When Unai Emery was announced as Arsene Wenger’s replacement at Arsenal, the general feeling was ‘about time too.’
Though the Spaniard would have his work cut out in changing the dynamic at the Emirates Stadium, his pedigree wasn’t in question and Gunners fans, it appeared, were willing to give him time to adjust to the rigours of Premier League football.
It didn’t take him too long.
After losing his opening two games to Manchester City and Chelsea, Emery oversaw an epic unbeaten run where the north Londoners didn’t lose in any competition between August 25 and December 16.
With 17 of those 22 games ending as wins, including a sensational run of 11 consecutive victories, there was a belief that the Arsenal board had absolutely made the right decision.
However, the second half of the campaign wasn’t as successful, and a potential finish in the Champions League places remained out of reach after three losses, a draw and a win in their last five league games.
To make matters worse, they were completely outplayed by Chelsea in the Europa League final in Baku, a competition that Emery won with alarming regularity when coach of Sevilla.
A look back over the 2018/19 campaign leaves more questions than answers, but what’s clear is that the Gunners need some exponents of the highest quality to bolster their ranks over the summer, if they want to mix it with the big boys next season.
Denis Suarez, a loan signing in January from Barcelona, is heading back to the Catalans with a view to being sold onto Copa del Rey winners Valencia, and it’s clear that Emery likes that type of midfielder.
One who can unsettle defences with his darting runs, has ability with both feet, balance, and who is adept at playing the killer pass when needed. Not to mention weighing in with the odd goal or two.
When Emery himself was coach of Los Che, he handed a youngster named Isco Alarcon his senior debut back in November 2010.
A playmaker with outstanding skill, Isco has only just turned 27 years of age and is in the prime of his footballing career.
Real Madrid making him available for transfer this summer is a bit of a head scratcher, but Arsenal must ensure that they are at the front of what’s expected to be a very long queue for his services.
If the Gunners really want to make a statement signing, then acquiring Isco from the Spanish giants will go some way to allaying the fears of supporters who were left deflated at the end of the last campaign.
Isco makes things happen.
Left on the bench for long periods of 2018/19 at Real Madrid, when he was given the chance to perform, Los Blancos looked a completely different side.
He’s direct, purposeful and is rarely wasteful in possession. Tucked in behind Aubameyang and Lacazette, his sensational work rate compared to that of Mesut Ozil will be noticeable.
It’s not an exaggeration either to suggest that he could have the same impact in Arsenal’s midfield as Eden Hazard will have at Real.
In the current climate, it’s believed that Florentino Perez will demand between €80-100m for the player. If the north Londoners are serious about being title contenders, then it’s a drop in the ocean for what they’ll get in return.