Originally published on The Sport Review
The air is tinged with uncertainty at Arsenal right now. Arsene Wenger, after more than two decades at the club, is teetering on the brink. Although he has signed a new two year deal, the fans opinion is in the balance – which Wenger himself is painfully aware of.
It leaves the North Londoners in an awkward position.
Normally, plans for the next season will be in motion already behind the scenes, as clubs seek to get a headstart on their rivals. With Wenger leaving it to the last minute to sign – and with a lucrative spot in the Champions League being missed – the Gunners may miss out on some of their targets in the transfer market.
Throw into the mix the question marks over star players Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil, then there could well be departures from the squad.
All of the above points to a particularly busy summer for all concerned at Arsenal. With what has been another season in which the team have missed out by a considerable margin on the title, new blood would be the push that Arsenal need to make a concerted push for the League next season.
So, who should Arsenal look to to inject some real quality into their side? Here’s twenty players who fit the Gunners bill;
20 – Steven N’Zonzi – CM
N’Zonzi was on Wenger’s radar when the rangy midfielder was at Stoke, but his short time at Sevilla has shown he has much more to his game than before. A full range of passing whilst still retaining his bite in the tackle, N’Zonzi could really provide Arsenal with all they require in the middle. The Frenchman would be a great combination of current Gunners midfielders Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey – but he can do all of it himself.
19 – Marco Schuster – DM
This young German has made his breakthrough this season, and Augsberg are benefitting from his talents. Schuster has started the majority of the games in the Bundesliga so far, and the awareness and tackling ability he has shown belies his 21 years of age. It may be a tad early to proclaim such heavy expectations of the midfielder, but eyes from other big clubs will soon be on him, and Arsenal have a track record in snapping up talent early.
18 – Daniele Rugani – CB
Arsenal are well stocked in defence for the first time in years, but Laurent Koscielny probably only has another year or two at the top of his game and a successor must be found. Step forward Daniele Rugani. Only 22, but the youngster is already part of the Italian squad. Considering the competition he faces to get a look in for the Azzurri, Rugani has already proved what he is capable of. The move would cost a large sum though, so Arsenal would have to buck their own trend of bargain hunting.
17 – Justin Kluivert – RW
If 17 year old Justin is anything like his dad Patrick, then the fact he has only made a handful of appearances for the Ajax first team means little. There will be a heap of pressure on this youngster’s shoulders as the weight of expectation will be heavy, but Kluivert is already making leaps and bounds. A move to Arsenal, perhaps with a season loan back to Ajax would make sense, but whoever has Kluivert Junior on their books could have one hell of a player.A gamble, but Ajax seem happy to include him in their squad, which is always a good omen.
16 – Corentin Tolisso – CM
Tolisso has been making great strides in this promising Lyon side. Versatile, with an ability to drop back in midfield and also slot in on the right of defence when needed, Tolisso has great tactical acumen and a fantastic engine. The Frenchman could develop into a box-to-box dynamo, and with Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla increasingly injury prone, Tolisso could be a ready-made replacement.
15 – Riechedly Bazoer – CM
It isn’t normally conventional for a player who signed for a club in January to move away in the summer, but Bazoer joined Wolfsburg to play in Europe, and to play top-flight football. At just 20yrs old, the Dutchman’s progression requires the finest competition week in and week out. If Wolfsburg continue to struggle in the lower reaches of the Bundesliga, or even slip out via relegation, then this starlet could be a bargain.
14 – Jetro Willems – LB
Willems turns 23yrs old this month, and having already earned international recognition, he will be keen to make the next move on his career ladder. PSV have taken him as far as they can, and Willems has it all in his locker. With Nacho Monreal on the wrong side of 30, Willems could come in and his athleticism and rapid breaks from deep are exactly what the Spaniard provides.
13 – Inaki Williams – CF
Williams possesses strength, pace and good link-up play, all valuable assets in the Arsenal team. The Spaniard could improve his goal return, but he is still only 22years old so the capacity for improvement is untapped. Could Arsenal be the best destination for Williams? His style of play is perfect for a free-flowing Gunners side.
12 – Ousmane Dembele – LW
Dembele only joined Dortmund last year, but he has ripped defences to shreds so far. Success breeds attention though, and this means Dembele will be a wanted man. The Premier League has a draw for all players, and with the mountain of money all sides now possess, Dembele could well leave for English pastures. Speedy with an eye for goal, if he can work on his physicality then the young Frenchman could have it all.
11 – Kingsley Coman – LW
Coman is destined for the big time. On the books at Juventus, he has spent this season on loan at another giant club – Bayern Munich. Adept at playing anywhere across the forward line, his dribbling and close control signal him out as one of those players that makes things happen. Coman could command a gargantuan fee, but sometimes the outlay is worth it. Coman would be a great signing for any team.
10 – Emil Forsberg – AM
Leipzig are ripping up expectations in Germany. Their first season in the top flight and they are keeping pace with Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga. One of the main reasons for this is Forsberg. His vision has resulted in a slew of chances created, and his efficiency on the ball means he can adapt his style dependant on opponent. The Swede is adored at Leipzig, but he could elevate his career to new heights with a move to Arsenal.
9 – Ricardo Rodriguez – LB
The Swiss international is a well known commodity, and it is rather surprising he hasn’t been snapped up already. This summer will probably be the moment he leaves, and the rapid, strong, sensible Rodriguez is primed for the Monreal role at Arsenal. So much experience means he will never leave his post unmanned, something that has hindered the Gunners in the past. this target is well within Arsenal’s reach.
8 – Ben Chilwell – LB
Chilwell has had limited opportunities at the Foxes, and this season he has been on loan at Huddersfield Town. The Terriers are in the top 3 of the Championship, and Chilwell’s displays have backed up assessments from experts that Chilwell is top grade material. There is much to learn for the 20yr old, but after Hector Bellerin came in at such a young age, Arsenal do not care about dropping their youngsters in at the deep end.
7 – Philip Billing – CM
Chilwell’s team mate at Huddersfield, Billing is a formidable size. Despite his large frame, he is surprisingly nimble and hoovers up possession. He can spray the ball from deep, but he is equally comfortable running into the final third. Still young and relatively cheap, Billing could be a real rough diamond – something of an Arsenal speciality.
6 – Luciano Vietto – CF
The 23yr old Argentine has struggled since departing Villareal in 2015. After impressing with the Yellow Submarine, Vietto made his big move to Diego Simeone’s Atletico side. Vietto struggled to make an impact, and was sent on loan this season to Sevilla. Jorge Sampaoli’s side were real contenders for La Liga this campaign in the first half of the season, and Vietto looks to have regained his expert finishing and ability to find the perfect spot in the box. Vietto is surplus to requirements at Atletico, so another move is on the cards.
5 – Marco Reus – CF
Injury plagued, but mercurial, Reus would be a real coup for any top side. Either coming in from wide or playing centrally, Reus causes damage. His technique is peerless, but his versatility is what marks him above most. When controlling a speeding ball, he can wrangle the ball quickly using various parts of his body in an expert manner. Reus has been an excellent servant for Dortmund, but a player like Reus needs the biggest stage. Could Arsenal’s German players lure him to The Emirates?
4 – Nabil Fekir – AM
Fekir is the real deal. At 23, his vision is quite staggering, and his link up play is hewn straight from the Arsenal playbook. A French international and averaging a goal every three games for Lyon, his mastery of all things attack mean he has outgrown Lyon. He will have no shortage of offers, but Fekir has all the tools necessary to do exactly what Arsenal legend Robert Pires did in the Premiership.
3 – Jonas Hector – LB
Another youngster whose talent has outgrown his club, Hector is another left-back who could replace the aging and inconsistent Nacho Monreal. He has years of top flight games under his belt, and he already has 25 Germany caps. Still not at his peak, Hector is due a bigger stage for his talents. This move is perfect for both parties.
2 – Kylian Mbappe – CF
A move to The Emirates for this dynamic striker may have already been mooted, but comparisons to Arsenal hero and legend Thierry Henry do not go away and Mbappe is an Arsenal player in everything but contract. His pace, his finishing, his positioning is so good for such a lack of experience. If Mbappe keeps hitting the back of the net, then he can take his pick of clubs. Arsenal will certainly be one of them, and he could do far worse. Some clubs are just a good fit for a player.
1 – Alexandre Lacazette – CF
The third player from Lyon to make this list, and we have saved the best for last. Lacazette is a goal machine, but he is far more than just a goal-hanger. His speed is untouchable, but he has allied this with a strong frame which means when he is on the run, he is unstoppable. The mark of a top striker is consistency, and with 94 goals in 195 appearances, Lacazette has proved he has this rare skill. Still only 26, the French striker has long been a transfer target. Could he improve Arsenal’s fortunes in front of goal? Much depends on the future of Alexis Sanchez, but even if the Chilean stays, Lacazette would still be a top signing for the Gunners.