Grading Arsenal's summer transfer deals

Grading Arsenal's summer transfer deals

Arsenal brought in six new signings in the window, spending well over £100m 

Jack Murphy

The summer transfer window has ended and this year it was an absolutely hectic one for Unai Emery and the gunners surrounding both ins and outs.

Arsenal spent around £138 million on six new signings which is a far cry from the £45 million budget the team was rumoured to have at the start of the summer. But how well was this surprising influx of money spent? Let's find out.


Gabriel Martinelli - £6m (Ituano)

A tough one to analyse at this stage, Gabriel Martinelli was Arsenal's first signing of the summer, arriving from Ituano in the Brazilian Série A in July. The young Brazilian has impressed in some of his pre-season appearances, Having scored in his pre-season debut against Colorado Rapids. Also, with the departure of Eddie Nketiah to Leeds on loan, Martinelli appears to come straight in as the side's substitute striker option. Big pressure then on an 18-year-old with six career goals to his name, but either way this will be one to keep an eye on for the future.

Grade: C

William Saliba - £27m (St. Etienne, loaned back for the season)

Another young prospect arriving at The Emirates Stadium this summer (sort of) is French centre-back William Saliba from Ligue 1 side St. Etienne. It's a pretty hefty fee for a player that's just had his first professional season but at just 18 years-old, 6ft 4 inches tall and gaining fans from across the channel, this one looks exciting and can be one we look back on fondly when he gets into the team. However, marks deducted for having to loan him back for the 2019/20 season, despite it being non-negotiable in the deal.

Grade: B-

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Dani Ceballos - Loan (Real Madrid)

Dani Ceballos has arrived in North London for the upcoming season after seriously impressing in the Under-21 European Championships with Spain this summer and despite only being a loan for the season, it looks like it could be valuable business. It's most likely as close as Arsenal could've expected to an Aaron Ramsey replacement without spending upwards of £50m on a permanent deal. Ceballos is a progressive passer and dribbler of the ball and Arsenal will rely on the midfielder to carry the ball from defence to attack quickly and effectively. The main caveat on this one though, is that if he does perform, Arsenal will struggle to seal a permanent move to take Ceballos away from Spanish giants Real Madrid. 

Grade: B+

Nicolas Pepe - £72m (Lille)

A bolt from the blue. When Arsenal had a £40m bid for Wilfred Zaha rejected earlier on in the summer, fans were concerned that winger options at the club would run slightly thin despite the return of Reiss Nelson from his loan in the Bundesliga and the potential breakthrough of Bukayo Saka. Little did they know shortly after Arsenal would sign one of the most hotly sought players in Europe, Nicolas Pepe, first time of asking. With 22 goals and 11 assists in Ligue 1 for Lille last season, this is a spectacular coup for the gunners and the thought of the Ivorian linking up with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has fans salivating, this is a dangerous front three. Bonus marks for supposedly only paying £20m out of the £72m price tag up front.

Grade: A+

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Kieran Tierney - £25m (Celtic)

A seemingly tough one to get over the line, Arsenal were finally able to agree a deal for Kieran Tierney on deadline day after Celtic held out for their £25m appraisal for the Scottish left-back. The big asterisk here is that Tierneys nursing a groin injury so won't make his debut in red for at least another 4-6 weeks, after the Liverpool game at Anfield and after the North London Derby. However, left-back is a position that desperately needed updating for Arsenal and they couldn't have done much better than Tierney, a highly rated, quick full-back that can also be solid defensively for a reasonable price.

Grade: A

David Luiz - £8m (Chelsea)

Frankly, a bizarre one to finish deadline day. Arsenal knew they needed another centre back option this season and signing Saliba just for him to be loaned back wasn't going to be enough. Not many supporters would've expected signing Chelsea defender David Luiz to fill the gap. Frankly, the move could be seen as one of desperation and an "anyone will do" mentality from Unai Emery. David Luiz has been viewed fondly by Chelsea fans in the past and undoubtedly has a fantastic long range pass on him at times, but he is prone to errors and can make mistakes under pressure, downsides already far too familiar with the current Arsenal defence. It doesn't get a bad grade because it is a centre-back signing and at times Luiz will bring something different to the team. Overall though this is a short term "paper over the cracks" fix and won't be revolutionary to the team by any means.

Grade: C-


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Plenty of recruitments also mean plenty of departures at the Emirates, and this summer was no different. 

The big departure is obviously Aaron Ramsey who left on a free to Juventus at the start of the summer and losing a player of that stature without making a penny from him is a tough situation. Players Stephan Litchsteiner and Danny Welbeck were let go to free up a bulging wage bill, the latter arriving at Watford on deadline day and will certainly be a great pick up for the Hornets if he can stay fit. Petr Cech retired from football after an up and down spell at Arsenal and has since returned to Chelsea in a coaching role.

Long-term Arsenal mainstay Carl Jenkinson his boyhood club to join Nottingham Forest for £2m, probably a good move for all involved. Another mainstay that was sold was club captain Laurent Koscielny who left for £4.6m to Bordeaux. The levels of respect and shown from both players during their moves couldn't be further apart, as Koscielny shockingly forced a move after refusing to join the club in their pre-season tour of the United States, making a move for the Frenchman mandatory.

Youngster Krystian Bielik was sold to Championship side Derby County for £10m, and whilst that's good money for a player that's not made a professional appearance for the club, it's always a shame to see prospects not fulfil proposed potential at your club. Eddie Nketiah is an example of these prospects, although with an impressive pre-season and consistent performances in the PL2, his ceiling looks particularly high. He's been loaned to Leeds United where he'll get valuable experience at the top end of the Championship. It would've been nice to see the forward get minutes as the sub striker for Arsenal in the Premier League this summer but it's probably best for him to get plenty of minutes under his belt at a good level.

Finally, almost out of nowhere on deadline day, Alex Iwobi left the club to join Everton for a £28m fee that could rise up to £40m based on performances. The Nigerian international has been a regular starter for the past two seasons at Arsenal and despite questions over whether his output is enough for the top level, he's been a well respected player at The Emirates and his positive nature and mentality will be missed.


In conclusion, based on original expectations at the start of the window, Arsenal have done some fantastic business. They've strengthened in areas that needed strengthening and have done a reasonably good job in balancing the books whilst doing it. Going forward, obviously a commanding, game-changing centre back is a must in future windows as well as a permanent Ramsey replacement. But for now, it's a job well done in North London ahead of the new season.

Overall Grade: A-