Mikel Arteta has recently reiterated the message that the club is already planning for the summer transfer window. Whilst admitting that a number of factors are still yet to be decided relating to whether or not Arsenal will be playing in European competition, he says that the ownership have given him their full support.
Speculating about what the possible plan could be be is difficult considering the unknown factors of how much Arsenal will be able to make in the transfer window regarding player sales, how much money will be made available to them by the ownership and of course the impact of the pandemic on both Arsenal and all other clubs in which they wish to sell to and buy from.
However, this could be an opportunity for Arsenal to conduct one of their most successful windows for a generation. This is not hyperbole considering the fact that Arsenal were able to bring in two top players into key positions for the first time in a number of years in Gabriel and Thomas Partey.
ST ALBANS, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 13: Arsenal unveil new signing Thomas Partey at London Colney on October 13, 2020 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Arsenal have historically spent poorly in the modern era which has seen their rivals overtake them with more savvy spending and themselves continue to pay big wages for players which can be considered lacking in relation to what is needed.
The perfect summer
Therefore, the perfect summer for Arsenal needs to include players which will improve upon the squad in key positions and provide depth where necessary.
Beginning with the backup options the two positions which need to be considered are the left back and goalkeeping areas. For Arsenal to save as much money as possible they need to be looking at these positions as cunningly as possible. These must be as close to free hits as feasible yet still adding quality.
In the Premier League, players such as Ryan Bertrand or Patrick van Aanholt, whose deals are up at the end of the season, could be brought in early and provide natural and league experienced cover for Kieran Tierney.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 29: Ryan Bertrand of Southampton gestures during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Southampton at Etihad Stadium on November 29, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
For the keeper, Mat Ryan has just one year left on his deal with Brighton and could be able to be brought in cheaply. The Australian is integrated, knows and likes the club and has shown in his single appearance to be ample cover already, again with Premier League experience and multilingual qualities.
Then comes the higher spending area. Arguably four positions need addressing in the summer in regard to an upgrade. Central midfield, attacking midfield, forward and right-back. Arsenal could have a good amount of money to spend on each position depending on the aforementioned factors and a figure of around £30 million-plus could be spent.
Beginning with central midfield, having assessed a number of options, the players which stand out the most are Real Sociedad’s Mikel Merino, AZ Alkmaar’s Teun Koopmeiners and Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz. The latter will likely be the costliest but for good reason considering his brilliant left-footed quality and could slot in alongside Partey with ease.
Champions League football may escape the Naples-based club having lost to Juventus and Arsenal could tempt the Spaniard.
Fabian Ruiz of SSC Napoli during the Serie A TIM match between SSC Napoli and Hellas Verona at Stadio San Paolo Naples Italy on 19 October 2019. (Photo by Franco Romano/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
In attacking midfield, acquiring the permanent signature of Martin Odegaard will likely be pricey, as would his alternative England-based option Emi Buendia from Norwich. Should less money be available however, Real Betis’ Nabil Fekir’s modestly reported £26 million price tag could tempt the Gunners to move.
In the right-sided full-back option, Emerson, also from Betis although with a complicated situation regarding Barcelona, would be a player to provide both offensive and defensive upgrades. Should less money be available, Lille and Turkey’s Zeki Celik could prove a savvy piece of business.
The marquee choice being recently linked Inter Milan wing-back Achraf Hakimi. Questions surrounding his ability in the defensive third linger, but there is no doubt the Moroccan is one of Europe’s most dangerous attacking players for his position.
STADIO GIUSEPPE MEAZZA, MILAN, ITALY – 2020/09/19: Achraf Hakimi of FC Internazionale in action during the pre-season friendly football match between FC Internazionale and Pisa SC. FC Internazionale won 7-0 over Pisa SC. (Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Lastly, the forward position. The most logistically difficult role to decide upon due to the presence of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Should both remain, Arsenal have the option to extend the Frenchman for a year to avoid a free departure in 2022 and focus funds on the positions referenced above.
However, should one or even both leave, some of the best options lie outside of UK shores. Sevilla’s En-Nesyri has gone under the radar in Europe but continued to score consistently and against top sides in Europe. Red Bull Salzburg’s Patson Daka looks set to be the next star from the club to explode onto one of Europe’s big 5 leagues, could Arsenal be the side to unlock him?
Finally, and likely the most expensive, Frankfurt’s Andre Silva has lit up the Bundesliga with 22 goals in 25 games. His experience of playing across Europe still leaves him without a passport stamp from the UK and he would add a dynamic lacking from Arteta’s front line in physicality combined with composed clinical finishing.
LISBON, PORTUGAL – OCTOBER 10: Andre Silva of Portugal celebrates after scores the second goal against Switzerland during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Portugal and Switzerland at the Luz Stadium on October 10, 2017 in Lisbon, Lisboa. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)
The immediate reaction to a huge hit of possible names will be one of thinking this is unrealistic and previously it might have been. However, what was once considered silly to theorise has turned into a necessity. Arsenal must invest and improve these areas if they have any hope to progress. Fail to do so and the tepid displays and meagre league position will continue.
The Gunners fans will expect, whether the club deliver is yet to be seen.