Edu’s transfer process at Arsenal might provide an insight as to what’s in store ahead of deadline day.
Despite being one of the busier clubs in the January window so far, based on outgoings, the Gunners are yet to make a single addition to their first-team squad and time is running out to change that.
Meanwhile, Youri Tielemans, Douglas Luiz, Ruben Neves and Georginio Wijnaldum are among the central midfielders being linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium before the window closes on Monday night.
Whether the Gunners are able to bolster their squad with any of the aforementioned names mentions remains to be seen, but one look at Edu ‘s comments regarding the club’s transfer process after the summer window closed makes for interesting reading.
After spending in the region of £142m to sign six players in Aaron Ramsdale, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Benjamin White, Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Martin Odegaard, the Gunners technical director outlined what fans should expect from the club in future transfer windows.
“I think we have to see the wider context than just to see the money around it,” Edu told Sky Sports. “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.”
To Edu’s credit, he has not swayed from this plan so far this month as signing 29-year-old Philippe Coutinho, for example, would have gone against the club’s clear strategy of targeting players in and around the aged 23 bracket.
Furthermore, in the same interview, he went into detail the high turnover of players at the club in the past year and what that means for new signings.
“Yes, if you see, we had 21 players exit over the year,” Edu pointed out. “All of those were terminated or we tried to sell, or we tried to loan with an obligation to buy as well. We tried to clear a bit of the squad and bring in some new faces. We had 21 outgoings and signed 10 players in one year.
“So, 21 changes, it is a lot. It’s more than a squad in one year. But this was the intention again when we are talking about the base and the foundation.
“We have to create it again to one day just go and sign one or two players.”
Including the exits of Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Folarin Balogun and Ainsley Maitland-Niles this month, the number of outgoings now stands at 26 over the past 18 months.
Should Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Eddie Nketiah depart before the January transfer window closes, the number will increase further and will go up again in the summer with Alexandre Lacazette, Bernd Leno, Matteo Guendouzi, Mohamed Elneny and Konstantinos Mavropanos all likely to leave.
And as explained by Edu, the intention behind the high turnover has been to create a new foundation that allows Arsenal to ‘one day’ focus on signing one or two players in future transfer windows.
Maybe that ‘one day’ has already arrived. Maybe this explains why the Gunners are yet to add to their first-team squad in January and also provides a clue as to what could happen before or on deadline day.
If the plan all along was to sign a maximum of two players this month, there’s still enough time to suggest Edu remains on track to deliver on his promise to provide Arteta with a squad capable of sustaining a top-four challenge.