There are few better opportunities to scout world class footballers than the World Cup. And as his job as a French television pundit, Arsene Wenger is in prime position to cast his gaze over the talent on show.
The Arsenal boss has a lot of work to do this summer if he is to fulfill the club’s ambitions to challenge at the top of the Premier League. Brazil 2014 seems a good place to start.
With a new right-back, striker, goalkeeper, and defensive midfielder high up on the club’s priority list, here are 50 players on show in Brazil that the Gunners should focus on this summer.
The Gunners missed out on Gustavo’s signature last summer when Wolfsburg trumped up the £16 million that Arsenal weren’t prepared to do. A key member of the Brazilian national setup, and a technically proficient defensive midfielder who would be a welcome addition at the Emirates.
At 34 years of age, Cesar would seem a sensible addition to act as a quality, but experienced challenger for Wojciech Szczesny’s spot. He’s desperate to finally leave QPR, and they are keen to offload the Brazilian stopper.
Bernard recently intimated that Arsenal were keen on him last summer, but Shakhtar Donetsk snapped up the Brazilian youngster. He’s diminutive, skilful, and able to play anywhere behind a striker.
Since Song left Arsenal for Barcelona, he hasn’t been able to nail down a spot in their side. Wenger knows what he gets with Song, and his combative and flamboyant style would work well alongside the all-round abilities of Aaron Ramsey.
Matip plays primarily as a centre-back, but can step into midfield if called on to do so. He has a solid range of passing, he’s versatile, and experienced for a 22-year-old, and is tipped to captain the Cameroon national side in years to come.
Eto’o’s recent outburst against Jose Mourinho would suggest he’s on his way out of the London club. He’s experienced, and still has a calmness in front of goal rivalled by very few. He may be 33, but he would add depth to Arsenal’s attack.
Southampton are likely to find most of their top players pilfered this summer, and Lovren is amongst those being targeted. He adapted instantly to the Premier League, displaying athleticism and brilliant composure, and would provide stiff competition to Arsenal’s starters.
The young Croatian is known by Wenger after impressing for Genoa. He is good aerially, strong in the challenge, and also offers something going forwards. He models his game on Dani Alves, and could provide the answer to Bacary Sagna’s departure.
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Barcelona are looking to offload Sanchez this summer, and he is likely to have a groundswell of admirers. He is phenomenally fast, skilful, and a ruthless finisher. He would provide a great option alongside, or instead of, Olivier Giroud.
Lukasz Fabianski has just joined Swansea City on a free transfer, which could spell the end of Vorm’s time in Wales. The Dutchman is a powerful and commanding influence in his area, and couples this with incredible athleticism and solid distribution.
Norwich will be offloading a number of players this summer, and the Dutch midfielder will no doubt be one of those. He didn’t impress in his first season, but his power in the centre of the park is something the Gunners severely lack, and he is highly rated back home.
Janmaat is a strong and fast full-back who is likely to feature prominently for the Netherlands this summer. His tough-tackling is a key feature of his style, and Tottenham are known to have been scouting him too. If Wenger is interested, he will face competition.
Lens can play in various positions along the front line, and has pace to burn. Dynamo Kiev signed him from PSV last summer, and has somewhat gone off the radar of clubs in Europe’s top divisions. If the Gunners showed interest, it would no doubt alert the Dutchman.
Reina’s prospected move to Napoli appears to be on the rocks, and Arsenal should pounce while the chance is still there. Outstanding distribution, and years of experience in the Premier League should make Reina a target for Wenger, as he looks for a competitor for Szczesny.
If Casillas can’t win back his regular starting berth at Real Madrid, he may be likely to move on. One of the greatest goalies in the world, Casillas has accumulated countless trophies and caps in his illustrious career, and would be an ideal competitor and mentor for Szczesny at Arsenal.
Barcelona and Spain’s reliable winger appears to be on his way out of the Blaugrana this summer. Pedro is incredibly hard-working, and one of the most consistent performers for his club and country. His creativity and goal-getting abilities from wide areas should not be passed up, if he becomes fully available.
Fabregas looks likely to join London rivals Chelsea this summer, but Wenger could yet reconsider his decision to pass up on Fabregas’ signature. His astounding vision, range of passing, and goals from midfield would improve the Gunners’ already strong creative midfield. It will be a dangerous move for Wenger to turn down his former captain.
Javi Martinez has found himself in and out of the Bayern Munich side this season, suggesting Guardiola isn’t wholly happy with his contribution. If Arsenal were to sign him, they’d be getting a versatile, athletic, and technically impressive central midfielder.
Out of contract at French club Nice, the Colombian first-choice stopper will be looking for a new club. Wenger is rumoured to be interested in the 25-year-old. Incredible agility, and cat-like reflexes are two of his most prominent attributes.
Fiorentina’s Colombian winger is one of the players to watch this summer. He is rapid, and has the full repertoire of skills on the ball. He is likely to have admirers this summer, and could add the pace that the Gunners were missing on occasions this season.
Guarin’s all-action, destructive style would fit the bill for the ‘nasty defensive midfielder’ the Gunners have lacked since the departure of Patrick Vieira. He can play box-to-box, or screen the defence, and his physical presence is a must-have this summer for Arsenal.
Martinez has shown impressive goalscoring form since joining Porto in 2012, scoring 60 goals in two seasons. He is a physical presence, and very athletic. Good with the ball at his feet, and dominant in the air, Martinez could be an improvement on Giroud.
Aurier has long been scouted at Arsenal during his time at Toulouse, and he looks likely to join them this summer. He is known Gunners supporter and would have little trouble adapting to the Premier League physically. He looks the most likely replacement for Sagna out there.
Kalou is often linked with Arsenal, and since joining Lille he has found better goalscoring form since his Chelsea days. He is sharp and hard-working, and could be a good partner for Olivier Giroud, whilst also possessing the ability to play out wide.
Swansea’s powerful Ivorian had a good first season in England, and is now thought to be valued at over £20 million. Both in the air and on the ground, he is a lethal finisher, and has a shot that is rivalled by few.
Uchida was linked with Arsenal a few weeks back, but interest seems to have cooled. The right-back seems to have an engine which never tires, and he would be able to provide the energy that the Gunners will lack without Sagna.
His versatility allows him to fill in on both sides of the field, and Nagatomo has the energy and effort levels to counter any lack of ability. He is committed and his fitness levels allow him to find goalscoring positions on a regular basis.
Smalling has never nailed down a place at Manchester United, and there has been speculation surrounding his future at the club. Wenger is an admirer, and is thought to be keen to acquire his signature if Louis van Gaal decides against keeping him.
Abate’s Milan appeared to dry up under Clarence Seedorf, but since his sacking, he may be in line for a stay. His ability to get up and down the field for 90 minutes at a high intensity allows him to contribute significantly in attack and defence, and he is yet another option to replace Sagna.
Another small Italian thought to be on Wenger’s radar, Insigne is a gifted player who is lethal with a dead-ball. Napoli’s owner, Aurelio De Laurentiis, has laughed off the suggestions that Insigne is worth the rumoured £20 million, and Arsenal would need to pay considerably more to get this talented Italian.
Wenger is thought to be on the lookout for a replacement for Mikel Arteta, and Verratti could prove that. He makes up for his lack of height with his tenacity, and he has a wide range of passing. He provides creativity from deeper positions, whilst screening the defence effectively.
Balotelli has been consistently linked with a move back to the Premier League in the papers recently. He is unsettled in Milan, and is thought to want a move away for another fresh start. He is troublesome, but talented. If anyone can sort him out, surely it’s Arsene Wenger.
Hernandez has starred for Palermo in Serie B this season, and his talent suggests he has outgrown his club’s potential. He is a good finisher, both with his feet and his head, and could be set for a move if he impresses this summer.
Griezmann netted 20 times in 49 games for Real Sociedad this season on the left wing. He is one of the young stars of the World Cup, and he will fetch a high price if he moves on this summer. He’s fast, tricky, scores goals, and contributes to build-up play. His signature is a must for Arsenal.
Real Madrid’s potential move for Luis Suarez places Benzema’s future in doubt. He is an international superstar, and would fit the bill for the ‘world class’ striker that Gooners have been clamouring for since the loss of Robin van Persie.
Injury to Clement Grenier will put the ever-improving Morgan Schneiderlin into the spotlight this summer. A good season at Southampton has rewarded him with a national call-up, and his energy in the middle of the park is something the Gunners have lacked at times this season.
He has been somewhat of a late bloomer at Lille, but Mavuba has impressed enough to gain a spot in France’s squad. A fiercely competitive midfielder, and tough-tackler, Mavuba is the type of warrior Arsenal fans want in midfield.
Inler is a key man in the heart of Napoli’s and Switzerland’s midfield, and he is the type of midfield general Arsenal lack. He is a hard-worker, and has a tendency to pop up with some impressive goals from long-range.
Arsene Wenger is a fan of Basel’s young centre-back, and he is one of the most highly-rated players in Switzerland. He impressed in the Champions League this season, and will have even more suitors if he impresses for his country in Brazil.
Di Maria has been transformed into more than just a skilful winger under Carlo Ancelotti, featuring regularly in central midfield. His Real Madrid future is still in doubt, but his all-round ability and versatility should make him a primary target if he becomes available.
Asmir Begovic has been one of the Premier League’s most consistent goalkeepers over the past few seasons, and he will feature for Bosnia this summer. He is on the radar of a number of top clubs, and would provide serious competition to the number one spot at Arsenal.
Highly-rated by his club side, Schalke, and likely to feature for Bosnia, the ‘Destroyer’ could catch the eye at left-back in Brazil. He’s aggressive and committed, and at just 20, he has years of improvement ahead of him. He may lack finesse in attack, but he more than compensates with his defensive contribution.
The Nigerian ‘keeper had a great season for Lille, conceding just 25 goals in 37 games. He is extravagant, and slightly unorthodox, but he proved his ability this season as he helped Lille gain the third Champions League spot in France. He is another who could rival Szczesny.
Muller’s Bayern future is uncertain, having recently admitted to being unsure of whether he is in Guardiola’s grand plans. Incredibly hard-working and versatile, Muller could feature up front or out on the right for Arsenal.
A season-long injury has resulted in Khedira becoming a forgotten man at Real Madrid. Arsenal are in need of a defensive midfielder, and Khedira could fit the mould. His friendship with Mesut Ozil could assist the transition, and a fresh start could see him recover his previously impressive form.
Carvalho is highly-coveted, with Manchester United having already made an attempt to sign him. He is very strong, and composed on the ball in midfield. His would strengthen the Gunners in the middle of the park, whilst his composure in possession wouldn’t weaken them technically.
Aston Villa’s American stopper is unlikely to want to languish at the foot of the table for another season, and he has proven himself capable of playing at a higher level. If it wasn’t for his heroics, Villa may have been relegated last year. He could look for a move to a bigger club if he tires of fighting relegation.
Zenit St. Petersburg’s Belgian midfield general is central to his national side’s hopes this summer. Since his exile from Belgium in 2009, following a horror tackle, has matured Witsel, and he is a key component for both club and country. His dominance in the centre of the field has echoes of Patrick Vieira.
Everton’s Belgian maestro was on the radar of Wenger before he opted for a move to Everton to secure more playing time. Since then, he has flourished in the Premier League, demonstrating his fantastic technical abilities. He can play up front, or out wide, which should make him an interesting prospect for Arsenal.
A pacey and two-footed attacker, Son is a highly-prized player for Bayer Leverkusen. He impressed in his first season at the club, and will be key to South Korea’s hopes this summer. He can play in a variety of positions, with his intelligent movement and eye for goal making him one to monitor this summer.