Transfer deadline passed and we signed nobody. Well, we did. Chamkah signed decades ago and Squillaci last weekend but I mean we didn’t sign anybody at the last minute, the last moment. Watching Sky Sports News knowing, despairingly, that they will not reveal anything of importance to me and understanding that the Murdoch empire is quite happily swapping minutes of my life in exchange for advertising pounds I started to wonder, when was the last time Arsenal signed somebody I was actually excited about?
When Arshavin signed I saw him as little other than a Barcelona reject who opted for us only because they didn’t want him and Russia was cold. Barcelona not wanting him was enough cue for me to not actually become excited. Wait, let me clarify a little. I don’t mean to say that I am never intrigued or even somewhat satisfied by some of Arsene’s signings, I am. I just mean to discover when I was truly excited about a signing. The players signed don’t have to turn out successful just that on the day they signed, in the aftermath of weeks of build up, there was a sincere emotion of excitement.
The type of feeling Manchester United fans might have felt when they signed a teenage Wayne Rooney for close to £30 million on deadline day, or Juan Sebastian Veron for some £28 million when he was the best central midfield player in the world. Or when Real Madrid sign Cristiano Ronaldo or Kaka. Or just a couple of days ago when AC Milan signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Ok, Zlatan has a bad reputation in the UK, and Spain now too, but in Italy he is regarded as a legend. The Milan fans are genuinely excited and consider him a true champion. These type of transfers don’t happen often but Manchester City fans at the Eastland’s were surely full of anticipation and excitement when they had signed Carlos Tevez from their city rivals Manchester United, albeit indirectly.
To my mind we always appear to make do with the relatively unknown, the underachiever or a youngster who Wenger will turn good. Eduardo, Samir Nasri and Denilson, in that exact order, come to mind. None of these signings set my pulse racing. Eduardo intrigued me because he was a Brazilian in Croatia. That was about it. He ended up creating loads of hype and scoring less than 10 league goals. I was right not to get excited. Samir Nasri, improving all the time, was signed originally, to my mind, because Wenger had missed out on Frank Ribery the year before and he had become a huge success in just one season at Bayern Munich. Wenger didn’t want to miss out again. As soon as we were linked with Nasri it became clear that Nasri was not like Ribery and nothing like Cristiano Ronaldo, who at that particular time was in stupendous form for Manchester United and leading them to Champions League glory. We were buying a player inferior to Ribery and Ronaldo for a fee similar to what both originally had cost. Realising all of this, there was no excitement to be had. Finally Denilson. As far as transfer stories go waking up one morning to read that your club is signing a young Brazilian midfielder who has the critics raving is as good as it gets. Unless you are an Arsenal fan and that player is Denilson. Or a Liverpool fan and that player is Lucas. It’s not that Denilson, or Lucas for that matter, is a bad player, he quite clearly is not. He is reliable, consistent and capable of some very good things. But when you read that your club is signing a young Brazilian midfielder, well, Denilson isn’t what you normally have in mind.
In fact, thinking of all our recent transfer history I reckon I have to go all the way back to that morning in 2001 when Sol Campbell, the captain of Tottenham at the time, announced he had chosen us as his Bosman free transfer destination. That was exciting. That made me feel something. Sadly, as good as Laurent Koscielny and Marouane Chamakh might be, exciting transfer signings they are not.