7 players that Arteta should consider from relegation-threatened EPL teams
The coming months are going to be intriguing for the Gunners faithful. New boss Mikel Arteta has had his hands tied since taking the reins at the Emirates, having to work with the squad that was largely put together by former chief Unai Emery. Although the transfer kitty at the Emirates is unlikely to be bursting at the seams this summer, Arteta is likely to require some wriggle room to change the squad’s dynamic after several years of underachievement.
There are plenty of rough diamonds that the Spaniard could look to polish from sides that are most at risk of relegation to the Championship. Relegation to the second tier could enable the Gunners to pick up any of the following prospects on the cheap, which will almost certainly be the remit from the Arsenal board given that the likes of Mesut Ozil’s £350,000-a-week wage remain on the books.
Ben Godfrey, Norwich City
22-year-old central defender Ben Godfrey has been a virtual ever-present for the Canaries defence this season, playing 29 times and only missing five games through injury. A feature in the England U21 squad, Norwich City firmly believe that Godfrey will become a contender for the England senior squad in the coming years. How true that may be is anyone’s guess, but it would appear that his performances have caught the eye of Bundesliga clubs Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig who are reported to be readying £25m bids this summer.
Norwich are thought to rate Godfrey at £50m, which seems somewhat ambitious given that he will be a second-tier player next term. A strong, ball-playing centre half will certainly be on Arteta’s hit-list.
Emi Buendía, Norwich City
Argentine playmaker Emiliano Buendía is another that has found himself in the spotlight this season despite Norwich’s failings elsewhere. He ranks highly as one of the most effective midfielders in terms of key chances created per minutes on the pitch. Last season, Buendía chipped in with plenty of goals as well as assists en-route to the Championship title. The former Getafe youngster looks destined to play his football in the EPL once again in 2020/21, even if Norwich don’t. The Canaries started Project Restart with a 90% chance of finishing in the drop zone and their results haven’t surprised the statisticians.
Buendía scored an excellent solo goal in Norwich’s recent 2-1 loss at Watford. His dynamism and fleet-of-foot would be a great fit in the Arsenal midfield. Upwardly mobile Leeds United – who look like securing promotion back to the top-flight – are also rumoured to have made enquiries about Buendia’s services.
Ryan Fraser, Bournemouth
Although technically he is no longer a Bournemouth player, Scottish winger Ryan Fraser has been a key figure during the Cherries’ EPL rise. The diminutive Scotsman had a quiet 2019/20 by his standards, with the uncertainty surrounding his expiring contract clearly having an impact on his focus and performances. Last summer, Arsenal were reported to be sniffing around him after seven goals and many more assists in 2018/19.
Fraser’s compatriot, KieranTierney, appears to be settling well into life in North London and Fraser could certainly provide competition on the flanks for the likes of Tierney and Saka. Champions Liverpool are also thought to be considering a move for the free agent given the lack of transfer fee involved.
David Brooks, Bournemouth
There was a lot of pressure heaped on Welsh midfielder David Brooks in recent weeks. Since returning from a lengthy injury lay-off, many Cherries pundits pinned their hopes in Brooks to help Bournemouth out of relegation trouble single-handedly. Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite worked out like that, but there’s no disputing Brooks’ flair and precocious talent on the ball.
The former Sheffield United academy graduate has started all of Bournemouth’s games since Project Restart and has come through unscathed after a year out with his ankle injury. His ability to glide past defenders is somewhat unique, but the 23-year-old will need to work on his end product if he is to become a key EPL playmaker.
Tyrone Mings, Aston Villa
There are very few dependable, English left-footed centre backs around. Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings is one such option. The former Ipswich and Bournemouth defender is tall and imposing yet elegant on the ball, which is something that could enable him to slot into Arteta’s system.
With Villa still at major risk of an immediate return to the Championship, Mings has already been placed on a shortlist of defenders at Manchester United and Arsenal would also be a strong choice for him, given the uncertainty surrounding the long-term future of David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi. The fly in the ointment for Mings could be Villa’s valuation of him, which could be twice the £20m fee paid to Bournemouth for his services in 2019.
Douglas Luiz, Aston Villa
It has been something of a roller-coaster ride for Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz in English football. Snapped up by Manchester City from Vasco de Gama but unable to obtain a British work permit, Luiz was forced to play for Spanish side Girona for two seasons on-loan instead. He caught the eye of Villa’s scouts last summer, with the club forking out £15m to make Luiz their tenth signing of the close season.
Having been the focal point of Brazil U21’s Toulon Tournament-winning squad last summer, Luiz has demonstrated his leadership qualities on an international stage. He is Villa’s main man when it comes to interceptions and winning the ball in the middle third of the park and would add some bite and drive to the Arsenal midfield.
Abdoulaye Doucoure, Watford
Graceful French midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure has been the driving force in the Watford side for the last three seasons. With 17 goals in 125 competitive appearances for the Hornets, this box-to-box midfielder has an air of Patrick Vieira about him. He covers the ground with ease and shows exceptional composure on the ball in tight areas.
Doucoure said in the local North London press earlier this year that the Hornets would be prepared to allow him to join a club in next season’s Champions League, providing an “interesting” offer is forthcoming. If Watford eventually fail in their bid to avoid relegation, the 27-year-old could be available for a cut-price fee.
Gunners Town is a premier Arsenal blogging platform for passionate and knowledgeable Gooners. Established in 2012, the site has garnered over 5 million views.