This summer’s transfer window is a crucial period in Arsenal’s rich and colourful history.
After finishing eighth in the Premier League at the end of the 2020/21 campaign, meaning they missed out on European football for next term for the first time in 25 years, the Gunners face the challenge of turning themselves back into a competitive force and regaining some much-needed respect.
The man tasked with overseeing that responsibility is manager Mikel Arteta, who is poised to make it his mission to turn the Gunners back into the club it used to be; competing towards the top-end of the table and pushing for UEFA Champions League football.
But for that dream to become a reality, this summer’s transfer window will be vital, with new faces needed to try and get the club moving in the right direction once again, with the prospect of missing out on European football again unimaginable.
football.london understands that Arteta, alongside technical director Edu, has plans to bring in at least five new players this summer, with the goalkeeping department, right-back berth, left-back spot, central-midfield role and central attacking-midfield role in need of strengthening.
As well as wanting to bolster those five areas of the squad, Arteta is also keen on signing Brighton & Hove Albion and England centre-back Ben White, with the Gunners having already seen one offer turned down for the former Leeds United loanee. There have also been reports that the club are keen on signing Eintracht Frankfurt striker Andre Silva.
But one position that is in need of bolstering more than most at the Emirates Stadium this summer is the central attacking-midfield berth. The role has been crying out for a long-term candidate for a while, with Martin Odegaard only temporarily filling the void during the second half of the 2020/21 campaign whilst on loan from Real Madrid.
Although Odegaard remains Arteta’s top target to strengthen that position this summer, the Norway international is said to be focused on fighting for his place at the Bernabeu, leaving Arteta and Edu to explore fresh options. One man that Arsenal do see as a suitable option is Leicester City ace James Maddison.
football.london understands that Maddison is a player that Arteta is very fond of and would like to add him to his squad in north London this summer.
On the downside, though, the Leicester ace is likely to command a fee of over £60million, meaning it would leave Arsenal short in terms of funding to bolster other areas of the squad that they have aspirations of improving.
However, a name that was heavily linked with a move to north London last summer has once again risen to the surface.
The man in question is Lyon ace Houssem Aouar.
The midfielder, who failed to land a place in France’s squad for this summer’s rearranged European Championship, is once again on the Gunners’ radar, according to reports. The Sun say that Arsenal have reignited their interest in the 22-year-old after Lyon failed to qualify for the Champions League for next season.
That is because Aouar’s value, purely because of Lyon’s failure to qualify for club football’s top European competition, has decreased massively, meaning Lyon could now be prepared to let him go for just £20m – a price Arsenal could afford without too much difficulty. Twelve months ago, Lyon were demanding around £55m.
With the Gunners said to have rekindled their interest in Aouar, it is most certainly a transfer that the vast majority of supporters would no doubt be in favour of, with many of them desperate for Edu to seal a big-money move for his signature a year ago.
And it is not just Arsenal’s supporters that are big fans of Aouar’s qualities, as the Frenchman also drew special praise from Manchester City ace Kevin De Bruyne following Lyon’s triumph over City at the quarter-final stage of the Champions League last season, following the season’s resumption after the first coronavirus lockdown period.
That night, Lyon ran out 3-1 winners as Aouar claimed two assists.
As quoted by our sister title, the Manchester Evening News, De Bruyne said: “Lyon have a great team. I don’t follow the French league as much as other leagues, but if I have to pick one player that has impressed me from Lyon, it would be Houssem Aouar.
“He was fantastic.”
For De Bruyne, who is one of the very best attacking-midfielders in world football, to have issued a verdict like that, it tells you all that you need to know about Aouar’s credentials.
The summer window is officially open, and it’s going to be tough to keep up with the comings and goings in and out of the Emirates.
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Although he only scored eight goals and claimed four assists in the whole of the 2020/21 season, Aouar has plenty more gears to work his way up through, as he only turns 23 next week.
De Bruyne, of course, is more than qualified enough to make a judgment on great players, meaning Aouar must have done something to impress him.
At such a young age, meaning his best is yet to come, Aouar being available for a reported £20m may be too good an opportunity for Arsenal not to take.