The January transfer window is open, and unlike past years, Arsenal are expected to be at least somewhat active in the market. The Gunners spent £150M on six players in the summer, and reports are the Kroenkes may open up the coffers to further bolster Mikel Arteta’s squad this month.
But what positions are / should the Gunners be targeting?
The consensus is center mid and striker. Both as the positions the pundits think the club should be looking to strengthen and the ones Edu and Mikel Arteta are actually working to reinforce. It seems clear at this point that Arsenal are focusing on younger players. The summer signings were all 23-years old or younger. I don’t think they’ve put a hard age cap on transfers, but I’d also be surprised to see them move for anybody older than 25 or 26.
The Gunners need a Granit Xhaka replacement. We’ve beaten this drum well-beyond broken, so I won’t belabor the point. Xhaka is an important player to the current setup. Arsenal are better with him in the lineup than without him right now, but he is limited and those limitations, in turn, limit Arsenal. I expect the Gunners to bring in a younger replacement for Xhaka sooner rather than later. Ideally that player would be left-footed — we all know Mikel’s love for having left-footers on the left, right-footers on the right — but I don’t think that will stop the club moving for an upgrade.
Without going into too much detail about the likelihood of the move / accuracy of the rumors, the names floating around that most closely fit include Renato Sanches, Ruben Neves, and Bruno Guimarães. Arthur Melo has also been sparsely linked. In the “not happening” category, Aaron Ramsey has been tied to a return to the Emirates too.
The striker situation is a bit trickier (although perhaps it isn’t). It hinges on what Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette, whose contracts expire at the end of this season, decide to do. The pair are free to sign pre-contracts with non-Premier League clubs right now, but if they want to remain in the PL, they have to wait until after the season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s situation complicates things a bit as well, although I think it’s less of a factor.
Both Nketiah and Lacazette have turned down contract offers from Arsenal thus far. Mikel Arteta has said he’d like to keep Nketiah at the club, but Nketiah seems to want more playing time and a guaranteed role, which Arteta may not be able to offer. I think Lacazette wants a longer term and perhaps more money than Arsenal have offered to date.
I think it’s more likely Lacazette ends up staying at Arsenal than Nketiah. I can see him signing a two-year deal to be a stop-gap, veteran, good-in-the-dressing-room, semi-starter transitioned to super-sub, player to share the load with whatever younger player the club brings in to compete with Folarin Balogun to be the next starting striker at the club.
Dusan Vlahovic is a popular striker target around Europe and a frequent source of transfer rumors. He’s been linked to Arsenal but reportedly has no interest in a move to North London. The Gunners have been linked with Alexander Isak and Jonathan David in previous windows and reportedly remain interested in both. There have also been links with Dejan Kulusevski, although he’s more of an attacking winger than a striker.
The Gunners also need another true right back, although it’s not nearly as big of a priority. Takehiro Tomiyasu has the position locked down. Calum Chambers, Cedric Soares, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and Ben White are all capable of playing RB. It’s not a situation like the Gunners had on the left (before signing Nuno Tavares) where the depth chart read, “1. Kieran Tierney, 2. ???” For what it’s worth, Hector Bellerin, who is on loan to Real Betis, is also still an Arsenal player.
Arsenal will look to move players towards the bottom of the roster out in January and this upcoming summer to free up space and wages for new additions and that may be a limiting factor to how much business the club can conduct.
Chambers is out of contract at the end of this season, but the club has an option to extend his deal. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is under contract through 2023 and has been linked with a loan to Roma this window. Sead Kolasinac is out of contract after this season, could be loaned in January, and is likely to sign elsewhere this summer. Don’t worry, Cedric Soares is under contract through 2023-24.
The Gunners also have a number of players out on loan whose situations will need to be sorted in the summer. William Saliba’s loan to Marseille has no option to buy. Matteo Guendouzi’s loan to Marseille has an option to buy. Dinos Mavropanos’ loan to Stuttgart has an option to buy (and that one may bite Arsenal, he’s playing really well). Lucas Torreira’s loan to Fiorentina is only an option to buy. Reiss Nelson’s loan to Feyenoord has no option to buy, and he extended his Arsenal contract before leaving, so he’s under contract through the end of next season.
It could be a busy January window for the Gunners. As always, we’ll keep you updated as news and rumors break.