By Suburban Gooners
It’s finally happened. After waiting for so long, Arsenal announced the signing of Gabriel from Villarreal for the now standard princely sum of “undisclosed fee”.
When I say ‘finally happened’, it has a few meanings of course. Firstly, given our general knowledge about the transfer for about a week now, it was finally announced after Villarreal had confirmed it, Joel Campbell had made his switch and Gabriel himself had said goodbye to the Villarreal fans. He seems to have had quite a bit of affection given to him, especially as he’s only been at the club for 18 months, so hopefully this bodes well for him from an Arsenal fan perspective.
‘Finally happened’ also relates to the fact that after searching for a centre half since Thomas Vermaelen departed the Arsenal shores for sunnier climes, we got that additional centre half we’ve all been craving. We now have somebody who can (we hope) come in when Laurent Koscielny starts to creek and, by the sounds of it, has similar attributes to our established Frenchman.
Let’s all bear in mind, however, that Koscielny needed a year to ‘bed in’ to the team too before he started to become the player we all know and love today. So we need to appreciate that as Gabriel adapts to the league, he’ll make one or two mistakes. The hope is that his character shines through and he doesn’t wilt as his Arsenal career progresses.
So we have our man. We have a centre half and in Calum Chambers, a perfect young up-and-comer, who can deputise for both Per and/or Kos as well as partner Gabriel if we did suffer a crisis in central defence. It’s interesting that Arsene has fixed this glaring hole in our squad, but did not do so last January with a striker signing, but perhaps that was because he had big plans in the summer?
A £12million outlay (guessing figures here as I’ve seen no specific definitive one from all sources) on Gabriel would suggest that he’ll probably not venture in to the market for a centre half in the summer, so perhaps in hindsight you could say that whilst we were damaged by not signing an Olivier Giroud squad replacement last January, perhaps it was for the ‘long-term’ best? We did sign Alexis Sanchez after all.
So here we are then. An issue resolved. Who’d a thunk it? Not only that though, but I’m looking at our squad on paper (dangerous at the best of times I know) and I’m thinking that we’re almost there. The most obvious position that you’d say we need another body is in that holding midfield role, but in terms of January, there’s probably few out here who would sell for anything less than double time.
There will be those that will advocate the ‘pay anything for a Morgan Schneiderlin now’ approach, but with Francis Coquelin improving every game, where’s the logic there when you can more easily prize someone like that away in June if Southampton don’t make the Champions League?
Nope, I think we’re done with our business this January and all-in-all, I’m quite pleased with the fact we’ve acted. Sure, Gabriel could be a Squillaci-in-waiting, but let’s not forget that Sebastien Squillaci was a relatively cheap signing. In general, when you pay over £10m or £12m for a player, they do tend to be half decent. So let’s have more faith than trepidation with this one.
Whether he’ll make it in to the match day squad on Sunday is something the manager will have to ponder. It’s getting to the stage where our squad is so stocked with good players, that there are very good ones that aren’t even making the bench, so perhaps he’ll sit out for now. I guess it depends if Chambers or Hector Bellerin start on the right at the weekend. But that’s for another days blogging I think.
A quick word on Campbell, whose contract extension and loan signing was quietly slipped in to the press release about Gabriel. Clearly Wenger has seen something in Joel and told him to go out to Spain, play more football and push himself back in to the first team next season.
’Tis a happy day. We seem to be building a bit of momentum, players have returned to the squad, new players have been added to improve the quality. We might even see one or two happy people on Twitter. Heck I’m going to go all out: EVERYONE ON TWITTER WILL BE HAPPY!