Arsenal could miss out on another striker next summer if Arteta can’t deliver, though a report claims they’ll have a Bukayo Saka issue closer to home.
The Gunners fought hard to land top target Dusan Vlahovic last month. The ex-Fiorentina hitman had developed into one of Europe’s hottest properties ove rthe last 18 months. But despite their best efforts, Arsenal were beaten to the punch by Juventus.
Several reasons had been mooted as to why Juventus won the race. But according to the Daily Mail, the ‘primary’ one was the fact Juventus can offer Champions League football.
That is something the Gunners have been without since 2017. As such, the club are seemingly being typecast by transfer targets as one who can’t match their personal ambitions.
Indeed, the Mail suggest Arsenal could have two further issues in the summer if Arteta is unable to secure top four this season.
Firstly, they state signing Real Sociedad striker Alexander Isak will be an uphill struggle without the Champions League lure.
Isak, Saka issues looming
The Swede, 22, has long been touted as an option to revamp Arsenal’s front line. However, the article states there is ’emerging doubt’ as to whether Isak would sign in the absence of Champions League football.
Arsenal are embroiled in a fierce scrap for fourth spot at present. Manchester United, West Ham and Tottenham are all in the mix, while Wolves harbour ambitions of springing a surprise.
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A Europa League campaign – or worse – could end their Isak hopes, and per the Mail, would also throw up issues with Bukayo Saka.
The 20-year-old sensation is widely regarded as one of world football’s most promising youngsters. Arsenal have plans afoot to offer a contract extension. His current £35,000 salary would reportedly be brought in line with the club’s top earners if signed.
However, the Mail note Saka is not solely motivated by money, and the absence of Champions League football could sway his decision whether to sign.
Saka already has a lengthy list of admirers including Liverpool, Man Utd and Man City. As such, there is reportedly ‘concern’ at the Emirates regarding Saka’s long-term future if top four isn’t achieved.
Saka’s current deal has another two-and-a-half years remaining. However, letting the contract enter its final two years is reportedly a scenario Arsenal are ‘desperate’ to avoid.
Winterburn apportions blame ahead of top four disappointment
Meanwhile, Arsenal have been told that they will regret letting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leave if they don’t secure Champions League football this season.
That’s according to Gunners legend Nigel Winterburn, who feels Mikel Arteta has been left short of attacking options following the Gabon forward’s free transfer January switch to Spanish giants Barcelona.
“Everyone is scratching their heads over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s departure from Arsenal,” he told Paddy Power.
“We’ve heard parts of the story from two or three different sources. But we don’t have the full picture from both sides. Could both Aubameyang and Arsenal have dealt with it better? Yes, probably.
“It feels as if Aubameyang was the captain and then something went awry. Him losing the captaincy wasn’t based on a one-off issue – there were several. Mikel Arteta decided that “enough is enough, you’re the captain of this club and I am trying to lead a young team, and it’s not acceptable.
“The problem with his departure is that its left Arsenal short. If they finish fourth, then people will accept him leaving. If they don’t, then Arteta and Aubameyang should have put their differences aside until the season ends.
“It’s been such a strong stance from Arteta and the club, that they felt the best move was for Aubameyang to leave. Perhaps the Amazon documentary will reveal more.”