Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger felt he had no choice but to take Spartak Moscow’s Kim Kallstrom despite learning of the midfielder’s injured back hours before Friday’s transfer deadline. Although the Swedish international will miss the next month of action, Wenger says the former Lyon star could still be useful, with the Gunners likely to need him in spring.
“We had to sign him in these conditions,” Wenger explained after the Arsenal’s 2-0 win Sunday over Crystal Palace. “We might need the players in March or April, you know, so it is difficult.”
Wenger still expressed regret at running out of time to find another option. Kallstrom’s loan came together at the last minute, leaving the Arsenal boss no time to seek alternatives once he found out he would be receiving damaged goods.
“It crossed my mind,” Wenger explained when asked if Kallstrom’s microfracture in his vertebrae forced him to consider canceling the loan. “But I would not have signed him if we’d had two or three more days to do something. It was 5 p.m. on Friday night, so it was sign him or nobody.”
When news broke that Kallstrom was carrying an injury to London, a level in incredulity erupted amongst Arsenal fans on social media, many of whom wondered why the Gunners didn’t simply sign another player. But put yourself in Wenger’s shoes. With the deadline approaching, you’ve narrowed your options down to Kallstrom, deciding not to continue negotiating for other midfielders. Every indication says the deal will get done, but at the last minute, this problem surfaces.
What are you supposed to do? Hours before the deadline, do you restart your search with the hopes (slim hopes) that negotiations for one of your second choices will be done in time? Or do you suck it up, work the Kallstrom problem, and move forward?
Wenger may be criticized for taking on a hobbled player, but it would have been worse to pass because of an injury that will keep a player out for roughly 30 percent of his loan. For the other 70 percent of the time, Wenger gets somebody who can fill it at any role in his midfield – a player who instantly becomes his most dangerous option on direct kicks.
If, in the hours before the deadline, the choices were that or nothing, Wenger clearly made the right choice. I’m sure he’s no more happy about his new player’s fitness than your average Arsenal fan, but Wenger’s seen the bigger picture. Kallstrom may be out for February, but he will be able to help in March.