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.