Laurent Koscielny was candid about Arsenal’s needs heading into next season.
The defender identified the need for at least four additions to be made over the course of the summer, while also acknowledging the importance of depth at centre-forward and competition for Olivier Giroud.
Koscielny isn’t the first Arsenal player to speak openly about where the squad were lacking; it’s become a tool for some to negotiate their way out of the club if they felt titles were too far out of reach. But in contrast to his actions (or general lack thereof) in the past, Arsene Wenger must adequately build on a team who have delivered his first piece of major silverware in nine years.
A frustration for Arsenal supporters is that Wenger is off at the World Cup commentating for French television. Some may say it’s a good opportunity for the manager to scout potential signings this summer, but that’s not how Wenger works. The Frenchman is openly wary about the dangers of recruiting off the back of a good international tournament – and he isn’t the only high-profile manager with that mindset.
Instead, this is looking to be another summer in which Arsenal wait on others, rather than forcing the issue themselves. Last summer Arsenal waited until the last minute before landing Mesut Ozil, though that was due to Real Madrid’s willingness to sell and not Arsenal’s persistence in chasing the German international.
Arsenal are desperately in need of a world-class striker for next season, and while there be may a scarcity of top-range forwards on the market – at least at this time – you don’t get the sense that Arsenal know who they want. Of course, no news can be considered good news, in a way, but this is all too familiar.
Arsenal’s ambitions have been hampered by a lack of activity in the market leading to injuries, but also in forcing the club’s star players to move on, such as Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie. There may be a unity and togetherness about this current squad that wasn’t apparent in the past, but is the club really safe from similar departures in the near future?
As much as Wenger may prefer a streamlined squad, he does have a responsibility to keep the club’s best players in house and provide them with the tools to succeed.
There is a strong base at the club from which Wenger can build. For the first time since the move to the Emirates the centre-back position is settled and effective. There’s a young goalkeeper who, with further guidance, can become one of the best in Europe, while the group of British youngsters featuring Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, and Jack Wilshere should be seen as an achievement by the club, assembled in a period where the market had been distorted by those with loftier financial abilities.
As long as Wenger holds fire on really addressing the club’s shortcomings, this Arsenal team will continue to look like a half-baked effort: a lot to like, but very little substance and ultimately an inability to go the distance.
If Koscielny is speaking publically about what the team needs, you’d have to assume the rest of the squad are well aware of their limitations and what’s needed to take the next step. There’s nothing holding Arsenal back this summer but themselves. It’s time Wenger ditched his reserved nature and built a team truly capable of being a success.