Arsenal will soon enter a crucial summer transfer window in which Mikel Arteta will continue his rebuilding process.
The Spaniard’s priority – along with Gunners technical director Edu – during the January transfer window was on trimming the first-team squad. And they achieved exactly that.
Mesut Ozil, Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi, and Sead Kolasinac were among the high-earners who left the Emirates Stadium, which provides plenty of room to work with at the end of the campaign.
Arsenal clearly kept this in mind with their mid-season recruitment with the loan deals to sign Mat Ryan from Brighton and Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid.
Furthermore, significant additions were made last summer as big money was spent on Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey to fill two very important positions in the squad, and Arteta will certainly be looking to continue in that manner.
And so, this summer represents another opportunity to provide the Spaniard with the signings to take Arsenal forward and establish themselves as a top-four side again.
Taking all the transfer rumours into consideration, Arsenal have been linked with a brand new pair of full-backs, another central defender, a midfield partner for Partey, a creative midfielder and a forward.
It remains to be seen how many new faces arrive in north London this summer, but with funds expected to be limited it’s unlikely the squad will be overhauled too much.
Although, it can be argued that Arteta just needs to make a few tweaks to his starting XI.
With that in mind, here is how the Gunners could line up on the first day of the 2021/22 season after the summer transfer window.
Bernd Leno is likely to continue in goal behind a new-look defence that marks the return of William Saliba following his loan spell with Nice to partner Gabriel at centre-back.
Kieran Tierney is clearly the undisputed left-back option, but he could have a fresh face on the opposite flank with Achraf Hakimi tipped to replace Hector Bellerin in a £40m transfer.
Midfield is where things get interesting.
Since Arteta was appointed in 2019, the Spaniard has largely stuck to a two-man midfield pivot in a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3 system but has admitted in the past this is not how he envisions his side playing in the long term.
“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,” he told DAZN last year. “The aggressiveness, the effectiveness, the amount of steals we make in opposition half I think we have been very steady against some big clubs.”
The 4-3-3 Arteta intends to implement at the Emirates is reminiscent of what his mentor Pep Guardiola has used so effectively at Manchester City.
And before the international break against West Ham United, Arteta decided to give his preferred formation another go when he introduced Emile Smith Rowe to proceedings.
This can be replicated at the start of next season if the Gunners are able to reach an agreement with Real Madrid to extend the latter’s spell in north London – whether it be a permanent transfer or another loan deal.
This season, Arsenal haven’t scored enough goals. The over-reliance on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has waned and the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, and Willian simply are not contributing on a consistent basis.
There’s a good chance that Lacazette could leave this summer and Paul Merson thinks Sergio Aguero – who is leaving Man City this summer – would be a good option for his former side.
“Will he stay in England or will his next move be abroad? If he stays in England, I think Arsenal would suit the style he would be looking for,” Merson told Sky Sports. “They’d be a good choice.
The summer transfer window is just around the corner.
And the rumour mill is already starting to pick up speed.
Arsenal will not have a huge amount of money to spend, but Mikel Arteta will be hoping to make a number of moves, with loanee Martin Odegaard high up the list of priorities to bring in on a permanent deal.
But who would you sign? Get involved in our transfer window debate here.
“Mikel Arteta was at Manchester City and the way Arsenal play; they get around the box and they do create a lot of opportunities. Arsenal do tick that box for Aguero.”
There’s been no indication that the Gunners will pursue a move for Aguero, but it could be a brilliant short-term solution to increase their goal threat in a front three alongside Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka.
Possible Arsenal XI: Leno; Hakimi, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Smith Rowe, Odegaard; Saka, Aguero, Aubameyang.