Despite it being an international break, the wheels of football business continue to go round and clubs across Europe are deep into their squad planning for next season.
Arsenal are certainly one of those clubs who will be looking to strengthen their squad this summer, while a host of names could be set to depart in a bid to raise funds for Mikel Arteta’s side.
The Gunners will be boosted by the arrival of Richard Garlick as the new Director of Football Operations, succeeding former contracts specialist Huss Fahmy to help deal with player contracts and negotiations.
There can be no complains about Arsenal’s fresh executive structure which will boast vast Premier League experience and existing knowledge of the South American region from current technical director Edu.
But what about the arrivals on the pitch?
football.london assesses what is likely to happen behind the scenes at London Colney this summer, with added insight taking a further look at the areas the club are hoping to strengthen in.
Arsenal will focus their attentions on keeping Martin Odegaard at the club beyond next season, with Nabil Fekir not expected to be arriving at Emirates Stadium.
As reported by football.london on Saturday, Odegaard has told those close to him that he would like to stay at Arsenal beyond the end of this season.
Fekir, who has been linked with Arsenal in previous seasons, almost joined Liverpool in the summer of 2019 but his history of knee injuries and agent demands ended up scuppering the deal.
Now plying his trade for Real Betis in Spain, the 27-year-old has recently switched agent and courted interest from clubs across Europe, although football.london has learned that the Gunners’ interest is ‘tentative’ and unlikely to be pursued this summer.
Meanwhile, the fullback areas are being targeted by Edu as the club look to recruit a left-back to compete with Kieran Tierney.
The profile of player being looked at will focus on a younger signing, but it is the opposite flank which could see the most interesting business done this summer.
With the future of Hector Bellerin unclear, a new right-back will be targeted to rival Cedric Soares in that position if the Spaniard does indeed depart north London.
Inter star Achraf Hakimi is one of several defenders who Edu has particular admiration for, but any move would be dependent on whether Bellerin leaves this summer.
David Luiz will be a free agent in the summer and was expected to depart when his contract expires at the end of the season.
The 33-year-old was handed an extra 12 months on his deal last summer after impressing Gunners boss Mikel Arteta with the impact he had on the younger members of the squad.
But an extension for Luiz – who turns 34 in April – makes little sense with the likes of Dinos Mavropanos and William Saliba returning from their respective loan spells.
There will also be talks scheduled this summer with Alexandre Lacazette, who has one year remaining on his current deal.
Clubs in France, Italy and Spain have already made contact with Lacazette’s representatives ahead of the summer transfer window.
As mentioned above, Bellerin is another potential player to depart with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain interested in the defender.
A number of fringe players including Sead Kolasinac, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi are also expected to leave.
As reported by football.london in December, Arteta has the full backing from Arsenal owners KSE (Kroenke Sports Entertainment) and the long-term plan is to create a ‘cultural overhaul’ which will see a number of players leave the club over the next few months.
Some of those players left in January while further exits will happen this summer.
Non-executive director Tim Lewis has already spearheaded a number of cost-cutting changes at the club, but both Arteta and Edu continue to have the full faith of the power-makers at Arsenal.
Arteta was recently linked with the Barcelona job and whilst sources suggest he was ‘flattered’ to have his name mentioned in the conversation, it remains unlikely at this stage that a move back to Spain would be on the cards.
“We want to move to a 4-3-3 but for that, you need a lot of specificity in every position but now in five or six positions, we don’t have it,” said Arteta in December.
The long-term aim is to build a starting eleven who are capable of being deployed in the Spaniard’s preferred formation.
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It could see Arsenal follow in the footsteps of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City but it will require large investment on the playing squad.
The Gunners reported a loss of £47.8million for the financial year from 2019-2020 and are likely to sell players this summer before reinvesting in the required positions.