Mikel Arteta needs one more transfer to complete exciting £ 178.5m Arsenal rebuild

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Cast your mind back to the summer of 2019 when Arsenal broke their transfer record for the third time in two years as Nicolas Pepe completed a £ 72m move from Ligue 1 outfit Lille and the excitement around this deal.

Having enjoyed a breakout 2018/2019 season where only Kylian Mbappe outscored him across the top-flight of French football, Pepe was viewed as the final piece in the jigsaw alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette as part of a front three that cost a combined total of £ 178.5m.

There was hope that this front three would put Arsenal in the conversation with Liverpool’s trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane or Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez with regards to having the best attack in the Premier League going into the 2019/20 campaign.

READ MORE:Stan Kroenke to hand Mikel Arteta Arsenal transfer war chest regardless of Champions League spot

Just under three years on and it’s safe to say they haven’t managed to complete this particular mission. The closest the trio have come to clicking was during the successful FA Cup campaign after Mikel Arteta took charge as he used Aubameyang and Pepe as inverted wingers with the license to drive inside onto their stronger foot, whilst Lacazette often dropped deep to create space in behind .

But as the 2022 summer transfer window fast approaches, it’s looking like the project will be scrapped completely as there’s a very good chance that the aforementioned trio will all be at different clubs come the start of next season.

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Of course, Aubameyang has already departed. In January he sealed a move to Barcelona after being stripped of the captaincy by Arteta following another ‘disciplinary breach at the beginning of December. That decision may prove costly for the Gunners as it’s a lack of goals that could be the reason for missing out on a top-four finish.

With Lacazette not having his best season in terms of goals, it should make it easier for Arsenal to not renew his contract in June, whilst reports in Italy have recently claimed that Pepe could be allowed to leave if the club’s asking price of £ 25m is met in the summer transfer window.

Given that the Ivory Coast international will soon have two years remaining on his contract, the club are entering the infamous ‘sign or sell’ territory with the winger, so naturally, clarity over his future should be high on the agenda for Arteta and technical director Edu in the coming weeks.

It’s expected that the final say on the futures of Pepe and Lacazette rests with Arteta. Should he decide the pair aren’t part of his plans for next season then not only will this expensive project be considered a failure, but it would also mean the Gunners have to face up to a 8 178.5m rebuild to replace the trio.

Fortunately, it won’t be as expensive. In Bukayo Saka, Arteta already has his first-choice right-wing option and it’s between Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe on the opposite flank. This leaves the center-forward role as the one remaining spot to fill and the Gunners have been linked with many ahead of the summer window.

From Gabriel Jesus – who could potentially also be an option out wide if he joins from Man City – to the likes of Tammy Abraham and Darwin Nunez, Arteta is effectively one more transfer away from completing an overhaul of Arsenal’s front three and the hope is that he can get the new one firing on all cylinders.

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