Who could be heading towards the exit at the Emirates Stadium? And what are the areas in need of strengthening? Analysis, insight and opinion on what the Gunners need to do in the transfer market this summer…
Which positions are Arsenal targeting in the summer transfer window? What has Mikel Arteta said? And what do the stats say?
Which positions are Arsenal targeting?
Arsenal are primed to have another busy summer. Missing out on Champions League football may affect spending plans, but there are areas Edu and Mikel Arteta will want to strengthen.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s departure in the last transfer window means Arsenal are definitely in the market for a striker. The Gunners’ strike force is boosted by Eddie Nketiah being on the verge of signing a new contract this summer.
Alexandre Lacazette is out of contract in the summer, and – as it stands – will not be staying at the club. Expect one or two new players to arrive in that position. Folarin Balogun has had a loan spell with Middlesbrough – expect him to return to fight for his place.
Central midfield and central defence are other positions Arsenal may look at. William Saliba enjoyed a hugely successful season on loan at Marseille and is due to return to Arsenal ahead of next season
Arteta may also want to recruit a specialist left-back to provide competition for Kieran Tierney. Injuries restricted Tierney to 22 Premier League starts last season.
Arsenal are likely to try and get money for keeper Bernd Leno. His contract is up next summer and the club have brought in USA international Matt Turner.
Arsenal were the biggest spenders in the Premier League last summer – and Arteta will be backed again. Adding quality and depth is crucial given they will be in four competitions next season.
What do the stats say about Arsenal?
The Gunners’ most pressing need for next season is in attack. When your leading marksman has the same number of goals as bottom-placed Norwich, you know there is a problem.
The issue is not in creating chances, the problem is in taking them. Arsenal ranked fourth for shots, shots on target and expected goals (xG) this season, but ranked 11th for shot conversion.
This disparity places Arteta’s side 15th for xG differential, which measures the difference between goals and xG. A low xG differential suggests you are missing high-quality chances – only Brighton, Leeds and the three relegated teams had a lower xG differential than Arsenal.
The main culprit in this regard is Alexandre Lacazette, who scored just two non-penalty goals from 46 shots and a xG return of 6.84. Only Brentford’s Bryan Mbuemo underperformed his xG by a bigger margin this season.
What manager Mikel Arteta has said
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta speaking after his side’s 5-1 win over Everton on the last day of the season:
“From my side, I will do and the club will do what we have to do and what we think is the best thing for the club to move forward and do it with the integrity and the honesty that we’ve always done it.
“I will speak to the three players [Alex Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah and Mohamed Elneny who are out of contract this summer] and after that, we need to start to move on but we have clear ideas of what we want to do.
“Those players know individually their situation, when it’s going to be communicated, and then that situation happens face to face the way that they deserve.”
What should Arsenal do this summer?
Sky Sports football journalist Sam Blitz:
First and foremost, this Arsenal squad needs beefing up in terms of numbers. Mikel Arteta organised a small squad last season as the Gunners had no European football – and that hampered the team in the final weeks of the season.
Injuries to Kieran Tierney, Thomas Partey and Takehiro Tomiyasu wrecked their chances of finishing in the top four, so adequate back-up options are needed for the challenges of Thursday-Sunday football as Cedric Soares, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares are either too inconsistent or inexperienced for a regular run in the team.
Then comes the striker dilemma. Alexandre Lacazette’s future is far from certain and with European football on the agenda, at least two new forwards need to come in at the Emirates Stadium.
Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus has been strongly linked to the club and he would be an excellent addition, having worked with Mikel Arteta before, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Victor Osimhen and Tammy Abraham have been touted as potential new target man options.
William Saliba is likely to provide better competition at the back, but a central midfielder – such as Youri Tielemans or Ruben Neves – to take the creativity burden off Martin Odegaard may also be required.
In terms of outgoings, there may not be such a major clear out compared to previous years. Along with Lacaczette, Bernd Leno will surely quit the club while Arteta may try to find an improvement on Tavares.
Arsenal fans’ patience with Nicolas Pepe is wearing thin so he may be moved on to raise funds. Do not be surprised if Reiss Nelson – who has been in excellent form on loan at Feyenoord in recent weeks – comes back into the fold to replace him.
But missing out on Champions League football means Arteta and Arsenal may have to look further down their pecking order of transfer targets, especially with neighbours Tottenham being able to offer better terms in terms of European football next season.
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