Mikel Arteta has completely transformed the Arsenal squad and how.
Last season, not only did Arsenal miss the league title by a whisker, but they also qualified for the UEFA Champions League after 7 years.
This season, they have been in impressive form competing in a three-way race for the trophy with Manchester City and Liverpool.
And to compete against these European giants, Arteta knows how important it is to have quality and depth in the squad.
Sure, Arsenal had a quiet transfer window in January, but that does not mean Arteta and sporting director Edu have been sitting idle.
They are on a constant lookout to strengthen their team. But with just three days left in the January transfer window, time seems to be running out for any late additions.
However, Arsenal is already working on laying out plans for the summer when there will be much more time to consider player recruitment and significant reshaping of the squad.
One aspect that Arteta will be particularly mindful of is the attacking setup. In fact, Arsenal has scored the fewest goals among the top 5 teams in the league. Arsenal has been desperately in search for an out-and-out striker, and Arteta has identified Victor Osimhen for the same.
Osimhen is one of the most in-demand forwards in the world right now. However, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed that their star striker will indeed leave the club in the summer, despite having signed a new contract in December.
Amidst this, according to the Italian journalist Ciro Venerato, Arsenal has reportedly made ‘contact’ with Napoli over a deal to sign him.
However, the deal is going to be a pretty hefty one. Osimhen has a £119m (€130m) exit release clause included in his current contract with Napoli.
So, Arsenal will have to break the bank to lure the African to the Emirates Stadium. In fact, he will also be the most expensive transfer in their history should the deal go through.
But money is the least of concerns for Arteta right now. Their primary concern will be the competition of suitors in the market for the forward.
A fresh report from Gazzetta dello Sport stated that despite being linked with a big-money move for Inter attacker Lautaro Martinez, Chelsea is ready to step up and pay Osimhen’s clause.
Under Todd Boehly, this release clause will not be a concern for the club. However, given the fact that they are out of the Champions League tournament and based on performances, it doesn’t seem probable for the next season either; Osimhen might be in doubt.
The same reason can be cited to dismiss links with Manchester United as well.
Real Madrid also has their eye on the striker. But by the looks of it, they are still not ready to move from Kylian Mbappe. But If Mbappe doesn’t arrive to play for Real Madrid, Arsenal will have tough competition from Los Blancos.
And if Kylian does change his club, the domino effect will come into play, and PSG will be stronger than ever in the race of the striker. PSG has had their eye on him for quite some time now.
On the other hand, former Juventus striker Alessandro Matri recently suggested that Juventus could land the Nigerian in the summer. But given the direct rivalry between Juventus and Napoli in Serie A, you can take that with a grain of salt. The same goes for the constant links with the Saudi clubs as well.
Arsenal will have quite the competition on hand to get his signature done. This transfer saga is going to be quite a spectacle to look into this summer.
The One That Got Away
Having said that, the last thing Arsenal fans would want is for the striker to reject their club altogether. Something similar happened last summer concerning the Real Sociedad midfielder, Martin Zubimendi.
But Arsenal are not quite ready to back down, as they have reinstated their interest in the Spanish midfielder to replace the struggling Thomas Partey.
The Spain international was on the Gunners’ radar during the January transfer window, but he was reluctant to leave, citing ‘it didn’t make sense for the career at that time’.
The urge to play in the Champions League competition with Real Sociedad and Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations have also been hurdles for the deal.
But now that Arsenal are also in the Champions League, Zubimendi could be on the move this summer and Arteta would surely appeal to him.
But for that to happen, Arsenal seemingly have to match their release clause in the contract, worth €60 million (£53m), binding him until 2027. Sure, this is expensive, but it won’t break the bank for Arsenal should they decide to pursue it.
But Arteta wished that it would have been this simple, for Bayern Munich has been lingering around the midfielder for quite some time now. Bild reports that Bayern has made Zubimendi their top priority transfer target for the summer.
This is in addition to Barcelona’s long-time interest for the player. However, money issues might be a constraint for the Catalans.
But it seems that Arsenal have taken the lead over Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the race as Martin Zubimendi is very close to accepting an offer to play for Arsenal next season, according to Spanish publication AS.
However, nothing has been concrete as of yet. But a January transfer is surely off the cards. We still have to wait a couple of months before the agreements get stronger. Only then can we say, ‘HERE WE GO.’