Arsenal are enjoying a superlative end to a promising campaign, set to clinch runner-up spot in the Premier League and almost certain to retain the FA Cup upon facing Aston Villa at Wembley next month.
Yet, the Gunners still seem some way off achieving their ultimate aim of claiming their first domestic title since the Invincibles campaign way back in 2003/04, with monolithic table-toppers Chelsea standing firmly in the way.
And although Arsenal’s season is ending positively, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. In fact, the north Londoners have spent just 13 out of a possible 33 match-days in the Premier League’s top four this season, and only two matches in the top two.
Clearly, some work needs to be done if the Gunners are to truly rival the Blues for next season’s title. But we at Football Fancast think some astute signings this summer could well be the ultimate difference – and just to prove it, we’ve listed FIVE signings we think will guarantee Arsenal next term’s crown.
David Ospina has performed well since taking the No.1 mantle from Wojciech Szczesny, going on to record seven clean sheets in 13 Premier League appearances.
But Arsenal still need an upgrade between the sticks – a goalkeeper comparable to the talents on show at Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – and there won’t be a better value-for-money ‘keeper on the market this summer than Chelsea’s Petr Cech.
The Czech international is indisputably one of the greatest goalkeepers in Premier League history, boasting three (almost four) league titles, a Champions League title and 332 top flight appearances, and at 32 years of age is still firmly within his prime.
After losing his starting role to the prodigious Thibaut Courtois, Cech is widely expected to leave Stamford Bridge this summer and Mirror Football believe Chelsea will demand just £10million for his services.
According to Goal.com, however, the Blues hierarchy won’t sell their decade-spanning servant to a direct divisional rival.
An audacious suggestion perhaps, but I believe signing Javi Martinez would be a major step in transforming Arsenal back into regular Premier League title winners.
The Bayern Munich enforcer represents everything they currently lack in the middle of the park – height, strength, aggression and natural defensive awareness – yet he’s also blessed with all the technical quality you’d expect from a Spain international plying his trade in a Pep Guardiola side.
Arsenal attempted to prize the 6 foot 3 battering ram away from the Allianz Arena last summer to no avail, according to The Telegraph, but they could find better luck in the coming transfer window.
After all, the 26 year-old has spent the majority of the current season out injured but the Bavarians have hardly struggled in his absence – in fact, they signed Mehdi Benatia and Xabi Alonso last summer precisely to fill his void.
Even so, widely regarded as one of the top defensive midfielders in world football – with the added bonus of being equally adept at centre-back – Bayern could command anything between £30million and £50million for his signature.
A widely rumoured transfer target who’d also add some much needed physicality and defensive awareness to Arsenal’s midfield is Southampton star Morgan Schneiderlin.
The France international has emerged as one of the Premier League’s most formidable enforcers since the Saints’ top flight ascension in summer 2012, this season averaging the second-most tackles per-match, 3.7, of any player in the division.
Perhaps more importantly for Arsenal, he’s also consistent and confident on the ball; this term, the 25 year-old has averaged 61.2 passes per match (the seventh-most of any Premier League player) with a completion rate of 89.3%.
After three consistent seasons in the top flight, Schneiderlin seems destined to join one of the division’s higher powers this summer, with the tabloids mooting a transfer fee around the £20million mark.
But Arsenal are by no means the 6 foot 2 midfielder’s only suitors – he’s been linked with Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs to name a few.
Mats Hummels is predominantly considered a Manchester United target, but there’s no reason Arsenal can’t register an interest in the Borussia Dortmund skipper too.
He is, after all, widely viewed as one of the top centre-backs in world football, affirming such status last summer by lifting the World Cup with Germany, and looks set to leave Westfalen in the coming transfer window after the Bundesliga outfit’s failure to qualify for next term’s Champions League.
The 26 year-old combines an aerially dominant 6 foot 4 frame with the quality and confidence to join or instigate attacks from deep positions, often drawing parallels with Mannschaft legend Franz Beckenbauer.
That could make him and the more defensive Laurent Koscienly a very compatible partnership, and The Daily Mail believe he could be available for just £21.5million this summer.
As previously stated, however, a move to Old Trafford this summer is the likeliest scenario.
Thierry Henry believes Arsenal need an upgrade on Olivier Giroud if they’re to claim next season’s Premier League title and I firmly agree. Although the France international has impressed this term, he’s still some way behind the Premier League’s top centre-forwards.
Enter Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain, who Arsenal came close to signing in summer 2013 until a lengthy dispute with Real Madrid over his price-tag.
The 27 year-old boasts a career return of 212 goals in 447 appearances, throughout his spells with River Plate, Los Blancos, Napoli and the Argentina national team, but he’s no stranger to the assists charts either; he’s claimed eleven set-ups for Albiceleste in 47 appearances, and amassed a further 15 during his last two Serie A campaigns.
He’s expected to leave the Naples outfit this summer if they fail to qualify for the Champions League – they need to overcome a five point deficit on Roma in their last five league fixtures – and back in January, The Metro rated him at a more than reasonable £30million.