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Ceballos, Saliba, Tierney - Arsenal's frustrating transfer window could still end in success

11:15 EAT 18/07/2019
Kieran Tierney Dani Ceballos
Only Gabriel Martinelli has arrived at the Emirates this summer - but that could all change in the coming weeks

In three weeks, the transfer window will shut ahead of the start of the 2019-20 Premier League season.

That leaves Arsenal with just 21 days to add to their squad, which so far has seen just one new addition since the end of Unai Emery’s first campaign in charge.

And that new arrival is Gabriel Martinelli, an 18-year-old forward plucked from state football in Brazil.

Martinelli may have scored as the Gunners kicked off their pre-season tour to the United States with a 3-0 victory over Colorado Rapids on Monday, but as talented as the teenager is, it’s clear that Arsenal need far more if they are going to compete with the best in England this season.

Yet with just three weeks remaining of the window, supporters are still waiting for news.

A quick look at the replies to every post the club makes on social media shows the current mood around the fan base. They want transfers and they want them now.

The widely publicised #wecaredoyou campaign that was launched by 16 influential fan groups, websites and bloggers this week centred around a call for owner Stan Kroenke to prove he has the ambition to get Arsenal back to the top.

The joint statement issued by the campaign on Monday prompted a swift response, with Arsenal director Josh Kroenke – the son of owner Stan – speaking out.

The 37-year-old insisted the priority of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KSE) was to win and hinted big things could be on the way in the final weeks of the window.

“I would say, ‘Be excited,'” said Kroenke. “There are a few things that I know our group are working on, and a few things we hopefully have on the doorstep.

“Nothing is ever a done deal until it’s a done deal, obviously, but we know we have key areas we want to address in our squad, both now and in the future.

"Our entire football operations staff have a great grasp on that and I’ve encouraged them to be as aggressive as possible.”

It was a swift response from KSE to some of the points raised by the #wecaredoyou campaign, but whilst that should be applauded, the proof will be in the pudding.

It’s been a hugely frustrating transfer window so far for Arsenal. With the transfer budget limited because of the club’s bulging wage bill, they have struggled to get deals over the line.

One bid has been rejected for Wilfried Zaha, two offers have been knocked back by Celtic for Kieran Tierney, while Spurs’ late arrival on the scene saw a deal that looked to be done for Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba thrown into the balance.

When you also factor in the failure to get high earners such as Shkodran Mustafi, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan off the books, it’s clear why there has been such a strong sense of disillusionment surrounding the club in the last couple of months.

However, Arsenal have three weeks now to lift that gloom and there is a growing sense that the Gunners will still be able to regard the window as a success when it's all over.

A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes in the past few weeks and deals are now close to being completed.

It would have been nice to get things wrapped up before the squad jetted off to the States for the pre-season tour, but the transfer market rarely works like that.

A quick look around the Premier League, especially towards the top of it, shows that there hasn’t been much business done elsewhere either.

Arsenal have only signed Martinelli, but they are hopeful of soon securing a deal for Real Madrid's Dani Ceballos, albeit only on loan.

Speaking in Los Angeles earlier in the week, Emery was asked about transfers and whether he believed Arsenal fans should be excited following Josh Kroenke’s remarks.

“Yes,” he replied. “We are speaking about big players because we are starting thinking about our team and squad now. We have very good players, very good young players who can progress.

“Other players can come here to help us. We need really players with big performances.

“Our target is to get three or four players who really improve our squad now. We are being very, very demanding and first speaking about the possibility to sign very expensive players. The first player in our list is our first target, if we cannot achieve that, the second.

“We are thinking every time they're going to improve our squad.”

Those are bold and headline-making words from a man who usually prefers his press conferences to sneak under the radar.

But there is a growing confidence at Arsenal that the work Raul Sanllehi, Francis Cagigao, Huss Fahmy and the rest of the recruitment team have put in during the past few months is about to come to fruition.

Ceballos had looked set for Spurs until Arsenal entered the fray and his loan move should now go though relatively smoothly, providing Zinedine Zidane does not step in.

And Arsenal are also close to seeing off Spurs in the battle for Saliba.

The 18-year-old centre-back has been a priority for the Gunners this summer and they thought they had got their man when a £27 million ($34m) deal was agreed with Saint Etienne last week, only for Tottenham to launch a last-minute counter offer.

However, Arsenal remained confident that Saliba would choose them – and the Gunners are now hopeful that a full agreement is imminent.

Emery will not be able to utilise the centre-back this season as he will return to Saint-Etienne on loan, but securing his signature will be met with widespread delight by those who have scouted him so extensively since the turn of the year.

Meanwhile, talks are continuing with Celtic to try and find a resolution over Tierney.

Arsenal believed their second offer met Celtic’s £25m ($31m) valuation, but the Scottish champions disagreed, with the Hoops unhappy with the amount of add-ons and bonuses that were included.

A third bid is expected, however, with Arsenal hopeful of finally wrapping up a deal for a left-back who has been on the agenda at the Emirates for years now.

So, there are deals in the pipeline and should they be completed, which is beginning to look likely, then the transfer window will suddenly have a very different look to it in terms of the red half of north London.

More is needed, however, with a winger still on the wanted list and potentially also a centre-back, depending on what happens with the Laurent Koscielny situation.

Arsenal still want Zaha, but that is one deal that is looking increasingly unlikely due to the money involved, so they are looking at alternatives.

Barcelona's Malcom is a possibility, with a loan deal an option, while Brazil international Everton Soares has been offered to the club. There have been suggestions in Brazil that a move has been agreed, but that is not the case.

With Gremio in need of money, however, and Edu close to the player and his representatives, there is a chance Arsenal could pursue a move before deadline day on August 8 – although sources at the Emirates are distancing themselves from a deal for the 23-year-old.

But should Arsenal get someone like Everton, Zaha or Malcom through the door, that would be the sprinkling of star dust that tops off what could still be a very fruitful window for the Gunners.