How will Mikel Arteta look to bolster his struggling squad?
We may not even be half way through the Premier League season but it will feel like a lifetime for Arsenal fans. They began August by lifting the FA Cup after beating Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley. By December, any hopes of a top four charge were over and whispers of a relegation fight were growing louder. Now though, they’re unbeaten in 6 Premier League games and relegation fears seem to have been put to bed. It remains safe to say though, Mikel Arteta has a big rebuilding job on his hands. So, how will he look to bolster his struggling squad? What could we see happen before the window shuts? Here is a roundup of all the Arsenal Transfer News and what we can expect to see.
Transfer News Roundup
A search for creativity
After the mutual termination of his contract, Mesut Ozil’s move to Turkey is complete. Freeing up around £350.000 a week on Arsenal’s current wage bill in the process. The German has been notably absent from the Arsenal line-up since the start of the season, despite being the highest earner at the club. His departure, despite the lack of a transfer fee, would go some way to allowing Arsenal to add more creativity to their squad.
The recent improvement in form, including their recent 3-0 victory over Newcastle United and the emergence of Emile Smith-Rowe gives cause for optimism. However, the lack creativity this season is difficult to ignore. Prior to that victory, The Gunners had the sixth worst attack in the Premier League, averaging just 1.37 goals per game so far this season. They also failed to score in 39% of Premier League matches, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette struggling too.
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) January 17, 2021
Interest in Aouar remains high
A attacking, creative midfielder is possibly the highest priority for Mikel Arteta. The Arsenal Head Coach is reportedly a big admirer of Lyon’s 22 year old Midfielder Houssem Aouar. The Frenchman, who was heavily touted as a direct replacement for Mesut Ozil last summer, remains a target for the North London club. Fabrizio Romano recently explained on his podcast that
“Aouar has always been the first target for Arsenal for Arsenal, they love him and they are convinced he would be perfect in their midfield.”
The problem, of course, is the price tag that Lyon have placed on the player. Romano believes that it will take at least £50 million to prize the player from France. There will also be plenty of competition for a such key player to Lyon’s strong start to the season. Recently, Lyon team-mate Memphis Depay told Canal+ that he could play for “the top three clubs in the world”. Either way, it appears unlikely that Lyon would part with such an important player in the middle of a title race. This one could definitely be one to watch in the summer.
🎙Depay 🇳🇱: "Houssem Aouar 🇫🇷 and I know that we play for a very big club, but we want to go to one of the three best clubs in the world. Then you will see Houssem will be 10 times better. For me, it's the same." [@canalplus] #OL #FCBlive pic.twitter.com/EPyD9VbrWm
— RouteOneFootball (@Route1futbol) January 18, 2021
Bolstering the midfield
With the acquisition of Thomas Partey last summer, a more attacking, box to box style midfield partner would also provide Arsenal with more creativity. Possible targets include Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Brandt and Brighton’s Yves Bissouma.
Brandt can play as an attacking midfielder or form the attacking part of a double midfield pivot. He also completes more key passes per 90 than any current Arsenal player into the penalty box. Both players possess great mobility and defensive positioning to compliment their passing and ball carrying strengths. Bissouma, in particular, currently completes as many dribbles per 90 as Tottenham’s Tangey Ndombele and Everton’s Allan. Both players could also be available for less than £30 million each. But with Brighton likely to spend the second half of the season fighting to stay in the league and Dortmund relying more on Brandt after an injury to Axel Witsel. It would be difficult to get either player before the current window closes.
Another player strongly linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium is Emiliano Buendia. The Norwich midfielder has impressed in the Championship this season, scoring 7 goals and providing 6 assists. Romano has stated that Arsenal have already been in contact with his agent but have yet to make any bid. It remains to be seen whether or not Norwich would allow the player to leave but it’s certainly one to keep an eye on.
Mesut Özil is expected to sign his contract as new Fenerbahçe player on Monday. Arsenal are now planning to sell also Papastathopoulos in the coming days, then they’ll work on new signings. Emi Buendia: contacts with his agent but no official bid from #AFC, as of today. ⚪️🔴
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 16, 2021
Rejuvenating the right hand side
Since signing from Celtic last January, left back Kieran Tierney has had a terrific impact on Arsenal’s left hand side. His link up play with Bukayo Saka moving forward and assured defensive performances have drawn praise from fans and pundits alike. Unfortunately, the positive displays on one side of the pitch has exposed a lack of quality on the opposite side. First choice right back, Hector Bellerin, seems to have suffered the most criticism for a season or two now. Whether or not you are a fan of the Spaniard, there is no doubt that after nearly 10 years at the club, it could be time for an upgrade. With clubs like PSG and Barcelona still rumored to be interested in Bellerin, it’s not unlikely that Arteta is planning to add a right back sooner rather than later.
So who could they turn to? One player that certainly won’t be making his way to North London is Tariq Lamptey. The 20 year old right back recently signed a new contract with Brighton until 2025. That doesn’t make a future Arsenal approach impossible but it remains unlikely that any move will be attempted this month.
Unlike Lamptey, Max Aarons appears more likely to leave current club Norwich. According to sources like The Express, Arsenal have joined a growing list of clubs who are interested in signing the defender. Aarons has impressed for the canaries once more in the Championship this season and with a number of clubs understood to be circling, it would be unwise to bet against one of them making a move soon. Both Lamptey and Aarons fit the age bracket that would allow Arteta to coach and adapt their style of play. A move to a bigger club seems inevitable for both of them.
Max Aarons and Oliver Skipp are the two Norwich players to have played all 23 league games so far this season. Consistent 💪 pic.twitter.com/sgJt4Nmxeg
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) January 4, 2021
The Goalkeeper Situation
German Goalkeeper Bernd Leno has rarely been challenged for the number one stop since signing in 2018. However, after suffering a bad injury away at Brighton at the back end of last season, it was his backup who went on to impress. Emiliano Martinez, who had spent 8 years at the club without breaking through, took his chance with both hands. A string of solid performances to close out the campaign gave Arteta a problem. Would Leno get his spot back automatically or had Martinez done enough to wrestle it from him?
The answer was emphatic. Martinez, who’s performances left him too good for the bench, was sold to Aston Villa for £17 million and has been one of the standout transfers of the season so far. To replace him, Arsenal looked to France and signed Alex Runnarson from Dijon. The 25 year old Iceland International was seen as a low risk, signing for just £1.8 million to be back up to Leno.
Most Clean Sheets 2020/21:
9 – Ederson
8 – Emiliano Martinez
7 – Bernd Leno, Alex McCarthy, Edouard Mendy pic.twitter.com/8JOJAub7sg
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 19, 2021
Who are the transfer targets?
Runnarson made a solid start to his Arsenal career in the Europa League. Keeping 2 clean sheets and conceding 3 goals in his 4 appearances. Unfortunately, after an error filled performance against Manchester City the Carabao Cup, there is an urgency to bring in a more reliable option. A new goalkeeper appears to be a priority in January for Arteta who, according The Express, recently stated:
“We are assessing the situation with the three positions on the goalkeeping area and we will find a different solution, probably in this window.”
The two targets who been identified are Barcelona’s Brazilian Back-up Neto and Newcastle United’s Freddie Woodman. Neto is understood to be keen on a move to England and has reportedly handed in a transfer request. A request swiftly denied by Ronald Koeman. The manager appears unwilling to let any of his first team players leave after stating that “if we talk about players, we talk about youngsters”. It appears that unless Koeman’s stance softens, a move for Woodman is more likely. The 23 year old is current on load at Swansea City but already has ties with Arsenal through his father who works there as a coach. After showing impressive form for the Welsh club, he has been identified by Technical Director Edu as a target.
Arsenal have been tracking Freddie Woodman for several years.
The 23-yr-old is one of several GKs on #AFC's shortlist as they aim to sign a shot stopper this month.
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) January 16, 2021
What’s likely to happen?
In reality, every club finds in more difficult to sign players in January. This January is no different and the current economic climate caused by the pandemic makes it ever harder. However, Ozil’s departure puts Arsenal in a stronger financial position than before. A recent improvement in results are not fooling many in or outside the club. Arteta can’t really afford to let this transfer window pass without making some additions. Even one signing can have an instant impact on a team who can still climb up the table. Whether its a loan deal, free transfer or £40 million signing. Arsenal fans will be watching all transfer news with great interest until the very end of the month.
We hope you enjoyed the article ‘Arsenal Transfer News – How will Mikel Arteta look to bolster his struggling squad?’ Who do you think Arsenal should sign during the January transfer window? Let us know!
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