Premier League

Arsenal Football Club: A Side in Transition

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Raul Albiol may be deemed an Arsenal villain. After all, he is the man who almost certainly ended their 25-season run of appearing in a European competition. His goal in the 29th minute of the Gunners’ Europa League semi-final first leg with Villareal turned out to be the winner, and with Unai Emery’s side holding them to a goalless draw in the second leg, it would take an impressive run of form and a whole lot of luck to qualify for Europe through the league. Alas, it wasn’t to be; Arsenal’s exit from Europe was confirmed on the final day despite a Nicolas Pepe double sealing victory over Brighton. Rivals Spurs won 4-2 over Leicester in a whirlwind affair to clinch seventh place and make the future of their neighbours look bleak. There are now big question marks over where the North Londoners go from here.

The Manager

Mikel Arteta has faced plenty of criticism since taking over from Emery at the end of 2019. He took to first team management like a duck to water when he began his tenure at Arsenal, winning the FA Cup just seven months after his managerial debut. He soon made it trophy number two, winning the subsequent Community Shield before the opening of the following season. Unfortunately for Arsenal, it has only been downhill from there. Arteta has been tactically naïve, trying to control every aspect of the game with little success. Despite being Pep Guardiola’a right hand man for three years, his style of football is often dull to watch, and while he has shown glimpses of being a good, flexible coach, the Arsenal job is ultimately too big for him at this stage of his career. Calls for Arteta’s sacking are justified, but the Arsenal board would have to be smart when it comes to replacing him. It looks as if he is set to remain in charge for the upcoming season and there is little point parting ways if there is no contingency plan. If they can remain a stable club for the time being, sacrificing short term pain for long term gain could be the best way forward.

Goalkeepers

Bernd Leno may leave the Emirates Stadium this summer. Despite missing just three league games last season, there are question marks over his future at the club and could see Arsenal look for alternatives. Mat Ryan spent the second half of last season on loan from Brighton and is a potential option, but he would have to remain second choice. He is also reportedly close to a move to Real Sociedad. Aaron Ramsdale has been someone with a shock link having suffered two successive relegations with Bournemouth and now Sheffield United. While he isn’t a bad shot stopper, he is capable of an error and hasn’t been entirely convincing on a consistent basis. Like Ryan, he would have to come into the Emirates Stadium as second choice, and having replaced the injured Dean Henderson in the England squad for the Euros, the Blades will be justified in demanding the reported £20 million price tag. For a fee like that Arsenal could get better. One relegated keeper who would rightly demand a high transfer fee is West Bromwich Albion’s Sam Johnstone, who has come off the back of an impressive individual season among a dismal team one. He is a good shot-stopper and has proven no to be error prone, and could potentially be worth the risk with Johnstone’s only just taking part in his first season as a Premier League number one. He would be fairly costly though commanding a fee of £15m-£20m and there is a better player who is available for far less. Andre Onana has been the most high-profile link to North London with his future at Ajax uncertain. He is currently serving a nine-month ban, reduced from 12 months, for doping violations and would therefore be difficult to sign. While he would undoubtedly be a good replacement for Leno, his inability to play until November puts a spanner in the works and they would perhaps be better off keeping the German for another season. Available at just £7m though, Onana would be a great value for money that would be worth waiting for.

Defenders

The need for a new centre back has been a recurring theme in Arsenal’s summer transfer business. Arsenal’s defensive frailties have been evident and forced the decision to bring in Gabriel Magalhães last summer for a fee of £27m. While their defensive record did improve last season, David Luiz’s erratic style, Pablo Mari struggling to prove himself since his move from Flamengo, as well as Rob Holding and Calum Chambers never really proving to be good enough for regular football makes their defensive options weak and in need of reinforcements. William Saliba is the first name to come to the mind of fans when discussing their defensive options for next season but he is yet to get an opportunity which doesn’t look to be changing, despite the £30m fee they spent two years ago. He is reportedly joining Marseille on loan. It is looking like Ben White could soon join the Gunners from Brighton, reportedly set to make an improved offer of £50m and one which will surely be too good to turn down for Tony Bloom. While White has shown promise, he didn’t outperform either Lewis Dunk or Adam Webster in the Brighton defence last season and is a big risk for Arsenal to take, especially with the money they are spending. With this being said, it is important David Luiz’s ability to carry the ball into midfield is replaced with the Brazilian having left at the expiry of his contract, making White an ideal recruit if his flaws can be ironed out. His versatility will come in handy too, able to play in midfield, a position Arsenal need more options in as well as at right back, another area they need to look into this summer. His development has skyrocketed in recent seasons and is at a good age to continue his growth, and with the vast potential he has it could be a risk worth taking in the long run.

On the other hand, there is perhaps a more unrealistic option that isn’t completely without reason, and would be a real statement of intent for Arsenal in the shape of Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte. With the excellent form of Ruben Dias and John Stones during the last Premier League campaign, Laporte has struggled to break into the starting XI and made just 16 appearances. Following the 15 he made the previous season due to injury, Laporte may begin to find opportunities limited and could look for a move away. He has been linked with Spurs in a potential exchange deal for Harry Kane but is someone Arsenal shouldn’t think twice about making a move for. He is undoubtedly one of the best defenders in the division, being pivotal in the heart of City’s defence during his first full season at the club. His absence during the 2019/20 season was apparent, with the Citizens conceding 24 of their 35 goals in this period, this also being the most goals they’ve allowed since Pep Guardiola’s debut season in Manchester. He would slot into Arsenal’s defence seamlessly, having no problem with playing from the back with a pass completion rate of 92% that includes 4.80 progressive passes per 90 as well as 9.45 progressive carries per 90. It is unlikely Arsenal would be willing to spend the money required for Laporte, or any high quality centre back for that matter after signing White for £50m. However, he would crucially help plug the gap in a Gunners defence that is lacking quality depth, and would also be a far better partner for Gabriel if they were able to convince him to take a step down.

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – JULY 02: Nico Elvedi of Switzerland in action during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Switzerland and Spain at Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 02, 2021 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

If Arsenal are interested in signing a guaranteed upgrade at centre back, a more realistic choice could be Nico Elvedi. The Swiss international has been linked with Arsenal before and for good reason. He has previously been touted as one of the best ball-playing centre halves in the world with a pass completion rate last season of 93%, and would have no problem replacing David Luiz for that element of the game. He is a versatile defender able to play anywhere across the backline or in a back three, but is best suited as a centre back with license to bring the ball out of defence. He is strong in the tackle with 2.11 per 90 as well as 2.05 interceptions per 90 and is confident in the air, winning 3.05 aerial duels per 90. What is most impressive of the 24-year-old is his reading of the game and subsequent ability to avoid committing too many fouls, reacting to danger sensibly so he doesn’t rush into challenges to win over half of them last season and only receiving a solitary yellow card. This implies he makes smart decisions both with his tackling and his positioning and this composed aspect of his game would benefit Arsenal hugely. It would be difficult to prise him away from Borussia Monchengladbach especially with him extending his contract just a few months ago, although with the Germans finishing in a disappointing eighth place last season and with manager Marco Rose leaving to join Borussia Dortmund, Elvedi may consider it a good time to move on with Arsenal’s size and stature potentially being enough to convince him of his next destination, despite their equal lack of European football. White’s seemingly impending arrival could decrease the importance of signing another defender this summer but this shouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of what would be an excellent piece of business and one that should remain on the club’s radar for the foreseeable future.

Left back is a position that Arsenal are blessed in. Kieran Tierney has been touted as a potential future captain and has recently signed a new five-year deal while Bukayo Saka is more than capable of filling in. They are also agreed the signing Nuno Tavares from Benfica, a highly rated Portugal youth international who enjoys running down the touchline with pace and whipping in crosses, a particular strength for the 21-year old and is a player that can develop well. The same can’t be said for right back, however. Hector Bellerin has struggled to become the player many thought he would do a few years ago with his form declining following his cruciate ligament injury. Ainsley Maitland-Niles meanwhile, having previously filled in while the Spaniard spent time out injured has returned from a disappointing loan spell at West Brom. Both could be on their way out of the club. Additionally, Cedric Soares also isn’t good enough to be first choice. Denzel Dumfries could be an ideal upgrade. The PSV man, who starred for the Netherlands at the Euros, likes to drive forward and beat the opposition defence, with a lot of focus on his ability to get forward playing as a wing back under Frank de Boer. On the other hand, playing as a full back in Roger Schmidt’s more pragmatic 4-4-2 makes him a good all-round defender and was part of a team that conceded just 35 goals last season. He had 3.88 touches in the attacking penalty area per 90 last season, a rather high number for a full back, with 2.29 shot-creating actions per 90. With both Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka being left-footed, his desire to join in the attack would allow him to overlap and combine with either effectively if he was to sign for Arsenal. Additionally, his leadership would benefit the Gunners hugely amid the many questions over their captain situation with the Dutchman taking the armband last season. With reports of potential moves to Inter Milan or Everton, Arsenal would have to act fast if they are to secure the services of the 25-year old.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – JUNE 27: Denzel Dumfries of Holland during the EURO match between Holland v Czech Republic at the Puskas Arena on June 27, 2021 in Budapest Hungary (Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images)

A fellow Dutchman playing for PSV’s rivals Ajax is Noussair Mazraoui. Like Dumfries, he enjoys getting forward and finding involvement in his side’s attacks, with 1.13 dribbles completed per 90 and 6.04 progressive carries per 90. His most effective attribute has been the way he passes the ball, with a completion rate of just over 78% but with 8.30 per 90 being progressive. He will normally be found hugging the touchline, constantly looking to link up with the winger or right sided central midfielder where once receiving the ball, he can use his intelligence to make smart runs on the overlap or underlap and get in behind. He is a good crosser but is capable of a variety of chance creation, often looking to come inside and slide in an onrushing attacker or getting to the byline and putting it across goal. The Dutch-born Morocco international is still just 23-years old and is at a prime age to step up from the Eredivise after a breakout season. While it would be difficult to convince Ajax to part ways, especially having only lost Sergino Dest to Barcelona last summer, he has been linked with Arsenal already and would be a good, promising replacement for Bellerin.

Tariq Lamptey is another Brighton player who should be on Arsenal’s radar. Despite suffering with an injury that kept him out of the majority of the 2020/21 campaign, he looked extremely impressive during the early stages of the season. At just 20 years of age he still has plenty of time to develop, but may not be the wisest of decisions Arsenal can make given he is yet to prove himself as an outright full back in a back four, with his best form coming in Brighton’s 3-4-3 system, as well as his injury problems being a genuine concern.

Midfielders

Despite the hype Thomas Partey brought following his big money move from Atletico Madrid last summer, he has struggled for consistency for a variety of reasons. Additionally, Mohamed Elneny has struggled to nail down a starting place in his five years at the club while Grant Xhaka looks like he will join Roma before the end of the transfer window and Matteo Guendouzi has already signed for Marseille on loan with an option to buy. It is also unlikely that Dani Ceballos and Lucas Torreira will be at the club next season. This leaves Arsenal light in defensive midfield, making it arguably their most pressing issue. Their aim will be to replace Xhaka’s qualities while also enhancing the midfield as a whole by getting someone who can complement Partey, and involves finding someone who is able to progress the ball while maintaining Xhaka’s ability in ball-winning and ball-retention.

Brighton’s Yves Bissouma is someone who’s been touted for a move to the Emirates since the transfer window opened. The Malian is a vital cog in the Seagull’s system, patrolling the area in front of the back three and cutting out any attempts from the opposition to make their way into the penalty area, making more tackles and interceptions than any other player in the league last season. With Partey tending to make riskier passes, ball retention will be important for whoever Arsenal sign and Bissouma’s 87% pass completion rate would stand them in good stead. The foundations of a Graham Potter team is made up of good build-up play and requires progressing the ball from the back. Bissouma is a strong dribbler, completing 1.48 dribbles per 90 and 4.47 progressive carries per 90 and uses this largely to bring the ball out of danger and begin moving it up the pitch. His progressive passes haven’t been too evident although this could come down to the responsibility being on the shoulders of Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard being Brighton’s primary creators in midfield, and he has a good range of passing nonetheless. With a likely price tag of up to £50m, Bissouma would be a pricey option, but one which could prove to be worth every penny.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 23: Yves Bissouma of Brighton & Hove Albion is put under pressure by Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Brighton & Hove Albion at Emirates Stadium on May 23, 2021 in London, England. A limited number of fans will be allowed into Premier League stadiums as Coronavirus restrictions begin to ease in the UK. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Additionally, Manuel Locatelli has also seen plenty of links with Arsenal in recent months. The 23-year-old has proven himself as one of the brightest young players to come out of Italy since his debut for Milan at just 18, and began to make a name for himself playing under Roberto de Zerbi following his move to Sassuolo. Primarily playing at the base of a 4-2-3-1, he would be a more complete option than Bissouma. With 2.66 tackles and 1.13 interceptions per game, he is a fine ball-winner as well as being confident on the ball, completing 5.53 progressive carries per game. Unlike Bissouma however, he ranked fourth in Europe last season for progressive passes, sixth for passes attempted and second for final third passes, making his ability to control the tempo of a game second to none. He would also be a pricey option and is likely to have a lot more potential suitors, including Juventus who have opened talks, undoubtedly making it a real coup should Arsenal manage to get a deal over the line.

A deal that is reportedly close to completion is for Anderlecht youngster Albert Sambi Lokonga, with personal terms agreed and an expected final fee of £15m plus add-ons. The 21-year-old has already made 85 career appearances despite his tender age and clearly has a bright future. While it is unlikely he comes straight into the starting XI, Lokonga is an agile, energetic midfielder playing primarily as a #8 in a midfield three alongside a more defensive partner and an advanced creator and is a strong ball-carrier, attempting 3.1 dribbles and completing 2.1 progressive runs per 90, preferring to regularly progress the ball up the pitch. He is a competent passer with a completion rate of 88%, however isn’t as confident at progressive passes, suggesting he chooses the safe option more often than not. This is something that will improve with experience at a higher level of football, and a move to Arsenal will be a step in the right direction. Eduardo Camavinga is another young midfielder to be linked with the Gunners, although he is reportedly off to Manchester United.

Arsenal haven’t had a true creator since Mesut Ozil’s peak form dried up. One of their main problems under Arteta has been their struggles in breaking down an opposition that sits deep, which is something they tend to face more often than not and making it invaluable that this issue is dealt with. Emile Smith-Rowe has been a revelation since breaking into the team last season but is still young and shouldn’t be relied upon. With Martin Odergaard’s loan spell coming to an end and it being unlikely they sign him for a second season, they need to consider options to replace the Real Madrid man to give Smith-Rowe some much needed competition. Dani Olmo could be one option. The Spaniard has caught the eye of many since bursting onto the scene for Dinamo Zagreb and earnt a move to RB Leipzig in January 2020. Although he is best suited to the hole between the midfield and attack, he is versatile enough to play as a #8 or as a winger, allowing his manager to be tactically flexible. He’s good at taking the ball to feet on the turn with a good eye for a pass, making 5.69 progressive passes per 90, 38 key passes and 4.27 shot-creating actions per 90, as well as notching nine assists with an xA of 4.9. With 25 goal contributions since joining Leipzig he is a very productive midfielder who should be able to adjust to Premier League football with ease. This would of course be asking an extremely talented young footballer to trade Champions League football for no European football and it would clearly be a very difficult transfer to complete, but goes to show how big a statement of intent Dani Olmo would be for the Gunners.

West Brom’s Matheus Pereira has received a number of plaudits despite the Baggies’ relegation, chipping in with 11 Premier League goals and having a hand in six assists, no mean feat given they were the third lowest scorers in the division. Playing as either a #10 or a winger, Pereria is best suited to being given the freedom to drift towards either side and create chances, but primarily cutting in onto his favoured left foot. He has superb vision, with 3.60 shot-creating actions per 90 and a remarkable 57 key passes given he was in one of the worst sides in the league. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang getting on the end of his passes as opposed to Callum Robinson and Hal Robson-Kanu, his xA of 5.4 should improve and subsequently drastically increase his assist tally. He wouldn’t be as expensive as some alternatives, although West Brom will be keen to keep him ahead of their upcoming promotion challenge from the Championship and Pereira would add fine competition for Smith-Rowe, relishing the chance to step up to the biggest opportunity of his career.

LYON, FRANCE – MAY 08: Houssem Aouar #8 of Olympique Lyonnais celebrates his goal with Karl Toko Ekambi #12 of Olympique Lyonnais during the Ligue 1 match between Olympique Lyonnais and FC Lorient at Groupama Stadium on May 8, 2021 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images)

One player that was seemingly on the verge of joining Arsenal last summer is Houssem Aouar; a move failing to come to fruition for the Lyon man but he should remain on the Gunners’ radar. Unlike the other options, Aouar is primarily a #8 who likes to get forward, offering Arteta tactical flexibility by giving him the option of both his favoured 4-2-3-1 as well as 4-3-3. He is best at collecting the ball on the turn and taking it forward, with 7.46 progressive passes received per 90, 8.08 progressive carries per 90 and 2.81 dribbles completed per 90. His ability on the ball is his pride and joy, with the sheer class he possesses when given opportunities to take it to feet and move it forwards making him an extremely fun player to watch. With a frame of just 5”7 and a low centre of gravity, Aouar’s unpredictability does nothing but benefit his side as he is able to keep defenders guessing his next move, making him very difficult to dispossess. This allows him to produce space for himself to weigh up his options and using his passing ability and vision to create chances; 4.65 of these per 90 last season and 37 key passes with an xA of 4.0. He is ultimately a very forward-thinking midfielder with a mindset that ensures he always wants to receive the ball and keep it moving, taking control of games to keep it ticking over. This doesn’t mean he is without defensive capabilities though, constantly working hard to track back when possession is lost despite his more offensive role. While his physicality is a slight concern, Aouar would be a fantastic pickup for Arsenal and is one that would positively impact their effectiveness in the final third. He is a deal they shouldn’t think twice about completing if they are able and willing to afford what would likely be a hefty price tag, but one that is undoubtably worth paying.

Attackers

Despite an underwhelming campaign, in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal have one of the best strikers in the world. However, the Gabon international is at the wrong side of 30 and with his drop in form last season, it may be in the Gunners’ best interest to begin scouting his successor. Two names to be linked with Arsenal have been Alexander Isak and Andre Silva. Isak has impressed at the Euros with Sweden following 17 goals for Real Sociedad last season, and despite his country getting knocked out by Ukraine at the round of 16 stage, he is bound to have some admirers this summer. He has recently signed a new five-year deal though and has subsequently increased the £59m release clause Arsenal were considering paying to a reported £86m, a fee that is surely out of their price range for a position that isn’t as pressing as others. As for Silva, Arsenal were reportedly preparing a bid for the Portugal international with the sale of Alexandre Lacazette being planned to fund the move. Unfortunately, Fabrizio Romano has confirmed an agreement between Eintracht Frankfurt and RB Leipzig for his transfer, ruling out a move to North London.

An alternative option could be Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus. Like Laporte, he had been touted for a potential move to Spurs in a swap deal for Harry Kane, implying they would be willing to part ways with the Brazilian if they are able to find a replacement for Sergio Aguero. Should this come in the form of a new signing, he may be deemed surplus to requirements. If this brought a move to Arsenal, Aubameyang still being at the club would only promise a similar role to that at City as an understudy with a view to being a potential first choice striker, which may put him off. However, Jesus made more Premier League appearances than Aguero in both of the last two seasons and would be ready to give Aubameyang some fresh competition, especially being at a similar age to Aguero. He was initially signed as a 20-year-old from Palmeiras after proving himself as one of the brightest talents to come out of Brazil, with a clear development plan that would end with him succeeding Aguero. This doesn’t look to be going ahead with City able to attract some of the world’s best such as Kane and Erling Haaland in an attempt to replace arguably their greatest ever player, giving Jesus options to weigh up. He is a good all-round attacker able to fill in on the wing if necessary but is at his best playing as a striker. He likes to get involved in build-up, occasionally dropping deep to receive the ball and bringing it forward or threading it out to the wingers. He received 11.73 progressive passes per 90 making 4.95 progressive carries per 90 last season. 3.39 shot-creating actions and 28 key passes shows he can play a more creative role but is equally able to get in the box and finishes chances himself with 37 goals in all competitions over the last two seasons and an npxG of 17.7 in 2019/20 and 8.8 in 2020/21. If he is to leave Manchester, Arsenal would welcome him as an eventual successor to Aubemeyang, being more proven since he first arrived in England and having a better chance at really making a name for himself as one of the best strikers in the country.

Additionally, Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been a revelation over the last two seasons at Everton. With 29 Premier League goals in that time, he has proven many doubters wrong by becoming one of the most important players in the blue half of Merseyside, making himself undroppable and earning an England call-up in the process. He doesn’t get involved too much in build-up play, preferring to get himself in good positions in the penalty area to finish chances. This can be indicated by his xA per 90 of a measly 0.05, attempting just 20.20 passes per 90, but with an npxG per 90 of 0.44. His importance to the Toffees makes it a very difficult transfer to pull off, especially with Richarlison’s future being relatively uncertain as well as Moise Kean likely to leave permanently, and therefore even more crucial that Calvert-Lewin is an Everton player next season. The Gunners’ struggles in recent seasons also bring questions over how big a step up it would be for the 24-year-old, while it is also unlikely he would want to swap his valued position at Everton for a place on the bench at Arsenal. Nonetheless, he would undoubtedly make a top successor for Aubameyang.

DUNDEE, SCOTLAND – MARCH 07: Odsonne Edouard of Celtic takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement prior to the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Dundee and Celtic at Tannadice Park on March 07, 2021 in Dundee, Scotland. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

A more realistic option they could go for is Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard. After leaving France in 2017, Edouard joined Scottish heavyweights Celtic and has been given the platform to showcase his ability; 83 goals in four seasons for the Celts has seen him linked with many clubs around Europe in recent years. The most concrete of these has been with Leicester City, but this looks an unlikely move with the Foxes having announced the acquisition of Patson Daka from RB Salzburg. This could pave the way for Arsenal to make a potentially unchallenged attempt at signing the Frenchman. Edouard has found his best form since moving to Glasgow from PSG, playing primarily as a striker in a dominant Celtic team and has been at his most dangerous either as the focal point of a 4-2-3-1 system or in a partnership with either Leigh Griffiths or Albian Ajeti. Arguably the best footballer in Scotland right now, he offers height, strength, physicality and pace with good close control, dribbling and ability to link play and get others involved, and is the very definition of a complete forward who can lead the line with ease. The most important part of his game is of course goal scoring and he is a very strong finisher, scoring goals for fun not only in the SPFL but in European competitions too as well as the France U21’s. In his most productive season with 27 goals and 14 assists in all competitions, he averaged 1.13 goal contributions per 90 while last season he scored 22 goals in all competitions with an open play xG of just over 0.6. He is the most efficient finisher in Scotland. It would be a big step up from the Scottish Premiership to one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League, but former Celtic teammate Kieran Tierney has proved it’s possible to make the jump successful. Having only really set the world alight in the SPFL, a move could equally be a risk for the Gunners, but one that could undoubtedly be worth taking to sign an in-form striker on the right side of 25 and develop him into a worthy successor to Aubameyang.

As for wingers, Arsenal are stacked. With Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith-Rowe these are all top players while Reiss Nelson and Willian are decent enough backups. A winger is probably the last position they need to be looking at, but Jeremy Doku of Stade Rennais could be a wildcard pick if they are on the lookout for one. At just 19-years-old, he would fit the profile of the majority of the wingers already at the club and has been in the spotlight following his performances for Belgium at the Euros. Rennes have a history of developing young wingers in recent years, with Ousmane Dembele, Ismaila Sarr and Raphinha in particular all spending time in North-West France before getting big-money moves to other clubs around Europe. Doku could be next in line. Following his breakout season two years ago at Anderlecht, he attracted the interest of Rennes last summer who bought the youngster for £23m. His pace is clearly his best trait, but he is direct, skilful and very unpredictable as well as being a superb ball-carrier, completing 10.91 progressive carries per 90 and 3.35 dribbles per 90 last season. His end product needs work, being involved in just two goals and three assists with an nxpG per 90 of 0.14 and an xA per 90 of 0.17, but this will come with time at a club that can develop him into the player he is very much capable of becoming. He wouldn’t come cheap, but if the growth of Saka, Martinelli and Smith-Rowe recently is anything to go by, Arsenal could be a good destination for Doku in the near future. This is clearly a player going to the very top.

Outgoings

Arsenal could face a number of outgoings this summer. As mentioned, David Luiz’s contract has expired while Matteo Guendouzi has joined Marseille on loan with an option to buy, and Konstantinos Mavropanos has had his loan deal at VfB Stuttgart renewed for a second season. This is just the start of what could be a mini exodus. The futures of Granit Xhaka, Hector Bellerin, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson, Bernd Leno, William Saliba, Sead Kolasinac and Lucas Torreira are all uncertain with Xhaka seemingly the closest of those names to a departure, likely to be Roma. Torreira is reportedly set to join the Swiss in Italy with a move to Lazio imminent, along with Kolasinac who has also been linked with the Rome-based outfit as well as Schalke where he just spent time on loan. Bellerin could join the trio in Italy having been linked with Inter Milan and is a rumour that will only gain traction now that Achraf Hakimi has left for PSG. Maitland-Niles, Nketiah and Nelson have been linked with plenty of English clubs with Watford, Wolves, Newcastle, Brighton, Leeds, West Ham and Crystal Palace among the names. Additionally, Joe Willock is bound to have interest as well following a very successful loan spell with Newcastle during the second half of last season and it will be interesting to see how the Gunners sees his future at the club with his stock higher than it’s ever been. Saliba is also set to join Guendouzi at Marseille if reports are to be believed. Alexandre Lacazette is perhaps the most high-profile player to be linked with a move away with the plan in the Arsenal camp being to use him to fund other moves. One way or another though, Mikel Arteta will have plenty of cash to play with this summer. It is pivotal more than ever that they get it right.

Potential Lineups:


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