While Arsenal have come to life as of late and look to lock up yet another year of Champions League football, there are still some tactical holes that need to be plugged.
A big concern for the Gunners has been the lack of creativity in the midfield. Jack Wilshere’s lengthy absence and Aaron Ramsey’s developmental plateau have put a damper on Arsene Wenger’s initial plans in midfield, and while I think both still have plenty to offer, Arsenal will need someone to step up massively in this department come next year.
Wilshere’s first team spot in my mind is not in danger, but Ramsey’s is. Wilshere will be deployed as more of a box-to-box midfielder for years to come, so finding a playmaker to sit further up the pitch would get the best out of Wenger’s midfield.
Alex Song has emerged as a surprisingly capable midfielder when going up the park, but his true strengths lie in his grittiness and distribution. I would prefer to see him sitting a little more and linking up with more creative, attack-oriented players.
Also, Mikel Arteta has been sensational since moving over from Everton but he is not getting any younger. While his contributions certainly are appreciated and influential, I feel bringing in a creative player for the future is essential in the summer.
Let’s look at five creative playmakers that are linked to the Emirates.
Wenger has been keen to bring in the Sochaux during the previous two transfer windows, but ultimately the 24-year-old opted to stay in Ligue 1.
Apparently, that decision has caused him to reconsider his future and he feels this summer would be the perfect time to leave France. Martin and his parent club have had a horrific campaign and look to fight off relegation as the season concludes.
The Frenchman would be a great option for Wenger and his attacking aptitude would alleviate much of the burdens in midfield.
The £16 million rated Brazilian from Lazio also looks set to move on, as Lazio are ready to cut ties with Hernanes, their talented and impressive playmaker.
After jumping across the pond to Serie A from Sao Paulo in 2010, the 26-year-old has been outstanding but the quality in midfield at the Roman club forces Hernanes down the pecking order. He is reportedly frustrated at such prospects and looks ready to leap at the opportunity of joining a club like Arsenal.
Pundits compare him to Cesc Fabregas when it comes to controlling the tempo of a game, and while similarities to the Spaniard need validation, that alone should keep Wenger and fans intrigued.
Swansea got themselves a surprise stud when Hoffenheim loanee Gylfi Sigurdsson arrived in the January transfer window on loan.
Since joining the Swans, the 22-year-old Icelandic midfielder has only endeared himself to the Welsh supporters by netting six goals in 11 games. Wenger is set to chase Sigurdsson’s signature and is keeping tabs on the starlet as the campaign nears completion.
A major qualification in the Gunners’ hunt for a playmaker is said person’s ability to score. Sigurdsson looks to possess an eye for the net and could supply 10 or more goals for Arsenal from midfield.
While Dortmund have successfully retained Arsenal target Mario Gotze for the long-term, the same can’t be said about teammate Shinji Kagawa.
Wenger has been a huge fan of the Japanese mercurial for a while now, and numerous clubs are heavily linked with the 23-year-old as his future in the Bundesliga remains questionable. Kagawa is set to turn down a contract extension at BVB in hopes of luring English suitors.
Arsenal should definitely take a run at the former Cerezo Osaka man because he is a talent worth breaking the bank over. He would fit in seamlessly with the style of play at the Emirates and really give this side the extra class they need in midfield.
With all the attention on highly rated striker Olivier Giroud’s hopeful departure to London, Wenger took time out to express his desire to sign a teammate of his as well.
Montpellier’s Moroccan maestro Younes Belhanda has emerged as a sought after commodity on Wenger’s wish list. The manager has raved over his “talent" and would love to bring in the 22-year-old with Giroud over the summer.
The idea of bringing both of them in seems unlikely considering the price it would cost. Nevertheless, Belhanda’s 10 goal and five assist output in Ligue 1 guarantees the fact he will be tracked the entire summer.
Arsenal will have their work cut out for them as they try and fight off stiff European competition in the summer, but I strongly feel they will make major moves in the transfer window.
The expectations of this club are at a high and they must continue to nurture these feelings by bringing in world-class players and provide depth. Money has always been an issue at the Emirates but the owners are ambitious and want to end this well-documented trophy drought.
I would love to hear feedback regarding a marquee midfield signing. Have I missed anyone? Please feel free to comment and let me know who Arsenal should pursue, and who they are linked to.