Will Arsenal go to Top Man? (Why I believe Arsenal will still spend big this summer)

Will Arsenal go to Top Man?


(A Summer-so far report)

Are you concerned that we haven’t signed the players we need yet? That the players we’ve signed aren’t going to make the immediate impact on the first team that we need? That the club won’t actually have the money or time to get the deals we really need, done?

I see it like this…..

I remember a time when my parents took me shopping. Not remarkable for many but it was a rarity in my house growing up. It was about this time of year too. I didn’t really have summer clothes. As is the way, part way through a season, the shops have more clothes for the next season than the one you are living in.

My parents started buying me clothes for school and the Autumn. I needed them so I understood, but I was somewhat frustrated. I sat in the Wimpy in Aylesbury eating my lunch feeling frustrated that I needed summer clothes for my trip with Kev and his family for the upcoming weekend, yet I was still a little in shock that my parents had taken me shopping at all and that I wasn’t going to have to just use my brothers hand-me-downs.

This is how I think many feel about Arsenal’s transfer business to date. I’m relaxed but it seems many are starting to fret.

Much like my need for school uniform pieces and trendy Autumn clothes in July, Arsenal needed a back up left back and a better rotational option than Ceballos and got them. In time we may see that Ben White was a far better option than Saliba and that spending 50M on him was genius, but we wonder if we are spending the majority of our budget on a position that wasn’t essential like a Partey partner is.

I finished my ‘burger on a plate with a knife and fork’ and my parents surprised me. After years of letting me down and prioritizing school uniforms over everything else, they took me to Top Man (after trying to persuade me that Marks and Spencer’s or C&A was cool) and got me what I needed for the trip with Kev and his family.

Even though like you, I am scarred by many previous summers where the club left us short of what was needed, I feel quite confident that they’ve decided to address the malaise and do what’s needed. I’m confident because summer long there has been talk of spending big money in all areas needed – even a 2nd choice keeper. If it weren’t true, and on the back of fan resentment towards the Kroenke family, they would control the fan expectation with stories that all other clubs are putting out re: small Covid budget.

There hasn’t been one of these stories.

I think Arsenal will sign a top attacking midfielder and a centre midfielder that you may/may not be initially impressed with but will ultimately improve our first team. I also think they will get a 2nd choice GK who will legitimately challenge Leno. The right back need will be addressed too, but only if Arteta thinks he can improve on Chambers and Soares. For what it’s worth I think that we may even be surprised by a goalscorer signing. Either a wide forward who can get 10+ goals or an upgrade on the product that our current CF’s provide.


Chambers – Stick or twist?

My holiday went well. Kev and I had a ‘wicked’ time at a holiday camp in Barnstaple. I look back on that rare shopping excursion and realize that being impatient and lacking trust made me look at little silly at 5pm that day. If Top Man would’ve closed as I was pulling on the door I would’ve been justified but I got multiple Ocean Pacific items and even a new pair of pinstripe cords.

I’ve learnt with transfer windows that I make myself look silly by reacting negatively when I’m still eating my Wimpy burger at lunchtime.

I have a good feeling that we will be very impressed by our transfer window on Sept. 1st. It might even be ‘wicked’ like everything good was back in 1990.



  • There are two things that I felt were important back in May. I believe the fan pressure has inadvertently given Arsenal the opportunity to have a productive summer in comparison to most everyone else who seem to be in a real financial bind. Firstly, the Super League catastrophe and bid by Daniel Ek seemed to prompt the Kroenke family to truly invest.

It could be neither however, and simply that they see their asset and share price falling and realize that they have no choice but to invest.

Whether it’s low interest loans or personal funding, it is appreciated.


  • …… retaining Arteta is wise even if it’s just in the short term. Let me explain. I think that Arteta has had a handful of successes in his reign to date. One of if not his biggest achievement has been his ability as a salesman. Whether it’s his obvious influence in getting our young stars to sign new contracts to persuading players like Partey, Gabriel, Odegaard and now Ben White to choose a team that others see as ‘a fading force,’ is impressive. Add to this that a player like Tierney knows he could go higher but chooses to re-sign. Perhaps Arteta’s biggest achievement is getting a player in Xhaka who the majority of the fanbase wanted gone, to not only stay but elevate his game speaks well of Arteta’s ability to connect and persuade.

    A team finishing in 8th two years running needs a leader that can make a player like James Maddison consider leaving a CL team. I don’t think that we are giving Arteta enough credit for keeping our clubs status as high as it was when we were truly in contention. He may end up being a coach that got ahead of himself, complicated the game, became too risk averse and coached boring programmed football, but I think he’s clearly an elite salesman. They say that recruitment is over 50% of the job. I think it was pivotal that we kept him to do this during our biggest ever rebuild and then let the chips fall where they may if he can’t produce positive results.


  • We may be a little nervous about the lack of first team signings but park that for a minute. The order of the signings isn’t what matters in comparison to simply getting them all done. I am thrilled that we have a young, talented, powerful, fast and athletic option at left back in Nuno Tavares. I am equally thrilled that we have a player with similar attributes in our midfield. This profile is even more important in Sambi Lokonga as all being equal, he should play quite a bit more than Tavares if he’s Ceballos’ replacement. A captain of Anderlecht at 21 and in the provisional Euro’s squad for the World’s #1 ranked team, I think we will find that he is a rather impressive signing. On paper, Ben White is ideal for our right centre back needs. A foundational piece that will give confidence to the others in front of him to move off the ball as they will trust his passing ability and confidence in possession.


  • Have you noticed the age and athletic profile and seen the common thread? All in the same age bracket. The age bracket that Pepe, Tierney and Gabriel sit in alone. The ideal age bracket. Not too young to be inexperienced, not too old to not have resale value. All the players we are linked with are in the 20-24 age bracket too. Maddison, Abraham, Neves, Locatelli, Berge, Bissouma, Odegaard, Aouar, Dest, Adams, Ramsdale and Koopmeiners. The need for a stronger athletic profile is evident too with the bid for Locatelli and the potential interest in Tyler Adams and Seginho Dest who would add what Cedric and Chambers don’t have to give.
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The start of recruiting the right age profile

  • Have you noticed the priority that is being given to signing PL ready players for the starting eleven? The likeliest scenario currently looks like Arsenal will end up with Ramsdale, White, Neves, Maddison and Abraham. If that’s a fair guess it can’t be ignored that we are intentionally trying to get first team ready players who don’t need to adapt to the league. Arteta knows that his rope is a little shorter with the fans and the club know that they can’t be forever in transition and waiting for ‘3rd season Pepe,’ as an example.


  • Have you noticed that the common upgrade in all of our midfield/forward links is goals? We tried for Buendia. We may be moving on to Maddison. Aesthetically I prefer Odegaard, but Arsenal need goal threat as a priority and those two offer a higher threat both in assists and goals. Locatelli offers this too as does Neves and Koopmeiners. Abraham has a very impressive goals per games average even though he hasn’t been fully trusted in the PL yet.


  • I’m trying to get past the Chelsea factor when I think of Tammy Abraham. Last season it was becoming abundantly clear that we needed. I preached all season that we needed a striker with aerial threat and a variety of movement in the box. Auba thinks football is a non contact sport and Lacazette is a much better player outside than inside the box. Abraham shouldn’t get a round of applause for having more aggression than Auba or better movement than Laca as these qualities should be expected for players of their level, but the reality is that he offers qualities that we may have in Martinelli and Balogun but both are untested as centre forwards at the highest level and Auba and Laca well, lack.


  • I’m really enjoying watching Nelson and AMN in pre season. I unashamedly admit that I think we should keep AMN and play him in the midfield rotation. His skillset on the ball is almost everything we need. Granted I don’t know what Arteta makes of his attitude but I can’t hide my admiration of the player and ignore his modern qualities, many of which we expect in the signing of Partey’s partner. I love Reiss Nelson because I love football. Players with his flair make me dream. I think Arteta isn’t a fan because he can’t control him. Too unpredictable. Too likely to lose the ball. I’m still bothered that both Iwobi and Willian have taken away his opportunities and that he’s never been trusted for a run of games.


  • I’m ultimately excited in our team finally having the balance it’s needed for way too long. The profile of players to be able to compete athletically in the league with a balance of young, mid and senior players. If this was our options (image below) not only have we balanced ourselves but with the possible signings of pre-prime players, we can finally have the option to sell and recoup or even make money and reinvest without having to suffer years of pain due to unplanned planning.



  • Regardless of signings, there is every chance that it will be our youngsters that steal the show next season.

Balogun’s promotion will have come with some form of promise of ‘opportunities.’ Profile-wise and instinct-wise he doesn’t lack much. Whether he can translate potential to product will be fascinating.

Nketiah had a similar opportunity that Balogun will eventually get but lacked the visible hunger to make me believe.

Martinelli will be hard to ignore if he plays with the same passion and threat that he has in the past.

Nelson is likely to leave and I’m hoping it’s a loan. I have such belief in his unique talent but I feel like Arteta is not the freedom loving coach that Nelson needs. As the game becomes more and more coach controlled, it is hard to see which coach is right for him. He may need to step down a couple of levels and find a team who are in awe of his abilities and feel blessed to have him and give him the necessary freedom. If Nelson leaves I will forever be bothered that Wenger gave all those minutes to Iwobi and Arteta gave his potential opportunities to Willian.

AMN is not so much of a youngster but certainly another player on the outskirts of the first team. Like Nelson I wish we’d keep him but it looks unlikely. I maintain that with a few tweaks he has exactly the profile we are currently buying. I cede to those at the club that know his attitude as I don’t. I would’ve kept him as a rotational midfielder.

It may be too early for Kido Taylor-Hart, Arthur Okonkwo, Omari Hutchinson and Charlie Patino to feature as we have less games but when they do they may be hard to ignore especially KTH as he already has the physical size to compete.

Azeez is a very interesting one. Is he going to be competing with ElNeny as 4th choice midfielder? If we sign a fairly experienced partner for Partey this may happen. If not, I can’t see Lokonga and Azeez being trusted as 3rd/4th choice.

Tavares and Lokonga will likely get significant minutes as they were bought to change the athletic profile. Nothing changes our athletic profile if we just see them in training pictures.

The big impact will almost certainly come from Saka and ESR. Saka will quickly forget the pain of the summer as he will be loved beyond any Arsenal player since Cazorla, Fabregas and Henry. It will be other teams that join in that will likely make him one of the most loved players in English football alongside Rashford. The interesting piece will be where we position him? Will he start infront of Pepe who for the second season running deserves to have a run at RW. ESR is in the same position. Where do we position him? Both of them will likely go up a level but what will that look like? They have both conquered the piece that many never conquer in ‘decision making.’ This is the main reason that they both play so much. The next level for both that the team needs is 8-15 goals and 8-15 assists. Both are very capable of this.

The most exciting part of all of this is that I have just named 14 Academy/young players who either have or had a truly legitimate chance of making a career at Arsenal.



  • I have a concern about the captaincy.

I’ve had the thought for a while that Arteta doesn’t want Auba as captain. Not an outlandish thought, I know. Even with Luiz, Xhaka and Bellerin left/leaving I still feel this way. Call me controversial but I don’t think this will be fixed by Arteta dropping him to the bench or just changing captain, but by selling him. I think the Tammy Abraham rumours are true and that he will be Auba’s replacement.

I’m also of the belief that leaders will emerge if leaders leave. Players like Leno, Mari, Holding, Chambers, Partey, and Tierney likely have leadership in them but ceded to Luiz, Xhaka and Bellerin and didn’t want to step on their senior toes.

  • Waiting until the end of the window to sign the first team starters may be a risk on Arteta’s part. His rope is short with many fans and we play Chelsea and City early. I’m fully aware that we sign the players as early as their club will allow but if there is any chance of expediting the process, the club might want to consider the atmosphere around the manager.


  • If we sign an expensive back up GK which may disallow us from signing a RB, I’d be concerned. Ideally, we’d sign a temporary 2nd choice GK on loan and use the 30M to buy a RB.


  • I’m hoping that the club can find an exit route for Kolasinac and Willian. Getting rid of the highly paid problem children was a massive interruption to our season last year. If we have a fresh vibe with new leaders and much positivity we don’t want it drug down by these two.



Willian gotta go!


  • Here are my thoughts on the rumours…..

GK….. The Ramsdale rumour won’t go away. Firstly, I think it’s obvious that one of two things are happening. With the price quoted, he is either seen as first choice when Leno leaves or Arteta wants to have two 20-30M GK’s in an equal fight for the jersey. What coach wouldn’t want this competition, right? Trouble is that 2nd choice Gk’s ordinarily play less than 2nd choice everything else. Secondly, it’s wild that during Covid times we are willing to pay 20M plus where others don’t have this to upgrade in any position, least of all back up GK. My guess is that Arteta wants two equals and true competition. I’m a bigger fan of Sam Johnstone for what it’s worth.

RB….. There are no strong links but a few light rumours. Makes me wonder if we will leave this for the end of the window and upgrade if the opportunities are there. The stronger likelihood however is that we have 3 first choice RB’s at the club and until Bellerin leaves we are not buying a fourth. If we did then there are so many good options. I’d go for Lamptey as I think he is devastating. If we need to play a more defensive game or have a need for height, we play Chambers.

Ridle Baku is the two footed future RB for the German National team. Mazraouai at Ajax has an athletic advantage. The two that we are apparently looking at are very interesting choices. If we could get Dest from cash poor Barca that would be a huge coup. He would be the most skillful right back we’ve probably ever had. Tino Livramento, the player of the year in Chelsea’s multi talented academy, is much sought after and would resemble somewhat of a risk but we often complain that we need to find the gems before clubs like Norwich and Brighton do. The Tyler Adams idea is one I could sign up to. Such a quick ball winner both at RB and DM.

I think we may see a late bid for Max Aarons.


CM….. The Big one.

This decision could make or break our season.

My thoughts haven’t changed for the last year. I’d buy Bissouma. What is strange to me is that it seems that everyone sees his value and he hasn’t been subject to any bids this summer.

Ruben Neves is unspectacular but certainly checks the boxes where price, PL experience and age profile are concerned. More importantly, I think he checks the ‘Arteta box’ of being a CM that he can control. One that won’t go outside the box like AMN likely would have. Interestingly, he is 2nd in the PL for interceptions and I think transitions are a priority for Arteta.

Teun Koopmeiners is the closest to the Swiss chap he may replace. Another natural leader who like Lokonga, was giving the captaincy at a tender age. Adds far more goal/assist threat than Xhaka but doesn’t solve the need for a first choice CM to be athletic.

The Jordan Henderson link is fascinating. A small part of me is concerned about his age and legs but the greater part of me thinks that this is the exact player we need. Arguably the most important signing of them all if we pursue it. There may not be more than 10 players left in World Football that can lead a group of modern, highly paid, egotistical players like Jordan Henderson can. I think without any doubt he is the most respected captain in the league. As said previously, we are likely losing all three of our main leaders and possibly 4-5 including Laca and Auba. Do we lean into the untapped leadership group currently at the club or buy arguably the best leader around? The one bandwagon that I refuse to jump on is the ‘fear of repeating a Willian situation’ one. There is absolutely no way that a leader of teams like JH has the same attitude as Willian. Not every post 30 year old is past it. Lewandowski, Benzema, Chielinni, Bonucci etc… seem to be doing rather well.

I don’t want to spend too much time on Locatelli and I’m surprised Arsenal have. Arteta repeats often how he only wants players who truly want to be part of the club. Locatelli isn’t alone amongst Italian men in wanting to stay in his homeland. If I had to persuade him even a little, I’d walk away as there are many good options.

Sander Berge is a better player than many are claiming. The concern I think is more for his lack of speed (like Xhaka) and also the price you should get a relegated player for which to be fair isn’t 35M.

AM….. Before I dive into the Maddison story, I think Arsenal are waiting on Ancelotti to not play Odegaard between mid-late August and capitalize on his upset.

Maddison is a smart choice. Age, PL experience, confident player and most importantly he offers an obvious goal and assist threat. Only Buendia offered the same. Greater goal threat might just be the greatest current need at Arsenal. Due to the preference for Odegaard, I can see this one going til the end.

The Aouar situation is revealing. There must be truth to the on and off field attitude as the price being quoted is half his worth and almost a third of what Maddison will cost.

FWD….  Again, try to ignore the Chelsea connection. I find it blinds me from the truth. Again, he is the perfect age profile and PL experience. Arsenal fan highly motivated no doubt to show Chelsea that he was good enough. I find myself more in favour of it due to the doubts and feelings I have towards our other options more than a desire for Abraham. Balogun may be the answer but I doubt he will get that chance at CF to prove it yet. In my mind, Martinelli is the answer as his skillset matches that of a modern CF, but his better performances have all been on the left. Lacazette does 50% of what is needed. Better at link play and general outside the box skills and is way below average inside the box. What is strange is that he seems hard working outside the box but seems lazy inside the box. Almost like he lacks confidence when he crosses into the box where he has a hugely frustrating tendency to mark himself.

Auba is too niche for me. Needs ‘Auba service,’ primarily or it just ain’t happening. His fears of centre backs finds him exclusively at the back post where the ball has eluded both centre backs. The multitude of opportunities to cross in the air are binned because he won’t compete. Fear, again. We know he can be deadly in the box if given the ball to his feet or away from situations of physicality but there is not much else you’re going to get.

So, back to Abraham. Do I like him because he doesn’t have such prominent issues like our first two choices and is proven unlike our younger options? Really not totally sure. I do think that 40M is 10M too high.


Back in May I stated that I thought that Arsenal would go for Ilaix Moriba the teenage sensation at Barcelona. I still have a feeling that we might be winking at him and he is refusing to sign a new contract there and is being left out.

Overall, I am of the opinion that unless you have bottomless pockets you have to realize that it’s unlikely that you will check every wish box when signing. Prior to this window, my suggestion was to sign players with PL experience in the 21-24 age range so I need to be content that these two important boxes look like they are being checked. 

Beyond even that, did we expect Arsenal to be the biggest spenders in Europe? Looks like we could well be. So, I feel grateful. Finally.



If you are distressed that anyone thought that Top Man was a good choice even for a naive British teenager then I agree. Top Man was an error on my part. On your path to forgiving me, please understand that I went from Top Man to Soul II Soul in Camden and I should be forgiven as I clearly saw the light.

If you have no idea what Top Man is then imagine if Kohls was just a mens clothing store. If you don’t know Kohls you will have to forgive me as I’ve only lived in two countries.

If you don’t care either way then find something else utterly ridiculous in this post and attack me without holding back in the comments for I deserve at least a small tongue lashing for thinking that Tariq Lamptey could play RB as well as he did RWB.

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4 Responses to Will Arsenal go to Top Man? (Why I believe Arsenal will still spend big this summer)

  1. allezkev July 22, 2021 at 11:34 am #

    Great read Mike, I have many fond memories of a Wimpy restaurant, it was all quite colourful and exotic when they first appeared on the rather grey and drab British High Street of my youth.

    Personally I’m quite relaxed by our transfer business to date, yes we need a lot doing but I’d rather wait a few more months for the right player rather than rush in and end up with a Willian…

    As far as the Kroenkes are concerned I’m hopeful that they’re seizing the opportunity to do some productive business in a depressed market where loans are at a record low and transfer prices are almost realistic.
    It’s a golden opportunity for us to do some serious rebuilding at affordable prices!

    Btw, what happened to the Knickerbocker Glory?

  2. Lari03 July 22, 2021 at 4:07 pm #

    I’m more interested in seeing sales. Unlike you, I would sell Lacazette instead of Aubameyang.

    If we can sell Lacazette, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Torreira & Maitland-Niles then we can move in the direction Arteta wants.

    Realistically, if we hold on to Maitland-Niles & Willock as box-to-box midfielders, then signing Maddison would be sufficient to sustain a decent push on top-4.

    The player that seems most despised is Reiss Nelson and he got Arsenal 3 points last season against Newcastle-if I remember correctly. His situation is very confusing.

  3. allezkev July 22, 2021 at 6:04 pm #

    Good to see Smith Rowe signing a new contract Mike and that’s almost all of our most talented youngsters signed, just Taylor Hart to go, credit to those responsible for the business of contracts.

  4. blave July 22, 2021 at 7:29 pm #

    Fully agree with virtually everything you’ve written. Keep calm about signings for now, give Arteta the credit he deserves, he’s definitely been instrumental in retaining of our most vital young players. I would also love to see Bissouma and something tells me if not for ANC conflict issues maybe it would have already happened. Otherwise, I’d also like to see any of Maddison, Aouar or Odegaard but I hope they don’t leave it too late. Either of Lamptey or Aarons would also be fantastic. And I can’t understand why we don’t just sign Onana. Seems like such a no-brainer. Keep AMN around as a squad player if he’s cool with it. Otherwise sell him and the rest of Torreira, Willock, Nelson, Willian (if possible), Bellerin and of course Xhaka assuming we can get fair value for them.

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