The 2014/15 Transfer Window: A Review

Discussion in 'Arsenal Talk' started by Rex Banter, Oct 16, 2019.

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How would you rate the 2014/15 transfer window?

  1. Not good

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. 4

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. 5

    17.6%
  4. 6

    35.3%
  5. A Fabo

    11.8%
  6. 7

    23.5%
  7. 8

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  8. 9

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  9. 10

    11.8%
  1. Rex Banter

    Rex Banter Knows a guy who knows an ITK at Bristol Trusted

    Hello all, assuming I’ve still got many years to run in my AM career I thought it might be a good idea to start an annual look at the players we brought in from previous years once some dust has settled and we’ve had time to judge the players on how they’ve performed for us.

    I’ve decided to look five years back each year as I think it’s only really fair to judge the players bought and sold with the gift of hindsight so I’ll be starting with the 2014/15 season.

    The squad at the time

    2013/14 was the first year post Emirates move where we’d supposedly thrown off the financial shackles imposed on the club by the switching of stadiums, and it was the first time we’d had a negative net spend in three years.

    There was a lot of hype about a big money signing that summer and links to Suarez, Rooney and Higuain all quickly appeared. In the end however, the player we moved on was Mesut Özil from Real Madrid who found himself surplus to requirements once Gareth Bale was bought in.

    The season started promisingly with us blowing away a lot of teams with some of the best football the club had seen in years and we were seemingly in the mix for a title challenge. However as always injuries started to tell.

    Özil missed got a hamstring injury in March and ended up missing six league games. Aaron Ramsey who was our star player that year got a supposed small thigh muscle strain in December which somehow kept him out until April. Theo Walcott did his ACL in January and was out for the year.

    With our three in form players out for the crucial part of the season we collapsed in the league. We suffered some of the worst beatings of Wenger’s tenure. A 5-1 away to Liverpool, 6-0 away to Chelsea and 3-0 away to Everton. Still, we ended our nine year trophy drought by pulling off a dramatic comeback over Hull City in the final and securing top four once again.

    Most believed that with a bit of investment the club was on the verge of pushing on to the next level and becoming legitimate title contenders.

    Areas of need

    Going in to that summer there were quite a few areas that needed reinforcing due to imminent departures. In short they were:

    Goalkeeper, center back, right back, central midfielder, winger and striker

    Departures

    The needs that I mentioned above came about primarily because of the departures this summer:

    Lukasz Fabianski - Swansea - Free
    Bacary Sagna - Man City - Free
    Nicklas Bendtner - Wolfsburg - Free
    Thomas Eisfeld - Fulham - £1.35M
    Ignasi Miquel - Norwich - £1.71M
    Johan Djourou - Hamburg - £2.52M
    Thomas Vermaelen - Barcelona - £17.10M

    First off the good.

    The club did well to get fees for some elite banter players. £17M for a defender who can’t actually defend or stay fit is highway robbery.

    Eisfeld hasn’t played in a top flight since leaving us. Miquel and Djourou have both had starring roles for relegation candidates at Malaga and Hamburg respectively so it’s probably a good thing they weren’t kept on.

    However there were a few negatives, this summer continued the suicidal trend of letting players run down their contracts until they were either free agents or had to be sold for poor fees. We’d already done it in back to back years with Nasri, Cesc and RVP and now Sagna and Fabianski moved on for nothing.

    This practice is doubly unacceptable because not only do you not receive any money but you’re creating more positions of need to fill in one window.

    The Fabianski case went under the radar a bit at the time but is worth looking at again, seen by many in his final years to be deadwood he’s since gone on to be one of the most underrated keepers in the league, first at Swansea and now at West Ham.

    [​IMG]

    This stat from last season has him outperformed only by Alisson amongst PL goalkeepers which is incredible.

    The reason he never hit that level with us might be explained by an interview he gave with Szczesny after both left the club in which they were less than complimentary about Gerry Peyton, our then goalkeeping coach. Their stories paint him as a dinosaur who had no idea how to motivate or even coach them.

    This is a common failing with many of the Wenger era coaches and scouts. Guys who’d been around since before the Invincibles but ended up staying well past their sell by date.

    Poor recruitment and player development will kill any team and this was the year when things really started to go South.

    Arrivals

    With the many gaps in the squad, Wenger was pressed into spending £107M on new players. That was the second highest transfer spend total of Wenger’s Arsenal career eclipsed only by his final season.

    The five guys brought in by the club that summer were:

    [​IMG]

    Alexis Sanchez - Barcelona - £38.25M
    Calum Chambers - Southampton - £18.21M
    Danny Welbeck - Man Utd - £18M
    Mathieu Debuchy - Newcastle Utd - £13.5M
    David Ospina - OGC Nice - £3.60M

    Think it’s fair to say that’s a very mixed bag.

    Sanchez turned out to be an incredible signing and was arguably our best player in Wenger’s final years. In just 3 and a half seasons he racked up 60 league goals. He was named PFA fans’ player of the year and in the PFA team of the year for 2014/15. He was also Arsenal’s player of the year for 2014/15 and 2016/17.

    The others are harder to call, Chambers amazingly is still with the club considering all the adversity he’s face. He’s made a great start to the season and he may finally become a key player for us.

    However 18M is a lot of money and after a promising start in his debut season and a shock England call up his form plummeted and until this year he’s only really featured in games when there’s been an injury crisis.

    He’s had two season long loans to Middlesbrough and Fulham where he played well although both were relegated in his seasons there. It’s still very surreal that five years later we can’t accurately judge his true level but hopefully he can kick on for however long he has left at the club.

    Welbeck fell very much in the middle, he was hyped to be on the verge of a break through when he left Utd but it never really happened.

    His goal scoring record with us makes grim reading, he never once got into double figures in the league in his five years with us. He was very unlucky with injuries and missed huge chunks of games almost every year.

    He was a willing runner though, who contributed a lot in terms of pressing and selflessness, he also came up in big games with goals but for 18M in those days you probably want more than just a decent squaddie.

    On the sliding scale of mediocre signings, Ospina falls towards the bottom. He wasn’t a bad player but he was never going to be a long term solution in goal.

    Considering we only sold him this summer the amount of games he actually played for us is staggering. He only played 70 games for us, 41 of those coming in Cup competitions.

    After winning the first choice goalkeeping gig from Szczesny in the wake of his major fallout with Gerry Peyton, Ospina made 19 decent league appearances in his first season. After that chances were few and far between once Petr Cech was signed. In the next three years he only played 11 league games before being loaned to Napoli.

    His goal to game record considering he was playing for a “top club” isn’t the best. He conceded 76 goals in those 70 games with 27 clean sheets. How much of those goals were his fault is debatable as we were appalling as a defensive unit in his time with us.

    £3M isn’t a huge fee but once you include wages, signing these average players adds up and makes them hard to sell so you can bring in actual quality players. Ospina was a decent player but that’s all he was ever going to be and having him stuck round the club for as long as he did was criminal.

    Finally we come to Debuchy. In terms of Wenger signings this guy might be the pound for pound worst. He made 30 appearances total for us, and only 13 in the league. That’s £1M per league appearance.

    He was incredibly unlucky and suffered a terrible injury in his second month at the club and while he was out we saw the emergence of Bellerin who by season’s end had nailed down a first team position.

    The reason he was such a terrible signing was that we couldn’t move him on once Bellerin had become first choice. He was on first team wages which he wouldn’t get elsewhere and so we found it impossible to drum up any interest in him.

    This I think is the ultimate failing of the latter years of Wenger’s transfer policy. Buying average players for an average fee seems like a good idea in theory. You can address multiple needs in a single window like he did this year.

    However the reality is stark, with the massive inflation of PL wages in these years, the list of clubs who could match them became incredibly short. You’re then stuck with a filled squad space, paying wages to a non homegrown player who you’ll only be able to move on when his contract runs out.

    Debuchy wasn’t the first but unfortunately he wouldn’t be the last foreign journeyman to overstay his welcome.

    January

    The club made two signings in the January window that year.


    Gabriel Paulista - Villarreal - £13.50M

    Krystian Bielik - Legia Warsaw - £2.03M

    Gabriel was a like for like Vermaelen replacement. He was a massive liability. He showed some promise in his first few months at the club although this didn’t last.

    In the 2015/16 season he started four league games while Mertesacker recovered from an illness. This run culminated in him being goaded into a red card by Diego Costa in a 2-0 defeat away at Chelsea. It was clear this damaged Wenger’s faith in him as he didn’t start consecutive league games for another 5 months.

    He eventually won back his place that year thanks to Per’s abysmal form and Koscielny suffering a few knocks.

    The games he did play though were ones where we truly kissed goodbye to the title, including the away loss to Utd with a teenage Rashford up front, a home loss to Swansea, the Andy Carroll hat trick game and a home 1:1 draw against Crystal Palace.

    He was eventually moved on after another poor season becoming another clear example of the disastrous mid-level buys that Wenger seemed to love so much.

    Bielik though was a pretty resounding success as a buy. Despite only playing 2 first team games for the club he was sold at a 5M profit to Derby this summer.

    He had a great loan at Charlton last season after a difficult one at Birmingham but it wasn’t a bad bit of business at all by the club.

    Overall

    A pretty average window, losing two experienced
    players in Sagna and Fabianski for far less than their true value has to sting. Additionally aside from Alexis who in fairness to Wenger was an incredible buy, the rest were absolutely average at best with the possible exception of Chambers who still has time to change his story at Arsenal.

    Even with all the incomings all needs still weren’t really addressed this year as central midfield became a giant issue with Arteta and Wilshere suffering long injuries, which meant Flamini actually started a lot of games. The club solved this by recalling Coquelin from his loan in January and he made a decent makeshift partnership with Santi in the middle of the park.

    The team had a decent season in the end, they retained the FA Cup after beating Utd away and trouncing Tim Sherwood’s Villa in the final.

    In the league after a dreadful first half they rebounded well to finish third and briefly put some mild pressure on Mourinho’s Chelsea team in April and May.

    The Champions League was a disaster, after finishing second in their group behind Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund they got an incredible draw against a pretty average Monaco side. Arsenal bottled the first leg and ended up getting eliminated despite a second leg comeback.

    How could the club have improved?

    This is very much up to debate and is obviously I’ve got the gift of hindsight, but it seems this year the club wasted money on a lot of deadwood just to have some names on a team sheet.


    Ideally Wenger would’ve realised his coaching set up was damaging us and canned the likes of Peyton. With a proper coach if we’d extended Fabianski rather than waste money on Ospina
    who knows how good he could’ve been for us.

    Another failing of Wenger in the later years was ignoring talent from the lower leagues. If we’d have picked up say Kieran Trippier who had a great year in the league that year you’d have saved nearly all the fee you’d spend on Debuchy and/or Chambers.

    Also you’d have a home grown asset you could sell for big money down the line. Also considering the very good PL career he’s forged for himself, letting Hayden go without many chances was criminal.

    He might never have been good enough to be an ever present starter but considering the money we spent on Chambers I feel it was a massive mistake not bringing him along as a squaddie.

    So in this hypothetical scenario in which we’ve extended Fabianski, bought Trippier, given Hayden a chance and saved 35M by not buying Debuchy, Chambers and Ospina we could’ve picked up Idrissa Gueye considering the scouting presence we had in France at the time to fix the midfield.

    Then considering our Champions League clout we could’ve consolidated the remaining money into either a top shelf striker or defender negating the need to buy one of Welbeck or Gabriel.

    Again this is all fantasy, but it’s fun to speculate.

    I thank you, the reader

    If you’ve made it this far, sincerely it means a lot to me. I realise I’ve rambled quite a lot but I hope it’s been an enjoyable read and I look forward to writing another one next year.
     
  2. Garrincha

    Garrincha Wilf Zaha Aficionado

    A solid 10/10 for me just because of Alexis.

    Great player, beat out a domestic rival to get him, World Cup hype & the Wenger photos in Brazil a classic.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. GoonerJay24

    GoonerJay24 Active Member

    Sanchez ruined the teams 13/14 cohesion I felt.
    Brilliant individual player who was consistent but I don't think we dropped our form from the previous year.

    Though we did have a lot of injuries in autumn 2014 which hindered us from contending.
     
    Rex Banter likes this.
  4. al-Ustaadh

    al-Ustaadh Professor of Twitter

    Wasn’t it the next summer we got Cech? If so, that’s the one that ruined us.
     
    Geofranco likes this.
  5. Tir Na Nog

    Tir Na Nog In Big Trouble If He Speaks

    Fairly mediocre, can't help but feel with this being on of our rare big spending summers that we just flushed a lot of money down the drain. Ospina had issues in regards to how commanding he was, Debuchy was a good signing in theory but injuries killed him, Chambers was dreadful tht season and we're still waiting for him to come good even now, Welbeck was alright but had 3 severe injuries, Alexis was good in terms of his output but just wasn't a team player and stuck out in that regard, it's hard to say he improved us more he changed us and he ended up being the star man and the team was geared more toward getting the best out of him which didn't necessarily suite someone like Ramsey who was so good the year previous.

    Felt like in general we just didn't address the glaring issues in our squad in terms of a CB, DM and a starting striker with pace and movement. Felt like it was a missed opportunity.
     
  6. Iceman10

    Iceman10 Well-Known Member

    Good effort with the write-up. Thanks from the reader. Not much to disagree with in there. Gave it a 7 looking through that (driven mostly by Alexis), which means the main mistakes happened later on (the ideal would have been Suarez to add to Özil the summer before).
     
    Rex Banter likes this.
  7. Ozil'sCloakOfInvisibility

    Ozil'sCloakOfInvisibility Not a Closet Spurs Fan

    It was near enough a failure for me because we could only muster up Wele as a striker signing and that too on deadline day. Wenger probably wasn't even going to him either, as demonstrated by starting Sanogo away at Leicester but fan pressure I guess forced his hand. If Sanchez hadn't gloriously kicked into gear in his very 1st season in English football, we could have dropped out of Top 4.
     
    Rex Banter likes this.
  8. Mark Tobias

    Mark Tobias Mr. Agreeable

    Thanks @Rex Banner, brilliant idea and a well written post. Can;t say I disagree with a single thing you have written.
    Looking forward to this each season. I think it is a great way to bring some perspective in to the current season as well as the transition as a whole.
    Thanks!
     
    Rex Banter likes this.
  9. krackpot

    krackpot Well-Known Member

    Great write-up, and cannot disagree with anything.

    I'd call it an 8 at that time, and 7 on hindsight (because Debuchy never arrived, and Chambers is still trying).

    Call Alexis what you like, but he was tremendous. His goal versus Dortmund probably typifies his whole time with us, with all the other players working hard and making space for him to do something magical:

     
    Rex Banter likes this.
  10. goonerfamily

    goonerfamily Active Member

    It was a good window at the time, a lot of the signings made sense. Desperately needed a top striker though and Welbeck on deadline day was stupid. As with a lot of windows under Wenger, we were only one top signing away from having a genuinely good team.
     
  11. Rex Banter

    Rex Banter Knows a guy who knows an ITK at Bristol Trusted

    I tend to agree. Looking back on it, Wenger created a massive problem with player contracts.

    We weren’t ruthless enough in those days when it came to either extending players or selling them when they wouldn’t sign.

    The 13/14 squad already needed to add a CM, CB, LW and ST but when Sagna and Fabianski left that was two more positions to fill.

    If we’d extended or sold Sagna and Fab earlier we could’ve spent the 110M we did eventually spend on three top players rather than spreading the money on five.

    The huge net spend in this window clearly limited us in future ones and the players we took on had mostly little to no resale value which tied our hands even further.
     
  12. pigge

    pigge Well-Known Member

    Great effort. Cant see the point of discussing a mediocre transfer window from 6 years ago though.
     
  13. Rex Banter

    Rex Banter Knows a guy who knows an ITK at Bristol Trusted

    Yeah that’s fair. My thinking was that we have transfer window opinion threads as soon as that window shuts.

    How can we accurately judge a window though many of the signings are yet to even play a game?

    It takes a few years to see how the buys and sales turned out. The point is that we can look back five years previously and accurately judge them.
     
    pigge likes this.
  14. UpTheGunnerz

    UpTheGunnerz No Longer Phallus Obsessed

    Good write up, Rex. Pleasure to read. Think it was a very good window. Welbeck was kind of random but a good addition. Debuchy was terrific at Newcastle and played really well until the injury, feels like people tend to overlook that. Actually really liked him. Ospina was mostly rotational first season, but a shrewd pick up after a good world cup.
     
    Rex Banter likes this.
  15. Hexagon9

    Hexagon9 Well-Known Member

    Great write-up and an interesting read.

    Sanchez was a fantastic signing for us and notable comments about Mertesacker that I totally agree with.

    Interesting points about the coaching staff too that I’d not heard before.
     
    Rex Banter likes this.
  16. Mark Tobias

    Mark Tobias Mr. Agreeable

    Me too. Always felt he got unwarranted stick here although the whole refusing to fight for his spot was pretty irritating.
     
  17. Taylor Gang Gunners

    Taylor Gang Gunners Shame is a dish best served cold Trusted

    What a beautifully constructed OP @Rex Banner. Lovely.

    I thought Debuchy was bang unlucky here. He often got injured at terrible times and we looked good whenever he played. ****ing Arnautovic.

    Even when he played here in his latter days he did well. He deserved more from his career.
     
    Rex Banter and celestis like this.
  18. lamby22

    lamby22 Well-Known Member

    Good write up and it looks like you've taken a bit of time over this. Interesting that of the players signed in that two windows only Chambers remains. And he's only a squad player.

    Alexis was the only one who was a first team regular out of all of them. The only real success. Most of them turned out to be dross in which we barely recouped any money for. Excluding Alexis and Chambers we spent around 50 million and got about 21 million back from selling them on.

    And again excluding Alexis, did any of them really give us memorable moments - Danny Welbeck v Leicester and knocking Utd out of the Fa Cup is about it for me.

    I like Chambers though and I'm glad he's still here. Although I do think we overpaid for him at the time.

    Disgraceful that we didn't get a fee for Fabianski but hilarious that Barca paid that for Vermaelen. Don Raul doing us a favour in advance?

    For me it was a pretty disappointing window. Alexis Sanchez was ****ing immense though.
     
    Rex Banter likes this.
  19. Rex Banter

    Rex Banter Knows a guy who knows an ITK at Bristol Trusted

    Cheers mate, appreciate the kind words.

    I felt bad being so harsh on Debuchy as like you say he was a proper player before he came here with the Geordies and the national team. He’s also had a good career after leaving us.

    I think the problem I had, was with the purchase in the first place. Yes no one predicted Bellerin would break out, but spending decent money on a 29 year old non-homegrown player was a massive gamble by Wenger.

    Annoyingly Sp**s and Liverpool have done it right buying full backs in recent years, buy cheap and/or homegrown if possible.
     
  20. Tir Na Nog

    Tir Na Nog In Big Trouble If He Speaks

    You look at a lot of windows around this period and you don't get the sense of there being a "plan" really. 2013 was the same spend a lot of the summer being linked with holding midfielders and strikers end up with Özil. Heavily linked with Higuain even make a bid, then go all in for Suarez and our only striker signing ends up being Sanogo plucked from the second division in France and then our midfield signing ends up being Flamini on a free. Of course Özil improved the team no doubt but going into the window you wouldn't say that area was the most vital position we needed to improve. In January 2014 we ended up being linked with strikers and end up signing Kallstrom on loan and he barely plays.

    Summer of 2014 everyone knows we need a CB, a holding midfielder to replace the aging Arteta and a striker to at least compete with Giroud. We got a winger in Alexis and an RB in Debuchy so we addressed those issues but we neglected the important areas and only signed Welbeck after Giroud got injured and would have had to rely on Sanogo. We then sign Gabriel halfway through the season.

    Summer of 2015, yet again it was obvious we needed another midfielder, again at the very least to be an alternative to either Cazorla or Coquelin should either get injured. Once again most would have said we needed a top quality CB with Mertesacker really declining, Gabriel being fairly average/not adapting and a striker because it's something we lacked since Van Persie. We only sign Cech. In the end we rotate between Walcott and Giroud both going through dry spells, put all our faith in Welbeck after January but he was never gonna be the prolific striker we craved. Cazorla did end up getting injured (as did Coquelin at the same time for a few weeks) we end up with Ramsey and Flamini as a pairing, then Ramsey-Coquelin which was terribly balanced as both were limited in starting attacks. We sign the extremely average Elneny who doesn't even slightly improve things. Mertesacker's weaknesses are exposed in the second half of the season. We become predictable and dull.

    In the summer of 2016 we actually tried to address the weaknesses in the squad, we sign Xhaka early, most saw it as a good signing getting in the type of midfielder we desperately wanted. So we at least tried to address a glaring issue. We move for Vardy which would have been an excellent signing and would have added a different dimension to our attack. It didn't come off and we didn't seem to have an alternative until we signed the unbelievably mediocre and a player with an appalling attitude in Perez from Deportivo. Many of us are somehow convinced he was the Spanish Vardy despite him being a tad overweight and having not even a fraction of the explosive pace. Our CB signing was Mustafi when Evans would have been a far better option. I've no idea who was responsible for this, we actually tried to address the weaknesses but signed average players in each position so it didn't make a difference and made things arguably worse.

    Summer of 2017, again we move early for Kolasinac an offensive minded full-back/wing-back so a good signing in theory. Such a pity it turns out he's not a footballer. But we did well to make an early move considering Monreal was starting to decline. Lacazette then was signed, just the 5 years after we needed to sign a striker of decent quality. But once again most were of the opinion that with Xhaka struggling, Cazorla being finished, Ramsey injury-prone and Coquelin not being the level required we could have done with another midfielder. It didn't happen. CB was an absolute must tho, I mean how on earth we didn't even attempt to sign one in this window is beyond me. It was so so obvious with Koscielny now starting to decline, Mertesacker completely done, Mustafi being a flop we absolutely needed a CB in this window. We could have addressed the Alexis situation a lot better/earlier. In hindsight we probably should have just tried to agree a deal early and get him out because he was becoming a bit of a problem. But it is what it is.

    For me that's at least 4 seasons of transfer windows with mostly poor planning and execution in what we were trying to do. I mean you could easily go back earlier and look at the clusterfuck of a window in 2011 too. It's absolutely amazing how things like this were allowed to go on for so on. In the end it's no surprise we fell out of the top 4. Things got so stale and we were so horribly mismanaged that everything caught up on us. At the same time Man City were building something in anticipation for Pep, Sp**s were doing well with Poch and in the transfer window making sensible signings. Liverpool sorted things out after a few disastrous windows and seasons under Rodgers. Chelsea are an anomaly some good windows, bad windows, lots of changes in managers but still relatively consistent 15/16 aside were at least competing for top 4 or competing for major trophies. United are the only side that's been worse than us in that same period.
     

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