The gunners will look to reach the next level with key additions to their first-team.
An unimpressive end to the 2021-22 Premier League season saw Arsenal finish fifth, two points and one place behind North-London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Besides the fact that their archrivals beat them in the table in yet another season, it also meant trading Champions League qualification, and the riches the competition brings, for the less glamorous and under-paying Europa League. Irrespective of that, the Gunners need to make key additions to the squad as they will now be dealing with midweek European fixtures while also juggling the league and Cup matches.
Mikel Arteta cleared a lot of players last year. Mikel Arteta along with the management need to make smart decisions to add both quantity and quality to the squad this summer.
Besides renewing Mohamed Elneny’s contract, they have already signed three players — defender Auston Trusty from Colorado Rapids, goalkeeper Matt Turner from New England Revolution and young forward Marquinhos Vinicius Oliveira from Sao Paulo. Centre back William Saliba will also return to the club following his loan stint with Marseille.
Keeping those additions in mind, here are five players Arsenal should target this summer to better their league position and make a push for Cup and European titles:
5. Aaron Hickey (Bologna)
Scottish left-back Aaron Hickey currently plies his trade with Bologna in Serie A. An ambidextrous player who can play in either full-back position, the 20-year-old made 36 appearances in Serie A last season, scoring five goals and picking up an assist. The former Hearts defender, whose contract expires in the summer of 2024, will serve as a good backup and rotation option for Kieren Tierney, whose injury woes have been a huge cause of concern since moving to London.
Arsenal’s relationship with Bologna is also on the right track after both teams worked fairly smoothly last season for the transfer of Takehiro Tomiyasu.
4. Cody Gakpo (PSV Eindhoven)
Since Mikel Arteta’s arrival at Arsenal, the club has made its intentions clear by signing young, versatile players and investing time and effort in them to hone their world-class potential. Cody Gakpo falls in the same bracket. His 16 goals and 15 assists last season were crucial in keeping PSV fighting on all fronts. They eventually fell two points short of their first Eredivisie title since 2017-18.
Gakpo is a product of the PSV academy, joining their youth academy in 2007 and progressing through the ranks over the years before being picked for the senior team by Mark van Bommel in 2018. He is a right-footed player who loves playing on the left-wing, meaning he loves to cut in onto his preferred right foot when attacking. He can play on either wing or behind the striker and has also slotted in as the striker when needed.
Arsenal’s interest in Gakpo will depend heavily on what happens with the players currently on the club’s books, notably Nicolas Pepe who has not lived up to expectations since his big-money move from Lille in 2019.
3. Youri Tielemans (Leicester City)
Youri Tielemans is a player that Arsenal have been wanting to sign for almost a year now. The Leicester City midfielder is into the final year of his contract and has decided not to renew. The Foxes risk losing him for free if they do not sell him this summer. This makes him available for a fee that’s far from exorbitant.
A physically strong player, the 25-year-old is capable of dictating the play from deeper positions. Tielemans is tactically astute and has the ability to dominate the middle of the pitch for 90 minutes and more. In 158 appearances for the Foxes, he picked up 24 goals and 24 assists.
2. Fabio Vieira (FC Porto)
The attacking midfielder from Portugal will not only improve the quality Arsenal have but also provide much-needed competition to the likes of Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe. Fabio Vieira is one of the best young prospects plying his trade in the Portugal top flight. Vieira has the potential to become one of the finest creative midfielders in the world. He is a technically-gifted player whose close control and ability to squeeze past tight spaces see him excel on the pitch.
He scored seven goals and registered 16 assists in 39 appearances for Porto last season. During his time at Porto, he has made 76 appearances, scoring ten goals and registering 18 assists. He is also a very versatile player, who has played across the pitch as a No. 10, a No. 8 and as a second striker – among others. He is yet to make a senior international appearance for Portugal but has featured 20 times for their Under-21s.
1. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
The arrivals of Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez at Manchester City have pushed Gabriel Jesus down the pecking order. This explains his desire to leave Etihad this summer. With just one year left on his contract, Manchester City will sell him for the right price this summer.
With Arsenal deciding to invest in just one striker in this off-season, Jesus will not only carry the team’s goalscoring burden but also won’t have a lot of competition for his place in the team. He’s accustomed to the rigours of English football and is a proven Premier League player, which means the club can expect him to hit the ground running from day one instead of waiting for him to get acclimatized to the new surroundings.
Crucially, Arteta has spent time at Manchester City as the assistant manager and seen first-hand the Brazilian’s qualities, which should help sway the decision in their favour.