Premier League • England

The world-class XI Arsenal could field next season if Arteta lands top midfield, striker targets

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, striker Victor Osimhen

Victor Osimhen is one of several players to be linked with Arsenal

Arsenal have enjoyed a fantastic season under Mikel Arteta, challenging Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title while also booking their place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

However, the rumour mill has already got up and running as Arteta and Arsenal sporting director Edu plot several summer additions to make the first team even better. The Gunners are known to be in the market for a top-class new centre-forward to replace Gabriel Jesus, though that is not the only position that will be strengthened.

Amid all the speculation, TEAMtalk’s Ben Mattinson decided to take a look at the incredible team Arteta could select for Arsenal next season.

Goalkeeper – David Raya

Summer signing David Raya has now made the No 1 shirt his so this loan deal will be made permanent in the summer and it’s even likely that Aaron Ramsdale will be on the move in search of regular first-team football. Raya has added so much composure on the ball and also plays higher up, pushing into centre-back to allow Arsenal’s backline to overload the pressers of the opposing team. Raya’s prowess in claiming crosses is an additional method of Arsenal starting attacks from the back.

Right Back – Jurrien Timber

At right back next season, we can expect to see Jurrien Timber get a lot more minutes to rotate with Ben White. The Dutchman signed in the summer and can play across the whole backline but for Arsenal he’s most likely going to play at right back and left back. Timber was seriously impressive in the summer when he signed and then unfortunately ruptured his ACL, ruling him out for most of the season, otherwise he would’ve been a key player for Arsenal this year. He still will be, just starting from later.

Right Centre Back – William Saliba

French centre-half William Saliba has gone from strength to strength since coming into the first team last season. Saliba’s ice-cool composure on the ball is a huge part of how Arsenal are able to build up from the back. At only 22 years old, Saliba definitely isn’t the finished product just yet which is a scary thought considering just how good he is already.

Left Centre Back – Gabriel Magalhaes

Brazilian defender Gabriel’s leadership and commanding presence is an essential component of their defence being so solid this season. Gabriel’s ability to defend wide areas and big spaces whilst also loving to battle with the most physical strikers complements Saliba so well. Gabriel is the aggressor whilst Saliba is the sweeper.

Left Back – Miguel Gutierrez

There have been many players linked at left back such as Jorrel Hato and Ferdi Kadioglu, but Miguel Gutierrez has had the strongest links. The Girona left back inverts into midfield in the final third to cut through the lines and play in the half spaces. Gutierrez is a creative player on the ball. The Spanish left back was signed on loan from Real Madrid, with the deal then made permanent in the summer of 2023. Since, he’s been a key player for Girona and helped them become of the best teams in La Liga this season.

Miguel Gutierrez, Girona, December 2023

Defensive Midfielder – Declan Rice

£100m summer signing Declan Rice has taken to life at Arsenal like a duck to water. A seamless transition to a much more technical system under Arteta and adding some defensive steel to the midfield. The presence of injury prone Thomas Partey hasn’t been missed as much as it was last season due to Rice’s ball-winning prowess. For someone who’s only been at the club a few months, he already seems like such an influential player not just on the pitch but off it. Rice has some great leadership qualities and a winning mentality hungry for trophies.

Right Centre Midfielder – Martin Odegaard

Arsenal’s captain Martin Odegaard has been so influential this season. Arteta’s decision to move him into a deeper position has enabled Odegaard to create more higher quality chances for those ahead of him. Odegaard is the artist of the team. As a skipper he leads through his actions, pressing from the front, collecting the ball off others to be the one to create something out of nothing. The Norwegian midfielder has matured so well into an example of what Arteta wants and echoes the manager’s philosophy.

Left Centre Midfielder – Frenkie De Jong

The left centre midfielder position has been much spoken about amongst the Arsenal fanbase. Back when Granit Xhaka was inconsistent it was about signing a Xhaka replacement, then it was all about an upgrade on Xhaka and since the Switzerland national team captain has left to join Bayer Leverkusen, it’s back to who will play the ‘Xhaka role’.

There’s been so many rumours of players like Douglas Luiz, Martin Zubimendi but the main big name is Frenkie De Jong. The Dutch centre midfielder would offer some world-class passing and carrying ability to Arsenal’s midfield. Despite the fact he’s important at Barcelona, they may need to make a big sale to fund other transfers due to money problems. De Jong could be the main option as he could generate £80m alone.

Frenkie De Jong (FC Barcelona) looks during the La Liga Santander between FC Barcelona and Elche CF at Camp Nou

Right Winger – Bukayo Saka

England winger Bukayo Saka has taken on the title of Arsenal’s main man and just keeps delivering. Saka has been so consistent for Arsenal to the point where even when he’s being marked out of the game by two or three players, he still manages to leave with a goal or an assist. Despite games being incredibly physical he will battle in duels and take on players.

Saka’s creativity is a dangerous outlet for those in the box and he’s improved in his ability to just cut inside and smash a shot at goal from distance. An ambipedal ball-striking ability makes him so dangerous to mark as he can beat a defender either way to score.

Striker – Victor Osimhen

There’s been so much talk about Arsenal are looking for a new  No 9. There were times when strikers were struggling to score and often the issues lied more in the set up of the team and how Arteta was using Odegaard in too advanced of a position which crowded Saka so often. Since that alteration Arsenal have scored a lot more goals, but a new striker is still seemingly on the agenda.

Kai Havertz may just stay as Arsenal’s main No 9 but if not it’s likely that they’ll splash the cash on a new big-name striker and Victor Osimhen fits the bill. As outlet strikers go, Osimhen is one of the best. Physical, rapid, high shot volume, aerial dominance, runs the channels. Osimhen is a transitional monster. He’s the type of striker you just need to give the ball to and he’ll do the rest.

The presence he would add into Arsenal’s frontline would be not only beneficial for the Premier League but the big Champions League games. Having an outlet like Osimhen for creative players like Saka and Odegaard to feed the ball to would be such a dangerous combination. Osimhen has expressed his desire to leave Napoli and all of Arsenal, Chelsea and PSG are reportedly interested in matching his £100m+ release clause.

Left Winger – Pedro Neto

Arsenal’s interest in Wolves winger Pedro Neto just won’t seem to die down. For years he’s been linked and for years he would’ve been a great signing. Neto has a lot of similarities with Gabriel Martinelli and the fact he’s able to play both wings is such a positive for Arsenal and allowing them to rotate their front line.

Neto wouldn’t necessarily always start over Martinelli or Saka, but he would allow for rotation which is key. Many times this season Saka and Martinelli have played whilst carrying a knock and Neto has also always been heavily relied upon and got injured too. All three could do with reduced, shared minutes to allow them all to compete to start whilst enabling key players to rest.

Neto’s directness is a danger for most defences in the world. Indeed, he has managed to contribute with a goal or assist in recent games against so many of the top teams in the Premier League including Man City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea. So the fact he can do this shows he’s Premier League proven and steps up in the big games. Neto is another who’d add a transitional threat which Arsenal need more of.