Premier League • England

Arsenal warned ‘budget’ issue could deepen crisis with Arteta told star man is off

Arsenal trio Alexandre Lacazette, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Bukayo Saka

There are no “standout” players Arsenal can sign on their budget to prevent a looming crisis that will deepen when Alexandre Lacazette leaves, claims William Gallas.

Arsenal’s striker department may be unrecognisable by the start of next season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has already joined Barcelona, while Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah will both be free agents in the summer. At present, there is little indication either player will pen fresh terms.

Nketiah was linked heavily with Crystal Palace last month. The 22-year-old’s opportunities in the Gunners first-team have always been limited, and a move further down the league may be required to generate regular minutes.

In Lacazette’s case, the number of potential suitors is beginning to swell.

A ‘dream’ return to former club Lyon has been touted. Closer to home, Aston Villa have been linked with a swoop in free agency. Either way, Lacazette’s importance to Arsenal has risen following Aubameyang’s exit, and his departure would hit harder than it would’ve done had the Gabon striker stayed.

Of course, a contract breakthrough may see Lacazette extend his stay in north London. However, Paul Merson has begged his former club not to fall into the same trap that saw Mesut Ozil and Aubameyang become problem players.

The likes of Alexander Isak, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ollie Watkins have been mentioned for the summer. Dusan Vlahovic was the No 1 target in January, but the Serbian chose Juventus.

Lacazette going, but who will replace?

Now, via the Mirror, former Gunners defender William Gallas has fired a warning regarding Arsenal’s summer prospects.

Gallas suggested there’s an “expectation within the club” that Lacazette will go. However, the Frenchman doesn’t expect Arsenal will be able to sign the calibre of player they require.

“There’s an expectation within the club that Lacazette is leaving in the summer. So they need to find at least one top striker to replace him and Aubameyang,”

Aston Villa to battle Besiktas for Arsenal striker Lacazette

Aston Villa will battle Besiktas for Alexander Lacazette as striker set to leave Arsenal for free

“There are no players that stand out to me at the minute that are within Arsenal’s budget.

“I just want to see them sign a striker who can score at least 20 goals a season and that’s not easy to find. But for a striker, that’s the standards of what we expect at a club of Arsenal’s stature.

“For teams like Man City, the way they play they don’t need an out and out striker. All of their team can score.

“But for Arsenal they need a good, solid striker who can score a minimum of 20 goals a season.”

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Gallas predicts who’ll nab fourth

Arsenal’s summer outlook may be determined by how strongly they finish the season.

If Mikel Arteta is able to guide Arsenal to fourth spot, the lure of Champions League football and the riches that competition provides could see bigger names attracted.

The race for fourth is shaping up to be one of the stories of the season, and Gallas has tipped Arsenal to beat out their rivals.

He added: “It’ll be very exciting to see. Arsenal after winning 1-0 against Wolves [who] look a strong contender, that was a big result for them.

“I know there’s West Ham as well who look good this year. But Arsenal have a great opportunity to finish fourth. I’m backing them to do it.”

READ MORE: Arsenal join Liverpool, Man Utd in race for £60m star as Leeds stall on new contract