It’s that time of year again folks. Christmas is over, you’ve survived the New Years hangover, and everyone is heading back to work. But it’s not all bad, as the start of 2018 not only brings us the start of a new year, but the start of the January transfer window.
The winter transfer window is always seen as the more uninteresting of the two windows, but the transfer bonanza that was summer 2017 has ushered in a new era of buying and selling players. And that mentality has already carried over into January, as Liverpool continued their spending on feeder club Southampton as the Reds broke the transfer record for a defender by splashing a whopping £75 million on Saints centre back Virgil van Dijk.
And many more top players have been linked with moves this month, with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Eden Hazard, and Leon Goretzka all being rumoured with moves this January.
However, one club seems to be at the centre of the rumour mill this window, Arsenal, and it’s easy to see why. Star players Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, and Jack Wilshere are all available on pre-contracts as their current deals end in six months, and Sanchez in particular looks highly likely to leave North London this January.
Arsene Wenger has stated multiple times in the past few months that the contract situations with Sanchez and Ozil will be sorted out before the start of the window. Spoiler alert, they weren’t, and now both players look highly likely to leave this window. But will this actually happen?
The Mesut Ozil Conundrum
Sanchez is as good as gone, that bit is obvious, but what about Ozil? The German midfielder might not have lived up to what most Arsenal fans were expecting, but it’s clear to see that the creative midfielder is one of the most talented players in the Premier League, and one of the most important players to Wenger’s side.
Arsenal fans want Ozil to stay, Wenger wants Ozil to stay, and it sounds like Ozil wants to stay at Arsenal as well. The former Real Madrid midfielder said in a recent interview: “This club has made me bigger. I’m so proud to play for a big club like Arsenal.”
Was this quote said to a bunch of kids in a mock Sky Sports interview? Yes. Will Arsenal fans like myself take it as a sign he actually wants to stay? Yes. Will Ozil actually leave the club this window? I don’t believe so.
Theo, Theo, Theo
So Alexis is likely to leave, Ozil looks likely to renew with the club, as well as Wilshere, because come on its Jack Wilshere, what else can happen for Arsenal in this window? How about finally getting Theo Walcott off the books.
The England winger has become a forgotten man at the club this season, having only started in the Europa League and League Cup and playing 47 minutes of league football all season. And although his record in Europe this season has been surprisingly good, three goals and five assists in five games, Walcott’s Arsenal career looks as good as done. But what to do with him?
The best option for the club and player would be to sell Walcott outright, but due to his high wages, shipping him off on a permanent deal would be very difficult.
A loan move has been talked about a lot in the English press in the weeks leading up to the January window, and this could be a great option for the 28-year-old attacker. Former club Southampton have reportedly been interested in bringing in their old player, as well as Everton who are looking to bring in a goal scorer this month.
Wenger to spend?
Selling off deadwood is all well and good, but what about recruitments? Wenger has long been a critic of the January window and is normally reluctant to buy unless the Frenchman absolutely has too.
The last major signing from this window came in the form of Mohamed Elneny in 2016, and the other two players Wenger has signed for the Gunners in the past three years in this window, Cohen Bramall and Krystian Bielik, have yet to feature in the Premier League or FA Cup for the Gunners.
And it looks like Wenger is going to continue the running gag of signing young, promising players in this window, as he confirmed following Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea that the club have signed Greek U21 centre back Konstantinos Mavropanos for a reported fee of £2.2 million, a player newly appointed chief scout Sven Mislintat wanted to bring to his former club Borussia Dortmund.
The winter months are always difficult for Arsenal. It is the time of the year their title challenge normally fades away, not like they had a chance this season anyway, and it is the period of the season that dropping points is second nature to the Gunners. But Wenger can make sure this doesn’t happen as he tries to claim a top four finish this season with smart moves this transfer window.