Another busy summer awaits Arsenal with plenty of work for Mikel Arteta and Edu to get through in order to ensure progress made this season isn’t squandered.
Fifth-place and Europa League qualification is certainly a step up from back-to-back eighth-placed finishes in the Premier League as well as a campaign without any European football. But make no mistake about it, the pressure will be on Arteta next season as fans will be expecting another top-four challenge and success in the aforementioned cup competition.
In order to complete this mission, the summer transfer window will be key and Arteta has already dropped a major hint with regards to his plans for ‘taking the club to the next level’ by sending a clear message to Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke.
READ MORE:What Mikel Arteta said to the Arsenal players at half time as Gunners make first summer moves
“After that we want to take the club to the next level and that’s the ambition,” the Spaniard said ahead of the 5-1 win over Everton. “In order to do that we have a very clear plan and we want to execute it. There are no secrets, we need resources and we need to increase the quality and depth of the squad while maintaining who we are as a club and the people that we have next to us. That’s going to be the challenge the following season. ”
So with that in mind, what needs to happen at Arsenal this summer for them to be in a good position to finally seal a return to the Champions League? Well, below football.london takes a look at what should be on the club’s to-do list and the deals Arteta and Edu must get done before the summer transfer window – which officially opens on July 1 – slams shut on August 31.
Improve squad depth
With the north London outfit back in Europe next season, Arteta is going to need a much bigger squad in order to cope with the demands of playing Thursday-Sunday most weeks, not to mention one or two Carabao Cup ties, and a particular comment last month should be an indicator of his ideal squad size.
“If you can financially afford it and we do not have to do the turnaround in the squad that we’ve had to do, if you ask me what I want it 22 outfield players and three goalkeepers,” he said. “You have to come a long way in the aspects that you see on the pitch, it’s a lot of things that have to be put in place, and that takes time.”
So 22 outfield players and three goalkeepers would be the ideal Arsenal squad size for Arteta. With Matt Turner likely to replace Bernd Leno, he can be one of three stoppers alongside Aaron Ramsdale and one of Arthur Okonkwo or Karl Hein as one of the latter pair will likely need a loan spell next season.
With that said, going off Arsenal.com, there are 18 outfield first-team players listed which means four signings are required for Arteta to have the ideal squad size. But with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah out of contract next month coupled with Nicolas Pepe being likely to leave, if none of the trio are retained then the Gunners will have 15 senior outfield players left so that leaves seven spaces to fill.
Get deals done before first pre-season fixture
It remains to be seen how many signals Arsenal actually get over the line this summer. As mentioned above Turner’s move just needs to be announced and a £ 3m deal for Brazilian wonderkid Marquinhos is nearing completion, although football.london understands the 19-year-old’s arrival will not have any impact on the club’s plans to bolster the first-team squad.
Looking at where the Gunners need to strengthen and it’s clear a central midfielder, one or two forwards and cover in the full-back positions should be a priority as Arteta’s side never recovered from losing key players such as Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey to injury whilst the lack of a consistent goalscorer proved costly in the top-four race.
In terms of players on Arteta’s radar, football.london understands Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus, Bologna’s Aaron Hickey and Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans are targets, whilst there are links to the likes of Cody Gakpo, Ruben Neves, Tammy Abraham and Victor Osimhen.
If the Spaniard and Edu can get their main transfer targets signed, sealed and delivered before their first pre-season fixture in early July it would allow for enough time for those players to get acclimated with their new teammates and for once, the Gunners would be ready for the start of a new season.
Saliba, Saka and Martinelli contract talks
As previously reported by football.london, Arsenal are expected to offer Bukayo Saka a new contract at the end of the season as a reward for his excellent form. But the winger is just one of several first-team players who, as things stand, will see their deals expire in either 2023 or 2024.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Hector Bellerin, Lucas Torreira, Reiss Nelson are all out of contract next summer so Arteta and Edu will have to make a decision on their futures when they return from their respective loan spells
There’s a bit more leeway for the Arsenal players out of contract in 2024 as Granit Xhaka, Cedric Soares, Pablo Mari, Nicolas Pepe, Alex Runarsson, Arthur Okonkwo, William Saliba, Rob Holding and Gabriel Martinelli are those that fall into this group – with the club holding the option to trigger one-year extensions for the latter pair.
As Saliba and Martinelli, in particular, have the potential to be key players for the club, there’s an incentive for director of football operations Richard Garlick – whose main role entails negotiating contracts with both existing and new players – to press ahead with talks in order to secure their long-term futures.
Raise funds for signings
“We are going to have certain resources,” Arteta said. “Not unlimited resources, certain resources. With those resources, we have to do what we have to do in the best possible way. We do not know what the rest are going to have in terms of resources, which I assume is going to “be challenging because now it’s not a top-three, or top-four league, there’s a top eight, or 10 teams that are involved. That’s why we have to find a way to do again what we did last summer.”
This sounds like the Gunners are going to have to get creative in order to improve their resources if Arteta is talking about spending power and one way to do this is by cashing on those that can bring in some decent money.
Having already banked around £ 12m with the permanent sales of Matteo Guendouzi and Konstantinos Mavropanos, Arsenal can look to this season’s loan army to secure more windfalls as Pablo Mari, Maitland-Niles, Torreira and Bellerin are all players that can fetch a decent fee.
Furthermore, the Gunners should get a nice fee for Leno, there are reports of being willing to accept £ 25m for Pepe and there are talks of a potential Xhaka sale – amid fresh links to AS Roma – so there are opportunities for the club to raise funds that can help get one or two further deals over the line.