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Despite an FA Cup and Community Shield win during his first season at the club, Arsenal’s decline has continued under Mikel Arteta’s management.
The Gunners began the weekend sat down in 10th in the Premier League table, and out of every single cup competition.
This means the north Londoners are on course to miss out on European football for the first time since 1996.
They are also likely to finish with another fairly dismal points total. 56 points in 2019/20 was their lowest finish since before Arsene Wenger and a similar record looks likely this term as well.
Arsenal, to stop the decline, have been undergoing something of a rebuild over the last year or so as they attempt to fix years and years of poor decisions on the transfer front.
Players such as Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis have already been shifted out in an attempt to remove some deadwood from the squad, whilst there has been some promising players brought in of late, including Gabriel and Thomas Partey.
Granted, some poor signings, including Willian on a three-year deal, have been made. But players such as Gabriel and Partey can complement Arsenal’s emerging young talents to help drive forward their rebuild.
This summer, though, does look set to be a crucial one for all involved at Arsenal.
Despite their recent European exit, it has been claimed that the Gunners are unlikely to move on from Arteta before the start of 2021/22.
So, if the Spaniard is sticking around, he must be properly backed in the summer transfer window.
The Telegraph recently reported that Arsenal are expected to be on the hunt for two new full-backs, a centre-forward and a central midfield player in the summer window.
This, barring perhaps a creative midfielder, is arguably all the areas in which Arsenal really need to strengthen in this summer.
However, the Arsenal faithful should not be expecting a host of big-money signings this summer.
Firstly, as mentioned above, Arsenal are almost certainly missing out on European football next term, which will of course make it harder to attract those bigger names and compete with clubs in the Europa League and Champions League.
There is also the financial impact of missing out on Europe, with Arsenal’s transfer funds this summer now seemingly likely to be funded by player sells, given how little their owners generally invest in the club:
It will be no surprise to see that owners at #MCFC and #CFC have provided substantial financing, £1.1 bln and £570m respectively since 2010, but #MUFC £297m is also behind #AVFC, #EFC, #BHAFC & #LCFC. Also United’s money is from share issues, so it’s not really from the Glazers. pic.twitter.com/gKvB284AP7
— Swiss Ramble (@SwissRamble) May 4, 2021
101 have previously detailed how the club could raise some funds this summer, which you can read here.
And now, we have picked out four players that could help propel Arsenal back into Champions League contention.
One side note for this list is that though these players are not the best options in Europe for their positions, they should be ones Arsenal are actually able to compete for with no European football.
The first player Arsenal should look to target is Andre Silva.
As already mentioned above, the Gunners do look to be in the market for a centre-forward this summer.
This comes with both Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah set to have just one year left on their contracts in the coming months.
So, instead of letting them leave for free or handing them huge deals, it is probably best if Arsenal part ways with them this summer.
Said sales could, in theory, help a fair bit with the purchase of Andre Silva.
Silva, now 25, has had a fairly mixed stint all over Europe. But since his move to Eintracht Frankfurt, he has seriously impressed.
In 2020/21, the Portuguese has managed to net a remarkable 25 goals and seven assists in just 29 Bundesliga outings.
As well as showcasing he can de a deadly finisher when in the right team, Silva’s seven assists indicate his ability to link up play as well, something Mikel Arteta values in his striking options.
The next player Arsenal should target is Norwich City star, Emi Buendia.
If Martin Odegaard does not re-sign after the expiration of his loan, it is quite clear Arsenal must add another creative midfielder to their ranks and there are unlikely to be many better options than Buendia available to them.
The winger/midfielder was one of the Canaries’ brighter sparks amid an altogether disappointing 2019/20 season, which saw them once again relegated to the Championship.
On the back of their demotion, though, Buendia has continued to impress, notching 15 goals and 17 assists in 39 league outings during 2020/21, with Norwich having now secured a swift return to the Premier League.
And though Norwich are now back in the PL, they, like Arsenal, cannot offer Buendia any European football, meaning a move would likely come down to salary, which the Gunners should be able to beat Norwich on.
Also, recent speculation from France suggested a fee of around €40m (about £35m) would be around the sum needed to land Buendia, which seems a pretty reasonable fee for a player who has already shown he can succeed in the English top-flight.
As well as a creative midfielder, Arsenal probably need to add some depth/quality in central midfield, especially given Dani Ceballos looks set to return to Real Madrid this summer.
In an ideal world, Brighton’s Yves Bissouma would be the man Arsenal sign to partner Partey.
However, with Liverpool and Manchester United both said to be interested in him, it is hard to see the north London outfit being able to compete for the African’s signature.
So, Arsenal are likely going to have to look elsewhere to strengthen in the middle of the park.
One potential alternative to Bissouma is Guido Rodriguez. Rodriguez joined current club Real Betis from Mexican side Club America in January of 2020.
Rodriguez has since become a key figure in Betis’ midfield, notching 48 appearances across all competitions, including 34 so far this term.
The Argentine is a defensive midfielder by trade, but can also play slightly further forward.
And like Partey, the Argentine is great at winning the ball and driving play forward, something Granit Xhaka does not do too often.
One potential drawback with Rodriguez is he is believed to have an €80m release clause. But reports from Spain recently claimed that Betis want to do a ‘great deal’ with Arsenal, perhaps suggesting they will sell for less than his release clause.
The final player Arsenal could look to sign is RB Leipzig’s Nordi Mukiele.
With reports pointing towards Hector Bellerin departing Arsenal in the summer, reinforcements at right-back do look set to be necessary.
Outside of the Spaniard, the Gunners have Cedric Soares and Calum Chambers to fill the void. The former is a decent back-up option but not really a first-choice player for a team looking to get back in the top-four, whilst Chambers is just too slow to play there.
And if both Bellerin and Chambers were to be sold, it would go some way to helping Arsenal fund a deal for Mukiele.
The 23-year-old Frenchman is one of the most promising right-backs in Europe right now.
Mukiele has pace, power and at 6ft 2 is also extremely valuable defensively. He can play in a back-four or five and is also capable of filling in at centre-back if needed.
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Premier League table
|1||Manchester City FC||35||46||80|
|2||Manchester United FC||34||31||70|
|4||Leicester City FC||35||20||63|
|5||West Ham United FC||34||11||58|
|7||Tottenham Hotspur FC||35||20||56|
|11||Aston Villa FC||34||8||48|
|12||Wolverhampton Wanderers FC||35||-12||45|
|13||Crystal Palace FC||34||-20||41|
|14||Newcastle United FC||35||-18||39|
|15||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||35||-5||37|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||34||-34||26|
|20||Sheffield United FC||35||-44||17|
|Kane, Harry||Tottenham Hotspur FC||21|
|Salah, Mohamed||Liverpool FC||20|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United FC||17|
|Son, Heung Min||Tottenham Hotspur FC||17|
|Calvert-Lewin, Dominic||Everton FC||16|
|Bamford, Patrick||Leeds United||15|
|Vardy, Jamie||Leicester City FC||13|
|Watkins, Ollie||Aston Villa FC||13|
|Lacazette, Alexandre||Arsenal FC||13|
|Wilson, Callum||Newcastle United FC||12|
|Gundogan, Ilkay||Manchester City FC||12|
|Wood, Chris||Burnley FC||11|
|Iheanacho, Kelechi||Leicester City FC||11|
|Rashford, Marcus||Manchester United FC||10|
|Sterling, Raheem||Manchester City FC||10|
|Ings, Danny||Southampton FC||10|
|Aubameyang, Pierre-Emerick||Arsenal FC||10|
|Zaha, Wilfried||Crystal Palace FC||10|
|Mane, Sadio||Liverpool FC||9|
|Pereira, Matheus||West Bromwich Albion||9|
|Player||Team||Red Cards||Yellow Cards|
|Maguire, Harry||Manchester United FC||0||11|
|Gallagher, Conor||West Bromwich Albion||0||9|
|Milivojevic, Luka||Crystal Palace FC||1||8|
|Lundstram, John||Sheffield United FC||1||8|
|Luiz, Douglas||Aston Villa FC||0||8|
|Soucek, Tomas||West Ham United FC||1||7|
|McGinn, John||Aston Villa FC||0||8|
|Hojbjerg, Pierre||Tottenham Hotspur FC||0||8|
|Xhaka, Granit||Arsenal FC||1||7|
|Bellerin, Hector||Arsenal FC||0||8|
|Egan, John||Sheffield United FC||1||7|
|Holgate, Mason||Everton FC||0||8|
|Bissouma, Yves||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||1||7|
|Hayden, Isaac||Newcastle United FC||0||8|
|McGoldrick, David||Sheffield United FC||0||7|
|Shaw, Luke||Manchester United FC||0||7|
|Neves, Ruben||Wolverhampton Wanderers FC||0||7|
|Dunk, Lewis||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||2||5|
|Reid, Bobby||Fulham FC||0||7|
|Evans, Jonny||Leicester City FC||0||7|
|Kane, Harry||Tottenham Hotspur FC||13|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United FC||11|
|Son, Heung Min||Tottenham Hotspur FC||10|
|Grealish, Jack||Aston Villa FC||10|
|De Bruyne, Kevin||Manchester City FC||10|
|Rashford, Marcus||Manchester United FC||9|
|Vardy, Jamie||Leicester City FC||8|
|Werner, Timo||Chelsea FC||8|
|Gross, Pascal||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||7|
|Cresswell, Aaron||West Ham United FC||7|
|Digne, Lucas||Everton FC||7|
|Bamford, Patrick||Leeds United||6|
|Sterling, Raheem||Manchester City FC||6|
|Mane, Sadio||Liverpool FC||6|
|Pereira, Matheus||West Bromwich Albion||6|
|Ward-Prowse, James||Southampton FC||6|
|Harrison, Jack||Leeds United||6|
|Firmino, Roberto||Liverpool FC||6|
|Neto, Pedro||Wolverhampton Wanderers FC||6|