Rebuild just got bigger
The news recently broke that Arsenal winger Willian is looking like he will leave the club during the summer window with the North London side open to offers.
The former Chelsea man has struggled in his debut season for The Gunners, scoring just one goal in a recent 3-1 win over West Brom.
He has won few fans amongst Arsenal supporters and delight can be seen in the replies to Fabrizio Romano’s tweet revealing the news.
After David Luiz, also Willian is expected to leave Arsenal this summer. ⚪️🔴 #AFC
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 16, 2021
This will leave Arsenal in a situation where they may be looking to strengthen in the wide areas.
Currently available to Mikel Arteta is Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka, Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli. Emile Smith-Rowe and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang have also operated in wide positions.
Nelson has barely featured and a departure could happen. Pepe and Saka are expected to remain as is Martinelli. However, the loss of an experienced player in the position who can play on either flank could prompt Arsenal into a move in the upcoming transfer window.
Who could Arsenal sign?
Firstly, would signing a player be the best option? With the lack of minutes given to Martinelli so far, it is likely many would prefer to see the Brazilian given more opportunities.
Whilst he has been deployed more centrally, with Alexandre Lacazette to be offered a one-year extension, Aubameyang still present and Folarin Balogun committed to a new deal himself with expectations he will be integrated into the first team, Martinelli’s immediate future likely lies in the wider areas. Maybe even for the long-term.
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND – APRIL 11: Gabriel Martinelli and Pablo Mari of Arsenal celebrate their side’s first goal scored by Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal (not pictured) during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Arsenal at Bramall Lane on April 11, 2021 in Sheffield, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Rui Vieira – Pool/Getty Images)
Should Arsenal fail to qualify for European competition next season, arguably a squad as deep as the club has now is also less likely to be required.
However, one thing which follows Arsenal wherever they go is injury problems. Notorious for losing key players at bad times, such as Lacazette, Kieran Tierney, Thomas Partey and even Aubameyang, who contracted malaria whilst on international duty, maybe buying into a quality wide man would be smart.
So far no concrete links with any players have surfaced. Unsurprising considering that the club was not expected to pursue a player in this position.
Many Arsenal fans are big admirers of Jack Grealish but any move for the England international would take a significant fee. With Pepe and Saka already at the club, would it be money well spent if other areas such as central midfield, attacking midfield and right back are arguably more pressing concerns?
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 28: Jack Grealish of Aston Villa in action during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on December 28, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)
Allan Saint-Maximin has been another name touted but the Frenchman’s injury record itself is very worrying and it is fair to say that Arsenal’s loanee Joe Willock has outshone the former Nice man since arriving on Tyneside.
Until links with possible replacements for Willian surface, this is a speculative period. However, Arsenal fans will be pleased to see a big wage earner who has offered little leave this summer, should it come to pass.