The summer transfer window is just around the corner and Arsenal are already putting firm plans in place to continue building a squad they believe is capable of getting back competing with Europe’s elite.
Progress has been impressive during Unai Emery’s first season in charge, but the Spaniard is well aware that more needs be done to bridge the gap on the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool domestically.
As is the way at Arsenal, money will be tight this summer, with the club currently working towards a budget of around £50 million.
That figure would rise, however, if qualification is secured to the Champions League. There is also the prospect of selling players to raise funds further and, just as importantly, free up space on what is a bulging wage bill.
So what would a perfect summer transfer window look like at the Emirates? We take a look.
Three new signings
This is the minimum number of new arrivals Arsenal are working towards this summer, although there is a good chance there will be more.
The Gunners are prioritising bringing in a left-back, a wide attacker and a replacement for Aaron Ramsey.
Despite his strong attacking performances this season, doubts remain over whether Sead Kolasinac is good enough defensively to be the long-term replacement for Nacho Monreal at left-back.
Monreal does have another year left on his contract at Arsenal, after an option was taken up on his current deal, but there is a possibility he could still return to Spain in the summer.
Celtic’s Kieran Tierney has been a player Arsenal have scouted regularly and he could finally leave Parkhead at the end of the season to make the move to the Premier League, but the Scotland international would come with a hefty price tag.
In terms of a wide attacker, Nicolas Pepe at Lille has been Arsenal’s priority for some time, but his impressive displays this season has seen his price tag rocket and he now appears to be out of Arsenal’s reach, with Ismaila Sarr at Rennes a more realistic target.
Arsenal have eyes on the Italian market, just as they did when they signed Lucas Torreira, when it comes to replacing Ramsey. Players such as Nicolo Barella at Cagliari are of interest.
But the most likely new arrival in an attacking midfield position is Christopher Nkunku from Paris Saint Germain.
Arsenal tried to get a deal done for Nkunku in January but could’t get it down. They are expected to return for the French youngster at the end of the season, however.
Moving players on
Arsenal are very keen to get some players out of the club this summer, not just to generate some more spending power but also to reduce the wage bill.
Shkodran Mustafi could go, if a buyer can be found. Should the German leave, Arsenal would look to replace him by bringing in another centre-back.
Mohamed Elneny is free to leave and the Gunners are hopeful he will go, with the Egypt international totally out of favour under Emery.
Stephan Lichtsteiner looks certain to move on, with it unlikely the club will take up the option of having the right-back for a further year, while Carl Jenkinson could also leave.
Then of the course, there is the………
……. Mesut Ozil situation
He’s back in favour now, but there is little doubt that if Arsenal can find a way to shift Ozil on the summer, then they would do so.
Emery has challenged the German this season and to be fair to Ozil he has kept his head down and worked his way back into the picture, having at times been frozen out completely.
But with Arsenal struggling with a bulging wage bill and Ozil taking home £350,000 a week, it would free up big money should they manage to get Ozil out.
Emery has a clear vision of what he wants from his players and despite Ozil’s undoubted ability, he does not fit that model.
But wanting Ozil out and getting him out are two completely different things. He loves London, has business interests in the capital and is just about to get married. He does not want to go.
The wildcard signing
Arsenal could spring a surprise this summer and make a move for Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Like many of Europe’s top sides, the Crystal Palace right-back has certainly caught the impression of those at the Emirates.
Scouts have been watching him closely, with no real time set on the possible return of Hector Bellerin following his cruciate knee injury.
Lichtsteiner looks certain to, Jenkinson could as well. That would just leave Ainsley Maitland-Niles, a natural midfielder, as the only cover at right-back until Bellerin returns.
And given the nature of Bellerin’s injury, the club are actively looking at alternatives to ensure they do not find themselves short at right-back.
Whether they could afford to firm up their interest in Wan-Bissaka, however, is unlikely.
Keeping hold of their young talent
Arsenal are going to find themselves being deluged with offers for some of their top young talent this summer.
With the likes of Xavier Amaechi and Tyreece John-Jules about to enter the final year of their contracts, some of Europe’s top clubs are circling.
Arsenal do not want to lose their best youngsters and will try to convince them to stay, but to do that they will have to show that there is a pathway to the first-team and clear career plan for them in place.
Ensuring teenagers like Amaechi and John-Jules commit to the club and don’t leave in the transfer window will be a big priority.