In the latest of our new feature, we look at what Premier League clubs need to do in the January transfer window. Next up: Arsenal.
The January transfer window may be three months away, but Premier League clubs up and down the country are busy getting their plans in order to go shopping in the New Year.
The sums spent might not be anywhere near what was laid out in the summer, but the window can play a key role in shaping some teams’ seasons.
Next up to come under the microscope at TEAMtalk.com is Arsenal and what they need to do in January to get their squad right.
Positions to strengthen
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger strengthened the spine of his squad during the summer transfer window meaning wholesale changes are not really required in January. After spending just £10million in the summer of 2015 on Petr Cech Wenger loosened the purse strings to splash out over £90 million this summer on five new signings.
The marquee signings of Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka helped fill the problematic positions of central defence and central midfield, but they still look a little light up front. Despite having one of their strongest squads in years, the Gunners are still lacking up front with a 30-goal a season striker badly missing.
Arsenal failed to bring in a world-class forward in the summer and that could come back to hurt them in the title race. Another area to address could be a winger with Alexis Sanchez now employed in a more central role this season, while Alex Iwobi will be a miss when he is on international duty with Nigeria at the African Cup of Nations.
Arsenal transfer targets
Arsenal missed out on signing a number of top strikers in the summer with Jamie Vardy opting to stay at Leicester City, Gonzalo Higuain moving to Juventus from Napoli and Lyon rejecting several offers for Alexandre Lacazette.
Wenger is a big fan of Lacazette and could rekindle his interest in his fellow Frenchman as he looks to bring in a world-class finisher.
Another name on Wenger’s wanted list and who could be available is Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi. Icardi’s future at the San Siro looks uncertain after he became involved in heated exchanges with the club’s infamous ‘Curva Nord’ ultra fans since the release of his autobiography – Sempre Avanti – in which he criticised their behaviour. Inter could decide to offload the Argentine in January to ease any tensions among their fans and there is sure to be no shortage of suitors for Icardi.
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has been mooted as a possible target with the England international reportedly unhappy at Anfield after failing to nail down a regular place in Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI.
However, Liverpool are unlikely to consider selling Sturridge in January especially to a top-four rival and the player is expected to stay at Anfield until the summer at least.
Wolfsburg and Germany star Julian Draxler has been a long-term target for Arsenal with the player previously indicating he would consider a move to a top European club.
Wolfsburg are struggling in the Bundesliga this season and they can expect to face a battle to keep hold of their prize asset. Arsenal’s growing German contingent at the Emirates could play a big part in luring Draxler to snub interest from elsewhere to make the move to North London.
Arsenal were the fourth highest spenders in the Premier League in the summer transfer window, laying out £91.50million and the recouped just £9.27million back from player sales.
Typically, Wenger has shied away from January deals, but he will have money to spend and if he needed to spend big to bring in a top target the club’s powerbrokers are sure to back him even though Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis insists the club will continue to be prudent as they plan for the future.
The overall budget could be affected as the club work hard on sorting out new deals for key trio Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Hector Bellerin – with the Chilean and German likely to command salaries of around £250,000 a week – and with Wenger admitting the club will have to ‘break the bank’ to retain the duo.
Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has recently admitted that he may have to consider his future at the Emirates if he is not playing regularly.
The England international has seen his time at Arsenal blighted by injuries resulting in Oxlade-Chamberlain failing to feature in more than 30 games in the Premier League during his five full seasons at the club following his arrival from Southampton.
The emergence of Alex Iwobi in the last 12 months has pushed Oxlade-Chamberlain down the pecking order in Wenger’s plans and the player could be forced to seek pastures new to kick-start his career.
Another player in a similar situation to Oxlade-Chamberlain is his England team-mate Kieran Gibbs. Gibbs has found himself playing second fiddle to Nacho Monreal for the last couple of seasons and the left-back is believed to be frustrated with his lack of opportunities in the starting XI.
If his amount of game time does not increase before January, Gibbs could be forced to follow Jack Wilshere’s lead and ask for a move away in a bid to get back playing.
Yaya Sanogo could also be offloaded with the young French forward unable to establish himself at Arsenal. Sanogo has become something of a forgotten man at Arsenal and should Wenger add to his attacking options in January he is likely to find himself surplus to requirements. The player has been linked with a move to St Etienne.
If Arsenal are in contention to win the title by the turn of the year and having already loaned out several players, Wenger, however, may be reluctant to let any first-team players leave in January.