The upcoming summer period could be described as one of, if not the most important times in Arsenal’s recent history. So many possible scenarios have been painted in the media over the last few weeks about manager Arsene Wenger and his decision to either stay or leave at the end of the current campaign.
Another angle to consider is the playing staff at the Emirates Stadium – and in particular, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, who will both have just 12 months remaining on their contracts in the summer. Can the Arsenal hierarchy convince both stars to stay, if Champions League football is attained, or will both leave North London for big fees, to either rival Premier League clubs, or most likely on the continent.
The next window promises to be a very interesting period on so many levels for Gunners’ fans and here we will look at five players who could join this summer to bolster the playing squad.
Lorik Cana is the only Albanian footballer ever to grace the Premier League with Sunderland, however, Arsenal may look to firm up their interest in Albanian full-back, Elseid Hysaj who currently plays for Serie A side Napoli. The 23 year-old who is more adept on the right side of defence, has garnered interest from Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in recent months, and now Premier League clubs including Arsenal have joined the chase for the rising star. The Gunners have Hector Bellerin as their number one right-back, but the young Spanish defender’s future is also open to question. With that in mind, Hysaj would provide strong competition for the young Spanish raider, or be a capable replacement if he left the club.
Time to splash the cash
A long standing issue with many Gunners fans is their clubs real inability to splash the big money on top stars. Everton’s Romelu Lukaku looks set to leave Goodison Park this summer, and the powerful 23 year-old striker could be on the radar for the Arsenal board. Bringing Lukaku to the Emirates would add another dimension to the Gunners strikeforce – and the potential of many goals. Lukaku has hit 23 Premier League goals so far this season for Everton – at an average of one in every 119 minutes of play – and although the Belgian international would be an expensive purchase of around £70m, the statement of intent shown by Arsenal to return to the summit of English football would be a huge boost for supporters.
Everyone of an Arsenal persuasion knows that the Gunners look to buy young players – and Ajax’s 17 year-old defender, Matthijs de Ligt is already catching the eye of many top clubs. De Ligt broke into the Ajax first team back in October and has currently made eight league appearances for the Dutch giants. With fine physical attributes for his age, De Ligt has already been thrusted into full international honours with a first half appearance in the Netherlands 2-0 defeat in Bulgaria in March. Dutch clubs ultimately sell their best players, and Arsenal could steal a march on the rest of Europe by clinching the signature of De Ligt this summer.
If the Gunners midfield is depleted this summer with potential outgoings, then Schalke’s Leon Goretzka could be a new recruit to replenish options. Goretzka is another player with time on his side at just 22 years of age – but has already gained plenty of experience in the Bundesliga. After making his debut for Schalke, following a transfer from Bochum back in the 2013/14 season, Goretzka has grown into a firm favourite at the Veltins Arena. With just over one year remaining on his contract, Goretzka could be attained at a knock-down price of around £20m for the promising German international.
The goalkeeping situation within the Gunners’ squad is also likely to be reshuffled this summer, with David Ospina likely to leave for new pastures. At 34 years of age, Petr Cech is still a fine custodian, but surely Arsenal will be looking to get younger men to fill the position – so step forward Sunderland keeper, Jordan Pickford. With the Black Cats marooned as an obvious bet for relegation, Pickford’s performances have been one of the rare highlights for Sunderland fans this season. Pickford would provide stern competition for Cech if he arrived this summer, and looks to be a player who will be challenging for full international honours in the near future.