This summer, so far, Arsene Wenger certainly can’t be accused of conservatism or failing to register and react to events going on around him.
Because of the amount of changes at the other major clubs, there is a strong argument that Arsenal must be more proactive in the market this window than anyone else, let alone more proactive than they usually are. There did seem a real danger that, if Wenger had been as restrained as in other summers, his side could finally be passed out in the league and really left behind. The rather stale way that Arsenal ended the season, after all, was in contrast to the sense of evolution and excitement at so many rivals.
So, to give Wenger his due, he has started the transfer window in striking fashion. Arsenal have already brought in Granit Xhaka and the pursuit of Jamie Vardy is as symbolic as it is significant, for a number of reasons.
It almost encapsulates Wenger’s willingness to do things differently right now. For one, it has lately been exceedingly rare for him to go for a player of Vardy’s age, and the player’s style will just sharpen up the attack. Many have argued that Arsenal don’t play in a way that suits the striker’s speed but he’s not just about those bursts on the counter. There are also his little darts in constrained spaces, and the way that can suddenly open things up in a manner that Arsenal have sometime lacked. More than anything, there’s also the fact it wouldn’t just be adding to Wenger’s side. It would be weakening a rival, in champions Leicester City.
It represents impressive ruthlessness from Wenger, and reminds of the summer of 2001. That summer of three signings seems rather conservative by today’s standards - if not necessarily the 66-year-old’s of late - but what was so seismic about that flurry was how the Arsenal boss just went out and got precisely what the team needed, while taking Sol Campbell off Tottenham Hotspur and sufficiently re-energising the side to claim the double.
Of course, another signing from that summer has been mentioned more in the last few days, as some jibes have arisen that Vardy might just end up another Francis Jeffers.
There might actually be a different historical precedent, although it only partially connects to Arsenal.
The way that Wenger is willing to spend so much on a player of Vardy’s age reminds of Sir Alex Ferguson buying Robin van Persie in 2012. It’s just the fact it is a buy that is so clearly about what the team needs right now, rather than over the next few years, with the hint that it might also because the manager is considering his own medium-term future.
It also has a hint of two previous United buys too.
Leicester have so often been compared to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest and, in some ways - but especially if he goes to a bigger club desperate to end a long wait for the title - Vardy could be their Garry Birtles.
The striker went to Manchester United after winning two European Cups with Forest, but couldn’t even score a single goal in his first league season at Old Trafford.
The point here is not to say that Vardy would destined to fail at Arsenal or that he is similar to Birtles, but there is a slight danger in buying a player who has enjoyed such a sudden spike in performance in such a unique campaign.
So, would Vardy be a Birtles or Van Persie for Wenger?
Should he leave?
It would be a shame that one of Leicester’s most important players doesn’t even give them a season in the Champions League on getting there, but then Vardy himself has got to a key point in his career. At his age, this is a once-a-lifetime opportunity by now.
He may not be able to stand still either.