With Arsenal yet to make a summer transfer move there are plenty of rumors swirling around about who the Gunners will sign heading into the 2014-2015 season. Manager Arsene Wegner just signed a three-year contract extension for the North London club and will be looking to use the F.A. Cup Title of last year as a springboard for future success. Just whom Wegner will bring in and whom he may let go is still speculation. The Arsenal manager is notorious for waiting late in the transfer market, especially recently. He values the core of players he has, but with a reported 100 Million pound transfer war chest available, it is hard to think he will not make a few big name signings this summer.
The Gunners have already released a few players this year, most notably Bacary Sagna, the long time right back, and Lukasz Fabianski, a goalkeeper. Both had their contracts run out without being able to agree on terms for extensions. Other first team players leaving the club include Nicklas Bendtner, Park Chu-young, Zak Ansah, and loaned players Kim Kallstrom and Emiliano Viviano. There were also four Arsenal academy players released, Daniel Boateng, Chuks Aneke, Zach Fagan, and Leander Siemann.
There are a few rumors that players such as Mikel Arteta, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla will also be following out the door. All three are either over 30 or in Podolski’s case turning 30 at the end of next season, giving all three of them only a few more years left of high quality football. Cazorla has been linked to Athletico Madrid, Podolski with Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund and Arteta with Atheltic Bilbao. Perhaps Wegner wants to cash in now and refuel the team with young inspirational signings.
In terms of which players will be brought into Arsenal this summer transfer window the rumors are mostly swirling about a replacement right back, a solid defensive midfielder and a striker, but there are others as well. Starting in the back the Gunner’s definitely need a back-up goalkeeper to fill in if Szczesny were to get injured. There have been a couple options thrown out by the media including David Ospina of Nice who is having a stellar World Cup for Columbia. Pepe Renia who is still under contract with Liverpool, but spent last season at Napoli, and Guillermo Ochoa, who had a great World Cup for Mexico and is currently a free agent.
In terms of defense Arsenal needs to replace Sagna. They do have Carl Jenkinson who has 43 appearances for the club over the past two years but at age 22 is probably not ready for the starting position just yet. The two most likely replacements that have emerged are Serge Aurier and Mathieu Debuchy. Aurier, a standout for the Ivory Coast at the World Cup, would be a long-term replacement who has tons of speed and potential for the attack, but who lacks in his defensive qualities. If Wegner still has Jenkinson in his long-term picture for the club he will likely not sign Aurier. Debuchy is therefore the likely option. He will be 29 years old at the start of next year, and is a very experienced played, even beating out Sagna for the starting position at the World Cup this year for France.
Heading into the midfield the Arsenal need a solid defensive midfielder or two honestly, especially if they are going to sell Arteta. Morgan Schneiderlin of Southhampton has been a name mentioned often for his age and potential. Wegner is watching the French international at the World Cup in order to see if he can handle the pressure of top-quality competition. Other names that are more well-known, but also harder to pry away from their clubs are Bayern Munich’s Javi Martinez, Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira and Bayern Leverkusen’s Lars Bender. All three are world-class holding midfielders. Martinez has even been known to play center back at times, which could alleviate issues for the Gunners if they were to arise. Khedira and Bender are German compatriots of Ozil and would be a good central pairing along with Ramsey or Wilshire, giving the central midfield plenty of pace, ingenuity and bite.
Arsenal did not really play with wingers last year. Injuries to Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain forced traditionally more central players like Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshire and Ozil to play in wide positions for the Gunners. This transfer season there are various rumors linking Arsenal with true wingers such as Alexi Sanchez, Angel Di Maria and Lorenzo Insigne. The first two are world-class players playing in La Liga so would cost a hefty portion of the transfer budget and Napoli’s President has said Insigne is worth 60 million euros, a much inflated price to the 20 million ESPN believed he was worth at the beginning of the summer. Signing any of the three would really help give pace to the squad, thus giving another dimension to the team’s attack and allow Ozil’s passing skills to flourish.
Last is where the big money moves usually happen. The central forward striker position is one where Arsenal could improve upon. It would be hard to find a player who can link up play with his midfield teammates as well as Oliver Giroud, but there are plenty of players who can make and finish their own chances better than the Frenchman. The three big names being tossed around are Mario Balotelli, Mario Mandzukic and Loic Remy. Remy is the most versatile of the three and could play out wide as a winger because of his pace. He would also only cost in the region of ten million pounds max. Balotelli is a risk because of his on and off the field immaturity. He is an exceptional talent who can link up play, and find his own space on the dribble to score but he is known to get red-cards and endanger his team for the sake of his individual agenda. His agent has said he is unhappy at Milan because he wants to be playing in Europe year in and year out.
The best bet may be Mandzukic, who wants to leave Bayern Munich because Lewandowski has come aboard from Dortmund this summer. Mandzukic is a physical player who could thrive in the premier league with his mobility, creativity and link up play. He is a great finisher and would be an exceptional additional to the Gunners. Many more players have also been linked to Arsenal already in this summer transfer window, but fans will have to wait for Arsene Wegner to decide how best to spend his money for the 2014-2015 season until they known what the squad will look like in September.
By B. Taylor Rash