With the rumour mill in full swing, Connor Humm looks at the top five players Arsenal should be looking to bring in ahead of the 2021/22 season.
After a difficult season for Arsenal just gone, the club will be hoping for a positive summer on the transfer front. Being without European football for the first time since 1995/96 brings some financial pressures. However, the club will hope that with less mid-week distractions, they can use that to push further up the table in the new season.
With director of football Richard Garlick on board, who will work alongside Edu, hopes will be raised that Arsenal can get in the players they need this summer…
5. Mathew Ryan
This one already seems like it is wrapped up but nevertheless an important one to get over the line early doors. Arsenal loaned in the boyhood fan of the club from Brighton for a relatively successful spell making three appearances as Bernd Leno’s back-up. Ryan kept just one clean sheet but was impressive in all three games for the Gunners. At 29 years old he is young for his position. The number one Leno has also had his future in doubt recently so having a solid back-up to come in if needed is necessary.
The transfer fee involved won’t astronomical which is also a huge factor for the club who failed to qualify for Europe for the first time in 25 years which means even less money to invest in the squad.
4. Nabil Fekir
The Gunners need to add more creativity to their ranks and seemed to thrive with a system thaat saw two playmakers operating behind their frontman.
Fekir is one such player who has been linked this summer and what a welcome addition he would be. He almost signed for Liverpool in 2018 before a medical issue scuppered that deal.
He’s since gone on to star with Real Betis and has proved a big hit in LaLiga.
If the price is right, bringing him in this summer would offer style and substance to the midfield. He’s apparently keen on the move too….
3. Max Aarons
A right-back is a priority for Arsenal with Hector Bellerin set to leave the club. The Englishman would be an ideal replacement for the Spaniard. He’s also slot perfectly into the attacking system Arteta wants to push. The full-back may be coming from a Championship side but has already proven that he can cut it in the Premier League. Indeed, he was a standout performer for the Canaries in their most recent relegation campaign in the 2019/20 season.
He fulfils the homegrown quota. That’s something Arsenal have been on the peripheries of in recent seasons. They’ve notably had to leave Sokratis and Mesut Ozil out of the 25-man Premier League squads to abide by the rule. Aarons would be a welcome addition to the squad that has struggled in the right-back position for several seasons now.
2. Martin Odegaard
The Norwegian playmaker has divided opinion amongst fans ever since he arrived on loan in January. In many ways, that was similar to the guy he replaced in Mesut Ozil. The thing with Odegaard is that he doesn’t top the goals or assists charts, but his influence is much more than that. The way he presses like a mad man, it is rare of a player that plays this type of role. There is a correlation between signing the attacker in January and Arsenal being the second-best team statistically, only behind Manchester City since then.
In the Premier League. Of course, there are other factors such as Emile Smith Rowe’s emergence, but this is also a huge one too.
Odegaard was asked about his future recently in which he replied: “I’m owned by Madrid so will have to talk to them and see what they think and then we can decide together about the future. At the moment I don’t know what is going to happen.”
The midfielder has enjoyed his short stay in London as he is very happy at Arsenal. The chances of this deal being made permanent went down substantially when Zinedine Zidane left Real Madrid. It’s well known the Frenchman is not overly keen on the 22-year-old. He would cost around £60m when Arsenal seemingly are only willing to spend around £40m in this position.
1. Houssem Aouar
The Frenchman was heavily linked last summer but talks broke down as the asking price was too high. Recent reports have the midfielder being offered out for around £22m – £25m which is well within the budget – unlike the £40m asking price beforehand. He can play as a number ‘8’ or ‘10’ and would sit perfectly in the 4-3-3 formation.
Indeed, those close to the club believe Arteta wants to move to this system going forward. There are question marks over Aouar’s attitude which could scupper any potential attempt sign him.
On that subject, former Lyon manager Alain Perrin didn’t quite paint Aouar in the most positive of light.
“He may have trouble motivating himself for small matches. He has the talent, it’s not a question of abilities but rather of state of mind. It’s not easy to motivate a player like this. I experienced it with Dimitri (Payet) in Saint-Étienne and Hatem (Ben Arfa) in Lyon. A good professional must be able to respond even if he doesn’t show his talent in every game.”
The Lyon man has had a notable impact this season recording eight goals and three assists in 33 appearances. Lyon failed to qualify for the Champions League on the final day missing out to AS Monaco.
However, that could well push Lyon in having to sell without the additional cash injection that the Champions League offers. Aouar missed out on the French Euro 2020 squad after a stop, start campaign. This could be a risk in some eyes but for the fee being mentioned I believe it’s a risk worth taking.
Arsenal need investment
Arsenal are coming off the back of a poor season with no trophy and an eighth-place finish to boot. This coupled with the European Super league fiasco which has sparked massive protests by fans against owner Stan Kroenke.
The North London outfit are going to have to do something huge to turn it around. Indeed, given the promises made to fans over being in contention for the biggest prizes, the squad needs a massive financial investment.
Garlick, Edu and Arteta have plenty to do. However, hope will remain they can start taking some big steps forward next season. Time will tell….