Those were the words of club owner Stan Kroenke’s son Josh Kroenke in mid-July when Arsenal were touring the USA in pre-season.
A few days earlier, fans had petitioned and started a movement #WeCareDoYou to ask the club owners if they cared about the club and were willing to invest to move it forward and take it back to its glory days.
Till then, the only bit of business done was for a Brazilian teenage forward Gabriel Martinelli, from the fourth division of Brazilian football for six million pounds; not the most glamourous or exciting signings.
The reported budget
There were reports in the media that the Gunners only had around 45 million pounds to spend after failing to qualify for the Champions League and the unrest among fans kept growing as they saw a side that was aging and massively imbalanced.
New head coach Unai Emery had a pretty decent first year in charge although the way his team capitulated towards the end of the season to miss out on a top four finish highlighted some of his shortcomings too.
Getting new players, and the players that could play Emery’s style of football was a call from all corners and the new recruitment team, led by newly appointed technical director Edu had time running out with less than a month left.
The former Gunner along with head of football Raul Sanllehi, managing director Vinai Venkatesham and chief contract negotiator Huss Fahmy though did exactly that.
They started off by announcing highly rated French centre back, 19-year-old William Saliba from Saint Etienne and midfielder Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid, who was hot from being player of the tournament in the U-21 Euros.
Although they loaned back Saliba (a reported transfer fee of 27 million pounds) to St Etienne to further his development, the Gunners loaned in Ceballos to replace the hole left by Aaron Ramsey, who left for Juventus for free and that showed that the team led by Edu had a plan.
The exciting signing
There were whispers that the North London club would go for a winger and they wanted Wilfred Zaha.
Zaha also wanted to come to the club he’s supported since childhood, but Crystal Palace played hardball by pricing him at 80 million pounds and Arsenal eventually moved away.
They went for the next option, and arguably a better choice in Lille’s Nicholas Pepe - a player that had scored 22 goals and 11 assists last season in the French first division, more than Zaha did and is younger at 24.
This certainly got fans excited as Pepe was one of the most sought after players in the transfer market and Napoli had almost gotten the player’s signing, before Arsenal gave Pepe’s agent a better offer.
The transfer has been reported to be around 72 million pounds paid in installments, and it was a club record fee paid by the Gunners.
This also made the Ivory Coast national team footballer the most expensive African footballer ever.
Fixing the defense
But while the Pepe transfer had fans excited, they knew that the club’s main weaknesses lie in defense and they needed major reinforcements there.
They first went after another young French centre back Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig, willing to pay upto 60 million pounds.
But the German club that had the best defense in the German top flight refused anything less than his 90 million pound release clause.
So Arsenal went with rival London club Chelsea’s David Luiz, who can be rash at times, but is an experienced defender with leadership qualities and is excellent at passing the ball; the 32-year-old Brazilian also has previous experience working with Emery in PSG.
With the rather bitter parting of ways with former club captain and experienced defender Laurent Koscielny the Gunners needed someone and Luiz should be more than adequate replacement, especially if Emery plays a back three.
Luiz enjoyed arguably his best season under former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte three seasons ago, when he was played in a back three and Chelsea won the league.
At just eight million pounds, this seems like a bargain for a defender who was unsettled at Stamford Bridge after not being promised enough game time under new manager Frank Lampard.
And finally, there was left-back Kieran Tierney, who was brought from Celtic for a 25 million pound fee, a Scottish football record.
There was talk of Tierney joining the Gunners all summer and they had even made two bids, but Celtic wanted all of the money up front, instead of in installments and in the end, both parties managed to work things out.
Although Tierney is injury-prone and is currently recovering from a double-hernia operation, he is a massive upgrade over Sead Kolasinac in defense and with Nacho Monreal getting past his best at 33, Tierney would slot into the first team right away.
Many believe the 22-year-old has what it takes to become one of the Premier League’s best fullbacks, just like his fellow countryman Andy Roberstson has done at Liverpool.
Balancing the books
Josh Kroenke didn’t mince his words when he said that Arsenal were a Europa League team that had a Champions League wage bill, and the club managed to fix that quite a bit with the sales of Koscielny, Carl Jenkinson and Alex Iwobi to recoup around 50 million pounds for the trio.
Krystian Bielik, David Ospina and Takuma Asano also were sold after spending last season on loan to further reduce the team’s wages.
It could still be that Arsenal worked within their 45 million pounds budget even though they spent more as they got most of their players on installments.
The European transfer market is still open till September 2 and Arsenal can still sell players to further balance the books and the two names that could end up being sold/loaned are Shkodran Mustafi and Mohamed Elneny.
Both players have become surplus to requirement at the club and are on high fees while Mustafi’s errors have made him distant with the fans at the club and he’s been booed all through pre-season.
How the signings have done so far
After everything has been said and done, two weeks of the Premier League have already gone by and the new signings have started to show glimpses of their quality, especially Dani Ceballos against Burnley.
The Gunners won that game 2-1 with Ceballos getting two assists and covered the most ground and controlled the midfield, much like former Arsenal player, another Spaniard, Santi Cazorla used to.
Pepe has also shown some neat tricks and skills in that game but he is still fitting into the team and getting back to proper match fitness and one can expect goals and assists, along with a threat through the right wing from him.
David Luiz also shone in the game against Burnley, who were looking to attack through aerial balls but Luiz was solid.
Gabriel Martinelli had moments of brilliance in the pre-season and got minutes in the first match against Newcastle from the substitutes bench and he should be in the starting XI during Europa League and Carabao Cup games.
With two wins from two games, second in the league, a clean sheet away from home and an away win (Arsenal had only one clean sheet away from home last season) it’s safe to say that Arsenal are off to a good start and the new signings are playing their part.
This has been the first time in ten years that the Gunners have managed to win their first two league games and they next go to Anfield where they will face league leaders Liverpool.
Last year, the team lost 5-1 and this will be the real test for the new signings and how they do and it should give us a glimpse into how well they will do in the league this season but for sure, the squad looks better equipped for UCL football and trophies than it did last season.
Manchester City invested in players like Rodri and Joao Cancelo but couldn’t find a replacement for Vincent Kompany, who lead the team and the defense remarkably.
Liverpool didn’t buy any players of note that would break into the first team, and as a result it would be difficult to call the UCL winners better than last season.
Manchester United made massive improvements to their defense by buying Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire but they didn’t replace Ander Herrera and Romelo Lukaku and there is talk of Paul Pogba - their best player - leaving.
Tottenham had a very good transfer window with the big name signings of Giovanni Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele but there is uncertainty remaining over the future of Christian Eriksen - a key player for them - and if he leaves it could take time for the new signings to adjust to the new league and fill that gap.
Chelsea are going through a transfer ban, and after losing Eden Hazard and the inexperienced Tammy Abraham leading the attack, it seems unlikely that they will get a top four finish like they did last season. The 4-0 defeat against Manchester United reflected some of their issues.
So overall, in comparison to their EPL top six competitors, it becomes clear that Arsenal won the EPL summer transfer window.