With Ødegaard and Ramsdale all but confirmed, Arsenal look for ideal scenario to conclude summer transfer business
Arsenal has continued to navigate the transfer window well this summer, and the Gunners are set to add another two names to Mikel Arteta’s squad with deals for Real Madrid’s Martin Ødegaard and Sheffield United’s Aaron Ramsdale all but confirmed.
Martin Ødegaard to Arsenal, here we go and deal confirmed! Permanent move – bit less than €40m to Real Madrid. Personal terms already agreed on five years contract. 🇳🇴 #AFC
Edu and Arteta wanted Ødegaard as only priority since June, strategy was correct… and now, done deal. pic.twitter.com/2LCaiEiKD0
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 18, 2021
After a successful half-season loan spell in 2020-21, Ødegaard is in line to put pen to paper on a five-year contract at the Emirates in a deal that will cost the club £34million pounds. The deal presents Arsenal with a highly experienced 22-year old international that will need little if any time to re-adjust to a club, manager, and squad he has previously played with.
Ødegaard was a valuable player in Mikel Arteta’s ranks during the Gunners post-Christmas form that saw them only behind Manchester City and Manchester United for point totals, while the player was one of the most creative outlets in the Premier League, behind only City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
🚨 Arsenal on verge of agreement with Sheff Utd to sign Aaron Ramsdale. £24m + £6m in add-ons (only likely to apply if/when 23yo is established 1st choice). #SHU initially wanted £40m. Proposed deal 4yrs + 1 option. Not in squad vs #WBA @TheAthleticUK #AFC https://t.co/aN8kJ70EBy
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) August 18, 2021
As for Aaron Ramsdale, the 23-year-old native of Stoke-on-Trent and England U21 international comes off a summer that saw him included in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for Euro 2020 and is viewed by Arsenal as a valuable addition to a squad that boasts a young core. Given his age profile, and uncertain nature surrounding the future of current first-choice keeper Bernd Leno, Ramsdale in the door now provides a competent back-up in the short-term, with a replacement already at the club should the German leave the club at some stage.
When added to previously completed summer business for RSC Anderlecht’s Sambi Lokonga (21), SL Benfica’s Nuno Tavares (21), and Brighton’s Ben White (23), it is clear that Arsenal is finally amidst a structured rebuild that is focusing on upside potential and sustainable growth over the coming seasons with which they intend to get back on track in the Premier League.
Arsenal remains interested in a deal for a right-back; one or more need to be sold first.
“Further incomings would most likely be dependent on departures. The area Arsenal would most like to address is right-back, but with four already on the books, someone must go if a signing is to arrive.” [quote from The Athletic’s David Ornstein]
Despite Arsenal going about their summer with a clear plan in mind for both the short and long-term future of the club, there remain one or two areas where the Gunners could certainly look to improve; right-back appears to be chief amongst them.
At current, Mikel Arteta can list a quartet of options for the right side of the defense in the vein of Héctor Bellerín, Calum Chambers, Cédric Soares, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. However, it is hard to argue that any of the current crop are credible long-term solutions for the position, or even solid enough to be stop-gap options in the interim for the 2021-22 campaign.
Maitland-Niles has remained adamant that he does not see himself as a right-back, which automatically rules him out of contention. The deal for Cédric, in hindsight, hardly did much to improve Arsenal’s situation and it appears that the Portuguese international will only be viewed as a possible depth option for the rest of his time at London Colney.
That leaves Arteta with Bellerín and Chambers, both of whom are serviceable but do little to elevate the clubs’ operational status on the pitch. Chambers was solid during the final weeks of last season while Bellerín has long been a loyal servant, but with the Barcelona-native looking for a new challenge and Chambers not ideally suited to what an assumed right-back would be under Arteta as the tactical picture gains more and more clarity, it’s clear the club need to invest further in this area.
But as reported in the Athletic, the club can hardly bring in another right-back – taking the total number to five on the books – without selling one if not two.
Chambers has value as a depth option across multiple areas of the pitch, capable of playing at right-back, center-back, and in a holding midfield capacity in a pitch. Such versatility gives value to a squad, so it is unlikely the club will look to move him on. There has been no noise around a potential exit route for Cédric, and while there could be a market for Maitland-Niles given his homegrown status and tactical versatility, but it is telling that since the beginning of last season only two clubs have come in for his services; Wolves’ rejected £15million bid last summer, and West Brom’s successful loan offer during the January window.
Truthfully, Bellerín remains the only viable right-back the club can look to move on if it is to hopefully bring in refreshment. Interest from both Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan in the past has dried up as a potential route, however, with PSG securing the highly-rated Achraf Hakimi from Inter, who replaced him smartly when they sealed a deal for PSV Eindhoven’s Dutch international Denzel Dumfries.
With two weeks left in the transfer window, there is still time for the club and Bellerín’s camp to sound out potential destinations, but should neither or both parties find a credible solution, Arsenal may be forced to wait to bring in another necessary piece amidst an impressive summer period.