How will Arsenal shape up in September?
As manager Mikel Arteta looks to build on FA Cup success
After their FA Cup win, Gunners fans are keen to get behind Mikel Arteta and follow him into what they hope will be a successful new era.
But there’s no doubt that they need some major squad surgery if they hope to challenge for a coveted top-four spot next season – we have them at 3/1 to secure a Champions League spot.
Several big names have already been linked with a move to the club, while there are more than a few players they’d like to shift off their books and their wage-bill.
But before we get to arrivals and departures, we’ll also look at the key figures Arteta already possesses in the squad who he should look to build around.
Who Should stay?
In Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal possess one of the league’s elite strikers and though his future remains up in the air, he could be key to any success next season. If there’s one player above all Arteta needs to build his team around, it’s the 31-year-old Gabon striker.
In Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez, Arsenal boast genuine healthy competition in goal, which few other clubs can claim. There’s an argument for selling one of them to raise funds elsewhere, but they should bring the best out of each other. Frank Lampard must look on with envy at seeing two consistent keepers in goal at the Emirates.
Defender William Saliba spent the season on-loan with former side St Etienne as part of the £27m deal to bring him to the Emirates and though injuries curtailed his campaign, St Etienne performed far better with him in the team than without. Could he line up alongside January signing Pablo Mari in a new-look defence next year?
It goes without saying that youngsters Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli should stay, both youngsters impressed in spells and could yet develop into real talents.
Who Should go?
Impetuous David Luiz hair-a-like Matteo Guendouzi undoubtedly has promise as a player, but his temperament has not endeared him to Arteta, who banished him from senior training sessions after the break. A move to Unai Emery’s Villareal has been touted, while PSG have also been credited with an interest.
While initially looking good enough for Arsenal and the Premier League, Lucas Torreira just doesn’t seem to fit, with the player himself admitting his confidence has been dented by limited playing time this season. It could be better for both parties if he moved on, with a more physical replacement operating in the spine of the team.
While Mezut Ozil says he’s going nowhere, at this point the majority of Arsenal fans would be glad to see the back of him. With £350,000 a week in wages going to a player who barely plays, if Arsenal can find a team willing to ease some of that burden in a loan move, it would allow them much more flexibility in attracting their top targets to the club.
While Mikel Arteta has implied he’d much rather keep Alexandre Lacazette, the truth is the Frenchman has two years left on a contract and he may not be totally committed to the club. If that’s the case, they’d be better off selling him now, before the threat of running down his contract comes into play and his value declines.
Who should they buy?
Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey has long been linked with the club, though the transfer fee and his wage demands could prove a stumbling block. It’s obvious to see why the Ghanaian midfielder is attractive to Arteta, providing steel in a midfield that has often been accused of lacking strength and bite.
If the Partey deal falls through, Arsenal are also credited with an interest in Roma’s Amadou Diawara, with Torreira potentially going the other way.
Hard-working winger Willian has been an oft-underrated part of several Chelsea teams, winning the Premier League twice, scoring 37 goals and assisting 33 across 234 appearances. The Brazilian looks set to make his move in the coming days and will offer valuable experience and guile to Arsenal’s flanks.
While a move for Phillipe Coutinho may be fanciful, it could also be a perfect match. The Brazilian has struggled since leaving Liverpool in a £130m transfer to Barcelona, while he’s been on the fringes during his loan at Bayern Munich, despite scoring nine and assisting eight. If Arsenal are willing to shell out on Coutinho, they could find themselves with a front-line as deadly as any other in the league.
Arsenal have also been linked with the likes of Ajax striker Quincy Promes, Portuguese wonderkid Joelson Fernandes and Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication