We are now into the middle third of the transfer window and Arsenal haven’t been nearly as busy as many expected this summer.
Their £10million swoop for Chelsea’s Petr Cech represents a fantastic piece of business whilst the likes of Abou Diaby, Ryo Miyaichi and Lukas Podolski have been rightfully moved on.
But after their emphatic end to last season, many expected the north Londoners to use that momentum in the transfer market this summer, acquiring world-class talent as they hone in on their most viable Premier League title charge for the best part of a decade whilst also shifting some of the deadwood.
There’s still over a month of the window to go – so no need to hit the panic button just yet. But in case Arsene Wenger needs some guidance regarding his next move in the market, we’ve listed FIVE transfer issues the Arsenal boss is yet to resolve.
After netting the opener in Arsenal’s 4-0 victory over Aston Villa in last season’s FA Cup final, the ever-contractually-rebellious Theo Walcott seemed certain to sign a new deal with the Emirates outfit this summer, with his current terms set to expire at the end of next season.
But we’re now verging upon the final month of the summer window and despite Arsene Wenger’s recent assurances otherwise, the England winger is still yet to put pen on paper.
Of course, there’s still twelve months of the 26 year-old’s contract left to run and as we learned from the length contract debacle in January 2013, Walcott is more than happy to let negotiations drag on.
But the fact of the matter is that the 5 foot 9 attacker’s departure, even with just a year left on his contract, would add a significant sum to the Gunners’ summer transfer kitty. English players with Champions League experience are becoming an ever-rarer breed, especially those who score goals regularly, so the majority of the Premier League’ top six will be more than happy to take him off Arsenal’s hands.
Personally, I believe the north Londoners should hold onto Walcott. But either way, his future needs to be decided by the end of August.
The prominent form of Francis Coquelin at the end of last season has convinced many that Arsenal don’t need to sign another defensive midfielder this summer.
But the Gunners’ engine room still lacks that physical element, with the Frenchman measuring in at just 5 foot 10, and in my opinion that could cost the Gunners in important games – especially with fellow pint-sized enforcer Mathieu Flamini on the verge of moving to Galatasaray.
Arsene Wenger may have passed on now-Manchester United midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, but there’s still plenty of options out there. Bayern Munich’s forgotten man Javi Martinez tops the list for me, as a technically competent 6 foot 3 battering ram who can also fill in at centre-half, whilst the likes of PSG veteran Thiago Motta and former Gunner Alex Song represent the significantly cheaper end of the anchorman market.
The north London outfit are by no means obliged to spend untold fortunes – and there’s certainly some substance to the argument that a cumbersome warrior of the William Carvalho variety will disrupt Arsenal’s definitive rhythm and technically-demanding passing game.
But in my opinion, the Gunners need a midfielder capable of contesting Chelsea’s 6 foot 4 monolith Nemanja Matic, Manchester City’s powerhouse playmaker Yaya Toure and United’s rabble of midfield monsters – Marouane Fellaini, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick – during the Premier League’s title clashes.
As a football club, Arsenal are almost defined by their ability to nurture young players into world-class stars. Likewise, few will dispute that loan moves are an integral stage of development for most young footballers; consider how Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin both muscled their way into the Gunners’ starting Xi after temporary spells in the Football League, for example.
Currently, however, the north London outfit have sorted just three loan moves for their many young players next season; Carl Jenkinson returns to West Ham for another year, Yaya Sanogo has joined Ajax – presumably to improve upon his frankly woeful technique – and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will be spending next season with Ipswich Town in the Championship.
But there’s plenty of names that could be added to that list, assuming Arsene Wenger doesn’t hold first team plans for them next term, including Serge Gnabry, Joel Campbell, Chuba Akpom, Gedion Zelalem, Krystian Bielik and Isaac Hayden.
Only Gnabry and Campbell have received significant exposure at senior level before, so the latter four would certainly benefit from first team football with another club.
If Arsenal are to make only one more move in the transfer market this summer, it should be to sign a centre-forward that can compete with Olivier Giroud for the lone front-man role.
The France international has manned the line pretty much singlehandedly since moving to the Emirates three summers ago and for that he deserves a huge amount of respect, which is why Arsene Wenger has just issued him a new three-year contract.
But in my opinion, the 28 year-old simply doesn’t score enough to clinch the Gunners’ next season’s title. No club has claimed the English crown without their top scorer netting in excess of 20 occasions since 2009; Giroud’s best Premier League tally, on the other hand, is just 16.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean the 6 foot 4 striker should be ousted from the starting Xi and Arsenal, more than any other side, are capable of supplementing the goals in other areas. Last season they registered the most different goal scorers of any Premier League club.
But whether to increase their firepower or simply keep Giroud on his toes for what will be an incredibly important 2015/16 campaign, Arsenal need another striker in the mix.
They’ve been repeatedly linked with Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in recent weeks who, in my opinion, could be the perfect candidate. His ability to penetrate defences with blistering speed and dribbling ability offers a nice contrast to Giroud’s more static target man style and technically a winger-forward by trade, it won’t simply be a case of one or the other in the starting Xi.
Arsene Wenger has insisted he’ll only sign players with ‘exceptional potential‘ this summer, but you can’t imagine the fan base being too happy if Arsenal’s business begins and ends with £10million signing Petr Cech.
Of course, we’re now talking about the top end of the transfer market which is never an easy area to recruit from. But there’s still some world-class players to be had this summer, such as Barcelona’s wantaway winger Pedro, Bayern Munich’s aforementioned Javi Martinez and Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus, and in my opinion the latter would be an ideal addition to Arsenal’s squad.
Although other positions should take precedent – particularly, defensive midfield and centre-forward – an attacking trio of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Reus could quickly take the Premier League by storm.
We know Wenger has the finance to sign the German international – Lord Harris claims the club have over £200million in the bank if Le Professeur is willing to spend it – and although Reus signed a new contract at Dortmund only in February, he could still decide to move on amid a summer of wholesale change at Westfalen.
Along with improving the quality of the starting Xi, the 26 year-old’s arrival would constitute an enormous statement of title-winning intent on the Gunners’ part.