Arsenal’s chase for the UEFA Champions League received a hammer blow with the news that their ability to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window has been hamstrung by a lack of transfer funds.
Gunners boss Unai Emery would have been hoping for a transfer kitty as they look to keep pace with the leading quartet in the Premier League.
But the Arsenal coach has revealed that the Gunners will be unable to acquire permanent new signings in the January transfer window, with the team having to scour the loan market instead.
Arsenal are in pole position to secure the lone UEFA Europa League place, but need a little extra from their side in the second half of the season to force their way into the Top 4 mix.
The London side are 1/4 not to finish in the top four in the current Premier League betting, and those odds reflect the current situation at the Emirates, with manager Emery suffering from some serious transfer turmoil at a crucial stage of the season.
News of Emery’s curtailed transfer budget will infuriate Gunners fans who are keen to see the new boss bringing in new faces to regenerate the side for the remainder of the season and push towards a top-four place. That frustration stems from the fact that the green shoots of recovery are there for all to see.
Arsenal have no problems finding the net in 2018/19, but defensively there are still areas for improvement.
But any hopes Emery may have had to address those defensive concerns are unlikely to be fully addressed until the summer, at the earliest.
The lack of any serious January activity for a side clearly in a rebuilding process will only serve to pile the pressure on Emery and the club in the summer.
And the imminent departure of two key playmakers won’t help, either.
Aaron Ramsey is out of contract in the summer and looks certain to leave at the end of the season, with Serie A giants Juventus the overwhelming favourites to secure the Arsenal man’s signature.
And with question marks still hanging over the long-term future of another of Arsenal’s major creators, Germany’s Mesut Ozil, Emery will be scouring the transfer market for suitable replacements.
Selling clubs will know exactly what Arsenal are after, and they also know that they have saved their money by not overpaying for mid-season solutions.
Arsenal used the January transfer window to good effect last year as they drafted in striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for £56 million.
The Gabon international has proved to be an instant hit at the Emirates with 24 goals from 34 league games up to New Year’s Day, and he showed that the right acquisitions in January can be much more than stop-gap signings to fix immediate problems.
Aubameyang was joined by a clutch of new summer signings, as the Gunners made significant moves in the transfer market with the arrival of Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi, Sokratis and Bernd Leno for a combined outlay of £70 million.
Those signings were viewed as the start of a new chapter at Arsenal, but it seems austerity has hit the Gunners once again.
It could leave Emery frustrated and Arsenal fans angry as what looks like a golden opportunity to push themselves back into the Premier League’s elite could be about to fall by the wayside.