Arsene Wenger’s transfer priorities for this summer

It’s always going to be an impossible mission to map out Arsene Wenger’s movements in the transfer window. He likes to create an illusion that he’s hot on the trail of one target, before presenting another from as far out of left field as physically possible. But there’s no questioning that the surgery to this Arsenal squad in the summer needs to be one which injects the kind of quality and experienced names that can help the team build on their recent good form. More importantly, however, there needs to be genuine strides towards keeping hold of Robin van Persie.

We’re still waiting on the announcement of Lukas Podolski’s arrival at Arsenal, despite German sources claiming that the transfer would be confirmed early this week. Regardless, it’s still a massive step in the right direction for Arsenal; a player who has a phenomenal scoring record at international level and one who certainly fit’s the bill of what van Persie and many Arsenal fans are looking for.

In some ways the signings of Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker were precursors to Podolski’s transfer, a move away from a signing for the future and someone who can make an impact now. Will he reach the impressive numbers posted by van Persie? Unlikely. But then again, Thierry Henry was flanked by two wide players who were certain of 15 goals a season in Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires. Podolski’s arrival may be more in tune with those players rather than an alternative or replacement for van Persie.

In a squad where the next highest goal scorer isn’t even in double figures, the instincts of the German international around the penalty box is more than welcome to help ease the burden for Arsenal’s captain.

Even though Arsenal seem well stocked in the centre of defence, the latest round of Jan Vertonghen to Arsenal rumours are sure to add even more steel and versatility to a back-line that was once embarrassingly self-destructive. While many would query whether Arsenal need another centre-back capable of easily slotting in to the starting XI, they simply have to remind themselves of the damaging nature and unpredictability of Arsenal’s injury record.

Over the past two season the Gunner’s have suffered heavily at both full-back and centre-half. It only takes an injury to either Thomas Vermalen or Laurent Koscielny before Arsene Wenger has to make the difficult decision of either Johan Djourou or Sebastian Squillaci. With Vertonghen’s ability to play as a holding midfielder as well, he would provide a much more defensively disciplined alternative to Alex Song, potentially giving Wenger the choice of pushing the Cameroon international further up the pitch.

Another signing in the right direction? There’s no questioning that the leadership qualities of Vertonghen and his partnership with Vermaelen at Ajax will play a big role in convincing Robin van Persie to stay on at Arsenal.

It’s always been a common trait with Arsene Wenger to bring in a player who can play in a number of positions. But one place that has taken a heavy hit since the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri is the creative options from midfield.

Even though talk of a move for Mario Gotze won’t disappear, despite many claiming he’ll remain in Germany, the youngster may still be a little too far out of reach financially. Alternatives are always available in a popular market for Wenger and in his homeland. Marvin Martin has been a target in the past, while the Arsenal boss continues to monitor Yoann Gourcuff’s difficulties at Lyon.

What is imperative, though, is that Arsenal bring in another body in midfield. There’s no telling how long Jack Wilshere will take to recover from a year out of football, while Aaron Ramsey continues to play with many question marks about his role in the squad, and Abou Diaby simply cannot be relied upon.

What may be a more predictable move for Wenger in the summer is his insistence on only bringing in three or four bodies at the most. Despite the heavy activity of last summer’s transfer window, Arsene Wenger never likes to bring in too many new faces at once. A clear out of the dead wood in the side seems almost certain, but looking to players such as Ryo Miyaichi and Joel Campbell to supplement three big signings at the most would seem the most likely outcome.

The focus going into the summer has always been to get Robin van Persie to sign another contract. The move for Podolski coupled with a real sense around the club that they’re willing to move much more aggressively in the transfer market may be enough to build the strong side that the Arsenal captain deserves.

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