What positions are Arsenal targeting in the summer transfer window? What did Mikel Arteta say? And what do the statistics say?
What are the positions targeted by Arsenal?
Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth:
Arsenal are ready for another busy summer. Missing out on Champions League football may affect spending plans but there are areas Edu and Mikel Arteta will want to strengthen.
The departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the last transfer window means Arsenal are definitely on the hunt for a striker. The Gunners’ strike force is bolstered by the fact that Eddie Nketiah is set to sign a new contract this summer.
Alexandre Lacazette is out of contract this summer and, as things stand, will not stay at the club. Expect a new player or two to come to this position. Folarin Balogun had a loan spell with Middlesbrough – expect him to return to fight for his place.
Central midfield and central defense are other positions Arsenal could consider. William Saliba has had a hugely successful season on loan at Marseille and is set to return to Arsenal ahead of next season
Arteta might also want to sign a specialist left-back to compete with Kieran Tierney. Injuries limited Tierney to 22 Premier League starts last season.
Arsenal are likely to try to secure some money for goalkeeper Bernd Leno. His contract ends next summer and the club have signed American international Matt Turner.
Arsenal were the Premier League’s biggest spender last summer – and Arteta will be backed again. Adding quality and depth is crucial given that they will be competing in four competitions next season.
What do the stats say about Arsenal?
The Gunners’ most pressing need for next season is attack. When your best marksman has the same number of goals as Norwich, the last, you know there is a problem.
The problem is not to create opportunities, the problem is to seize them. Arsenal ranked fourth in shots, shots on target and expected goals (xG) this season, but 11th in shot conversion.
This disparity places Arteta’s side 15th in xG differential, which measures the difference between goals and xG. A low xG differential suggests you are missing high quality chances – only Brighton, Leeds and the three relegated teams had a lower xG differential than Arsenal.
The main culprit in this regard is Alexandre Lacazette, who scored just two free goals on 46 shots and a 6.84 xG return. Only Brentford’s Bryan Mbuemo has underperformed his xG by a bigger margin this season.
What manager Mikel Arteta said
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta speaking after his side’s 5-1 win over Everton on the final day of the season:
“From my side, I will do and the club will do what we have to do and what we think is the best thing for the club to move forward and do it with the integrity and honesty that we have always done.
“I will talk to the three players [Alex Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah and Mohamed Elneny who are out of contract this summer] and after that we have to start moving forward but we have clear ideas of what we want to do.
“These players know their situation individually, when it’s going to be communicated, and then that situation plays out face to face as they deserve.”
What should Arsenal do this summer?
Sam Blitz, Sky Sports football journalist:
First and foremost, this Arsenal squad needs to be strengthened in numbers. Mikel Arteta organized a small squad last season as the Gunners had no European football – and that hampered the team in the final weeks of the season.
Injuries to Kieran Tierney, Thomas Partey and Takehiro Tomiyasu have wiped out their chances of finishing in the top four, so proper backup options are needed for Thursday-Sunday football challenges as Cedric Soares, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares are either too inconsistent or inexperienced for a regular run on the team.
Then comes the attacker’s dilemma. Alexandre Lacazette’s future is far from certain and with European football on the agenda, at least two new strikers are set to enter the Emirates Stadium.
Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus has been heavily linked with the club and would be a great addition, having previously worked with Mikel Arteta, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Victor Osimhen and Tammy Abraham have been touted as potential new options for the target men.
William Saliba is likely to provide better competition at the back, but a central midfielder – like Youri Tielemans or Ruben Neves – to ease the creative burden on Martin Odegaard may also be needed.
In terms of spending, there may not be such a major release from previous years. With Lacaczette, Bernd Leno will surely leave the club while Arteta could try to find an improvement in Tavares.
Arsenal fans’ patience with Nicolas Pepe is running out, so he might have to fundraise. Don’t be surprised if Reiss Nelson – who has been in excellent form on loan at Feyenoord in recent weeks – returns to the fold to replace him.
But missing out on Champions League football means Arteta and Arsenal may have to look further down their pecking order of transfer targets, especially with neighbors Tottenham potentially offering better terms in terms of European football next season. .