With the Premier League season slowly drawing to a close, it’s time to consider what some of it’s top clubs could and should be up to in the transfer market this summer.
And although the inward front tends to be the more glamorous topic of conversation, some tough decisions will have to be made in regards to who gets handed their proverbial p45s in the coming window.
Arsenal are a particularly interesting club for such a discussion; their roster always seems to have a significant chunk of deadwood lying around that could probably add a few pretty pennies to their transfer kitty.
So ahead of a season in which many expect the Gunners to challenge for the Premier League title, we’ve taken the audacious step of suggesting how their squad could be best streamlined – and most particularly, who’s worth more to Arsenal in fiscal terms than on the pitch.
And it’s with that in mind we’ve listed the FIVE players the Emirates outfit should cash in on this summer. Are these the players Arsene Wenger should be throwing on the transfer scrapheap?
Don’t get me wrong, Santi Cazorla has been Arsenal’s best player this season with the exception of Alexis Sanchez, claiming seven goals and nine assists in 34 Premier League appearances and proving an absolute revelation in his new-found central midfield role.
But as a consequence, the will never be a better time to cash in on the Spain international than right now.
Already 30 years of age and with just one term remaining on his current contract, Arsenal won’t be presented with another opportunity to claim their money back on the £16.5million signings after this summer – so it’s either sell up or offer him a career-ending contract.
Atletico Madrid are known admirers of the two-footed midfielder – as reported by The Daily Mail – and parting with Cazorla would make room for a more physical element in Arsenal’s engine room.
Carl Jenkinson has impressed on loan at West Ham this season and at times resembled a player capable of playing regularly at Arsenal’s level.
But the Gunners now find themselves awash with decent right-backs – namely Mathieu Debuchy, Hector Bellerin and Calum Chambers – and Jenkinson isn’t a particularly superior or inferior option to any of them.
Home-grown talent is becoming more important than ever in the Premier League, but already boasting a reasonably healthy English core and an ever-productive academy, Arsenal can afford to part with the 23 year-old without compromising their home-grown quota.
Likewise, Jenkinson’s nationality will add a few more million to his transfer fee than his actual worth – and the Gunners are far more likely to make a profit on the former Charlton youngster following a strong season at West Ham, in comparison to a 2015/16 Arsenal campaign in which he’ll likely spend the majority of his time on the bench.
In my opinion no longer fit for purpose, Arsenal need to sell Wojciech Szczesny this summer and replace him with a much-needed top class goalkeeper.
That’s no disrespect to David Ospina, who has claimed seven clean sheets in 15 Premier League appearances since usurping the Poland international from the No.1 berth at the Emirates, but a Petr Cech, a Samir Handanovic or a Hugo Lloris would singlehandedly add points to the Gunners’ planned title bid next season.
Meanwhile, Szczesny just hasn’t developed at the pace expected since emerging as a regular during the 2010/11 campaign. Although I believe at some point he’ll be a consistent and reliable goalkeeper, I don’t see him ever surpassing the quality of ‘keeper the Gunners could realistically sign this summer.
Free-scoring home-grown players are becoming an ever-rarer breed – which is exactly why Theo Walcott is probably worth more to Arsenal in fiscal sums than he is keeping the bench warm every week.
In my opinion, the England international should’ve probably been given a fairer crack of the whip over the last few months. His overall return for the Gunners since summer 2010 – 54 goals in 158 appearances – isn’t half bad.
But in terms of recent performances and all-round contribution, the 26 year-old is oceans behind some of Arsenal’s other wide attacking options, namely Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil, and rumour has it Arsene Wenger intends to bring in another this summer in Barcelona’s Pedro.
The 27 year-old, boasting World Cups, European Championships, Champions League titles and La Liga titles throughout his Spain and Barcelona careers, is a significant upgrade on Walcott and his arrival would make the Three Lions forward effectively redundant.
Likewise, the north Londoners would receive a tidy sum for a home-grown player in his peak years – regardless of the single season remaining on Walcott’s contract.
Jack Wilshere seemed like a dead cert to become one of the Premier League’s most dominant midfielders during his breakthrough 2011/12 campaign, but since then he’s managed just 59 league outings for the Gunners in a career blighted by injury.
The 23 year-old still has plenty of years ahead to make up for lost time and his natural talent remains undoubted. But Arsenal’s engine room is packed to the brim and if they sign a holding midfielder this summer – as widely expected – the England international will find himself more frequently on the bench than in the starting XI.
Furthermore, Manchester City are desperate to readdress the balance of a squad lacking youthful home-grown talent in the coming window and Wilshere fits the bill perfectly.
Knowing the Citizens are quickly running out of options, Arsenal could squeeze fortunes out of their Premier League rivals for a player who could spend his entire career battling continuous injuries.
In my opinion, it’s worth cashing-in now and laying off the risk to somebody else.