Opinion: Arsenal return for 22-year-old could solve creativity slump

Matthew Chivers November 17, 2020
Opinion: Arsenal return for 22-year-old could solve creativity slump
Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images

Arsenal were very busy at the end of the summer transfer window, with fans crying out for a creative midfielder. Arsenal looked to be making progress with a deal for Lyon’s Houssem Aouar, but negotiations broke down.

They ended up signing Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid for $45 million, which was still a good bit of business.

Conceding goals hasn’t been the major issue for Arsenal, but creating goal-scoring opportunities has.

Aouar the answer?

For long periods of the summer, Arsenal were linked with midfielder Aouar – but a deal was never reached.

Despite being only 22 years old, Aouar has scored 26 goals and provided 28 assists in 145 games for Lyon.

These are promising figures and represent a playing style that could well have flourished in north London.

Some Arsenal fans on Twitter are already clamouring for the club to sign Aouar when the window reopens in January:

But Arsenal opted for Partey, and he has impressed since arriving from Atletico Madrid. He has added extra steel to a Mikel Arteta side that has become harder to beat compared with recent years.

But this signing has failed to address Arsenal’s inability to score goals. This has corresponded with a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dry spell too.

Arsenal have only scored nine league goals this season, which is less than half of that achieved by rivals Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

It wasn’t the plan for the Aouar transfer to break down, but Arsenal’s failure to sign him could prove costly.

Repeated mistakes

Arsenal’s tendency to spend big in other departments to hide serious issues isn’t a one-off.

In 2013, Arsenal signed Mesut Ozil for about £42 million in an exciting deadline day deal. In 159 appearances for Real Madrid, Ozil made a staggering 80 assists and scored 27 goals.

Although Arsenal had signed a world-class player, the club really needed a world-class striker.

Olivier Giroud was Arsenal’s only recognised striker at the time, with Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski playing through the middle and out wide.

Arsenal may find a failure to sign Aouar in January could mean another season of frustration.

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Graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2019, and has since become a qualified NCTJ journalist, studying at News Associates in Manchester.