5 positions that Arsenal need to strengthen this summer
The summer transfer window is a time in which clubs address their weaknesses from the previous year and strengthen the squad as best as possible. For Arsenal, bolstering the team this summer is essential. Money, however, could be a bit of an issue. The club’s failure to secure a Champions League place reportedly slashed their transfer funds in half.
Nonetheless, head of football Raul Sanllehi, managing director Vinai Venkatesham, and head coach Unai Emery will look to find reasonable deals for incoming players. Taking the 2018/19 season into account, the Gunners will most likely look at senior players in five different positions.
Central defense is most likely Arsenal’s biggest weakness at the moment. Although they have numbers in defense, it is time to finally shake things up at the back. The error-prone Shkodran Mustafi could be headed out the door this summer, as could an aging Laurent Koscielny. This could leave Sokratis, Rob Holding, Dinos Mavropanos, and possibly Calum Chambers, as the only senior center backs on the roster heading into 2019/20.
With money fairly tight, the Gunners will have to spend smart. However, they also need an exceptional central defender to pair with either Holding or Sokratis. There have been rumors of a possible bid for Sampdoria’s Joachim Andersen, which would be an intelligent signing. Other than the big Dane, Mario Hermoso, Gianluca Mancini, and Dan-Axel Zagadou would also be quality youngsters to potentially target as well.
The Gunners managed to score a plethora of goals during the 2018/19 campaign without having much output from wide attacking players. Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are decent players, but Arsenal could certainly use a pacy playmaker to be deployed out wide.
Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha could have given the Gunners an extremely dynamic front three alongside Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; however, the loss in the Europa League final seemingly priced the club out of any deal for the Ivorian. Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser could be the most logical choice at this position. The Scotland international racked up 14 Premier League assists last season and does not come with a hefty price tag.
Assuming Emery wants to revert to a back four, Arsenal will need to bring in an additional left back. Sead Kolasinac is a quality player, but is definitely more suited as a wing back than an actual left back. Nacho Monreal, on the other hand, could join Koscielny and Mustafi on their way out of town.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Wendell would be a brilliant signing in this position, although there is little indication that the Gunners will be tabling a bid for the Brazilian. Celtic’s Kieran Tierney and Ajax’s Nicolas Tagliafico have, however, been mentioned as possible Monreal replacements.
With Aaron Ramsey signing with Juventus, Arsenal are going to need a replacement for the Welshman. This one is a bit more intricate than other transfers though. If Emery chooses to deploy a 4-3-3, then the Gunners may want to go after a traditional central midfielder. However, if a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-1-2 is in the cards, then perhaps more of an attacking midfielder or ‘number 10’ should be targeted.
Promoting Joe Willock would obviously be the most economical option. While the England U20 international has yet to really prove himself at the senior level, he is certainly rated highly at the club. On paper, Adrien Rabiot would round out a talented midfield three with Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka. However, character issues and high wage demands also come along with Rabiot. Torreira’s former teammate at Sampdoria, Dennis Praet, would also be a quality option in midfield as well.
Hector Bellerin is undoubtedly the club’s first-choice right back. Nevertheless, Arsenal will need to bring in a backup to the Spaniard this summer. Stephan Lichtsteiner already announced that he will be departing the team this summer and Carl Jenkinson could also follow suit. This would leave the Gunners with no other senior right back options in the squad.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles filled in for the injured Bellerin for most of the second half of the season; however, the young Englishman’s natural position is in midfield. Rumors are circulating that Arsenal are heavily interested in PSG’s Thomas Meunier. The Belgium international would obviously be a great addition to the squad, but the Gunners would also seemingly have to shell out a large chunk of their transfer kitty to get the deal done.