Arsenal are guaranteed a top-six finish this season, and although Champions League qualification is still up for grabs, Mikel Arteta can take some encouragement from the fact that European football will return to the Emirates in some capacity next season.
However, there remains an acceptance within the walls of London Colney that a lot of work must still be done in order to continue the club’s progress on and off the pitch, especially if they want to close the gap on those around them. The next big opportunity to do that will be in the summer, and Arteta has admitted that he expects it to be a busy one.
“I am expecting so, yes,” he said. “I think both competitions [the Champions League and Europa League] require a much larger squad because the amount of games you play is much bigger in both, so I don’t think [which one you qualify for] makes a lot of difference or changes a lot.”
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“If you can financially afford it and we don’t have to do the turnaround in the squad that we’ve had to do if you ask me what I want, it’s 22 outfield players and three goalkeepers.”
The Gunners currently have 18 outfield players, meaning at least four new faces may arrive in the coming months. One of which could be Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby, with reports suggesting ‘very serious efforts’ are being made by the club to sign him.
That’s according to SportBILD, who claims the player is being ‘courted’ by English clubs ahead of a potential move this summer. The 22-year-old is enjoying a strong season, having scored 16 goals and provided 13 assists in all competitions. Champions League qualification is believed to be a key factor in getting any deal over the line, with the report adding that Arsenal will make their move for him if top-four is secured.
Leverkusen’s demands are perhaps the main reason behind that, with the Bundesliga side reportedly asking for €100m (£84m) for the French International. BILD added that should Diaby force a move elsewhere, and the figure could drop to €75m (£63m) instead.
Although I would be reluctant to splash out the larger fee considering there are other positions such as striker, central-midfield and full-back that need strengthening, it’s not my money, and I would welcome such a move as long as it doesn’t affect the pursuit of other targets.
Diaby may be experiencing his strongest campaign yet, but he has made a total of 41 goal contributions in the previous two seasons, proving he’s no one-hit-wonder. Mainly a left-winger, Diaby is also comfortable playing on the right-hand side, where he can often cut in on his natural left foot. His versatility has also seen him play as a second striker and attacking midfielder.
Arteta has stated that it’s time to go to a “different level” this summer, with the Spaniard keen on raising the standards ahead of next season.
“We have been able to get the squad balance in a much better shape,” he said. “Financially, we are in a much more stable position with the money we have spent on certain players touching the pitch for a certain amount of minutes. That balance is much better spread out across the squad, and now is the moment to raise the quality.”
A young and exciting team has been built, now it’s about raising the bar. Pacey, creative, skilful and a threat in front of goal, Diaby can do just that, and he is only going to get better. Someone like him may come with a sizeable price, but that is the quality this club must aim for, especially if Champions League is secured.
Source by Football London