Arsenal fans will be hopeful of a successful summer transfer window after narrowly missing out on Champions League qualification last season.
Following back-to-back eighth-placed finishes for the Gunners under Mikel Arteta, it was a much more respectable fifth-place finish in the 2021/22 campaign. Although having been in control of the top-four race heading into the final three games, not sealing a return to Europe’s elite club competition will have been a bitter pill to swallow.
Having gone so close only to fall at the final hurdle with injuries and a loss of form to key players at a crucial stage of the season proving to be Arsenal’s undoing when things were all said and done, it simply highlights the task facing Arteta and technical director Edu this summer.
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The key to avoiding a repeat of last season’s mini-collapse and reclaiming a place in the top-four after seven years will be to freshen up the squad in terms of new signings as well as making big decisions on a few long-serving players as well as those coming back from loan spells.
Signing a total of six players last summer with Benjamin White the most expensive addition, all the talk over the next few months is going to be about if the Gunners exceed the spend of £140m as bolstering several areas in the squad is on the agenda at the Emirates Stadium.
As the rest of the top-six will look to splash the cash to strengthen, Arteta and Edu are going to have to work their magic or Arsenal run the risk of falling capitalise on the progress made last season. So where do the Gunners need to strengthen and what would their ideal squad look like come August? football.london takes a look.
This area is somewhat straightforward, although a decision must be taken as to who will act as the third-choice goalkeeper next season. There’s a strong argument that Arthur Okonkwo needs a loan spell after spending most of last season either on the bench or in the stands, whilst Karl Hein’s development would be aided by another temporary move away.
In any case, neither would need to be named in the 25-man Premier League squad for next season as they can be registered in the Under-21 players’ list who are eligible throughout a season
As for the two main roles, Aaron Ramsdale is expected to be the first-choice goalkeeper but his competition will change with Matt Turner joining from New England Revolution to take over from Bernd Leno who is attracting interest from newly-promoted Fulham which offers him a chance to stay in London.
Despite playing relatively regularly for OH Leuven last season, football.london understands the Belgian side are reluctant to pay the amount required to trigger their option to buy in his loan deal. The Icelandic keeper is not part of Arteta’s plans and will be allowed to leave this summer should the right offer come in.
It could be a case of two in and one out for Arsenal this summer. William Saliba is returning after a successful loan spell at Marseille, although just like Okonkwo and Hein, the Frenchman doesn’t have to be named in the Premier League squad either as he can be registered as a U21 player because he was born on or after 1 January 2001.
Meanwhile, The Athletic claim the Gunners want to bolster their defensive options even further by targeting Ajax’s Lisandro Martinez. The 24-year-old is seen as a top priority due to his ability to play at centre-back and at left back, and his arrival could lead to the exit of Nuno Tavares who has been linked with a loan move to Atalanta in recent days.
Other than that, Arsenal’s defensive options are likely to be as they were after the January transfer window closed with Tomiyasu, Cedric Soares, White, Gabriel Magalhaes and Kieran Tierney completing the set as Hector Bellerin and Pablo Mari expected to depart once again.
Every summer it feels like Arsenal are in need of a midfield overhaul. Whether one happens this year could depend on Granit Xhaka as reports suggest the Gunners will only move to complete a £25m transfer for Youri Tielemans if the Swizterland captain leaves the club. But in an ideal world, both are part of Arteta’s plans for next season as squad depth will be key.
One midfielder who will almost certainly be in the Spaniard’s thinking along with Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Odegaard, Lokonga, and Emile Smith Rowe is Fabio Vieira with his £34m transfer from Porto close to completion after major developments in recent days.
In terms of departures, Lucas Torreira has had his heart set on a permanent move to Fiorentina but will need to find an alternative solution with the Serie A side not willing to activate the £13m option to buy him, whilst Ainsley Maitland-Niles is attracting interest from Nottingham Forest.
When Arsenal kick off the new Premier League season on August 5 against Crystal Palace, they could have a brand-new attack on show following the departure of Alexandre Lacazette at the end of his contract, not to mention Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s exit earlier in the year.
After signing a new contract, Eddie Nketiah will be one of Arteta’s options across the forward line along with Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and potentially summer signing Marquinhos if he impresses during pre-season. Again, neither of the trio are required to be registered in the 25-man squad as they qualify as under-21 players.
Although, if Gabriel Jesus was to complete his move from Manchester City he would have to be registered just like Raphinha whose potential arrival at the Emirates Stadium hinges on whether Arsenal are able to move Nicolas Pepe on with the club’s record signing hopeful of a summer exit.
Should the Gunners secure a double deal for the Brazilian pair then the writing would almost certainly be on the wall for Hale End graduates Reiss Nelson and Folarin Balogun as a permanent move and loan spell respectively represents the best chance to play regularly next season.
In total, that’s six signings that Edu could complete to give Arteta his ideal squad in an attempt to improve on last season’s fifth-place finish.
Arsenal’s ideal squad after six potential transfers:
Goalkeepers: Ramsdale, Turner
Defenders: Tomiyasu, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Holding, Tierney, Martinez
Midfielders: Partey, Elneny, Odegaard, Vieira, Tielemans, Xhaka, Smith Rowe, Sambi Lokonga
Forwards: Raphinha, Gabriel Jesus, Nketiah
Under-21 players: Hein, Okonkwo, Saliba, Azeez, Patino, Saka, Martinelli, Marquinhos, Hutchinson, Biereth
Source by Football London