As the season winds down we can take a minute to start to wonder about squad building this summer. I’m not saying the season is over, we have guaranteed 2nd place and could win the league if Man City lose two of their remaining matches and we win all of ours. However, even if we win the league this year, we still need to plan for the future – the club is doing just that by re-signing Bukayo Saka, William Saliba, and Aaron Ramsdale to new contracts. And it’s clear to me that we don’t have a complete squad as we seem to have fallen apart a bit when Saliba and Tomiyasu went down with injury. And I think we could do well to spend in a few other areas as well.
We also need to be thinking about playing in the Champions League next year. That’s not really a competition that we can just play some kids in. And if you look at Man City, they have two world class players in every position. I’m not sure we can do that but we can aspire to it! So, with all that in mind, this is just a quick post asking what you would like to see Arsenal do to strengthen the squad this summer?
For me, I have a few areas of concern.
First is backup keeper. The drop off from Ramsdale to Turner is pretty dramatic. Maybe Turner will be our number one one day but for now that seems highly unlikely. Just like with every other position on the team, competition here is healthy and both of these men need a player to come in and give them a good run at the starting spot. Maybe you think Karl Hein is that person? I think we need a keeper.
Second is a new starting DM. Probably controversial as a lot of folks like our current #5 but I do not. His off field stuff is a huge negative for me and if was up to me, I’d have sold him long ago. But even on the field he’s often bypassed in midfield – not physically but mentally – and that is an automatic drop in my opinion. The club seem to agree, they targeted Moises Caicedo in January and eventually signed Jorginho. Getting in a top quality ball carrying, good passing, DM who doesn’t switch off and let Kevin de Bruyne run past him unmarked in the title deciding match is a big priority for me.
Third is another starting left-footed midfielder. Xhaka is getting long in the tooth and could still provide some serviceable years but I’d be looking for an upgrade in that spot. I know some folks, whose opinions I trust automatically, really think Fabio Vieira will be that player but I have my doubts. Even still, having another midfielder, someone like Bruno Guimares, Enzo le Fee, or Rayan Cherki would help in many positions. Cherki is probably my favorite of that bunch, by the way, he’s just so extremely two-footed.
Fourth is right back and right center back. Actually, you could probably move that up a few spots as it seems to me that the reason we struggled after Saliba went down is because we have one player (Benjamin White) as cover for two spots (RCB and RB). Tomiyasu is a fine player and a good backup for White but he does seem to have quite a history of injury. Kiwior I suppose people like him and think he did ok, I do not see it right now. He is a good ball-playing CB and left footed. Maybe he can develop into a good backup but for now I see him as not exactly serviceable. I know that folks want Holding replaced and I understand that, even if it does hurt a bit because I like him personally. So, it seems to me that we need someone a bit like White, who can play both RB and RCB, but is an upgrade on Holding and maybe even pushes White for the starting spot? Or do we just think that the ones we have are enough?
Right wing backup? Who is Saka’s replacement? Are we banking on Reiss Nelson? I really want Smith Rowe to come good but he seems to keep picking up setbacks. But either way, we’ve been extremely lucky that Saka hasn’t been injured this season. Do we think we have enough players to fill in for him when he needs a break next season or do we need to recruit? BTW; I’ve watched Pepe this season and man that dude is just a bust. Time to move on.
Left back? I’m not sure we really need anyone. Nuno Tavares has been sort of ok for Marseille this season and we could try to incorporate him back into the fold but he is absolutely not the player I would want tucking in to midfield to provide service as a CM (he did play DM once for Marseille, just to contradict me) because his skill set is much more as a wing back. I also happen to like Tierney and find him to be a good alternative to Zinchenko when we need a more defense-minded player. Tierney is also much better at traditional fullback stuff like, oh, defending.
Ok, those are the positions I’m thinking of. But one more thing that I think is kind of important: a statement signing. It seems unlikely but imagine if Arsenal signed Victor Osimhen, Kvicha, Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice, or one of the big name players that are out there right now? It would give a HUGE boost to the team going in to next season, similar to when Arsenal signed Dennis Bergkamp. I think it would also send a message to the League that we are serious and that this season wasn’t a one-off. That we are going for the title again next season and we are spending big to get there.
Anyway, those are just my suggestions.
I have us winning our last three, thus ninety points and City drawing with Everton and Brentford, losing to Brighton, all away, finishing on 87. It’s all on my spreadsheet.
BTW. My first game, was a 1 – 1 draw with Billy Wright’s Wolves in 1953
Keep up the articles, I enjoy them.
I pray your spreadsheet comes true!
100% agree on #5. Needs to be fired into the sun. The off-field insinuations are stomach churning enough, but he made several extremely costly mistakes on the mini collapse this season. Additionally, he seems to be disappear when the pressure starts to ratchet up and the team put under large amounts of pressure. Not ideal when you need to regain a foothold in the match while having a bit of a wobble.
Interesting post. I personally think that we will strengthen in all the areas that you mentioned Tim. (GK, RB/CB, CM & RW). I also have a feeling that we will see two big name players amongst the the incoming bunch.
For example, If we decide to sort our midfield for the long term we could sign Rice AND Caicedo. Two statement signings in my book. However those two deals would set us back at least £150m and thus having a knock on effect on who we can buy to support Saka at RW (unless it’s Nelson).
The other way we could go is sign one of Rice/Caicedo and spend big in an alternative position. Take RW for instance. For them money saved by signing only one big money CM we could go for an attacker such as Moussa Diaby. (£60m?) Another statement signing in my book.
If we do choose the two big CM signings then maybe we target a freebie like Marco Asensio at RW assuming no new deal gets signed at Madrid?
All in all, I’d sign…
GK- Experienced pair of gloves
Defence- A baby Ben White
Midfield Rice & Lavia
Attack – Moussa Diaby
GK- Experienced pair of gloves
Defence- A baby Ben White
Midfield Rice & Caicado
No Pressure guys!
I would be looking for signings in this order: RB, #5, backup/alternative for the forward line, another #8.
Losing Tomiyasu killed us, especially in conjunction with losing Saliba, and I don’t think we can depend on Tomi fitness wise. The links to Fresneda seem to never go away, but I haven’t seen enough real game footage. The good news is it seems that there are several good, young and versatile RB’s out there without crazy price tags.
While the off field accusations against Partey are concerning, I’m focused on his playing attributes and fitness given that we ultimately know little about the off the field crap. When he’s at the top of his game, Partey is magnificent, but he’s only on the top of his game maybe half the time. I’m not sold on Rice for $80-100M. I’m not saying he’s a bad player, I just don’t see that as good value and Arsenal need good value. If we’re going to spend $80M on a DM, I’d be more comfortable with Caicedo who lacks experience but has been largely excellent and is a prototypical modern #5 in my view. That said, I’d be very happy to add Rice IF we still get our other transfer business taken care of. Zubimendi is another DM we’re consistently linked with and seems like a good fit, but Arteta loves players with premier league experience.
Sadly, it looks like ESR will never really make it. I hope I’m wrong, but his injury history is damning. Another Trossard like signing that won’t break the bank and brings experience and versatility across the forward line would be ideal. That is not Reiss Nelson.
And then there’s the #8. I’m not sold in Vierra either, but I don’t think going another year with Xhaka/Viera/ESR in that role is the worst outcome. Ideally, ESR or Viera steps up, and if not we can address the position in the summer if 2024.
First, before any transfers, get Saliba healthy and signed to a long term deal.
Second, sell Pepe, Tavares, Lokonga, Patino and… Balogun. Those five right there should fetch 60 million quid. Balogun ain’t want to come back as third striker.
Third, make a decision on Emile Smith-Rowe. Can he be re-purposed as the heir to Xhaka or is a back-up to Saka on the right, false 9, what is he? If the answer is he doesn’t fit anymore, cash in, no shame there. There’s another 40 million quid.
Fourth, find out if Kieren Tierney wants to stick around as back-up to Zinchenko. Both are not durable. That’s why having Tomiyasu, who can play any position along the back line well, is important and he needs to be got healthy and kept.
Fifth, say good bye to Reiss-Nelson, Elneny and Maitland-Niles who leave on a free.
The guy from Brentford, Aaron Hickey, can play LB or RB and is quality. Plus he’s young.
I disagree on Partey, when he’s on, he dominates in midfield. What goes on in his head that sees him have these drops, who knows. But keep. Jorginho will be gone in 12 months. So, target a young DM that we could even leave out on loan for another year, the way Klopp left Keita on loan at first. Edu probably has some Brazilian in mind. If Everton go down, Onana is a good prospect.
Declan Rice provides tactical flexibility – he can play more advanced in the Xhaka role, can fill in for Partey/Jorginho as the single pivot when Zinchenko is in the team, or he can play in the double pivot with Partey or Jorginho when Tierney is at LB.
Caicedo for 70 million quid is insane. But Liverpool will pay it. That ship has sailed for us.
Finally, if we need someone to push Saka. If Raphina is there, yes. Otherwise, Moussa Diaby. Both can play across the front three.
Keep Vieira, Xhaka, Nketiah, Kiwior and Holding.
Turner is fine. Ramsey can play 50 games a season, he’s durable.
We should be all in on Rice. Premier league ready, right age profile, physical, flexible, leader on the pitch, technically very adept. Would very much be a statement signing. He can also play 6 or 8, gives a ton of flexibility with other midfielders. After that I think it depends on what sales we make. I don’t think we should sell Tierney, especially not to the orcs in Newcastle. Viera never impresses me, seems very lightweight.
For me, in order of importance: CM, RB, CB, GK, CF.
CM – would love to replace/upgrade both Xhaka and Partey but we’ll probably get just one name in. Not sold on Declan Rice, by the way, and think the money should be spent on two decent signings instead. Caicedo is a better option, IMHO, but he too is gonna cost an arm and a leg. Somebody mentioned Lavia – I like him too, and I think raiding relegated clubs is absolutely the way to go. Quality players can be found there that won’t break the bank. Ideally though, I’d love to have Coquelin/Santi kind of pairing in our midfield. That’s a bit of both steel and creativity right there.
RB – once a crock, always a crock. I would sell any and all of our injury prone players. Tomiyasu, Tierney, ESR should all be sold, and I think we can get some good money for those guys. Bring in another RB, preferably someone who can slot in as CB as well. I do miss Sagna.
CB – Holding and Kiwior are not the answer to our Saliba problems. We need a decent backup. ‘Nuf said.
GK – I don’t like Ramsdale. There, I said it. He can pull off a world class save, and then two minutes later make the biggest/dumbest mistake that leads to a goal. I’m still seething at that pass he made in the first minute of the game against Soton. As well as the second West Ham goal that Bowen scored to equalize. I remember commentator saying that Ramsdale got “surprised” by it. We’re talking Number 1 keeper for Arsenal there. Somebody who makes millions of dollars a year. You do NOT get surprised. You effin save it, and get your team 3 points. But hey, we all know he’s not going anywhere but I would love for us to bring in a capable backup who could rival Ramsdale for the starting position. Turner is not the guy.
CF – I laugh sometimes when our fullbacks start pumping/crossing long balls into the 18 yard box. Who’s getting on the end of those? Jesus? Trossard? Nketiah? All of our strikers are 5 feet 9 inches tall. Sometimes you need a Plan B when you’re chasing a goal at the end of the game or something. Get someone who’s good in the air as well as hold up play. Does Giroud have a younger brother? Because that’s who we need.
Ramsdale is here to stay for the next 10+ years. The next England #1. The next Seaman.
How many crosses do we attempt in a game? And seems to me Jesus, Nketiah, Martinelli even, they are all decent on getting on the end of those crosses we do make. It’s about timing and accuracy of delivery. You don’t need Andy Carroll.
Umm, I’d say Pope is a better GK than Ramsdale but that’s a separate discussion. And he reminds me more of Almunia than Seaman. As for crosses and our strikers – yes, sometimes you do need an Andy Carroll kind of guy there, even though I said Giroud who’s x10 times the player that Andy Carroll ever was/is. Having said that, I vividly remember a game against West Ham when Andy Carroll scored a hat trick against us in a 3-3 draw. He bullied us in the air, and we didn’t have an answer for him. I think our strikers are decent for what they are and for what they offer but they don’t have that intimidation factor that taller guys like Giroud or Carroll offer.
Almunia?? That is very harsh. Almunia was never better than decidedly average. At best.
Priority to me is definitely in the midfield. Either Rice or Caicedo would be OK with me. Feels like both would be too expensive, unless we really clear house. And at this point I would be OK with selling TP, while he’s very good when he’s on, there’s been too many injuries, too many mistakes, and I’m uncomfortable with the personal stuff.
Another GK to me is a nice to have, but not at the top of the priority list. Similarly, a Xhaka replacement isn’t high. He’s generally pretty healthy, and has been pretty consistently good this season. And it feels like if we can settle on a backup LB, Zinch can backup Xhaka.
The two outside backs, I’m not sure what to do about. Tomi is good, likable, and exactly what we need. But can we rely on him staying healthy? Tierney is a solid defender, can play CB in a pinch, and decent at overlapping. I’m happy for him to stay as a backup. But if Arteta continues with Zinch as first choice, will Tierney want to stay?
I’m actually not sure we need a lot of upgrading in attack. Between Trossard, Nketiah, Nelson and ESR, there’s a lot of backup options. Someone like a younger Giroud who is big, strong, good in the air, with good touch would be a good option for teams parking the bus. But I’m not sure how many of those are out there. I’d love to figure out a way to keep Balogun, but not sure that will be possible.
What am I missing with Declan Rice? He’s highly rated but each time I watch him play he doesn’t stand out to me.
I should be clear, I think he would be a big name signing (because he’s English and will cost a huge fee) but I’ve been on record saying that I prefer the more continental DMs and that we could easily get two very highly rated players for the price Wham want for Rice. I don’t think Rice is very two-footed at all and could be swallowed up if he’s forced to play for a big club like Arsenal.
I also think he will be signed by Chelsea or Man U in the summer.
I think our #5 is busted. He is a good player but clearly off field issues are messing with his head.
He is likely unsellable with the ongoing legal cases.
Best is just to get in a first teamer and bite the bullet.
Our most vital move has to be an upgrade on Gunnersaurus. Something fitter and leaner, more fitting with the new Arsenal. I don’t know, something with a bit more Raptor in them, I guess.
Let’s face it, I love the big green cuddle-munch as much as anyone, but they still haven’t shed those summer pounds they came back from the break with. One too many Kids Meals, I shouldn’t wonder…
Would you prefer a ball-carrying/press resistant Gunnersaurus or more of a ball progression/defensive Gunnersaurus?
Hard to say. I’ll leave the tactics to thems that know. I just want the complete package, y’know… someone with the precision strike of a Javelin missile and the manly girth of the kind of Combine Harvester that Adge Cutler used to sing about. A Deathstar on skates; that’s what we need. I’m sure Edu knows where to find one going for a bargain.
All that talk in years gone by about needing an Elegant Beast DM and there he was, all this time…
Ha! Our very own Waterboy, just waiting for the crowd to notice and start singing, “Put him in coach/He’s ready to play *clap**clap* today”.
Arteta needs to build around our Viking. Odegaard has been the best thing I’ve seen in an Arsenal midfield since Fabregas. Wouldn’t have said #19 AC because I love him to death but he just wasn’t healthy enough.
So what does Odegaard need around him that he doesn’t have now to bring us over the line?
#19 SC. “Ooh, Santi Cazorla, Santo Santi Cazorla…”
i think arsenal are attempting to establish the same dynamic as city, having two top-quality players who can compete with one another for game time. this competition will raise the level in training and in the games . the competition in training will raise the level as everyone is competing not only to get into the side but to stay in the side. as a result, when arteta makes changes, it shouldn’t matter much as the level is still so high. the problem may be arteta’s reluctance to play others. we’ll certainly see next season.
i love the idea of raiding relegation teams for their best players. it’s why i loved the ramsdale deal and the idea of signing that belgian kid from southampton named lavia.
speaking of belgian players, are arsenal still in for tielemans? he could come in and compete with xhaka. he’s talented, league-proven, 5-years younger than xhaka, and available on a free!!! did i forget to mention that he’s free? arsenal shouldn’t have to buy another #8, freeing up funds for other things.
cdm is a problem. partey, jorginho, elneny, and xhaka are the only rostered cdms and all will all be 30+ next season. the latter 3 have contracts that expire after next season. after the lokonga mess, arsenal need some new blood. declan rice is the obvious choice but caicedo is a rational option. likewise, i still like the idea of lavia coming to arsenal and going out on loan (west ham) until all the old men are gone.
turner is #2 and rightfully so. with that, he’s improved a lot since coming to the club.
lastly, i don’t like zinchenko as a 3. he can’t defend.
apparently, zinchenko and saliba are out for the remainder of the season. i thought it was arteta making a smart decision to take zinchenko off just after half-time against newcastle; zinchenko had a calf injury.
I think just as problematic as his chronic poor defending is the fact that Zinchenko is always injured. Once a crock, always a crock.
he can stay injured. when he was injured earlier in the season, arsenal were unbeaten in the league with eight wins and 1 draw. that’s 25 of 27 points. that’s what our british brethren would refer to as championship form. during those 9 games, the only time arsenal conceded more than once was the 3-2 win against liverpool. arsenal didn’t miss zinchenko and his clown shoe defending.
during that time, xhaka had to do more work in midfield alongside partey but i’m okay with that. i would argue that xhaka, in an emergency, was a better left back than zinchenko as a starter. i’m not a fan of zinchenko as a fullback. push tierney up as a traditional fullback and pull xhaka back into midfield with partey/jorginho and you’ll have your balance.
I’d rather he was fully fit. Without Zinchenko, we don’t even come close to having a title race with this team.
If you saw the MCFC-RM CL semi, you may agree with me, those are technical standards we need to reach.
That was some rarified football between Ancelotti and Guardiola who clash so often in important matches.
Yes, they have the world’s best players at their disposal, but there’s a good bit of chess involved, and Arteta is trying to achieve that level.
Will even more money and even better players in Arteta’s hands make the difference?
Very interesting post.
Will be a fascinating summer that tells a lot about Kroenke’s aspirations.
He is (in)famous for saying at MIT conference that pursuing titles is fools errand, and at the time he owned a stable of clubs all of which were mediocre.
Since then and especially recently, by luck or good management, his teams have won championships in the NFL and NHL. His NBA team is the best in the brutal West and in the conf finals, and ofc AFC challenged for the Prem this year.
With his other clubs, he’s willingly gone big in pursuit of titles, contrary to his infamous statement.
As for my wish list, at the very top is Kvicha. Followed by Osimhen. A fella can dream, right?
But as you rightly point out, we do need a lot more talent. Remarkable testament to Saliba’s brilliance that it’s fallen apart with his departure. Exposed not just the rest of our defenders, but also our MF (when it runs up against top class).
Yep, it’s been a pretty remarkable turnaround from KSE. They were absolutely content with Wenger and 4th place for a long time and with his other teams lucking into the occasional good run but he seems to have come to the conclusion that investment in the team is investment in the club and will pay off for him long term. Let’s just hope he keeps it up!
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