On Sokratis, Soyuncu, and What Needs to be Done

The transfer talk is ratcheting up a notch or two with claims that Arsenal tried a last-ditch attempt to land Fabinho before he signed for Liverpool yesterday.

That we’re bidding on a £39m player underlines the naivety of believing £50m means £50m; is it even a net impact of £50m anyway. According to last week’s Telegraph, it’s £70m in any case with Ivan finding £20m in used fivers in a carrier bag in Arsène’s bottom drawer. And to think he was happy enough finding an empty Tupperware box as he rooted through Wenger’s leftovers.

What the reports underline is the folly of (a) trying to work out what we’ve got to spend, and (b) believing what the papers say we’ve got to spend. The transfer window for supporters is hoping the club address the deficiencies in the squad, or at least the ones we perceive to exist.

Crucially, this is the time for the new management structure to show there is a new Arsenal Transfer Window Action Team in town and build momentum for Unai Emery era.

Stephan Lichtsteiner brings a wealth of experience, as well as cover, for Hector Bellerin at right-back. I understand that he won’t be lighting a fire of excitement for many, but someone who can help the Spaniard understand the role of right-back as well as featuring in cup competitions must be a good move. The transfer window isn’t all about signing the ‘A-listers’.

It seems we’re ‘attacking’ the defensive weaknesses with Sokratis seemingly resolving the immediate issue of Laurent Koscielny’s Achilles heel. I don’t claim to understand the recruitment strategy for the back four; it’s all Greek to me.

Another young centre-back, Caglar Soyuncu of Freiburg – me either – told the Turkish media he is having talks with Arsenal after this round of international friendlies.

Crushed by the Wheels of Industry?

What we’re seeing is the perception of the squad left behind by Wenger. We knew there were glaring weaknesses at the back because there have been for a number of seasons. None of this is new; resolving it is, however, a pleasant twist.

There is also a balance to be found. Wholesale changes, shipping out ten players, bringing in a dozen has never been a sustainable or successful policy; there’s simply no way to remodel the whole squad in one summer. Unless you are Harry Redknapp and his CV doesn’t bristle with success.

This rebuild after Wenger’s departure could take up to four transfer windows.

Arsène maintained the squad was intelligent and the first six months under the new coach will tell us how intelligent they are. Adapting to Unai Emery’s methods is the first test; some will pass, some will find themselves ill-suited to the Spaniard.

Competitve games will also answer that question. Will they revert to type when the going gets tough? Or can Emery shift the defensive laxness or the inability to track back properly?

The key in any sport is the players buying into the coach’s philosophy, whether its Clive Woodward with England, Sean McVay at the Rams, AJ Hinch in Houston or Unai Emery at Arsenal. Enthusing the players to buy into the Pep Guardiola way brought City success last season as much £200m in the transfer market.

But success for us won’t be instant but what constitutes failure for Emery in his first season? No sense of progress is my answer. Quantifying progress then becomes the issue. From sixth, is it unreasonable to think we can improve to fourth on the basis of a new boss and some defensive changes? Certainly the midfield needs bolstering if that is to be achieved.

Stand and Deliver

The transfer window is a peculiar beast. Liverpool, the received wisdom, mean business because they’ve signed a good player before the window is even open.  Fabinho plus Naby Keita minus Emre Can is good business. However, it’s too soon to begin complaining that Arsenal are being slow or we need to get our fingers out.

What would be good is if the deals are done by the time pre-season training begins. We could have most of the squad available with just Ospina, Özil, Iwobi, Xhaka and Welbeck missing. Even then, Dave might just be a memory in a cardboard box and Welbz won’t be far off returning after England’s traditional early exit.

Then the hard work begins. Of that quintet, Xhaka seems the most important. Özil has the quality to fit into any system, it’s a case of whether or not he wants to adapt. The others will need to work at aspects of their game, trading off some traits for new skills.

But Xhaka, in the centre of the park, has much to adapt to. He needs more discipline positionally and defensively; staying on his feet will be a new notion for him to grasp, but grasp he must.

The spell between now and pre-season training, with the World Cup as a distraction, is set to be very interesting indeed.

’til Tomorrow.

55 thoughts on “On Sokratis, Soyuncu, and What Needs to be Done

  1. PREMIÈRE…Morning YW… I’d have loved both Keïta and Fabinho at Arsenal.. A Man can dream..

  2. Top post YW comme dabhitude.

    I’d love to be a fly in the wall at Conley when ALL the players reconvene.

    I think a number of the Arsenal players are in for a very rude awakeing.
    Whom will rise to the occasion and whom will not is going to be interesting to see.

    Are we truly after Seri? Is it just click bait? I’ve no true idea, however he’d be an absolute fantastic addition to the Squad.

    The new recruit Lichenstener is going to bring, footballing guile, a ruthlessness, a winning mentality, a hardness that is not to dissimilar to the much loved Sergio Ramos, that has been missing from an Arsenal defence for years

  3. It is really sad to see Liverpool beating Arsenal off the field as well by signing two of Arsenal top targets Fabinho and Fakier. Arsenal board are contiuing Arsene Wenger attitude by dragging their feet in the transfer market trying not to spend money so as to please the main shareholder. Concentrating in siging players over 30years old reflecting the chaos at Arsenal new structure of transfer activty that is depriving the manager of being ableto sign theplayers he really needs to win trophies.

  4. Why gambling on players everyday??????????
    If it means buying Caglar, Sokratis,Emil Forsberg and Dembele, then buy them and wait for the other seaosn to see the are of weakness..why moving from player to player??

  5. What’s the feeling on Sokratis with people? Honestly don’t know enough about him to say if he’s a good addition or not?

  6. He could change the philosophy of the Club.

    What’s the feeling on Sokratis with people?Honestly don’t know enough about him to say if he’s a good addition or not?

  7. Hi. I’m got my fingers crossed for Sokratis. I’ve liked him for a number of years. Mainly because he’s a big hard bastard, fast and appears to be what out defence has needed. Wether or not he could play in our old system of being everywhere at the same time, I’m not sure. But I guess that’s not a problem now.

    Is Lichensteiner done?

  8. Interested to see how our CB movements take place. On the one hand it’d be a shame for Mavropanos and Chambers (not to mention Holding) to get pushed far down the pecking order. Chambers especially has gone about his business admirably with the year on loan, and started looking good towards the end of the season. With Lichsteiner likely joining that’s also some game-time at RB Chambers and Holding might miss out on.

    On the other hand, defence has been such a weak point for us action does need to be taken. I’d be surprised if there aren’t some loan deals/sales. If we bought the two mooted CBs we’d end up with 7 CBs by my maths…

  9. We posted this, in the previous blog.
    @Friends above who like us express their disappointment in missing out this Monaco midfielder.
    Why would that midfielder come to a club which is 6th in the PL and does not offer him the CL playing opportunity? Players who are young want to play in the CL to improve their CV. The alternative was to have offered this midfielder ridiculous money to come, which our American owner would not countenance.
    Strange that while our American owner is so tight-fisted, the Liverpool’s American counterpart is happy to fund transfers. That shows our depth of decline. For this reason alone,the Wenger Out brigade were right. Wenger , through sheer selfishness, stayed too long. He often repeated that he only knew the life at Arsenal-arriving to London Colney from his Totteridge home,and leaving to home in the evening every day. That was his problem as he had no one to go home to-often seen by us in Totteridge restaurants sitting alone.
    But then, We assumed once he departed, the culture of dragging the feet for transfers will change, but it seems to be firmly embedded in the fabric of the system, managed by Gazidis. We cannot see progress with so many players in the squad jaded and not willing to give their best. They are not in the process of being sold either.
    Emery is a breath of fresh air, and this is an opportunity for the owners to support him with funds.and not merely considering this club as an asset in their property portfolio.

  10. Pete the Thirst,


    What a difference a new manager makes, without a ball even being kicked.

    Arsenal fans? With a sense of humour? Don’t remember any of those for years and years and years now 🙂

  11. I actually really like Lichensteiner coming in because he is a RB/RWB who had to learn to defend and having been a key member of both Conte’s and Allegri’s Juve, he would be brilliant for Bellerin. SokratiS, think he is what you generally think your get from a Greek defender: quick, strong, no bullshit sort of defender. With that said he did struggle last season at Dortmund but most at Dortmund did because of what was taking place at the club and the injuries the suffered.

    Just like Gustavo a couple seasons ago, Fabinho was my clear first choice for midfield reinforcements. With that said, there are others out there for sure and it will be interesting to see what who gets paired with Xhaka or if Xhaka is the one being replaced. I’m also interested to see what Emery does with Elneny whose style and futboling mind is suited for high pressing quick tempo possession and quick transition style.

  12. i saw it the same. the 50mil looks a made up number if we are bidding 40mil on a single player.

  13. Interesting comments from Mbappe on Emery given how Emery was made the scapegoat and everybody in futbol knows the PSG manager is an impossoble job:

    ‘He is gone, but he is not the only responsible,’ the young France striker said. ‘People (just) had to find a scapegoat

    ‘Unai Emery taught me to be more decisive, to have this desire to to score goals,’

    ‘Defensively, I still have shortcomings, but he really made me improve. ‘He’s a great coach: seven trophies in two years is not nothing.’

  14. Damon,

    What, Arsenal fans have had a sense of humor over the past couple years….just go read some of the stuff from the fun bus.

  15. Nicely put regarding your selections of managers– that players have bought into.
    Not only their concepts– but the schema of the clubs they manage. I’ve had the opportunity to watch AJ Hinch up-close for 4 years.

    The Houston Astros (MLB, baseball) had just done the unthinkable and sold off every asset/player the club had over the 4 previous seasons through 2014. The club had lost 415 games (of 648)– since 2011, during which time, rebuilding their minor league system (akin youth academy teams).

    The club created a hybrid of a popular ideology known as Moneyball (of which Arsenal has been attempting to crossover to football since 2012). A method of video-driven data analytics as a basis for modeling predictions of progression/regression of athletic performance for existing players– and creating templates for discovering the best talent before other clubs did (through traditional scouting aspects).

    I’ve posted this, here, previously– but it seems a bit more apropos post-AW:
    An, interesting off-beat read. This is also the basis for Arsenal’s own in-house StatDNA project.

    Anyway. AJ Hinch took a horrible club, stocked with new players target by the Astros Moneyball hybrid, to within one game of making the World Series in his first season (2015). Last season (2017)– the Astros won their first championship in the club’s 56-year history. Beating financial beasts/big TV market teams Boston, New York, and Los Angeles back-to-back-to-back in doing so.

    They are poised to remain at the top of baseball’s elite teams for the foreseeable future. AJ Hinch’s influence cannot be understated. But his influence would be null– without the StatDNA-like system put in place to deliver him the talent on-field– and the youth prospects to both replenish from– and used to trade for established talent.


    I’ve gone through this long-winded explanation– to express that Arsenal are only just now in position– just beginning, just able– to deploy the aspects of their own version of Moneyball in football. It has taken these past 6 years to build the StatDNA platform, collect and translate the data (going back to the late-90s)– in hope of positioning the club to be able to emulate what has been done in major league baseball by the Houston Astros.


  16. C:

    Feels like lazy media talk of how Arsene ran things.

    Funnily enough I was thinking a bit about that particular issue.

    So often we take a “report” as being factual based on whether we agree with it or not (I’m as guilty as the next man as far as that goes).

    A prominent example was how certain “pundits” (particularly those well known for overindulging at times), suggested that the idiot Rodgers was coming to town.

    I suspect a large portion of that was simply wishful thinking on said pisscat’s part.

    I was wondering whether the ‘story’ about Emery wanting to build around Ramsey was not similarly wishful thinking, considering that (we are told), Ramsey’s agent says there is no discussion going on?

    Perhaps, as a player with some resale value and who possibly wishes to broaden his horizons based on his (possibly generous), estimation of his self-worth, Ramsey has no intention of staying and might have said so?

    I cant claim I’d be slitting my wrists if he was sold off.

  17. Brendan Rodgers – so glad we decided against him.

    I know somebody that did some work for him. He didn’t pay for the work, despite threats of court…and even worse he has an enormous self portrait on his wall.

  18. Emery is the best hope Arsenal has, and all of us the fans should support him. He knows what he is doing ( Sevilla friends tell us their admiration for what Emery achieved there with a frugal budget). Hope the media treat him well.

  19. MikeSA,

    Exactly my point, all so often with Arsenal we have taken reports under Arsene and viewed them as fact especially since very few even reasonable reports made sense. Now under Mislintat, Sanllehi and Emery it might be a broad new world with a bit more transparency about it.

    I too have wondered about the Ramsey thing especially when you consider that they cam shortly after he won Player of the Season(sorry it should have been Nacho) and on the back of his hot finish to the season(nevermind the fact he is unavailable for a 1/3 of the season and is inconsistent when he is). People tend to brush aside the fact that he was offered a contract prior to Ozil’s and he turned it down and now others have gotten their deals and with a new man who focuses more on sitting pivots and higher tempo based on possession he might nit fit.

    Personally, I would sell him.

  20. C,

    I would agree, i think his injury issues have hampered any kind of consistency. We could get an easy 25million for him, i’d sell and then bring in someone else of similar ilk.

    Pet hate. When any of the top 4 teams sign a player and they put “Arsenal were believed to be interested” and it then has loads of “ANOTHER PLAYER WE’VE MISSED” comments on the article. We’ve never once been interested in Fabinho, never once in past been linked with us haha

  21. MikeSA,

    It’s my understanding that Ramsey, Wilshere and Ozil were three of the 6 players that Emery highlighted to the board as not contributing enough off the ball or lacking consistency (which would make sense since he likes to press and that bunch of players have have used to pressing and tend to try fall back into zonal positioning and somehow still tend to be out of position), from what i’ve read the comments about building it around Ramsey are way out of context and that he stated that the position that Ramsey tends to play for the team, it should be built around that player? aka the energetic box to box midfielder who helps take ball out of defence into attack etc. Which makes sense in Emery’s system, where there is a high level of pressing, win the ball back and as quickly as possible and then get it up to forwards as quickly as possible…

  22. I just feel we need a new slate. Wilshere is good on his day, but let’s be honest he’s a poor mans Cesc in comparison. He doesn’t win games, he doesn’t score a lot, he’s really good at nice little passes now and again but in reality for wanting 100k a week? Played half a season as a attacking midfielder and scored 1 goal? I think he had what 4 assists? Could we get someone else into that position who’d contribute more goals and assists? Probably.

    Jack’s problem is his injury timing and Cesc leaving, had Cesc stayed he could have helped jack find his identity in relation to what position actually suits him, because he can’t tackle and he doesn’t score a lot

  23. JW1

    The interesting thing about Hinch is how many other teams were moving toward the metrics system before Houston won; it just sped up their process. Was watching Houston at NY earlier in the week and one of the commentators said when Hinch was 21, he was already marked out a future coach of a major because of his obsession with numbers.

  24. MesutsLeftFoot,

    Yup, I think injuries need to play apart in the decision and there are playera out there that could help our team or of similar ilk. For instance, bringing in a Seri would help sure up our midfield and give us somebody more of the Santi ilk but would allow our front 4 to not have to drop deep….I would take that.

  25. C,

    The best one ive seen liked in Praet. Box to box, tons of energy, always pressing and pushing players and has a good passing and vision, combine him with Seri and maybe even Xhaka and we’d have a defensive minded midfielder, a box to box midfielder and Xhaka or el Neny to sit between them both and pick up balls etc. Xhaka has more to offer, i’d like to see him in a team with actually has tactics, his long range passing might be ideal for Emery’s style, especially with Auba and Lacazette up top.

    Interesting we’re still being linked with Fosberg, haven’t seen him much so i can’t comment. But i think Jack will stay, but he should maybe consider leaving or dropping his wage demands, no one will meet that for the stats he has.

    the Sokratis and Soyuncu stuff is heating up, i’d be happy with them and Lichtensteiner on a free….Might take pressure off Cech a bit and give him one more season until we bring someone in, free up more money for a midfielder

  26. Great post yogi

    Our transfer team does not has to get it right in order to give Emery and the club the best opportunity to succeed. I like almost everything I have heard about Emery, however, I doubt he is not a miracle worker and I hope our long term objective is to reinvent Arsenal as one of the top 10 clubs in Europe. In 2018 you can’t do that by thinking like a small team and trying to build from within and create your own stars and finding players who are flying under the radar at value prices. Emery is going to need his transfer team to be spot on because we don’t have unlimited room for error. We also need to accept that we may have to sell some players when they are over heavily valued such as Bellerin or if it looks like they might not sign a new contract like Ramsey. That is just part of doing business in the real world.

  27. MesutsLeftFoot,

    Praet is interesting because he does have those qualities to play between Ozil and Xhaka and be effective. If we were to get Praet and Seri along with already having Xhaka and Elneny, that is a rotation that would certainly give us players who fit the mold and I vould see doing wondets because they are all different but also all like to sit, do their business and keep things ticking. I probably most intrgued to see how a player lile Seri would do because his passing is superb but he can also dictate the tempo next to either a Xhaka would do well given his range of passing(I like him but he will have to learn to think and move quicker) or Praet with his ability to do a bit of everything but also enjoys siitting.

    Sokratis and Soyuncu is interesting because it basically signals that Kos’ time is done at Arsenal while also signalling that either Chambers or Holding will be sold given Mavropanos seems to be in the plans.

  28. Bill,

    Don’t think Bellerin is over rated, i think with coaching he’s got the potential to be lethal, when he’s had beating players and crossing coached out of him, i’d give him another season to see what Emery does with him. Agree re Ramsey and/or Wilshere. i think he’ll need 2/3 seasons to get us top 4, Liverpool already strengthening, Man u will no doubt end up spending 100/200 mill, City will be dominant and you never know what Chelsea you’re going to get each season…Spurs have a good team, but i think with new stadium they’re going to struggle to keep Kane/Ali etc.

    I think our best hope next season is Europa again! A domestic trophy would be nice as well, quicker we get some silverware, the more cash and confidence our team will get

  29. C,

    Cant see Dembele happening….Unless they sign Greizmann in which case it’s possible via Sven links. Dembele, Auba and Lacazette is a frightening prospect especially if we have a fired up Ozil and Mkhitaryan.

    Squad wise, what would be ideal is signing Sokratis (i know he’s older and everyone saying he’s not good enough, i personally think he’s solid and would do a good job), Soyuncu, Lichensteiner and letting Chambers go…that would give us Kolasnic, Nacho on left with options of Mustafi, Holding, Sokratis and Soyunco at CB and Lichtensteiner and Bellerin at RB. Lot’s of options.

    Midfield has been our problem, I think they inability to defend has out tremendous pressure on our defence and keeper. I hope they go for Seri and don’t let him go to Cheslea….Seri in the anchor position along side a good box to box midfielder will mean that there’s less pressure on Auba/Laca having to track back. Have forwards and Ozil/What would be ideal, is signing Sokratis, Soyuncu, Lichensteiner and letting Chambers go…that give us Kolasnic, Nacho on left with options of Mustafi, Holding, Sok and Soy at CB and Lichtensteiner and Bellerin at RB. Lot’s of options. Personally, i’d like to see Seri brought in as well as someone like Praet and if possible Dembele on loan….loads of options all over the park, Dembele or Iwobi out wide or Welbeck and Mkhitaryan etc.

    I just wonder if Emery has plans for both Lacazette and Auba

  30. MesutsLeftFoot,

    I can’t see Dembele happening either but this Griezmann to Barca thing won’t go away and I know he says he staying but we have heard that before….I’m looking at you Cesc..

    That is a solid back 4 with options that you have proposed and again, it would be midfield that would need to be added to and if Praet and Seri come in it would be quite interesting even though I fancy it will be one or the other. There are plenty of options out there and I think the one thing that seems to be clear is that we will not be standing still and Ramsey and Jack aren’t in a position of strength in negotiations.

    Lacazette, Ozil, Mhkitaryan, Aubameyang I could see being the front 4 with possibly Iwobi and the hardworking Welbeck(though I wouldn’t be surprised if he is sold given he only has 1 year left too).

    Exciting times because for the first time in some time there seems to be a plan of adding experience (or at least young and first choice) in defense and looking to sure up the midfield defensively.

  31. Getting Fabinho for 40m is a real coup for Liverpool. Wish we were as attractive to players as they were—how positions of status have reversed since we popped them to Alexis.

    I know how to pronounce the Turkish CB’s name. But I have enjoyed hearing podcasters and such trying!

  32. Lichesteiner on a one year deal is good business. Experienced, winner, leader and a player who plays as a RB/RWB and could teach Bellerin and help him reach his potential.

  33. C,

    I don’t know enough about Sokratis to have a decent opinion on the deal. From what I’ve read about him, he’s big and strong and quick. At 29 he’s the right amount of experience we need and fills an obvious hole.

    To be fair to the new recruitment team, they haven’t pulled a deal yet where I wondered what they were on when they signed the dotted line, so I’m happy for them to carry on as they are at the moment.

    It’s just great to have the feeling that there’s a vision and a plan in place to get there, as opposed to the feeling that we’re winging it, seeing who we can easily nab off someone at a knocked down price and seeing what sort of side we can put out with what we’ve got.

    On the GK situation, it all seems very quiet? I’ll be interested to see where Butland end’s up. Might be being a bit romantic, but wonder if now that AW is gone if Shezzer could be tempted back?

  34. C:
    Lichesteiner on a one year deal is good business.Experienced, winner, leader and a player who plays as a RB/RWB and could teach Bellerin and help him reach his potential.

    Finding a player who reaches his potential has been a 15 year search for the Holy Grail. Unfortunately our record to date has been 0 for several hundred. It will be interesting to see if we do any better but I suspect there is no secret formula and its not going to get any easier for the new regime.

  35. Making squad building decisions based on the expectation of someone’s potential has cost us a lot of points over the years.

  36. May break my personal rule of not betting on AFC

    Widely available at 30/1 for the title, makes us a 10/1 EW bet to place second or third. Excellent value, especially when you consider that second place this year was available for any of the top 5 after City that simply got their shit together and were consistent.

    When you consider Pool are 5/1 (yielding approx 1.5/1 EW bet) and Spurs are circa 12/1 (4/1 EW bet) there’s no value out there on the other 5 potential teams.

    I’ll add, the only time I’ve broken that rule in the last twenty or so years was on last year’s cup final. At 3/1 to beat Chelsea in a one off 90 min game was too good to turn down and I’m happy to say I got a score on it.

  37. Damon,

    That about sums uo Sokaritas very quickly which does fill an obvious need in the Kos role.

    I agree, its great to see it at least understand all the deals that are being proposed and progress being made. Will be interested to see who comes in and who leaves.

    I would LOVE for Szczesny to come back, think it was crazy to sell him and keep Cech and Ospina anyways. Problem with that now though is Juve have handed him the #1 shirt so as much as the romantic side of us would love him coming back, don’t see it actually happening. Butland, he’s good but if we go that route I would rather see Macey who I think is just as talented but hasn’t gotten a chance.

  38. Bill,

    Your right but your also talking about under Arsene. Emery has a track record of getting the best out of players especially FB’s, midfielders and CF’s so I would recommend stop focusing on Arsene’s Arsenal and understand Emery and his history.

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