With part one addressing the defensive issues, I now look at how we can improve our midfield and attacking options by bringing in players who provide quality and versatility.
Over the last 10 years, this has to be the poorest midfield options available. Arteta’s recent comments suggested to me he’s looking to transition to a 4-1-2-3 system (4-3-3). But I don’t believe the current options we have suit this system, suggesting that Arteta is looking to make significant changes within this area. The current lack of athleticism, positional discipline, and creativity within the midfield is frightening.
Two or three midfielders must be brought in with the traits needed to play 4-3-3. They should also give us flexibility to play other systems depending on the opponent. We must trigger Thomas Partey’s £43 million release clause. We need a holding midfield player who can sit, screen the back four, and prevent them from continuous exposure. He’s also able to make the right decisions in possession, releasing the ball quickly to our more creative players, portraying his versatility, showing he could easily play as a 6 or an 8. The question obviously is whether the ambition of the club meets his requirements, which is key for the deal to be done.
Goals from the midfield has been a major worry, with only 3 goals scored within this area. The player we should be all over to address this is Donny Van de Beek. His performance level over the past few seasons in the Eredivisie and Champions League has been incredible. 8 goals and 5 assists in the league this season, shows his creative and goal scoring influence. With both Real Madrid and Manchester United very keen on him, this may be a difficult transfer to get over the line. However, if the opportunity does arise, with strong rumours indicating that £50 million could be enough to get him, we should be all over it. He’s a modern day CM who can play the 8 role or even as a 10 if we are looking to deviate away from 4-3-3 in certain games and play a 4-2-3-1.
I’d also look to bring in one of Dominic Szoboszlai and Emiliano Buendia, both value at around £25 million. Both are extremely talented with exciting potential. If Van de Beek isn’t possible then i’d look to buy both these players. With Xhaka, Partey, Willock, Van de Beek and Szoboszlai/Buendia, we have a pool of midfielders with all the necessary attributes (destroyer, ability to break the lines, creative and goal scoring influence). Lets not forget the versatile Saka who has shown his potential in a midfield three on the left! Flexibility is key and that’s what these players provide. We could easily play a flat 4-3-3, 4-1-2-3 and 4-2-3-1.
Assets within the squad can help bring these players in. Mkhitaryan and Elneny could generate £15 million and free up wages. It’s also fair to say that Mesut Ozil’s best days are past him. If we are able to analyse viable ways which can allow us to move on from him, his total wages and transfer could provide £20 million. Then we have the Guendouzi. He’s clearly got potential. But in my opinion, he possesses a lot of bad habits. Poor positional awareness, doesn’t release the ball quick enough and now the issue of his attitude. He’s an asset we have and with his value estimated at £35-40 million, I would move him on since the players mentioned above are all upgrades. Harsh decisions can lead to long term benefits, and I see this one being beneficial.
Ive always been a massive fan of Lacazette and what he brings to the side but this year has been disappointing. He’s been far from clinical, work rate intensity has dropped and his hold up play has been nowhere near as effective. With two years left on his contract, I’d sell him for £30-40 million.
Aubameyang, however has to stay in my opinion. He’s been one of the world’s most prolific goal scorers over the last 4 seasons. Who in world football that’s affordable can perform to his level instantly for £20 – 30 million as that’s the maximum clubs will be willing to spend for a 31 year old with one year left on his contract? We have to do all we can to keep him. I would even be tempted to let him run down his contract. Why? Because the chances of champions league football next season are significantly higher with him than without, so I would risk the £20 – 30 million financial hit. I’d only sell if we could get a replacement in who could replicate his goal scoring ability. But isn’t it a risk worth taking if we got champions league football next season. He might even be tempted to stay for another year or two if this happened.
With the Lacazette money, we could look to sign a replacement and my top target would be Odsonne Edouard. He’s had a fantastic season in terms of goals and assists as well as excellent link up play. He would be a welcomed addition. But I don’t see it as an essential requirement. At CF, we can have Aubameyang, Martinelli and Nketiah rotating. LW we have Saka, Aubameyang, Martinelli and Nelson. At RW we have Pepe and Nelson. Versatile and exciting players who can play many roles shows that a replacement CF for Lacazette is not an absolute must for this window. If we are able to do a deal for Edouard with additional funds, then it definitely gives us more strength in depth.
Referring back to part one of my analysis, the sales of Kolasinac, Bellerin, Holding, Mavropanos, Mustafi, Sokratis should total to a minimum of £60 million. Add to that the potential sales of Guendouzi, Mkhitaryan, Elneny, Ozil and Lacazette could generate a minimum of £95 million, totalling to £155 million in player sales. Incomings of Upamecano, Partey, Van de Beek, one of Buendia and Szoboszlai would cost approximately £170 million. £15 million investment! That’s all that’s needed to significantly improve the squad! With more investment injected, you could bring in Odsonne Edouard. We must exploit the assets at our disposal and bring in quality additions.
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24-year-old Gooner who loves talking and writing about football