Friday, July 7, 2023

Arsenal's fourth summer signing after Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber sparks debate

Arsenal have certainly stood out from the crowd with their £200 million-plus investment this summer after signing Kai Havertz and agreeing deals for both Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber. There’s an expectation, however, that more could still occur.

Where that might be remains somewhat unknown although there’s potential for gaps if some players depart this summer. However, the potential for further investment at right-back has raised eyebrows among the football.london writers who are not in agreement about the need for incomings in this position.

There were times last season when I felt Arsenal lacked something in games. Away at both Manchester United and Everton, Ben White was brought off when the Gunners were trailing for Takehiro Tomiyasu but the switch did little to change much besides a set of fresh legs.

This isn’t a criticism of either player. Both are very highly appreciated and for good reason, however, they are similar in their traits. The signing of Jurrien Timber is again a player with the potential to offer something at right-back although he played every Eredivisie game at centre-half for Ajax last season.

There’s certainly scope to add something different in terms of a new variable and it makes sense given the links we’ve seen. football.london understands both Jeremie Frimpong and Ivan Fresneda are of interest to the club and reports in Germany have linked Arsenal with RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Henrichs.

Manchester City, for example, had six players who could operate at full-back last season. Joao Cancelo, who left on loan in January, Rico Lewis, Kyle Walker, Manuel Akanji, Sergio Gomez and John Stones who starred in an inverted role. Bernardo Silva also featured at left-back in a tactical switch by Pep Guardiola to add a seventh figure and that depth won them a treble.

Options and variation is what Mikel Arteta needs and therefore another full-back would be far from too much if they offer a completely new style to the existing squad. Whether it happens remains to be seen.

Personally, I think Arsenal are pretty set at fullback. I’m a fan of slimmer squads where you have two quality players competing for each position and given his comments in the past I’m pretty sure Mikel Arteta is too.

When Jurrien Timber arrives Arsenal will have that and I don’t think they need more. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Alex Zinchenko can compete at left-back, while Ben White and Timber can compete at right-back. Both offer different options when they play in the position which make the Gunners really difficult to predict. Bear in mind Jakub Kiwior and William Saliba have both played at full-back in the past too.

While it’s nice to stockpile untold numbers of players in each position on Football Manager, in reality it’s much more difficult. Adding a fifth or a sixth fullback (assuming Kieran Tierney and Cedric were to move on, which at the current time of writing we’re not sure of) would likely mean at least one being left out of the squad every week. That’s bad for players’ confidence and rhythm. We’ve seen it with players like Fabio Vieira and Albert Sambi Lokonga that once that goes it can be very difficult to get back. In this instance, I think less is more.

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