Arsenal’s current right-back ‘Mr. Reliable’ Bacary Sagna is one of the best in the world, he is also 29 years of age and therefore well into his prime, for a player in his position he has around 4 good years left in him before he’ll start to decline as a footballer. So Arsenal will need to line up a long term replacement, as it stands that’s 20 year old Carl Jenkinson. Jenkinson looks to be a suitable replacement having performed well when he was thrown into the first team unexpectedly in his first season with the club, however both Sagna and Jenkinson have suffered with injuries this season leaving Johan Djourou to cover at right-back, a position he does not play very convincingly. Also Jenkinson is clearly still learning the game and would not be a suitable cover should Sagna suffer another long term injury in following seasons. So who would be a suitable rotation right-back? Lukasz Piszczek has been an key player in the Borussia Dortmund squad since 2010 and has over 20 senior caps for Poland, and has impressed greatly for both, last season for BVB he had 4 goals and 6 assists to his name, an impressive amount for a right-back, defensively he isn’t as capable as Sagna, but is certainly adept for champions league level. Going forward he is proven to be more decisive and his crossing is notably better, so he would obviously be a useful player to introduce for the last half hour of games when Sagna ages and his natural fitness begins to decline. His recent performances for the Polish national side during their short Euro 2012 campaign has impressed pundits and he will no doubt be the target of scouts from the top teams in Europe, therefore he won’t be cheap. But also his current club did the double last season and are expected to be a prominent force in next seasons champions league so he will only have the motivation to move for a club he has a personal passion for or a very big club. Although with Shinji Kagawa already on his way to Manchester United, and team mates; Robert Lewandowski, Mario Götze and Mats Hummels all being linked to big clubs, he could become part of big list of players leaving Dortmund in the near future. He would certainly be a good addition to Wenger’s squad but may not be the cheapest option, and we all know that may put Arsenal off any potential transfer.
2. Yoann Gourcuff
The 25 year old French playmaker has reportedly been placed on the transfer list at Olympique Lyonnais after being plagued with injuries restricting him to only 13 appearances last season. Arsene Wenger is known to be a long term admirer and Gourcuff would expectedly welcome a move to the premier league. Sounds great? He’s a gamble, a huge gamble, but he is a fantastic playmaker and would fit perfectly into the squad with Andrey Arshavin widely expected to leave and Tomas Rosicky approaching the age of 32 this year. He is held in high regard in France and across Europe because of his ability to boss the midfield, in his most productive spell at Bordeaux he racked up a total of 24 goals and 26 assists in 95 appearances between 2008 and 2010. The majority Arsenal’s midfield creativity this year came from deadline day singing Mikel Arteta, he was instrumental for arsenal in the 2010/11 campaign following the loss of Jack Wilshere to injury and Gourcuff would play suitable back up to both of them. Gourcuff made the headlines earlier this year after failing to make Frances Euro 2012 squad, he stated that he could not cope with the pressure to return to match fitness in time for the tournament after looking rusty in friendlies building up to the tournament. Arsenal fans are sick and tired of seeing players on 50+k a week missing season after season due to injury so would be reluctant to see Gourcuff sign on a full contract, a more suitable option would be a loan with a view to a full transfer. Or a pay as you play contract, but it’s unlikely a player of his ability and stature would agree to that sort of deal. So he would definitely be a good rotation option and would add strength in depth to the midfield at Arsenal, he’s a technically gifted footballer and would fit our style of play. He is still a risk with his history of injuries, but Wenger may be willing to take that risk if he is available at a good price, but keep in mind that he was purchased for around 22 million euro’s and Lyon will not want to sell him on the ‘cheap’. Let’s just hope he’s not the French Owen Hargreaves.
3. Eric Abidal
Ambitious? Yes. Impossible? No.
Arsenal need a left back, Kieran Gibbs has a promising future in football and is by no doubt Arsenal’s first choice when fit. But he has yet to feature for a full season. Andre Santos signed last season for around £6 million and despite putting in some fantastic attacking performances has been unconvincing in his defensive duties. Abidal at the age of 32 would be a short term solution who would come straight into the team and provide world class ability and experience at the left-back position. He is currently recovering at home from a liver transplant but it was announced by his doctors that he could continue to play football in the near future if he so wishes. At his age he would not be too expensive and Barcelona would most likely be willing to listen to offers to fund any summer transfers. Wenger should take notice of a player of his ability but is reluctant to sign a player of his age or in fact any left-back on his own principals; he feels there is adequate cover at left-back with Vermaelen and Sagna, but Sagna is naturally a right-back and Vermaelen does not like playing at left-back and is notably less effective playing there. He has year left on his current contract so it would appear that his football career at Barcelona is nearing its end but he is by no means past his prime. He has scored only 3 times in 372 appearances but is renown around the world for his fantastic pace, fitness, crossing, marking and tackling. He would be a superb addition to the squad but would be unlikely to be sold for anything less than £6-7 million given his ability despite his age. And Wenger will be unlikely to want to pay that for a player of his age, but Barcelona may yield in order to build funds for their own summer signings. Then again I may be dreaming.
4. Jack Butland
Lukasz Fabianski looks to be leaving Arsenal this summer because he is unhappy being second choice, fans want an experienced goalkeeper to play back up to Wojciech Szczesny but truth is an experienced goalkeeper doesn’t want to play back up to someone younger than them unless they’re not used to getting playing time anywhere else. Different names have been thrown around such as Craig Gordon, but a keeper as susceptible to injury as him would be unwise. Jack Butland is a 19 year old keeper who has impressed in the lower leagues the past two years on loan Cheltenham Town from Birmingham City. He is widely regarded in England as a ‘wonder kid’; Wenger’s eyes usually light up at the mention of that word. He came to light in public recently after being called up to the Euro 2012 squad to replace injured John Ruddy, but to those who watch League 2 and Birmingham City fans his ability is already known, he has everything required to play at the top level having conceded 26 in 24 apps for Cheltenham he impressed fans and pundits and has already represented England at all levels except senior although as previously mentioned he is in this year’s Euro Squad. At 19 he will be keen to impress, and will push Szczesny to be at his best at all times, with Almunia and Fabianski he was always sure of his first team place. But if he does not play as much as he likes he will probably want to leave, that may put him off a move all together but he is definitely on the radar of a few Premier league clubs. Whether Wenger will look to a younger player or an experienced goalkeeper is yet to be seen. But a keeper is definitely required if Fabianski cannot be convinced to stay.
5. Anatoliy Tymoschchuk
This one will come as a surprise to Arsenal fans but hear me out. His contract with Bayern Munich is up at the end of this month, he’s an experienced defensive midfielder, one of the best of his role, he’s very comfortable in possession and has been described as “A professional from head to toe”. Alex Song is Arsenal’s current holding midfielder However last season his role seemingly changed from a defensive-midfielder to a deep lying playmaker role, with an impressive 12 assists and a pass success rate of 83.8%. He was also criticised by fans last season for getting caught too far up field leaving the back four too exposed during opposition counter attacks. Fans have been calling for another DM to play in Song’s old role and Yann M’Vila looks to be the most likely candidate although reportedly no contact has been made. A young DM would not be needed as Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimmpong look to be the future of Arsenal in that position. But at 33 Tymoshchuk would provide short term solid consistency in that role and on a free transfer would be a fantastic piece of business for any club. He has been linked with a move to Russian big spenders Anji which could raise questions over his wage demands discouraging interest from clubs such as Arsenal. Even with the signing of M’Vila he would add depth to Arsenal and provide great backup, at his age he would be likely to agree to spending time on the bench but would want high wages if he isn’t guaranteed playing time. A seriously talented player available on a free seems like Wenger territory, but high wage demands make cause him to look elsewhere.
Written by: Rowans Simmons – Follow him on Twitter Click Here