Gunner Thoughts

Arsenal Midfield Rumors Trigger the Summer Transfer Bug

The transfer bug has been activated.

Arsenal still have three games left this season — three huge games — but without midweek clashes, you can’t help but spend a little time looking ahead toward what should be a crazy summer.

With Arsenal back in the Champions League, confirmed, and chasing a title, many people’s eyes are split: one pupil is a big ol’ British pound sign at the prospect of big spending, one a flame with hungry intent. Scrooge McDuck looks on enviously.

Every fan will be expecting Arsenal to be one of the most active clubs in the market for a list of reasons:

  • The promise of Champions League funds to pad accounts
  • All the motivation you could ask for to inject more quality
  • The need to bolster depth
  • A growing list of sale potentials between those on loan and those asking to leave that both bring in funds or need replacing

Last summer, Arsenal brought in five new signings and had six depart permanently (plus a few on loan to buy deals). The summer before that, Arsenal bought six players as well. It’s a pretty significant number, although Arsenal’s overhaul mandated the investment. This upcoming summer, I think many fans will expect to see similar purchase numbers, which could mean this club is looking at completing twelve or more deals between purchases and sales.

Arsenal’s midfield seems to be the area of the pitch in which most people are expecting to see the club raise the level, ideally with multiple buys. Arsenal have already been heavily linked with midfield players like Declan Rice, Moises Caicedo, Martín Zubimendi, Mohammed Kudus, and Mason Mount. Plus, they have long standing links with a few others. 

To make matters more intriguing in this space, news broke that linked Granit Xhaka with a move away from London, back to the Bundesliga

Mix that with a few rumblings about Thomas Partey’s lack of selection down the stretch and feelings surrounding Arsenal’s over reliance on him, and it could paint a picture worth a thousand transfer potentials.

Personally, I don’t think we see Thomas Partey exit this summer unless he requests (demands) to be sold, but I do think Arsenal need to address their future within that position in a comprehensive fashion.

When it comes to Granit Xhaka, I find myself incredible intrigued to see what Arsenal do. On the one hand, this could be the perfect moment to get a quality fee for Granit, send him to a league he always seemed destined to move to, and move forward as a club.

On the other hand, we have a need for squad depth and bonafide experience to supplement the youth, and even the 26 year olds. I think Newcastle more than any other game showed me the benefit of tying this team together with well-placed experience.

That’s not to say the club should flip the switch to “win now” and dunk a bunch of money into 29-year-old players at the risk of shortening this team’s longevity, it feels too early for that. But they should consider who around this team is going to lead from a true experienced figurehead position, not unlike Xhaka and Jorginho have done as two of the few veterans in the squad.

Jumping back to the original hand again, I’m not sure Xhaka wants to play that role if it means limited minutes. He wants to start 90 minutes, twice a week, and may prefer to leave knowing Arsenal ARE likely to sign some mixture of: Rice, Zubimendi, Caicedo, Mount, Kudus, and other left-sided central midfielders, plus internal competition being groomed.

If there is any truth to Xhaka’s departure, it probably comes down to a mixture of fee, the player’s wishes, Arsenal’s Summer budget, and the club’s intent for bolstering the midfield while carrying the needed numbers for next year. Weirdly here, I don’t think there is an outcome that will bother people, per se (although everything bothers people in football discourse). I think if Granit stayed and competed for his spot, people would say “Great! Last year was his best season. Time to do it again” and if he left, it would be on a high note and could mean Arsenal have extra funds to raise the quality of their purchases. It’s a situation Edu will have to navigate, and one that only they can fully assess.

As in many football scenarios, we are left on the outside looking in, trying to speculate as best we can. But what the club choose to do, or are forced to do, stands to shake up their summer business. It’s what makes the whole thing interesting. Sure, it won’t change their need to invest in the midfield, but it could change their targets there OR it could mean an additional investment in the midfield that means less spend for other positions. Likewise, retaining Xhaka could mean more ability to bolster the backlines or frontlines.

But this starts to get the summer transfer bug active in me. I’m excited to see what Arsenal do. I’m exited to see us improve and continue to turn over players and welcome in new ones that fit Arteta and Edu’s vision for the next iteration. I also know it’s going to be a big task to build this squad up to be ready to juggle two major tournaments with top class quality. If there is one challenge this side didn’t hurdle with grace, it would be their ability to juggle the league, cups, and European tournaments.

Looking forward to it. Reply on Twitter with what you believe Arsenal should try to do with Xhaka this summer (assuming it’s in their control).

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