Arsenal’s technical director Edu has defended the club’s summer transfer business, amid doubts about the quality of the signings made.
The Gunners were the surprise big spenders of the transfer window, splashing out over £130m on six new major arrivals, the most expensive of which saw the club prize England defender Ben White from Brighton in a £50m deal.
The club also secured the return of Martin Odegaard on a permanent deal following his impressive loan spell last season, while they’ve also brought in further young recruits in the form of Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, deadline day arrival Takehiro Tomiyasu and Sheffield United stopper Aaron Ramsdale.
Despite that extensive summer of recruitment, question marks have formed over the rationale behind a number of those arrivals, with a fair few seemingly looking like options for the future, rather than the present day fixes that the club are arguably in need of.
The backdrop to those concerns has of course been the dire start to the season for Mikel Arteta’s side, leaving the club rock-bottom of the table with no points and no goals from their opening three games.
That has left the Gunners support understandably frustrated, although technical director Edu has launched a staunch defence of the club’s current situation and their transfer activity, the Brazilian insisting that it is a positive move to have brought in six players under the age of 23 to help refresh the squad for the long-term.
“Yes, I understand the reason [that fans are underwhelmed] because firstly, they have not seen the team playing together yet,” he said in an interview with Sky Sports. “That’s one of the reasons but I think we have to see the wider context than just to see the money around it.
“We signed six players who are under 23, which means a lot in terms of our planning. Normally, people like to see just one window, so I have to say it is the bigger picture because we started planning this squad a year ago in terms of consolidating the team and to try to get a better foundation.
“If you remember, in that period we renewed Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli a year ago with the intention to get that kind of base in the team. In a one-year period, we signed 10 players and seven of the 10 are under 23. We renewed seven players in this period as well, just in the first team. Five of the seven are under 23 as well.
“Why did we do that? Because we have a reason to try again to create a good foundation and then, one day, maybe we are going to sign one or two players only. But after that, it’s impossible to sign one or two players only because we have a lot to do.
“We have to balance the squad better. We have to recruit the players with the right characteristics and the right profile to make the squad better, more solid and much more consistent because last season we suffered with consistency.
“Now, I want to give Mikel Arteta and the board a much better squad.”
The former Gunners midfielder went on to add that the club needed additions to help bolster the squad as a whole rather than necessarily the starting XI, hence the desire to acquire, young and hungry ‘back-up’s’ to provide strong cover.
“We suffered last year because we lost a lot of players and we didn’t really have good back-ups to play games.
“I believe we need a squad to win games. We need a squad to be in a good position at the end of the season because it is not only about the first XI.
“Again, we need a foundation. We need players to play and then we need players to cover the first XI.
“Now let’s put it into context. For example, in the midfield, you have Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey. So, for me and for Mikel it doesn’t make sense to sign another player to be on top of them if they are the ones that are going to be playing.
“That’s why we chose Albert Sambi Lokonga to help them.
“If you go up front we have Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli. I want to see them playing together.
“In the number 10 position, we saw a gap there because we just have Emile Smith Rowe. We needed a number 10 with the same quality to be there, help and play.
“Where we needed to spend big, big money, for me and for Mikel, that was in the centre-back position because we needed someone to fill that position. David Luiz was leaving and this was the one where we needed someone to come here and straight away have an impact on the team with the right profile of what we believe for the short, medium and long term.
“That was Ben White. That is why we went there and signed Ben White to give the squad what the squad needed.”