Should Edu Gaspar embark on a permanent vacation from Arsenal?
By Mac Johnson (Senior Writer)
Arsenal's online fanbase is a fickle, foul-tempered beast, and there's no mistaking that. As Editor-in-Chief Alfie Cairns Culshaw noted on the most recent Extra Cannon Podcast, the matchgoing fan is much more tolerant of Mikel Arteta, not to mention players like Hector Bellerin, and even of Willian, all of whom spark derision and scorn from all corners in the online community.
Such divisions are to be expected, especially given Arsenal's still-global following, and the ability to share one's opinions—and be influenced by the opinions of others—quickly and constantly that is offered by the internet, something all of us here at WeLoveYouArsenal use to our benefit. Instead of using the mood of a matchday crowd to establish our opinions, most of us immerse ourselves in a constant flow of information and rhetoric, and then push out our own opinions on the back of that absorption.
As a result, it's often rare to find a state of concord between Arsenal's match-going fans and their online supporters, but recently, the two disparate communities have united on one point, one mostly unconcerned with the on-field performances of the players. "What is that," you may ask? Well let me tell you.
Nobody seems to like Edu Gaspar.
Recently pictured on a fourth vacation in five weeks, Arsenal's technical director and second-in-command hasn't exactly endeared himself to the club's fanbase of late. As key signing after key signing slips through our fingers, whether to join rivals or simply to move to a different club, many have called into question Edu's expertise as a technical director. It's a crucial summer for Arsenal, and the Brazilian taking on holiday after holiday isn't exactly what I'd call confidence-inspiring.
It's one thing to have the most inexperienced manager in the league, but another to pair him with the most inexperienced technical director and expect them to turn the club around. We've long established the inherent promise in Mikel Arteta's tactics, and simply need the personnel to deliver upon that plan. That's Edu's job, and he hasn't quite been performing up to snuff.
Arsenal have failed resoundingly in the transfer market this summer.
The loss of Emi Buendia is still fresh in the mind, the player having joined direct rivals Aston Villa for £35m, half of what Arsenal may have to spend on James Maddison. Much as it hurts to call Villa a direct rival, they were very near us in the table last season, and with a healthy Jack Grealish would likely have surpassed us on points, perhaps even comfortably.
Links to Andre Onana have gone cold multiple times over, despite the Cameroon international being a serial upgrade on Bernd Leno, both in shot-stopping and distribution. A measly £7m is all that's required, and with the Ajax net-minder's suspension having been dropped to November, it's a bargain to boot.
Tammy Abraham appears to be on the move to Rome, with a deal around £34m being reported; all they need is the green light from the player. Abraham reportedly would prefer to move to Arsenal and stay in London, but with an official bid yet to be lodged, it's looking increasingly unlikely that the deal will be completed.
Inter ace Lautaro Martinez, too, has been linked quite heavily with Arsenal. Edu offered an official inquiry into the Argentine's transfer status, and had a week of the player's undivided attention in which to make a move. With strike-partner Romelu Lukaku making his move back to the Premier League across London at Chelsea, Lautaro is reportedly keen on leaving the club, and has been wanting to make a switch to England for a number of years. Yet it is Spurs who are apparently vying for the forward's signature; fees between £60m and £70m have been quoted, but considering the player was sought after by Barcelona last season for nearly £100m, that's a decent deal.
Finally, and equally crushing as the Buendia miss, Houssem Aouar is available for a reported fee of around £20-23m, a far cry from the nearly £60 million asked for him last summer. The player has reported his own interest in making the move, and it's beyond worthwhile to pick him up. However, like so many others, the link seems dead in the water.
Other names, like £60m Bernardo Silva and £20m Denis Zakaria, have been bandied about recently as well, but with few concrete connections, Arsenal seem slightly stranded.
Thankfully, not all hope is lost for the Gunners.
Links to James Maddison still abound, though Leicester are hell-bent on accepting £70m and not a cent less for the player, with a number of reported 'player-plus-cash' deals falling by the wayside. However, the Englishman is reportedly trying to push for a move to North London, and is driving negotiations forward, having already agreed terms with the club.
£30m Aaron Ramsdale appears to have superseded Arsenal's pursuit of Andre Onana, with homegrown quotas a priority in Edu's recruitment strategy this summer. Per reports from Football London and others, it's only a matter of time before the twice-relegated keeper joins the squad at London Colney. Credit to him, he's a good shot-stopper, and won Player of the Season in both of those relegation campaigns, but I'm not fully convinced. However, I'm always happy to be proven wrong in these types of scenarios.
And if Maddison's transfer falls through, Martin Ødegaard has been made available to the tune of £40-50m, and though he is the least creative of the three midfield maestros linked—Maddison and Aouar the other two—he is a known quanitity and proven commodity in North London, and is well-liked at the club and by the manager, following his 6-month loan this past spring.
Furthermore, Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga are astute signings, with high upside potential. The young Belgian especially looks quite impressive. And Ben White truly appears to be a modern centre-half, perfect for revolutionizing this slow defense, especially once his future partner, Gabriel Magalhaes, returns from injury.
It's not all doom and gloom for Arsenal fans, but it might be for Edu himself. However, he appears to be busy despite his many holidays. Per his son, Luigi,
My dad spends more time on the phone than he does with his family during a holiday. I receive roughly 100 direct messages on Instagram, each day, telling me to tell my dad to sign a player.
If you want more from that story, there's piece over on Gooner Talk that's quite entertaining. Edu is a busy man, despite his relaxed appearance, but with definite signings yet to materialize, and frustrations mounting across all fanbases, questions must be asked, and I'm afraid the former Arsenal forward might not like the answers.
It's an important summer for Arsenal—yes, we say that every summer, but it remains true—and could symbolize a turning point in our future as a club, either to trend back up the table, or to drop further down it. The responsibility for both the probability of the former and fault of the latter lie squarely on Edu's shoulders. I just hope he can deliver.