Arsenal have been one of the Premier League’s busiest clubs on the inward front this month, securing a deal for 17-year-old defensive midfielder Krystian Bielik and following it up this week with an £11million swoop for Villarreal centre-back Gabriel Paulista.
There’s certainly no immediate obligation to balance the books – Arsene Wenger was issued a £20million budget for the January window and in fact, there should still be a bit left in the kitty.
But new arrivals often spell departures for other players, and recent speculation suggests a small batch of Arsenal stars could still leave the Emirates before the deadline on February second.
With that in mind, here’s a list of FIVE Gunners we believe could be plying their trade with alternative clubs by the end of the window.
Striker Chuba Akpom is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in Arsenal’s academy, racking up prolific hauls for the Gunners’ youth squads and boasting 14 goals in 35 appearances for England across the junior levels, ranging from U16 to U20.
Arsenal are by no means looking to offload the 19 year-old this month, in fact, they’ve lined him up a new three year contract, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the campaign.
But Akpom, who enjoyed loan spells with Brentford and Coventry during 2014, is also entertaining offers from abroad, with FC Twente, Feyenoord and Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund all intent on signing the teenage forward on pre-contract deals.
The 6 foot goalscorer’s potential availablilty has attracted interest throughout the Premier League too; The Express claims Liverpool, Everton, Spurs and Manchester City are all keen on Akpom and could launch bids before the transfer window closes.
In other words, unless Arsenal can offer a more lucrative deal, or greater assurances of first team football, they could lose the Junior Lion this month.
Defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin finds himself in a near-identical situation to Chuba Akpom this month; his contract is set to expire at the end of the season and like the young striker, is currently delaying on a new deal.
The 23 year-old made his senior debut for the Gunners way back in 2008, but it’s taken a heroic performance against Manchester City at the Etihad two weekends ago for Coquelin to become a potential fixture in Arsene Wenger’s long-term plans.
In the meantime, he’s been lingering on loan with FC Lorient, Freiburg and Charlton, and is resultantly reluctant to pen extended terms until assurances are made regarding regular first team football. With Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and Aaron Ramsey currently ahead of him in the centre-mid pecking order, the Frenchman’s doubts are understandable.
With that in mind, the Gunners could decide to sell instead, should a viable suitor emerge over the next few days.
Amid a flurry of promising performances at the start of last season, many tipped young winger Serge Gnabry to become a future Arsenal star. It was a run that earned him a nomination for the 2013 Golden Boy award and a new five-year deal at the Emirates.
We haven’t seen much of the 19 year-old winger since however – in fact, he’s yet to appear for Arsenal’s seniors in any competition this season – due to him picking up a knee injury in March 2014 and spending the next six months on the sidelines.
That ruled him out of several loan moves during the summer, particularly to Aston Villa, so now that the German youngster, who boasts 10 goals and 45 caps for the Mannschaft minors from U16 to U19, is back to full fitness, we could see him leave the Emirates on a temporary deal this month.
Barring a potential revival in interest from Aston Villa however, viable suitors are currently thin on the ground.
One of the only players Arsene Wenger has signed twice for Arsenal, the Emirates boss is clearly fond of French midfielder Mathieu Flamini.
But 30 year-old’s second Gunners tenure is increasingly becoming a weak impersonation of his first, and Flamini has been at the heart of several disappointing Arsenal displays over the last 18 months – one of the most recent being their 2-2 draw with Liverpool back in December.
With the former Milan man’s contract up at the end of the campaign, Wenger might be prepared to let ‘the running man’ leave north London six months earlier than planned.
He’s clearly not a fixture in the Arsenal gaffer’s long-term arrangements and fellow defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin has emerged as a viable alternative in recent weeks. Likewise, captain Mikel Arteta is allegedly on the verge of signing a new contract.
That being said, not a single penny in transfer fees has been spent on Flamini throughout his career; moves from Marseille to Arsenal, Arsenal to Milan and Milan back to the Emirates were all free transfers, suggesting a particular fetish for the bosman ruling.
A shock suggestion perhaps, considering Santi Cazorla’s produced some incredible form over the last few months and a particularly imperious display against Manchester City two weekends ago. Likewise, his ambipedal feet and positional versatility makes the 30 year-old a huge asset in the Gunners squad.
But where does the high-flying Spaniard actually fit into Arsenal’s starting Xi long-term? His predominant role of No.10 will surely be taken by Mesut Ozil, whilst lesser displays earlier in the season suggested Cazorla lacks the power and pace required to be an effective force out wide – even if he did somehow usurp a first team role from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
With the playmaker now 30 years of age and his contract entering its final 18 months, Arsene Wenger might just be convinced into relinquishing the Spain international this January should the right offer come along.
There’s certainly a market out there for the former Villarreal and Malaga star; Atletico Madrid were strongly linked with an £18million bid last month.