Mikel Arteta might consider signing a striker a priority but his real problem is in midfield where Arsenal’s biggest transfer targets proves a problem.
The Gunners are expected to splash the cash yet again this summer after doing so last year under Arteta. The Spaniard has been keen to bring in his own players while also ousting those from previous regimes.
That has included some high-profile departures such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil and, this week, Alexandre Lacazette. However, the arrivals of younger and hungrier players have brought positivity to the club, including the likes of Ben White, Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale and Takehiro Tomiyasu.
But Arsenal ultimately failed in their quest to finish in the top four with a late collapse against Tottenham and Newcastle that saw their local rivals pip them to a Champions League spot. While it might endanger their plans in the transfer window, it has certainly not quelled their ambition.
According to Goal, three targets are definitely on their wish list and there are encouraging signs that all could be pulled off. Ruben Neves, Youri Tielemans and Oleksandr Zinchenko are all on Arteta’s wish list this summer.
But the fact that all three are seen as midfielders by the Spaniard indicates that his real problem with the squad is in the middle of the park. As the season drew to a close, a new striker was the main priority with Aubameyang and Lacazette gone.
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Eddie Nketiah looks set to renew his contract and while it would be a stretch to consider him as the top dog up front next year, it has certainly alleviated some of the pressure to bring a new centre forward in as soon as possible.
It has allowed Arteta to address his other big concern which is in midfield – where the Gunners are threadbare. Thomas Partey has had injury problems throughout the season while Granit Xhaka has had a decent year but it cannot be ignored that he was on the brink of leaving last year for AS Roma.
After that, Mohamed Elneny is the only other senior stand-in while Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe are preferred further forward. Signing players such as Tielemans, Neves and Zinchenko would go a long way to securing Arsenal’s midfield for an entire generation.
Leicester are set to let Tielemans go as he enters the final year of his contract, a similar situation that is happening at Wolves with Neves while Zinchenko, primarily used as a left-back at Manchester City, is known well to Pep Guardiola’s former assistant Arteta, who wants to utilise him in midfield where he plays for his country Ukraine.
All three arriving would be a major boost for the Gunners, who can then turn their attentions properly to a striker instead of risking a scattergun approach. With a forward typically more difficult to prise away, it will require more of an expert’s touch.