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Average free signings utterly backwards move

Arsenal have been advised to sign both Ryan Fraser and Willian on free transfers. Both moves, though, would be utterly backwards steps when considering the young players coming through.

In one form or another, which is not even nearly known at present, the summer window is coming. And for umpteenth summer in a row, Arsenal have a lot of work to do. This time, it is with the intention of supplying head coach Mikel Arteta with the type of squad that challenge at the sharp end of the Premier League.

There are several positions which require improvement. Centre-back, central midfield, times two, left-wing and potentially centre-forward depending on who is sold. But there is a crucial aspect of the required spending that must be maintained in every decision the club makes: the team needs quality, not quantity.

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Sadly, Arsenal will not have much money to spend. Even before the effect of COVID-19 and a revenue-less few months are incorporated, the Gunners were set to struggle financially in comparison to many of their rivals, especially if they missed out on Champions League qualification again. The club would need to be smart in the transfer window, including signing players on free-agent deals at the end of their current contracts.

Certainly, that is what former striker Kevin Campbell believes, who argued for both Ryan Fraser and Willian to be considered this summer.

“You can get Ryan Fraser on a free transfer,” Campbell explained to the Metro. “His assists for Bournemouth were double figures last year, I know he suffered injuries but he’s still been having a decent season.”

Campbell then raised the possibility of signing Chelsea winger Willian on a free transfer at the end of the season, too.

“There’s talk of Willian,” he explained. “I like Willian, there’s still a lot of life left in him. He actually suits what Mikel Arteta wants to do, playing in a three, he’s got pace, he can beat people, he can score goals and we could get him on a free, and he’s experienced.”

He concluded with the following more general statement:

“If we haven’t got the money to spend in the transfer market, let’s get these guys on free, get them motivated and get them playing. That’s what Mikel Arteta’s got to do, and he realises if he hasn’t got the war chest then he’s going to have to move smart.”

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It is this last statement that is the basis of his logic: Arsenal need players. They do not have much money with which to sign them. Therefore, they need to be smart and sign those who are available on the cheap, or free in this case.

From that perspective, his logic is not entirely flawed. In fact, there is a level of credence to it that most would agree with. However, where he is mistaken is that initial premise. Arsenal do not need players; they need specific players, ones that offer a significant and stark improvement over what is already in the squad.

With the current make-up of the team, depth is not an issue. Where Arteta’s options are lacking is at the elite end. He has one, maybe two world-class players. With a crop of young players coming through, the reserve positions are already filled out. It is the starting XI that needs to be improved. So while the Gunners do need to add new players to the team, they must be the right players. Free-agent veterans who are little more than average to adequate Premier League players at this stage in their careers do not cut it.

Next: Arsenal: 3 alternatives to Thomas Partey

Arsenal need quality, quantity. Fraser, Willian, and many of the other free-agent deals that have been discussed do not obey by that very basic and crucial rule.

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