Arsenal’s first two transfer signings of the summer window indicate that they are aspiring to legitimately challenge for the Premier League title in the upcoming season. The Gunners finally announced their second signing today, Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle United on Thursday, for a fee of £12 million according to Skysports. Their first signing was Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona. The Chilean forward cost upwards of £32 million, but that is a steal in this day in age, where transfer prices have become astronomically inflated.
Debuchy had been rumored to sign for Arsenal over a week ago, but apparently, Newcastle was waiting to bring in a replacement, which they did on Thursday, Dutchman Daryl Janmaat. Debuchy can honestly be regarded an improvement from the Gunners’ former right back Bacary Sagna in many aspects. He has already surpassed Sagna for the number one spot in the French National Team, where he started the majority of the games at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He was also rated as the best right back in the Premier League last season, with a 7.4 rating by WhoScored.
Debuchy is much more of an attacking presence than Sagna is on the field. According to Squawka, Debuchy was ahead of Sagna in terms of his attacking stats in last years Premier League, with a calculated score of 224.49 compared to 157.34. The former Newcastle man had more assists, chances created, total shots and key passes than Sagna. Debuchy also had more interceptions, aerial duels won, blocks, and tackles won than Sanga, giving him an edge in many statistical categories defensively as well. Opta reported in a tweet on Thursday that Mathieu Debuchy made more last-man saving tackles, six, than any other Premier League player last season. That is a handy attribute for a player to have in defense.
Arsenal’s other signing, Alexis Sanchez, is more of an indicator that the Gunners are taking aspirations for a Premier League title seriously. According to Whoscored, Sanchez has strengths in passing, key passes, long shots and direct free kicks. He likes to do layoffs, likes to cut inside from the wings and likes to play short passes as well. During his time at Barcelona, Sanchez made 112 appearances in either La Liga or UEFA champions League. During those 112 games, he had 42 goals and 27 assists, meaning that he either scored or set up a goal for his teammates every other game he played on average, and many of those appearances were substitutions.
The 25-year-old is also not like most wingers, he actually tracks back on defense. He chases, harasses, and works hard to get the ball back from the opposition’s defenders. Last season, he made 71 tackles and won 50 of them. He also averaged almost one aerial duel won per game. Manager Arsene Wenger has said that Sanchez will add creativity, power, and quality to the squad.
Arsenal has yet to sign a third player, but many reports are linking them to Sami Khedira. Sky Sports has reported that the Gunners have already agreed to a fee for the Real Madrid man, but cannot decide on his wages, with the German requesting a weekly salary far exceeding Arsene Wenger’s liking. Khedira only has one year left on his contract and has reportedly refused to sign a new deal, meaning he is very likely to be leaving this summer.
Chelsea are also interested in the player, and Graham Hunter, a prominent footballing journalist in Spain, has said that if the Gunners “dilly-dally,” they could lose Khedira to their London rivals. Other options are available in the form of Lars Bender and Morgan Schneiderlin, but neither have the World Class qualities of the Real Madrid midfielder. If Arsenal wants to continue being serious with their title aspirations, then they must sign Khedira this transfer window to make him the final piece in their jigsaw puzzle.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash