Arsenal are at crossroads at the moment after they were knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday. Headed for their worst finish to a season in more than two decades, the team needs some reinforcements. But with the prospect of no European football next season, the spending will have to be smart and efficient.
This is one area where the North Londoners have been left behind by their competitors. Though the club has spent hundreds of millions, they haven’t always found the right player. And with the Emirates side not having deep pockets like Chelsea or Manchester City, something has to change.
The Gunners would want to wait until the end of the season to see where they finish in the Premier League. There is a small chance that they can still qualify for Europe but that depends on the results of other teams as well. And with a couple of players whose loan spells will be coming to an end, a lot of factors will have to be considered before making any signings.
We have made a list of positions and players that the North Londoners should be targeting to improve the squad for next season. These potential deals will be influenced by the sales made but would be a good fit for the team.
Central Midfielder – Piotr Zielinski
The Napoli midfielder who will soon turn 27 could be the perfect partner for Thomas Partey in the middle of the pitch. Valued at £41million by Transfermarkt, the Pole has all the skills needed to be a transformative signing for the Gunners.
Zielinski’s main attributes are his stamina and defensive awareness which when added to the attacking runs, makes him a complete player. If there was a comparison to be made, it could be with Ilkay Gundogan of Manchester City.
Whether Mikel Arteta plays with two or three central midfielders, the Emirates side need another quality option. It will be tough to take the player away from Naples but if the Gunners want to get quality, they will have to pay for it. Being able to play across the midfield, gives Zielinski and edge over other options.
Left Back – Patrick Van Aanholt
There has been talk about Arsenal looking to buy a right back should Hector Bellerin leave. But the more pressing issue is to have a good backup for Kieran Tierney. As we have seen this season, having to use other players to cover for the Scot has hampered the team.
But there is a solution that sits across London and the best of all, his contract is coming to an end this season. Van Aanholt has had a successful career at Crystal Palace and is adept at attacking and defending. And as of now, the Dutchman has not extended his contract which would be enticing for the North Londoners.
In one move, you get a quality backup who has years of Premier League experience. He can fill in whenever Tierney needs a rest or is unavailable. And most importantly, it won’t require other players to play in different positions plus the player is available for free. This is a win-win deal.
Attacking Midfielder – Aleksandr Golovin
Along with central midfield, this is probably the most important position that needs to be addressed. Golovin was linked with a move to North London before he ended up with AS Monaco. The Russian is the perfect for this position. Again, a versatile option as the midfielder can play anywhere and is good at harrying opponents with an eye for a good tackle.
Offensively, the 24-year-old is able to bring out the ball from midfield, as his speed and balance allow him to glide past players. The Monaco man has an eye for the right pass and regularly joins in with the attack. This would be an option that is suited to play in multiple formations.
There is no clarity as to whether Martin Odegaard will return next season. Though the Norwegian would be the preferred signing, it would depend on what Real Madrid want to do with their star. Another attractive aspect of bringing in Golovin is his price tag. Valued at just under £21million by Transfermarkt, this transfer would offer great value for money.
Creative Winger – Emiliano Buendia
Creativity is one area that the Gunners have really suffered with this season. When teams decide to sit back and defend, Arteta’s men don’t seem to have a way to unlock them. That changed a little with the inclusion of Emile Smith-Rowe and the arrival of Odegaard. But having another quality player in this role is only going to strengthen the squad.
That would be Buendia who plays for newly promoted Norwich City. The Argentine impressed in the Premier League last season and has lit up the Championship this campaign. With an innate ability to create chances for others, the midfielder would be a great addition.
He is valued at just under £20million by Transfermarkt but the Canaries might want a little more. It would be a deal worth exploring because of how much the 24-year-old can offer. Buendia is adept at helping the full back defensively which ensures the team doesn’t lose its shape. Though the player isn’t the flashiest signing possible, he is what is needed at the Emirates.
These are four of the players that Arsenal could look at to improve the squad for next season. But the Gunners would need to sell a few players to raise the necessary funds to purchase their targets. If they can do that and reinvest that money in the squad wisely, the club’s prospects would look so much better. The failure of the current campaign should make everyone involved with the North Londoners to think long and hard.
With European football not likely to be at the Emirates in 2021/22, there will have to be a concerted effort to improve all aspects of the squad. Investing in players that are nearing their peak would be advisable. This would be a good idea as they won’t be too expensive but would posses some valuable experience. Fans will hope that there will be a response to being knocked out of the Europa League and it will be seen in the players that come in.
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