Things really are starting to shape up now. We’ve made three quality signings this week, and given the new injuries to Andy Carroll and Winston Reid, I wouldn’t rule out further dips into the transfer market. Given the amount we’ve spent so far, I don’t think anyone can accuse the Board of not backing the manager.
The most exciting transfer was announced this morning, and it’s been one of the most protracted sagas in the club’s history. It’s been on-off-on-off-on for the last six weeks, but finally we got it over the line. Rumour was that Pellegrini laid down an ultimatum of the sort: “Well I asked you to get this player and I expect you to deliver”. £36 million for a player with only one cap for his country seems an awful lot of money, but on the face of it Felipe Anderson looks a quality buy. He’d better be.
Andriy Yaromolenko had a glittering career as Dinamo Kiev, but hus transfer to Borussia Dortmund was not a success. he only played 18 games, scoring three times. However, by all accounts he looked quality against Wycombe yesterday. He’s quite tall for a wide player but seems to have an exquisite first touch, and a great ability to go past players.
Fabian Balbuena, on the face of it, looks to be a backup central defender, given he only cost £3 million from Corinthians. He’s only played 6 times for Paraguay so I’m not sure how he got a work permit, but he looks to be a real leader of men. A couple of weeks ago we signed Issa Diop for a club record for a defender and you’d have to think that he would be a first choice pick.
And then there’s Jack Wilshere. I hope to God he turns out to be a wise investment. He’s clearly another managerial pick, as I know David Sullivan didn’t want to sign him earlier in the transfer window. I am a big fan of his, and if he stays fit we have signed a top quality creative midfielder. When Arsenal came to us last season he was by far their best player.
And then there are Ryan Fredericks and Lucasz Fabianski. I have no idea whether Fredericks will displace Zabaleta at right back, or whether Fabianski will be preferred to Adrian. It still wouldn’t surprise me if we signed Tom Heaton or Jack Butland if the price is right. That would no doubt see Adrian leave as fast as he possibly could.
So all in all, we seem to be building an incredibly strong squad. Reece Burke is the only player to depart so far – for a measly £500k plus addons and a 20% sell on clause. There will no doubt be further departures over the course of the next three weeks, but I hope not too many. It would be madness to sell Cheikhou Kouyate as some are suggesting. Obiang, maybe, but not Kouyate. And certainly not Michail Antonio.
What we don’t know yet is which formation Pellegrini will choose to play. We haven’t played 4-4-2 for some time but I wonder whether that’s where we are heading. If that’s the case, this is how we could line up against Liverpool in our first game…
Fabianski, Fredericks, Cresswell, Diop, Rice, Wilshere, Kouyate, Yaromolenko, Anderson, Arnautovic, Hernandez
So, no place for Ogbonna, Noble, Obiang, Antonio, Masuaku, Zabaleta or Fernandes.
What is happening here is that Pellegrini is building a squad, not just a team.