Missed opportunities: Why 'safe' Jorginho transfer sums up Arsenal's January window
From the Mykhailo Mudryk saga to the shock last-minute move for Jorginho, Arsenal’s January transfer window was dramatic to say the least.
The Gunners started the month with the clear intention of strengthening their squad to take advantage of the position they had put themselves in thanks to their record-breaking start to the Premier League season.
And they finished it with three new additions, bringing in Leandro Trossard from Brighton, Jakub Kiwior from Spezia and Jorginho from Chelsea.
The signings undoubtedly bolster the options Mikel Arteta has available to him ahead of the second half of the season, and they strengthen three key areas of the squad that needed improving.
But despite all that, there is still an overriding sense of what might have been at the Emirates Stadium following a rollercoaster month in the transfer market.
Neither of their top two targets - Mudryk or Moises Caicedo - were secured, and the wisdom of the late move for 31-year-old Jorginho has understandably been questioned by some supporters.
So how do you sum up Arsenal’s January? The crucial thing you have to say is that they have ended the month in a much stronger position than they started it.
Trossard looks to be an excellent purchase, and at just £26 million ($32m), he promises to be a bargain as well.
Arsenal got their man 😎 pic.twitter.com/qhLFlAd1cK— GOAL (@goal) January 20, 2023
“I think he can have an immediate impact on the team,” Mikel Arteta said soon after the Belgian’s arrival, and his early showings against Manchester United and Manchester City suggest exactly that.
The 28-year-old looks perfect for Arsenal and should play a major role over the second half of the season. He will provide much needed cover and competition on either wing for both Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, while he can also be an option in the central areas as well if needs must. So that’s a fine piece of business - a signing that very few could argue against.
Kiwior is clearly a far more unknown quantity, but has only come initially to provide cover for Gabriel Magalhaes at centre-back.
Arteta was very keen to bring in a naturally left-sided central defender to even up his defensive options. While he is well stocked on the right side with William Saliba, Rob Holding and Ben White, the Arsenal boss had no left-footed options to cover for Gabriel.
That has not been an issue up to now, such has been the Brazilian’s durability this season, but it was still an area of the squad that Arteta wanted addressing, and he got his wish.
Whether Kiwior turns out to be a good signing remains to be seen, but reports from those who have watched his star rise in Serie A over the past coupe of years suggest he is a clever addition.
Jorginho is certainly the big talking point, however.
Welcome to The Arsenal, Jorginho 👊 pic.twitter.com/jHXqAUBKKQ— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 31, 2023
Arsenal have been burnt in the past when they have taken ageing players from Chelsea. Petr Cech failed to hit the standards he had set at Stamford Bridge, while David Luiz is not remembered too fondly, although he did play a key role in the FA Cup success of 2020.
Willian was an unmitigated disaster, meanwhile, and it’s perhaps the Brazilian’s dreadful stint in north London that has led to so many questioning the wisdom of Tuesday’s surprise £12m ($15m) deal.
Jorginho goes against almost everything that Arsenal have done in the market over the past couple of years. But while he may be the wrong side of 30, he is a player that Arteta has long admired and will bring a wealth of experience to a young squad which knows very little about getting over the line in big moments at the end of the season.
So in that regard, he could be a smart signing. He wasn’t expensive and an 18-month contract ensures that he does not have the potential to become a costly millstone around the club’s neck.
Ultimately, the next few months will decide how Jorginho is viewed at Arsenal. If he performs well when called upon and helps the team win the title, he will be a hero. If he struggles and Arsenal fall away, he will be seen a panic buy that went horribly wrong.
Is it an exciting transfer? No. Does it make Arsenal stronger and better equipped for a title run-in? Yes. For Arteta, that will clearly be the most important thing.
In many ways, the capture of Jorginho sums up Arsenal's window as a whole. It could have been record-breaking, given the names they started out targeting. But it ended up being sensible and safe. That's not really a criticism, it's just how it feels.
How good would Mudryk have been had Arsenal just paid the money and got that deal done with Shakhtar Donetsk? How much of a difference would Caicedo have made had the Gunners managed to tempt Brighton into doing business? Those are questions Arsenal fans will be asking themselves in the weeks and months ahead.
And what about Edu? The failure of Arsenal’s sporting director to close either of those two big deals has again seen many point the finger at his negotiating skills. And those criticisms will only get louder should his January purchases not help Arteta’s side get over the line in the title race between now and the end of May.
Arsenal have a massive opportunity to end the club’s 19-year wait for the Premier League title this season, but there is nothing more that can be done in terms of strengthening the manager’s hand.
He went into the window wanting a stronger squad and he ended the month with exactly what he called for. Whether it’s enough to see off the threat of Manchester City, however, remains to be seen.
If it’s not, then many will point to the ones who got away during the January transfer window as the reason that Arsenal fell short.