Campbell, Nacho Monreal, Aubameyang), there have been plenty of winter signings to forget too (Kim Kallstrom, Cohen Bramall, Denis Suarez).
This year, however, for the first time in a long time, there seems to have been a plan – something Edu and Mikel Arteta were trying to achieve in their efforts to reshape this bloated and unbalanced Arsenal squad. Where in years gone by the Gunners have tended to blunder their way through the winter window without much direction or, indeed, success, it looks this year like they might just tick all the boxes that needed ticking, and in good time too.
While there is still plenty of time to go before the window closes – and there is many a slip betwixt cup and lip – it looks increasingly likely that plan, to the extent that we are aware of it, will be completed quickly, quietly, and without fuss.
It feels almost as if we are acting like a professional, well-run organisation. Who’d have thought?
The primary concern, of course, was to shift as much deadwood as possible, bearing in mind the financial difficulties not only of potential buyers but of our own. To that end, we have seen Sokratis, Ozil, Saliba, Macey and Kolasinac depart, which is a good start by any measure and would doubtless have eaten up a great deal of administrative energy on the part of Edu. At this stage, it would probably be too much to expect arrangements to be made for Shkodran Mustafi and Alex Runarsson too but the possibility remains.
With those players off the books, the Gunners moved quickly and unusually quietly to capture the signature of Mat Ryan from Brighton. Despite his fall from grace on the south coast, Ryan looks by any estimation to be a solid acquisition and able back up to Bernd Leno should the worst happen.
It seems increasingly likely too that a deal will be agreed for the loan signing of Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard as a fresh creative option for the side, an area of the pitch in which we have been bereft of real quality since the departure of Santi Cazorla. And while the emergence of Emile Smith Rowe made the move a little less pressing than it was, the support and experience Odegaard will bring, even at just 22, could prove invaluable for the team and for Emile.
If you add into the mix the signing of under 23 prospect Omar Rekik, you would struggle to find an Arsenal fan who wouldn’t declare themselves impressed with the amount of work that has been done behind the scenes.
That’s not to concede that the re-building and re-moulding job is anywhere near complete. Doing so will require more than just a winter winter and a series of opportunistic loan moves, but the process has to start somewhere and there’s no better start than a decisive one.
So while the ink is not yet dry on some of the deals, and there may yet be deals in the pipeline unheralded, we can look on what has been done with a certain satisfaction. At long last, there appears to be a semblance of order about how we’re operating. So far, so good.