Mikel Arteta and Arsenal need a squad realignment as soon as possible after a terrible run in the 2020/21 season. The Gunners were unable to win a major competition throughout the campaign as they also struggled domestically. Therefore, Arsenal have to look into every single option ahead of the 2021/22 season. Additionally, Arsenal’s potential transfer targets would be to join a club that is in transition.
In stark contrast to their domestic problems, Arteta’s protégés made it to the semi-finals of the Europa League and bowed to the eventual champions Villarreal (who was led by a certain Unai Emery from the technical area).
Arsenal finished 8th in the Premier League and will therefore not be competing in any European competition next season. Therefore, Arteta needs to analyze the areas that need improvement and sign them accordingly.
To this end, FootTheBall takes a look at the potential transfer targets and delves into each transfer option for Arsenal in a new season.
PRIORITY # 1 FOR ARSENAL – CENTRAL CENTER FIELD PLAYERS / ATTACK CENTER FIELD PLAYERS
IDEAL OPTION FOR ARSENAL – MARTIN ODEGAARD
In many ways, Odegaard can be considered the heir to the throne of Mesul Özils in north London. The Norwegian is a precocious talent in football, as evidenced by the fact that he is the youngest player to represent Real Madrid and play in the top Norwegian league. His loan at Emirates Stadium in the second half of the preseason has shown why he’s rated so highly.
He started in the UK capital when he scored his first Premier League goal against Crosstown rivals Tottenham Hotspur and was voted March Player of the Month by the Gunners.
In addition, his goal in the game against Olympiacos – a 20-yard shot – was voted Goal of the Month in the Europa League on Arsenal’s website.
He has the ability to play as a winger on both sides as well – a trait that the 22-year-old can find useful due to Arteta’s penchant for system and role tinkering.
Odegaard also provided two assists during his loan from Arsenal as he showed all facets of his game in the Premier League.
BUDGET OPTION FOR ARSENAL – MANUEL LOCATELLI
The Italian midfielder turned heads during Euro 2020 when the Azzurri won their first European Championship in more than half a century.
The former Milan player is courted by Juventus Turin and therefore Arsenal must act quickly to acquire its services. The 23-year-old was outstanding for Italy at Euro 2020, scoring 2 goals in 5 games for Roberto Mancini’s team.
Similarly, he exceeded expectations at Sassuolo – he scored 4 goals and set up 3 more in the 2020/21 season.
He was loaned to Sassuolo by AC Milan in 2018 on the grounds that he had to improve his Serie A skills at another club, but now the club’s board is likely to regret his decision.
One stumbling block in Locatelli’s pursuit will be the lack of European football. It is understood that Locatelli wants to play in the Champions League and this can potentially become a thorn in the side of the Gunners.
FTB’s quirky option for arsenal – MATHEUS PEREIRA
Arsenal can switch for 25-year-old Brazilian Matheus Pereira if he can’t win either of the above two players. The Brazilian is wanted by West Ham as a potential replacement for Jesse Lingard.
Mikel Arteta can play a wildcard move by signing him for the Emirates Stadium outfit to meet the need for an attacking midfielder. Pereira scored an unforgettable brace in a game against Chelsea last season, and in a later 5-2 win over the London club for West Brom.
His totals are reasonably good to justify moving to London this summer. The Brazilian scored 11 goals and provided 6 assists in the Premier League despite West Brom being relegated.
He’s also versatile because like Odegaard he can play on both wings when Arteta has to deploy someone in those positions.
PRIORITY # 2 FOR ARSENAL – RIGHT BACK
IDEAL OPTION FOR ARSENAL – MAX AARONS
The Englishman played for the Canaries when they won the championship (English second division) by 6 points (97 points in total). He is able to play both as a right-back and a left-back in defense.
In addition, his offensive performance justifies his performance for Norwich City last season – the 21-year-old scored 2 goals and provided 5 assists for Daniel Farke’s team. According to media reports, he is being courted by Arsenal the Gunners want to sign him for the next season.
The Englishman, when he comes to the North London club, will bring much-needed energy, dynamism and fresh ideas to revive the Gunners before next season. Arsenal need to act quickly for this likely Hector Bellering replacement as Aarons have already turned some of the biggest clubs in Europe upside down.
BUDGET OPTION FOR ARSENAL – MATTY CASH
The former Nottingham Forest player was named Player of the Season by Nottingham Forest fans at the end of the 2019-20 season in the championship. He then moved to Aston Villa in the Premier League, where he was getting stronger for the Villans.
The 23-year-old provided 3 assists for Aston Villa as the Villa Park team finished 11th and collectively the lowest number of goals (46) for teams in the lower half of the table.
He can build on his accomplishments for Aston Villa and take the next big step in his career when he is taken over by Mikel Arteta and his colleagues before next season.
FTB’S QUIET OPTION FOR ARSENAL – VLADIMIR COUFAL
The Czech international was one of West Ham’s standout players when David Moyes’ protégés qualified for European football by securing sixth place in the league and qualifying for the Europa League.
He was in the Czech squad for the EM 2020 and provided 2 templates for his nation at the four-year tournament. Despite having a reasonably good season, he was under the radar of the big clubs in Europe.
Arsenal can take advantage of the situation by taking on the West Ham right-back while still staying away from other applicants in Europe to bolster their defenses ahead of the new season. Last season in the Premier League, the full-back duo Aaron Cresswell and Coufal provided more assists than any other full-back pair. While getting the imposing RB out of West Ham’s clutches could be expensive, they would get a proven PL player along with someone who sets the tone on the training ground with their professionalism, a priceless trait.
As a result, Arsenal cut their job ahead of the start of next season in terms of hiring to improve their performance from the 2020-21 season onwards.