Arsenal Transfer Prospects: 8 Players They Still Desperately Need for the Summer
Regardless of whether they achieve a top four finish this season, Arsenal still need to fix major areas of weakness. Looking ahead, there are a few prime targets the Gunners should desire in the summer transfer window.
This group is headed by an accomplished Germany international who could finally fix a leaky defence. There is also room for two towering shot stoppers who might solve Arsenal's chronic inconsistency between the posts.
Here are the eight players the Gunners should be desperate to capture this summer.
What the Gunners Need and Criteria for Selection
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Two central defenders and a goalkeeper. It's that simple for Arsene Wenger this summer. The midfield and forward ranks are sufficiently swelled and scoring goals is not the problem.
However, the astute Frenchman must do all it takes to solve the issues at the back. As a result, five of the players who appear on this list are prospects to improve Arsenal's woeful back five.
Some have been selected based on recent and past links with the club. Others are picked merely as scenarios, suggested solely by this author.
8. Federico Fazio, CB, Sevilla
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Arsenal's search for central defensive reinforcements should see them capitalize on the financial plight of Sevilla. Arsenal could capitalize on the La Liga side's fiscal uncertainty by moving for one-time transfer target Federico Fazio.
The towering Argentine stopper would be a superb acquisition for the Gunners. A powerful and savvy player, Fazio offers the physical presence and authority Arsenal lack at the heart of their defense.
The Gunners were on his trail as far back as 2008, before Fazio snubbed the interest to remain in Spain. This summer would be the perfect time to rekindle that interest.
7. Nicolas N'Koulou, CB, Marseille
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Nicolas N'Koulou is a defender who fits the mould of a trademark Wenger signing. He offers youth, athleticism and versatility across a back line.
The 22-year-old Cameroon stopper has been a target for Arsenal, as recently as the 2013 winter window. The Independent reported that Arsenal showed interest in the classy Marseille centre-back on deadline day.
The Gunners have hopes of sealing a summer swoop, after a recent Sky Sports report suggested N'Koulou's future in France is uncertain beyond this season.
6. Tobias Alderwiereld, CB, Ajax
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Ajax star Tobias Alderweireld is another central defender linked with Arsenal during the final days of the winter window. It was talkSport.co.uk that suggested the Gunners were ready to swoop for the youthful Belgian.
A summer move for Alderweireld could make a lot of sense. Arsenal's last Belgian import from Ajax, Thomas Vermaelen, has been only a mixed success.
The enthusiastic, but unskilled Arsenal captain is fast becoming a liability in defensive positions. Alderweireld is certainly a more technically refined player.
He is a combative, but assured and decisive defender. After the reckless nature of Vermaelen's play, Alderwiereld's combination of tenacity and authority could be the perfect tonic for Arsenal.
5. Asmir Begovic, GK, Stoke City
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A new goalkeeper is a must for Arsenal this summer. Wojciech Szczesny's brand of cavalier indecision is not only grating on the nerves, it is also costing Arsenal goals and points.
If Wenger does choose to reinforce between the sticks, he will struggle to do better than Asmir Begovic. The Stoke City linchpin is exactly the kind of commanding custodian Wenger could justify breaking the bank for.
Physically dominant, decisive and agile, Begovic would gain Arsenal points over a season. No goalkeeper has done that since Jens Lehmann.
The Gunners would face strong competition from Manchester United for Begovic and have to meet a hefty asking price. The Daily Mirror reports the Potters are seeking at least £15 million before they'll part with Begovic.
That's a major investment for a goalkeeper. However, a match-winning shot stopper is easily worth that much to the Gunners.
4. Alain Traore, S, FC Lorient
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Arsenal could add to their front line, if they deem options a little thin behind classic central striker Olivier Giroud. One reported target is FC Lorient frontman Alain Traore.
The 25-year-old Burkina Faso international was reportedly on Arsenal's wishlist in January. Metro reported the Gunners were set to make a bid, before Traore suffered injury at the Africa Cup of Nations.
That same report indicates Arsenal will revisit securing a deal for Traore this summer.
3. Stevan Jovetic, AM/F, Fiorentina
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In news that would delight Arsenal fans, the club could be preparing a summer bid for Stevan Jovetic. That's according to a report in The Daily Mirror, suggesting Arsenal will try again after failing to land Jovetic this winter.
Jovetic was a January target, according to The Daily Express. There's no doubt the Gunners would benefit from his brand of mercurial attacking flair.
He is the kind of intelligent link player who would thrive in Wenger's style of play. It's easy to see Jovetic occupying the supporting striker role Arsenal have struggled to fill since the masterful Dennis Bergkamp retired.
2. Etienne Capoue, DM, Toulouse
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Wenger made a major gaffe this past summer, regarding the defensive midfield position. Not by getting rid of Alex Song, who was no more a defensive midfielder than Cesc Fabregas.
No, Wenger's mistake was not recruiting Nigel De Jong to fill this key role. It was a move this author suggested and utter madness that the Gunners didn't at least enquire about his availability.
Perhaps Wenger can rectify the mistake this summer by adding Toulouse powerhouse Etienne Capoue. Arsenal need a robust, disciplined presence in front of their back four and Capoue fits the bill.
The key attribute of a defensive midfielder has to be first staying in front of his defense. That's why a move for reported target Mohammed Diame would have been a disaster.
Positional discipline, not buccaneering raids forward, has to come first. That's why Mikel Arteta has been reasonably successful in the role, because he maintains his position.
What he lacks in brute-force power, Arteta compensates for with sound awareness and intelligence. Capoue would offer the muscle also crucial at the position, either as a replacement, or in partnership with the veteran Spaniard.
According to talkSPORT.co.uk, Arsenal lodged an unsuccessful bid for Capoue in January. A fresh offer in the summer might be a smart move.
1. Mats Hummels, CB, Borussia Dortmund
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If Wenger makes one big-money splash this summer, he could justify the outlay if it meant landing Mats Hummels. The Borussia Dortmund man would finally give Arsenal a truly elite player in their defensive ranks.
The Daily Express mooted a January bid for Hummels. Wenger would be wise to save his cash for the summer and make a major effort to lure the skilled defender to North London.
Hummels is strong and smart in the challenge. He is also technically gifted and creative on the ball. That's the kind of top-class, all-round defensive linchpin Arsenal need.
The Gunners launch many of their attacks from the back. However, hapless pair Laurent Koscielny and Vermaelen can't match Hummels' precise distribution.
His countryman Per Mertesacker started the season well but has endured a horrifying slump since the turn of the year. He may simply be too athletically limited to ever cope with frenetic pace of the English Premier League.
Hummels is is the perfect cure for Arsenal's long-standing defensive ills. It may be wandering into the realms of fantasy to suggest this move, but this is one big-money investment Wenger couldn't get wrong.
Even his harshest critics would welcome a move this bold and necessary.