While it is inarguable that Arsenal must complete their fair share of summer signings, they must not forget their young players and the role that they can play when doing so.
If and when the summer transfer window opens, there is no doubt that Arsenal must make signings to bolster their underperforming team. The Gunners have endured a torrid season. After 28 games, they sit ninth in the table, have already exited the Europa League, and have a very slim chance of gaining Champions League qualification.
The bitter reality is that the team is simply not good enough to qualify for the Champions League. The quality of player simply is not present. Additions are needed desperately if the club’s hierarchy wants any hope of seeing their team kicking around the star-spangled ball once again.
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So, the easy answer is just to spend the money, right? Well, not quite. While investment is needed and additions are crucial, the signings that are made must not halt the progress of the promising young players already present. Youngsters such as Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka are gems that are not frequently unearthed. Clogging their progression to the first team with willy-nilly spending would be detrimental to the progression of the team.
The academy is now producing some sensational players. Saka is the leading light, but others such as Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah are all proving how productive Hale End can be. The club’s recruitment of young talent has been excellent. Martinelli was signed for a minuscule transfer fee, while Matteo Guendouzi has displayed his talent despite only costing £6 million as an unknown 19-year-old a year prior.
Consequently, it would be foolish to purchase players for hefty prices that would also stunt the promising pupils’ growth. Though many may argue that competition for places is good, a route to the first team for youngsters being demolished is not.
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For example, signing someone like Philippe Coutinho, who the Gunners have been linked with recently, may stunt the growth of Willock or Emile Smith Rowe if the Brazilian was to come in as a replacement for the ageing Mesut Ozil. On the contrary, someone like David Alaba, who is reportedly looking for a move away from Bayern Munich may replace Saka as a versatile left-sided option.
The danger of purchasing without thinking of the youngsters does not only include the possible stunting of youngsters growth either. Squad bloating is an all too real possibility if those higher up in the club aimlessly sign a player at a position that a youngster can play. A prime example of an aimless signing would be Layvin Kurzawa, who the club were interested in in January. There is no need.
This is not to say that Arsenal should not spend. Of course, smart and substantial recruitment is necessary. But given the massive potential of many of the young players have, that spending must be smart and efficient, otherwise the club run the danger of wasting the blessed position of possessing brilliant talent.