For the past few summer transfer windows, it has felt like it is the most important one in recent history, and this is the case again this year.
Arsenal finished the 2019/20 Premier League season in 8th place, 10 points off the Champions League spots, and out of the European football places for the first time in the 21st century, so another big summer of dealings is required by the Gunners to catch up to their rivals.
Arsenal kicked off their transfer window last week with the purchase of Chelsea winger Willian on a free transfer, with the Brazilian taking a pay cut to join the Gunners on a three-year deal.
However, one free signing won’t be enough, so here are the positions I think Arsenal need to improve on this summer in order to help them push towards a top-four finish next season.
In almost every Arsenal transfer window since I started following football a decade ago, it seems like one of the main priorities is always a top-quality centre-back, and it’s no different this year.
A mixture of poor scouting and transfer negotiations has seen Arsenal fail to find a top-class centre-back in ten years, apart from Laurent Koscielny who was bought from Ligue 2, the French second division.
However, under the new transfer committee, there is hope that the Gunners might finally address the problem that has haunted them for an entire decade.
The purchase of teenager William Saliba last summer seems an excellent piece of business, although he now needs another top defender to partner him.
Thankfully, it looks like Arsenal might have found that man with Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhães close to joining Arteta’s side this summer, according to the Telegraph.
While I think it would be unlikely for him and Saliba to be an instant pairing together due to their lack of experience, the pair could certainly become a top duo in a few years’ time.
Similar to Arsenal’s pursuit for a centre-back, their hunt for an excellent defensive midfielder is something that the club has failed to do successfully in the past decade, and beyond. In my opinion, since Patrick Vieira left Arsenal in 2005, the Gunners have failed to find a proper replacement for him.
Whilst Arsenal have had ‘good’ defensive midfielders since Vieira, such as Alex Song, Mathieu Flamini and Lucas Torreira at the start of his career at Arsenal, none of them come close to the Frenchman.
This is a position that is crucial to how Arteta likes to play out from the back, and someone who seems perfect for that role is Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey.
According to The Athletic, the 27-year-old is Arsenal’s number one target this summer and, in my opinion, he would revolutionise the Gunners’ midfield.
The Ghanaian midfielder has a £45m release clause which will be used as a last resort by Arsenal if they cannot agree to another deal with Atletico, however one thing that is for sure is Partey’s willingness to join the North London side.
This is a deal that the Gunners cannot afford to miss out on.
With German midfielder Mesut Ozil seemingly being forced out of the club, and 20-year-old Emile Smith-Rowe not yet ready to be an Arsenal starter, this leaves a huge hole that needs to be filled.
The signing of Willian was very important, as he can play centrally and out wide, which is why I won’t be including the winger position in this article, however, the Brazilian shouldn’t be a starter in the attacking midfield position in my opinion.
Arsenal are trying to retain Dani Ceballos, at least on loan for another season, however, I see him more as a player who plays between the defensive and attacking midfielder, instead of the latter.
The Gunners are being strongly linked with two players who I believe could excel in that role, Philippe Coutinho and Houssem Aouar, however, both will come at a huge financial expense for Arsenal.
I believe our top target is Aouar, however, given how hard he will be to get, not only financially but in terms of persuading him away from other top teams, I think Coutinho is more likely and he will act as a backup if we fail to buy the French midfielder.
Overall, there is a lot of work for Arsenal to do over the next two months. Willian’s signing is good for squad depth, however, the Gunners can’t stop there. Thankfully, it looks like the north London side won’t be stopping any time soon and, judging by the players that are being looked at, they mean business this summer.