Mikel Arteta was much-maligned for asserting that Arsenal still had the ‘pulling power’ to attract some of the game’s biggest names back in January, but the Spaniard now seems set to fulfil his plucky pledge. The Gunners are understood to have reached an agreement over four-time Premier League champion Gabriel Jesus and it appears the striker could well be one of a number of stellar stars arriving at the Emirates this summer.
Arsenal have struck a £45million agreement with Manchester City for the 25-year-old who appears intent on snubbing the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea and Tottenham in order to join Arteta’s ranks – in spite of the fact the Gunners cannot offer him Champions League football next campaign. And the Brazilian could well be joined by a high-profile compatriot.
Leeds winger Raphinha is another on Arsenal’s radar and, despite the North Londoners seeing an initial offer rebuffed this week, according to The Athletic, there’s growing optimism that a deal can be struck in the near future. Perhaps most pertinently of all, Raphinha himself is now understood to be open to a potential Emirates move, despite interest from Champions League pair Chelsea and Tottenham, while hopes of a dream move to cash-strapped Barcelona have disintegrated.
Arteta’s ambitious approach to the transfer window this summer has got Gunners fans more than a little giddy over potential additions, but a little over five months ago, such excitement could scarcely been found. Amid a January transfer window in which Arsenal ended up firing blanks, Arteta and the club came in for some heavy criticism.
“At this moment, Arsenal can’t attract the top, top players, because players want to go to the better performing teams at this moment in time,” Richards told BBC 5Live Sport back in August. “When you say they’ve spent a lot of money, they’re buying second-tier players, or players with good potential who could become that.
“You should think that the manager’s got some input in the players that they’re getting. But I just think with Arsenal now, they’ve got themselves in such a rut, they’ve done a couple of panic buys.
“They’re signing for the future, it’s almost as if they’ve conceded they’re not going to get world-class players. Unfortunately, buying young players is going to cost Arteta his job because he’s not going to be able to do the business.”
Yet still Arteta remains – despite his club allegedly being in a “rut”, despite failing to recruit in January, and despite seeing the Champions League dream capitulate in the closing stages of the season. As for attracting world-class players, the Gunners boss was right all along. Others may have questioned Arteta’s rationality in recent times, but the Spaniard’s unshakeable sense of self-belief has seen him go on to silence his doubters.
You could be forgiven for thinking Arsenal are back, but according to Arteta, they never went away.