£17m failed transfer target would have solved the Arsenal injury crisis in midfield and defence

Kieran Gibbs

Arsenal lost out to VfL Wolfsburg in the pursuit of Luiz Gustavo, and that is now looking costly.

If losing your opening game of the season at home against a team who were involved in the relegation fight last season wasn’t bad enough, starting the beginnings of an injury crisis in a Champions League week is surely the cherry atop this rather foul tasting cake.

Mikel Arteta was ruled out for six weeks prior to kick-off and then the impressive Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hobbled off at half-time. He has suffered knee ligament damage that could sideline him for six months.

Wenger spoke of the injury crisis after the game:

"He [Chamberlain] is definitely out. A knee problem. We don't know how deep the problem is, but it's a bad injury. Gibbs has a deep cut. Sagna and Rosicky have problems. Wilshere - I don't know how he will respond after the full 90 minutes. Ramsey has a problem after a kick at his ankle."

While there are many injuries in the squad, the area looking like being most severely affected is left-back.

Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen were already ruled out of the game with Fenerbahce on Wednesday and injuries to Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna does not help their full-back situation.

Gibbs suffered a nasty facial injury which forced him off on Saturday, whilst Sagna fell awkwardly on his neck after an aerial challenge - and with Jernade Meade and Andre Santos leaving this summer, not to mention Ignasi Miquel’s loan deal at Leicester City, the clubs full-back issue is verging on severe.

The likelihood is either Gibbs or Sagna will be dosed up on ibuprofen, patched up and sent out to battle with Carl Jenkinson - with either Isaac Hayden or Hector Bellerin coming in to the bench.

But if the club had just splashed the cash on one of their failed transfer targets last week - there would not be a problem.

Luiz Gustavo put in a man of the match performance on debut for VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday - commanding the midfield as they thrashed Schalke 04 at the Volkswagen Arena 4-0.

Gustavo signed from fellow Bundesliga outfit Bayern Munich just days after admitting a move to Arsenal interested him.

Gustavo has stated he picked Wolfsburg because he is settled in Germany and he would be 100% guaranteed of first-team football at the club - however it is reported in Germany that Arsenal never even met his valuation - believed to be around £17 million.

It is widely accepted that if they had met his asking price, The Gunners would have had an excellent chance of snapping him up - and they could use him right about now.

Not only would he be perfect in central midfield in the coming weeks, considering Arteta’s absence, but he could even have filled in at this now problematic left-back position.

It is often forgotten that Gustavo actually started his career as a left-back at Brazilian outfit Corinthians Alagoano - before being turned into a holding midfielder at TSG Hoffenheim.

This dexterity was even noted by ex-Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes in August 2012 when they were suffering a similar crisis, with Rafinha, David Alaba, Diego Contento and Holger Badstuber all out injured.

Heynckes stated: 

"Gustavo at left-back can work. In my opinion, it's a question of acclimatisation and identifying with the position. He didn't do badly at all in defence against Kaiserslautern, quite the opposite."

So it seems that this truly is £17 million that Arsenal should have spent, for more reasons the the obvious starting midfielder for Brazil one that immediately grabs you.

Gustavo’s composure, fitness and positional dexterity are exactly the type of attributes needed when a crisis hits - as we are sure Wolfsburg will one day find out.

So once again the finger can be pointed at Arsenal’s impotent transfer business.

image: © Ronnie Macdonal

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