Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
And in this case it emphatically rubber stamps just how naive and irrational Arsenal have been in the transfer market.
While the Gunners huff and puff away in the Europa League this week, two of their former prodigal talents were shining in the Champions League.
On Tuesday night, Serge Gnabry was arguably Bayern Munich’s best player at Anfield.
Very few players get the better of Andy Robertson but Gnabry, who spent five years at the Emirates between 2011 and 2018, spun him out on multiple occasions.
The 23-year-old returned to Germany in 2016 for just £5m after failing to get first-team assurances – and his career has duly skyrocketed.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are now overloaded with mediocrity in midfield whilst heavily depleted in the natural wide areas.
They’re crying out for a direct, balanced winger capable of going either way. They’re crying out for a Gnabry.
At the other end of the field, Petr Cech’s inevitable decline forced them to look elsewhere last summer and £25m was forked out for Bernd Leno.
Meanwhile Wojciech Szczesny has come of age at Juventus, burdened with the unenviable task of filling Gigi Buffon’s sizeable shoes after leaving the Gunners for just £10m.
Szczesny was a meme at Arsenal. Not full meme like Yaya Sanogo or Abou Diaby, but somewhere on the meme spectrum. He did, after all, spark up a snout in the changing rooms.
Perhaps he was mistreated or misled, but the 28-year-old always had the minerals and is justifying that with some stellar performances this season.
Leno, on the other hand, has been unconvincing behind an equally idiosyncratic defensive line.
The crux of the matter is this; Arsenal were essentially oblivious to the two talents they possessed.
Not only would Gnabry and Szczesny cure two pressing major positional issues, they let them leave for a paltry combined £15m despite their huge potential.
That’s enough to give Michael Edwards – sporting director at Liverpool – nightmares for weeks. After all, he managed to get £24m for one-goal-in-his-entire-Premier-League career Dominic Solanke alone.
Arsenal have made a catalogue of financial errors in the last few years which ultimately left Unai Emery’s hands tied in January.
Gnabry and Szczesny are £30m, £40m, maybe even £50m players that escaped through their clutches for half the price of a Danny Drinkwater.
It’s fitting then that while the duo thrive on the biggest European stage of all, their former employers still call Thursday nights home.
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