Football News

Can Arsenal find summer value in Serie A?


Mikel Arteta news

Mikel Arteta is so far doing a good job as Arsenal boss. The big test, though, will come in the summer, when Arteta will have his first clear opportunity to re-shape the squad in his image.

Last summer, though, the club spent £138 million, a fee that has not been offset by any Champions League revenue this season or last season - and possibly not 2020-21.

The notion that the club appear reluctant to hand Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the 35 percent salary hike he has demanded, therefore, suggests that they are looking to be thriftier in the market, so we take a look at their options in Italy.

Goalkeeper

Arsenal have not had a world-class goalkeeper since David Seaman, who retired 17 years ago – or debatably Jens Lehmann, who kept goal in the 2003-04 Invincibles side.

Either way, a succession of stoppers have tried and ultimately failed to take on the baton.

In Bernd Leno, the Gunners have arguably their best shot stopper since Lehmann, yet even he has conceded 36 league goals – the German’s lack of confidence, though, can count against him from crosses and set piece scenarios.

Sassuolo stopper Stefano Turati certainly has the bravery to cope with high-pressure moments, even at just 18.

The Milanian denied Cristiano Ronaldo on his debut, against Juventus - then was complimented by Gianluigi Buffon!

Turati could be the ideal player to cover Leno next season and potentially push him, if Matt Macey and Emiliano Martinez are deemed not quite good enough.

Right-back

Hector Bellerin was one of the most exciting talents in world football five years ago but, during the time he was expected to grow to become a world-class right-back, he has in fact declined.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been excellent at right-back, using his raw pace to good effect but with Cedric Soares only on loan, Arsenal may need another option.

That could be Takehiro Tomiyasu, who has flown under the radar this season for Bologna.

The 21-year-old has completed 23 of his 36 attempted dribbles this season - and helped Japan to the Final of the Asian Cup, scoring a winning header against Saudi Arabia in the last-16.

It is important that Arteta enforces high standards early on in his reign and a big part of that is not picking players on reputation; offloading Bellerin and adding Tomiyasu would be a great way of sending the right message to the rest of the squad.

Centre-back

Quite simply, none of Arsenal’s centre-backs are good enough to take them back to English football’s elite.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos is too rash, David Luiz is too expressive and Shkodran Mustafi is too slow, while the likes of Rob Holding and Calum Chambers look better suited to the Championship than the Champions League.

Arsenal could do with somebody aerial strong like West Ham's Angelo Ogbonna, who recently discussed the difference between the Premier League and Serie A when talking to West Ham's sponsors, Betway, even if the 31-year-old himself might be beyond the stage of embracing a bigger challenge.

Benny White is a reported target while Marash Kumbulla is starring this season for Verona and could freshen up the Gunners' rear-guard.

The Moroccan wins three headers every 90 minutes on average and is still only 20, but the recruitment team will have to act quick with plenty of European competitors also interested.

Central midfield

With Luka Modric and Toni Kroos both in their 30s, Real Madrid will likely see a long-term future for Dani Ceballos according to this article in paininthearsenal.com and may be unwilling to sell permanently after his loan stint in North London.

On top of that, Lucas Torreira could be out injured for a lengthy period due to a bad tackle from James Bolton in Arsenal’s FA Cup victory at Portsmouth, while Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny may be sold following an underwhelming three years.

This would leave Mesut Özil, if he embraces a deeper role, Matteo Guendouzi and Joe Willock, which would not give them enough depth to compete in four competitions next season – even if exciting deep-lying playmaker Matt Smith develops quickly.

Manuel Locatelli, who makes on average 2.3 tackles per game and completes 85.9 percent of his passes, making 1.7 key passes per game, could be a top all-rounder to bring into the side.

Arsenal already have a strong group of attacking players including exciting speedster Bukayo Saka, so this summer is all about fixing the defence, adding goalkeeping competition and shaking up the midfield.