As we approach the official start of the summer transfer window, all the talk at Arsenal seems to be concerning players who may leave the club. Both Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been linked with the exit door in recent days and it’s certainly true that Arsene needs to trim some of the deadwood at the Emirates as the 2017/18 campaign starts to appear over the horizon.
More importantly, the squad needs some fresh faces and that was clearly evident throughout a disappointing league season so who is in the frame at this stage?
One look at the stats from last season shows that while Arsenal were relatively prolific up front, their issues came at the back, thereby allowing sides such as Watford and Crystal Palace to embarrass them. The Gunners are very much an outside option among the punters to win the Premier league next season but if Wenger can address those defensive issues then they may offer some value in the markets.
The likely availability of Chris Smalling was unexpected but if Manchester United can complete the signing of the versatile Eric Dier from Spurs, the England centre back will be more than surplus to requirements at Old Trafford.
With Danny Welbeck enjoying his time at the Emirates, albeit amidst a number of injuries, Smalling could also be tempted to pick up his career in North London.
A considerable section of the Arsenal support would not have been placated by that FA Cup win over Chelsea and would like to have seen a change of manager at the end of the campaign. For them, Arsene would need to make a marquee signing and surely Alexandre Lacazette would fit that bill.
The 26 year old has been with Lyon for his entire professional career and has been prolific in Ligue 1, particularly in the last two seasons. His overall record in France shows a return of 100 goals in 203 league matches although there is a question mark over his performance in European competition where he has been considerably less of a threat.
Despite that concern, a host of clubs have been linked with the striker this summer. Arsenal will face stiff competition but they must try to force through a signing of a player who could fire them back into the Champions League while placating those hard-to-please supporters at the same time.
Links with Juventus’ Lemina are gathering some momentum even if central midfield may not be such a problem area for the Gunners right now. While at Marseille, the Gabon international was a reported target for Southampton and West Ham but in 2015 he transferred to Turin.
Lemina’s stock has risen, despite being something of a fringe player in two years at Juve so now could be the time for him to seek a move and some more regular first team football. A tall, commanding presence in midfield, there have been inevitable comparisons to Patrick Vieira and perhaps that’s why the 23 year old is said to have caught Wenger’s eye.
Reports on an initial 87m bid for the French sensation would, if true, hint at Arsenal’s ambition for next season. Even so, any move for the player must be seen as a gamble as, the Monaco man is just 18 and while he shows great promise, a scoring return of 16 goals in 40 league games remains relatively modest.
However, Arsene will know that, without Champions League football for the first time under his tenure, it will require a spectacular season to get him back in favour despite that FA Cup success. A busy summer is expected but will the manager get the men he needs to mount a serious title challenge?