Assessing Arsenal’s Transfer Targets: Who Should They Prioritise?

Assessing Arsenal’s Transfer Targets: Who Should They Prioritise?
Jun 17, 2017

Arsenal Featured

It was a disappointing season for Arsenal fans, yet again, as they missed out on a Champions League place for the first time under Arsène Wenger. While the FA Cup win over Chelsea eased some tension among Arsenal fans and the Arsenal manager, it was still a pretty mediocre season for the Gunners overall.

Over the course of the season it became pretty evident that Arsenal needed strengthening in various areas of the pitch, most importantly, a 20 goal a season striker as the Gunners seemed over-reliant on star man Alexis Sánchez for the majority of the season.

Another lacuna in the side was the absence of a creative midfielder, since Santi Cazorla’s injury, who has been out since mid-October with Arsenal legend, Robert Pires rightly pointing out: “His loss really affected this team and I’m sure if we’d have had Santi playing, we’d be much higher up. He’s such a difficult player to replace because technically, he’s one of the best players in the Premier League.”

While Granit Xhaka was bought in at the start of last season, it became evident that Xhaka couldn’t provide Santi Cazorla’s influence straight away, and Arsenal would need someone with more mobility to combine with Xhaka’s passing range. Likewise, Lucas Pérez was bought as a striking option but spent the majority of the season sidelines and was mostly used as a winger whenever he played. With rumours of Olivier Giroud leaving the club and Santi undergoing another surgery, it’s high time now forArsène Wenger to strengthen. On that note, we look at the transfer targets that have been rumoured with a move to Emirates and assess them according to the need of the club and possibility of them joining Arsenal.

1. Kylian Mbappé

A customary Arsène Wenger transfer window is always characterised by rumours of Arsenal courting an unknown French youngster. This time, it’s a bit different. On this occasion, it’s Europe’s new wonderboy and the next great thing, Kylian Mbappé. Arsène Wenger has admitted that he is a fan of the 18-year-old and also revealed that he tried to sign him towards the end of 2015-2016 season. Mbappé, who scored 15 times in the French League and recorded 8 assists, helped Monaco to a first league title in 17 years. In an interview to beINSportss, Wenger said:

“The player would tell you that I was at his home last year to try to get him here. He was at the end of [his] contract but Monaco managed to keep him and the decision was very, very tight.”

It was also rumoured at the start of the month that Arsène Wenger had made a sensational £120 million bid for the Monaco ace, but the story has since cooled down.

Need: Given that Mbappé is only 18, the move could be a hit or miss (and Wenger has missed a lot in recent years. Yaya Sanogo, for example).  The relative inexperience might bite Arsenal as they look for a proven goal-getter.

Probability Of Joining: Highly unlikely keeping in mind Wenger’s tight budget transfer policy and the interest from Real Madrid where he will also get to play in the Champions League. However, Wenger’s French influence and the promise of game time could turn young Kylian’s head.

2. Alexandre Lacazatte

The French number 9 has been a target for Arsène Wenger for the past two seasons if rumours are to be believed. And, rightly so, the Frenchman has scored 75 goals for Lyon in Ligue 1 in the past three seasons, including the 27 that he scored last season. Lacazette is perfect for Arsenal and Wenger, who has preferred quick forwards in the past, along with intelligent off the ball movement. And just last night Lyon President, Jean-Michel Aulas, confirmed that Arsenal have indeed made a formal offer for the Lyon frontman, saying:

“Alexandre Lacazette was told he could leave,” Aulas said. “We had negotiations with Atletico. Things did not work out. We now have a very nice offer from Arsenal. But for us, he will not leave.”

Need: Definitely needed. Arsenal fans have been crying for a proven striker ever since Robin Van Persie’s departure. And even though Alexis has done well for the Gunners in the centre forward position, Arsenal are missing a creative spark from the left side, and Lacazette’s purchase would restore Sánchez to his natural role in the Arsenal. He could also act as a replacement for the Chilean, given it seems likely Alexis will be on his way this summer.

Probability Of Joining: Highly probable. Lyon have confirmed that Arsenal’s offer is a good one, and have only denied the sale in order to make Arsenal match their exact valuation of £60 million. According to reports, Arsenal have offered £50 million.

3. Thomas Lemar

Another one of the top performers for AS Monaco, Thomas Lemar was pivotal to Monaco’s success in both the league and Champions League as he scored 11 times and assisted on 14 occasions. A playmaker as well as a winger, Lemar is a tricky dribbler, exquisite crosser and has good set-piece ability in him and will seamlessly fit into Wenger’s side. The Metro has reported that Lemar has stalled contract talks amidst interest from Arsenal, and has an asking price of just £26 million.

Need: If Alexis decides to stay and plays as the centre forward, Lemar is a must need as Wenger isn’t convinced of either Alex Iwobi or Theo Walcott whilst Lucas Pérez is eyeing a move away from the club, with Sevilla interested.

Probability of Joining: 50-50. There has been interest from Tottenham as well who are desperately in need of a winger and also have Champions League football, giving them the advantage.

4. Juan Cuadrado

Perhaps the most surprising name on the list as the Colombian didn’t have an exactly outstanding campaign at Juventus, however, his utility could be his biggest key. Capable of playing both as a winger and as a wingback, the rapid Juventus man could be an asset for Wenger who reverted to a 3-man defence in the later stages of the season.

According to reports, Arsenal have had a bid of £17.6 million rejected with Juve holding out for £30 million. Not exactly a creative force, the former Chelsea man had 2 goals and 6 assists in the Serie A.

Need: If Héctor Bellerín or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain leave, then Cuadrado could become a must in order to sustain the 3-4-3 formation. It’s likely that at least one of the duo will leave, with Bellerín linked to a move to Spain and Oxlade-Chamberlain said to be keen on a move to Liverpool.

Probability Of  Joining: All will depend on Oxlade-Chamberlain and Héctor Bellerín staying, or leaving. If neither leave, there’s little reason why Arsène Wenger would feel the need for the 20-year-old. In addition, Tottenham are reportedly interested in the Colombian.

5. Aleksandr Golovin

The CSKA Moscow player is a hardworking midfielder with swift movement and vaguely resembles Santi Cazorla’s style of play. Arsenal have been linked with a £10 million move for him. Golovin, however, has only played 500 minutes of football.

Need: Arsenal are obviously in need of a midfielder who would fill that creative void left by an injury prone Santi Cazorla, but then the 21-year-oldd Golovin will mostly be seen by Arsenal fans as a wildcard, with not much substance that can be banked upon before signing him.

Probability Of Signing: Knowing Wenger and his habit of signing young unknown players, highly probable. Hull are reportedly also chasing his signature.

It is no doubt that Wenger will strengthen in order to challenge for the title next season. With Sead Kolašinac already signed from Schalke for free, it’d be foolish to expect more defensive signings than attacking ones. Now comes the wait for Arsenal fans to see if Arsène Wenger will indeed change his ways in order to compete once again.

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