After a whirlwind summer transfer window, Arsenal managed to hang onto their most prized asset, Alexis Sanchez. But with his contract expiring at the end of the season, along with Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, and Santi Cazorla, the Gunners are running the risk of losing a very talented squad core of attacking and midfield players.
Along with these contract problems, Arsenal also have the remainder of this season to contend with. Sitting in sixth after 11 games is far from ideal, but the Gunners have endured a tough set of opening fixtures. The losing results have not come with grace, with major issues being exposed by their opponents.
So, with the need to strengthen and push for Europe this season as well as prepare for what might come in the summer, who should Arsenal target in the summer window?
Preparing for a big push
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It’s still relatively early in the season, but Arsenal need to step up to get their foot in the door for the Champions League places. They need consistency from a big transfer. While they did land two very good players in the summer in Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac, they didn’t feature among some expert football tips to thrive in the league compared to the likes of rivals’ signings Nemanja Matic, Mohamed Salah and Harry Maguire.
To get that consistency, and put up a better fight against the teams placed above them, Arsenal will need to shore up their defence, especially due to the injuries they’ve incurred so far. One of the issues has been Arsene Wenger’s move to a three-at-the-back formation without having the personnel to do so. Injuries have played a part, but against Manchester City, left-back Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscielny, and midfielder Francis Coquelin made up the back three.
Arsenal need an experienced centre-back, preferably with experience in a back-three, to come in and command the back line and be consistent. One player who has years of experience in the formation and is a tried and trusted centre-back both domestically and internationally is Juventus’ Andrea Barzagli.
He may be 36-years-old, but that could be exactly what Arsenal need; bring in some more experience and act as a filler until the younger defenders like Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding perfect their trade. This season, he’s ceded games to rising star Daniele Rugani and may consider a move to Arsenal for a pay bump and more game time.
Preparing for the future
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Potential summer departures could see a huge amount of talent and core team players for several years leave the team. So, Arsenal can either sell them in the summer to recuperate some funds, which seems rather unlikely, sign them all up to new deals at the end of the season or after January, or prepare for their departure now. Wilshere is already linked with a move away to Crystal Palace, and it won’t be long before Ozil, Sanchez, and Santi Cazorla are linked with moves away again.
In the last transfer window, Arsenal came very close to signing AS Monaco winger Thomas Lemar but ultimately failed to bring him in. This is a player that they should one-hundred percent continue to pursue and bring in – signing Lemar would signal that not only are Arsenal ready to bring in huge talents but that they’re building something special for the future.
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil represented huge coups when they signed, the start of a newer, more exciting Arsenal, but ultimately the team surrounding them wasn’t enough to get them the trophies that they desired. If Arsenal were to lose them, they could commence a grand youth movement which will pay off immensely in a few seasons time, giving the players time to grow while adding the final key pieces to the rest of the team.
To fill the voids of the potential departures, and also buff their team for this campaign, Arsenal should be hunting down the likes of Thomas Lemar, Borussia Dortmund winger Christian Pulisic, RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner, Bordeaux’s Brazilian wunderkind Malcom, Atletico Madrid central midfield maestro Saul Niguez, and FC Porto centre-mid Oliver Torres.
All of these players are young enough to be given some time by the fans and management but are talented enough to play exciting Arsenal football. Now, Arsenal obviously can’t just splash out and land all of these young talents, but a few of them, or players of their ilk, could be the perfect way to rejuvenate Arsenal and recover from the potential losses of two superstars.
Arsenal are in a tricky situation as we approach the January transfer window, but there are clear ways that team can improve now and look to the future.