The Gunners were heavily linked to the Belgian international in the past, but they have been proven right in their decision not to go for him

What a difference a year makes. It was only this time 12 months ago that Arsenal fans were losing their minds over the prospect of bringing in Youri Tielemans.

“He’s the player we need!”, “It will be a disaster if they don’t sign him!”, “Another big player Edu can’t get over the line!”. That was the typical narrative doing the round on Twitter, only with a lot less patience and a lot more expletives.

As it turned out Arsenal took the decision to stick with Granit Xhaka in the left eight spot. In reality the Gunners were never really in for Tielemans in a serious way. Brief discussions were held with his agent, but this is relatively standard as part of the planning that goes into a summer transfer window. With each passing day it looks as though Arsenal got this one right.

It’s not as though Tielemans is a bad player. Let’s not forget the Belgian was captaining Anderlecht at 19, and has an FA Cup winning goal on his CV. Over the course of the past year though, it’s clear that certain flaws in his game have emerged. His off the ball work has been a constant source of frustration for Leicester City fans, while his motivation was called into question amid interest from other clubs this summer.

Tielemans is now a free agent and is reportedly attracting serious interest from AC Milan, while Galatasaray have made an offer for him. Arsenal, however, have moved on.

The Gunners are looking to bring in Declan Rice from West Ham. They wanted to be respectful to the Hammers Europa Conference League campaign and have held off on making an official approach for now. Those expecting Edu to fire off the Whatsapp formalising the interest as soon as the full-time whistle blew in Prague will be disappointed as well as Arsenal want to allow Rice and West Ham to revel in the glory of the club’s first trophy in 43 years.

However, Rice is not a done deal. Arsenal are confident in their proposal and the player is certainly interested, but there’s interest from other teams such as Bayern Munich. It seems to be heading in the right direction for Arsenal, but on the off chance that it doesn’t, it’s perhaps worth remembering the lessons from the Tielemans saga last summer.

Over the past four windows Edu and Mikel Arteta have more than earned their stripes. Out of the 14 signings that have been made in that time you could argue that only two or three have been misses, which leaves them with a pretty impressive hit rate. There will be alternatives ready in case the Rice deal falls through – although, again that is not saying that’s what is going to happen.

Arsenal fans are getting similarly excited about the prospect of Moises Caicedo joining from Brighton. To those running away with themselves, you would have to raise the cautionary tale of Yves Bissouma. Gunners supporters went into total meltdown last summer when the Malian midfielder joined Spurs, but given his and Tottenham’s fortunes since that time, it’s safe to say that Arsenal have made the right decision.

Constant angst, and fear are two of the inevitable emotions on a football fan’s spectrum. It’s perfectly understandable if Arsenal fans are worried about bringing the players they want to the club. But as Tielemans prepares to move elsewhere perhaps it’s time they trusted Edu and Arteta to do the right thing this time around.

 

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