Arsenal bolstered their prospects of securing a top-six finish in the Premier League this season with a 2-1 win over north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The victory was enough to move Arsenal onto 41 points, leaving them four points behind Spurs in the table with ten games of the season remaining.
However, if the Gunners are to kick-on next season and consider themselves as a genuine top-four contender once again, Mikel Arteta, the Gunners manager, will have to receive financial backing from the club’s hierarchy during the summer transfer window.
Although the window is still several months away from opening, the club is being linked with an array of big-name stars, including Norwich City’s Max Aarons, Achraf Hakimi of Inter Milan, Eintracht Frankfurt’s Evan N’Dicka, Brighton & Hove Albion midfield enforcer Yves Bissouma, Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish and the prospect of signing on-loan Real Madrid star Odegaard on a permanent basis.
Whilst the Gunners are also set to prioritise the signing of a new left-back, after failing to draft one in at the end of the January transfer window, and a central attacking-midfielder, with keeping hold of Odegaard likely to be their top priority, a new right-back could also be of use.
That is because Hector Bellerin is considering leaving the club this summer to test himself elsewhere. It was reported last month that the Spaniard, who has been a tremendous servant for Arsenal in recent years, is once again being targeted by French giants Paris Saint-Germain, as well as former club Barcelona.
Should he leave, the Gunners will have to source a replacement this summer as Cedric Soares is currently the only other out-and-out senior right-back at the club.
Already the Gunners are being linked with possible replacements, including Inter Milan ace Hakimi. The Moroccan international is thought to be on the Gunners’ radar and it was reported in the national media earlier this month that the north London club are contemplating launching a bid for the attack-minded full-back.
Should Arsenal launch a formal offer for Hakimi, who is renowned for his ability to bomb forward from the back and join the attack, and be lucky enough to win his signature, they would be inheriting a player with no shortage of fans and admirers.
And one of his biggest fans is Brazilian legend Ronaldo. The former Inter striker has admitted previously that he would have loved the opportunity to have played with him, highlighting just how big a fan he is of his talents.
“Achraf Hakimi is an extraordinary player,” said the Brazilian icon during an interview with Gazetta Dello Sport. “Real were wrong to let him go like that.
“It is one of Inter’s best deals of the last ten years. Every now and then I think to myself, ‘Ronie, imagine yourself with Hakimi.’
“We would have been at an indecent speed.”
It is, therefore, clear that the legendary striker is a massive fan of Hakimi’s talents, but what would be the Gunners’ strongest starting line-up if they were to sign him ahead of next season?
Taking some of the very latest transfer rumours into account, Bernd Leno would retain his place in goal as the club’s first choice goalkeeper.
Ahead of him, from right to left, would be a back-four of Hakimi, N’Dicka, Gabriel Magalhaes and Kieran Tierney.
Thomas Partey would then be accompanied by Bissouma, who football.london understands would be open to joining Arsenal if the opportunity arose, in the defensive-midfield roles.
Ahead of those two, Bukayo Saka would line up on the right-wing, Odegaard would take up residency in the No.10 role and Emile Smith Rowe would offer support from the left.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would have the responsibility of being the main marksman as the out-and-out striker.
Of course, especially when clubs continue to be restricted in a financial sense because of the pandemic, there are absolutely no guarantees that this would be Arteta’s starting line-up come the start of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign.
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But if it did prove to be, he would have a whole host of options available to him to make up his substitutes bench, including Rob Holding, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Nicolas Pepe, Willian and Lacazette.
Arsenal’s dream line-up: Leno; Hakimi, N’Dicka, Gabriel, Tierney; Bissouma, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Aubameyang.