Ten realistic big-name signings that could help make the Emirates Stadium side title challengers again.
10. Victor Valdes (Barcelona)
The long-serving Barcelona shot-stopper has announced his intention to leave the club this summer, saying he wants a new challenge and expressing a particular fondness for English football. What better opportunity then for Arsenal to upgrade on Wojciech Szczesny? The Polish ‘keeper has had a disappointing season and doesn’t look like fulfilling his potential at the Emirates Stadium since his breakthrough a couple of seasons ago. If Arsenal choose to compete with the likes of Manchester United and PSG for Valdes, they will be adding a three-time European champion and six-time La Liga winner to their ranks, which is just the kind of experience they need in a squad consisting mostly of young players or of players who haven’t ever won anything.
Although he is 31 and would certainly command high wages, he could still be a bargain for the Gunners with just a year remaining on his current contract at the Nou Camp, and that experience and extra bit of quality to make game-changing saves at important times could be enough to make the difference over the course of a season.
9. Gokhan Inler (Napoli)
The Swiss midfielder has been one of the best and most consistent performers in Serie A for the last six years since he joined Udinese from FC Zurich. Now 28-years-old, he is a key player for Napoli, and helped guide them to second place in Serie A this season with his tough tackling and battling displays in the middle of the park, as well as providing six goals and two assists.
It could be a summer of exits at the club, with star striker Edinson Cavani wanted by the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, and manager Walter Pazzarri possibly leaving to take over at Inter Milan. Inler has been linked with Arsenal before, and now may be a good time for the Gunners to move for him as Napoli undergo a series of changes in this transfer window. He would be expensive, but he’d be an immediate starter in this current Arsenal team, providing more protection to the back four than the likes of Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey, who have been played somewhat out of position this season.
8. Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund)
This latest prospect coming out of Germany is another player who could fill the defensive midfield void at Arsenal left by the departing Alex Song last summer. The 22-year-old has established himself as a key member of Borussia Dortmund’s team and has all the attributes to be a fine player for almost any top club. Manchester United and Barcelona have shown an interest in him, but Arsenal have also been linked with a £22million bid, which is just the kind of ambition they need to show this summer.
Ilkay Gundogan would slot right in to the Arsenal team and could be their midfield enforcer for many years to come, and what a boost it would be for the club’s fans to know they beat other big teams to his signature – just the kind of lift they need after eight years without silverware.
7. Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle)
With Newcastle performing below expectation this season, it is no surprise to see star midfielder Yohan Cabaye being linked with a move away. Arsenal have been linked with him several times now since he moved to the Premier League and quickly showed he could take his fine form with Lille to the English game. Manchester United are also interested in the Frenchman as they eye a long term replacement for the retiring Paul Scholes, but Arsenal could also do with a player like Cabaye to take the pressure off main playmaker Santi Cazorla. The 27-year-old is also an experienced France international who could give the Gunners something a bit different with his excellent long range shots and free kicks, putting an end to this current crop of players’ obsession with trying to walk the ball into the net.
Cabaye would cost around £20million, but he belongs at a bigger club and would surely jump at the chance to link up with Arsene Wenger and play in a team that would suit his technical playing style perfectly. One potential problem is his fitness, which has seen him miss a lot of this season, though he has still managed six goals and two assists in 26 league games for Alan Pardew’s side, adding to his five goals and nine assists from the season before. If Wenger fails to land Cabaye, there are several other high profile players at Newcastle who might feel they want to leave the club for bigger things this summer, such as Hatem Ben Arfa, Tim Krul and Papiss Cisse.
6. Marouane Fellaini (Everton)
It’s been a brilliant season for Marouane Fellaini, standing out as Everton’s best player with 11 goals and 5 assists in the league, helping them to an impressive sixth place. His displays will surely have caught the attention of the Premier League big boys, and the biggest rumour at the moment, somewhat understandably, is that the Belgian will follow departing manager David Moyes to Manchester United.
Chelsea are also interested in the 25-year-old, but Arsenal should make sure they are in the running too. The towering midfielder can play a defensive midfield role as well as off the striker, providing a physicality and aerial threat that is currently desperately missing from Arsenal’s play, both in the midfield engine room and in attack. Fellaini reportedly has a minimum release fee clause of around £25million and Arsene Wenger would be well advised to fork out for this player, who looks like being the missing link between the Gunners and glory at the moment. He is a big name as well, after many years in the Premier League, and would certainly sell shirts and create a buzz around the Emirates Stadium next season.
5. Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille)
Arsenal have been linked several times with this talented French attacker, and he, along with Yohan Cabaye, could be another excellent addition to their midfield this summer. The 28-year-old has an excellent record over the last couple of seasons as he has really reached his peak at Marseille, with 9 goals and 16 assists in 2011/12 and a further 5 goals and 14 assists this year. The playmaker has 20 caps for France and is a Ligue 1 title winner as well after helping Marseille to glory in 2009/10. He is just the player Arsenal need to take the workload off the likes of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere and give them more option to rotate their squad, which would in turn help avoid the injuries that have plagued Wilshere in particular over the last couple of years.
Valbuena will surely be keen to work with French legend Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium, and Wenger too will be a fan of the way Valbuena plays the game, as he is a skillful passer and unselfish player from midfield.
4. Dani Alves (Barcelona)
With it looking increasingly more likely that Bacary Sagna will leave Arsenal in the summer, a new right-back is a must. Carl Jenkinson has shown himself to be a decent backup, but he is not ready to replace the long-serving Frenchman just yet. Rumour has it, Barcelona’s Dani Alves could be available after a less than convincing season this year. Still, the 30-year-old has fantastic ability on his day and would be a great addition to the Arsenal squad. He has been linked with a move to the Gunners before, and with one goal and seven assists this season, he would be a significant improvement going forward on Sagna, who has 0 goals and 0 assists this term.
Sagna may be more reliable defensively, but Alves is arguably under-rated in this regard, and could slot in nicely into Arsenal’s back four, whilst also providing far more width and ammunition for the front players, as attacks currently have a habit of breaking down when they reach Sagna on Arsenal’s right-hand side. Like Victor Valdes, Alves has a very healthy collection of winners’ medals from his time with Barca and this experience could be invaluable to Arsenal as they seek to end their eight-year wait for trophies next season. This may be a risky signing, but the Brazilian is still a big name whose skills will get fans of their seats at the Emirates Stadium.
3. Stephan El Shaarawy (AC Milan)
Arsenal have already been linked with a surprisingly ambitious bid for AC Milan starlet Stephan El Shaarawy. The 20-year-old is one of the brightest prospects in world football, catching the eye in Serie A this season with 16 goals and 4 assists, playing both as a winger and as a forward. He is already a full Italian international, with six appearances and one goal for the national side, and has regularly shown himself to have an eye for the spectacular, with some wonderful goals for Milan this year. Manchester City are also interested in the youngster, who would cost close to £30million, but will surely be one of the best players in the world for much of the next decade.
Arsenal are still lacking a regular goal scorer upfront since Robin van Persie left, and El Shaarawy can certainly give them that extra quality in the final third. Milan will be keen not to sell, but Arsenal should try as hard as possible for this world class talent.
2. Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina)
The Fiorentina striker has been linked with Arsenal for much of the season, and is one of the biggest names in Serie A at the moment. A striker is clearly a priority for Arsene Wenger this summer, and this deal could go through in the next few weeks. He should be something of a bargain at around £15million, but he’s still the big name Arsenal need. Manchester City and Chelsea have also been linked with Jovetic, and it would be a real boost for the Gunners to sign an established player that their rivals have shown an interest in.
The Montenegro international has 13 goals and 5 assists for La Viola this season, and looks like the all-round skillful forward that Arsenal need, who can score goals and play in team mates like van Persie used to. He should be their first major signing of the summer and may well prove to be the most important.
1. Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid)
Gonzalo Higuain has been unfortunate to find himself on the transfer list at Real Madrid this summer, after a good seven years with the club. The Argentine has fallen down the pecking order this season in a difficult year for the club all round, and is simply the victim of the owners’ desire to make wholesale changes in the upcoming transfer window. The 25-year-old has still managed 17 goals in a season spent mostly on the bench, and is the kind of expert finisher that Arsenal have been looking for for many years.
Real Madrid have set an asking price of around £22million for the striker, and the Gunners will likely face competition from Juventus, Manchester City and Tottenham for Higuain’s signature. This interest in him shows his talent and potential, and Arsenal would do very well to lure him to the Emirates Stadium, where he would almost certainly be one of the Premier League’s top scorers, and a more reliable marksman than some of the players in Arsenal’s recent history, who have been known for missing relatively easy chances and costing their side crucial points.