Technical director Edu says he’s pleased with the way Arsenal navigated a difficult transfer window to secure targets who he believes bring quality and physicality to Mikel Arteta’s first team squad.
The acquisition of long-term target Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid for €50 million stole the headlines on deadline day but the Brazilian is equally pleased with the capture of compatriots Gabriel and Willian, signed from Lille and as a free agent respectively, and a second loan deal for Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos.
Lower-profile signings included backup keeper Alex Runarsson and a host of youngsters who will challenge for a place in the senior side in the years to come.
“I think we improved the squad’s quality and physicality,” Edu told Arsenal.com three days after the window closed.
“Thomas, who we had in our plan for the future, when me and Mikel sit and talked, I think you get all the players who we really focused on.
“If you see Willian, he brings us experience and a very special physicality in terms of speed. If you see Gabriel, he gives us a lot of physicality and presence. Dani, quality. Thomas, physicality, quality and mentally he is very strong.
“But in the end if you see all these players we brought to the club, they are very good here [points to legs], but they are better here [points to head] which for me is very important because when you talk to the players, they have a lot of ambition, they are excited and they are hungry to win a title again.
“This, for me, is important to have in the players to not only be good here [points to legs], but good here [points to head]. And they are.”
Edu also played up the importance of tying down Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to new deals.
“This is another good point I want to mention because normally people are talking about signing players but for me and Mikel, we dedicate our time to what we have at home.
“So we have to renew players, we have to give our respect to the players we have here, so let’s do it as soon as possible.
“If you see, Martinelli was the first one we did even before the window, Bukayo was during the window and Auba was in the window as well.
“Those three, in my plan, was to try to get them done before the window even opened but of course there are negotiations, there are talks, there are meetings but we did it and it’s an important point as well.”
That Arsenal were able to splash the cash has come as a surprise to many, especially against the backdrop of a Covid-19-related downturn in revenue.
With the club haemorrhaging income from the moment football stopped in March, players were asked to take pay cuts that were supposed to help stem the need for job losses. In August, days after winning the FA Cup final, the club revealed 55 employees would be made redundant. Other departures, including that of the man who plays the role of club mascot Gunnersaurus, have also made headlines.
So how did the Gunners find €50 million to spend on Partey? Writing yesterday for The Athletic (£), Amy Lawrence explained that owner Stan Kroenke “provided some funds…as a show of their confidence in Arteta.”
Edu has seemingly corroborated that take, explaining he only felt confident of a deal for the Ghana international once he’d been given the green light by those above him.
“When I received the green light from the board and the owners, yes, I was confident [we would get the deal done],” he reflected.
“It’s an important player and it is, to be fair, a huge investment for this moment in which we are now and we needed a green light from them.
“When I showed my plan to them, they were so excited, they understand the plan and they pressed the button, green. Then I felt very confident. As I said, it’s not easy to invest a lot of money in this period of time.”