Arsenal is on their way to re-establishing their top-six credentials this season under former midfielder Mikel Arteta, and even have a chance at securing Champions League football next season for the first time since the 2016-17 season when they crashed out of the competition in the round of 16.
The Gunners took another step toward that aim yesterday when they ran out 1-0 winners against Bruno Lage’s tricky Wolves outfit at the Molineux despite attacking starlet Gabriel Martinelli being given his marching orders after being booked on two occasions during the same run of play.
FULL-TIME Wolves 0-1 Arsenal
— Premier League (@premierleague) February 10, 2022
Three points on the road against the second-best defensive outfit in the Premier League was certainly worth the price of admission for the traveling support, with Arteta’s young guns now sitting fifth and just one point behind West Ham with two matches in hand over David Moyes’ overachieving Hammers.
But Arsenal is not planning to be satisfied with just fighting for the outlying scraps among the top echelon in England; the club still harbors ambitions of once again challenging for major honors on all fronts, and to do so, further recruitment via the transfer market is required in order to add the requisite quality at the Emirates capable of aiding in Arsenal’s attempts to close the gap to Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool.
Using the successful summer transfer window as a blueprint moving forward, here are five players that Arsenal should look to move for in the upcoming summer window to kick their rebuild into overdrive.
Youri Tielemans | Granit Xhaka’s upgrade
One of the key names to be recently linked to Arsenal, Leicester City midfield stalwart and Belgian international Youri Tielemans has propelled himself high up the wanted list in north London and with the Foxes’ current struggles this season, a high finish in the table by the Gunners could see the former RSC Anderlecht starlet opt to move to the Emirates this summer.
Tielemans is expected to break ties with Brenan Rodger’s outfit after refusing a contract extension at the King Power Stadium, which has put a number of high-profile clubs on alert including Arsenal. The 24-year-old’s contract runs down after next season and the need for Leicester to recoup on their investment in some measure will surely be on the priority list. Though his current market value stands at roughly £46million, Leicester surely could not drive a hard bargain for a player who wants out of the club and risk losing him for nothing 12-months later. His versatile qualities in midfield, Premier League experience, and age bracket make him a prime candidate to replace Granit Xhaka who is suspected to be subject to summer interest once again from AS Roma.
Alexander Isak | The next bright Arsenal center-forward?
The saga that has been Arsenal’s search for a new center-forward is one that provides a source of angst for many in the Gunners fanbase, but it has become clear that the Premier League giants are indeed looking to bring in a key player in that position that they can build the attack around for the long-term.
Having missed out on Serbian starlet Dušan Vlahović in January before the former FK Partizan academy graduate optioned for a move to Juventus, Arsenal made a last-ditch attempt in January to manufacture a move for Real Sociedad’s Swedish attacking stud Alexander Isak but were expectedly rebuffed by the Basque club. But the Gunners are likely to return again in the summer but a potential move could hit a snag on account of recent reports suggesting that Isak could pass on a move to Arsenal in favor of other more credible destinations if Mikel Arteta’s men fail to secure Champions League football for next season. Though other targets could be mentioned, the fact that Edu and the rest of the club brass lodged a bid for him in January means he should likely be considered the prime target and replacement for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
Douglas Luiz | Arsenal to solve the holding-midfield conundrum
The future of veteran Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka notwithstanding, the Gunners remain in need of reinforcements in the middle of the park especially if Egyptian international Mohamed Elneny could also exit the Emirates this summer.
While the club may have passed on signing Bruno Guimarães from Olympique Lyonnais before Newcastle swooped in and completed a shock move for the Brazilian, another Brazilian that could well be sought after by Mikel Arteta is Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz. The 23-year-old was already given the green light by Villa to leave the club in January if Steven Gerrard’s Villains received substantial offers or his services before the window closed and Arsenal was credited with having him on their transfer radar though they never tabled a formal offer for the holding midfielder. He would certainly tick a lot of boxes as well; age profile, tactical versatility, technical quality, Premier League experience, while finally providing the Gunners with a true holding midfielder they could add to their ranks for the first time in years.
Cody Gakpo | Versatile attacking option with a future
With Arsenal set to lose no less than three attacking players when Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah join Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in exiting north London, the Gunners will need more than just one attacking reinforcement in the summer but likely will not look to recruit two main strikers in such a short window, avoiding a mistake that brought the Auba-Laca tandem together in the first place.
Dutch international Cody Gakpo could fit the bill, however, with the 22-year-old PSV Eindhoven starlet already on the radar screens of a number of top English clubs which includes Manchester City and Liverpool. But City remains linked with Erling Haaland and already has a wealth of top attacking talent on offer at the Etihad, while Liverpool secured Luis Díaz in January and are on the verge of moving for Fulham’s Fabio Carvalho as well; where would Gakpo fit in? At Arsenal, the versatile forward could have a key role to play as both a developmental depth option and a player that could genuinely fight for his place in the first team as a profile capable of being deployed anywhere across the front three. And with the future of Bukayo Saka now being thrown into fresh doubt for the long term, Gakpo would certainly offer a very interesting option in the summer.
Tyler Adams | American talent train could continue in the Premier League
At current, Arsenal has reliable first-choice options and back-up plans at left-back as well as in both center-back positions for this season and beyond but questions currently will be asked when it comes to the depth at right-back.
Though Cédric Soares performed admirably in his deputy role against Wolves yesterday while first-choice option Takehiro Tomiyasu still recovers and puts himself on track for his return to playing duties, the Portuguese is not expected to remain at the club past the current season and, truthfully, the Gunners should be looking to upgrade on him moving forward. American international Tyler Adams would be an intriguing player to potentially move for in the summer market. Not primarily a right-back, Adams is rather a very talented jack of all trades and the 22-year-old is capable in three positions that would suit Arteta’s needs. Moreover, his acquisition would mean that the club does not have to look to move for a center-back in the summer and instead, could rely on Gabriel, Ben White, William Saliba, and Takehiro Tomiyasu as their four central defenders when Adams is deployed as a right-back. His ability to shine in midfield would also mean he could be called upon in a variety of tasks and would give Arteta his own version of Jams Milner; an important role for any modern club.