Arsenal's Vital Summer Transfer Window Needs to Boost Title Challenge in 2013-14

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2013

Arsenal's Vital Summer Transfer Window Needs to Boost Title Challenge in 2013-14

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    The signs are that Arsenal have the cash reserves to make a real impact in the transfer window this summer.

    Many feel they need to.

    The battle for Champions League qualification is something of a red herring to Gunners fans, who are more concerned by why they're set to finish some 20 points behind leaders Manchester United than whether or not they scrape a point ahead of neighbouring Tottenham.

    If Arsenal are to return to their rightful status as title-challengers, there are several improvements they need to make to the squad.

    Go to the next slide to discover how Arsene Wenger needs to spend his transfer war-chest.

A Goalkeeper to Challenge Wojciech Szczesny

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    This season has demonstrated the value of competition for the goalkeeper's position.

    At the start of the season, Wojciech Szczesny saw off the challenge of Vito Mannone to become the undisputed number one. However, as soon as he was settled in the team, his form began to dip.

    When Lukasz Fabianski returned to fitness, Arsene Wenger was able to drop Szczesny in favour of the elder Pole. Fabianski seized his chance, performing admirably until injury claimed him again.

    Since returning to the side, Szczesny has had a renewed focus and determination. The benefit of a spell on the bench is plain to see.

    Fabianski is unlikely to be seen as the permanent challenger to Szczesny's position, as he is hugely prone to both errors and injury.

    Arsenal should look for an older goalkeeper who could pass on the benefit of his experience to Szczesny and wouldn't block his development in the long-term.

    QPR's Julio Cesar could be an ideal solution, especially as the Rangers management will be keen to shift him from the wage bill in the wake of their relegation.

    What's more, with a World Cup in his home nation of Brazil to come in 2014, Cesar will not want to play in the Championship leading up to it.

A Centre-Back to Replace Thomas Vermaelen

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    Arsenal's strong finish to the season has been built on the unfamiliar foundation of a solid defence.

    There's no doubt that dropping captain Thomas Vermaelen marked a turning point in Arsenal's season. It was a symbolic statement that the Arsenal XI was now a meritocracy: form was important than status.

    In Vermaelen's stead, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have formed a very effective partnership. Ahead of next season, there is no discernible reason to break it up.

    Unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail is linking Vermaelen with a move away from the club.

    Should the Belgian leave, it's vital he's replaced with a player who is prepared to fight for a spot in the team.

    Swansea's Ashley Williams would fit the bill; he has Premier League experience and is a natural leader. What's more, he would fit perfectly in to Arsenal's passing game and could dove-tail with both Koscielny and Mertesacker.

A Pure Defensive Midfielder

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    When Alex Song left the club, Arsene Wenger chose not to sign a direct replacement. Instead, he opted for internal solutions, relying on a converted Mikel Arteta and a supposedly healthy Abou Diaby.

    While Arteta has impressed in his new defensive role, Diaby has once again succumbed to the persistent injury problems that have dogged his career.

    Arsenal now require a defensive midfielder who can help shore up the midfield. A signing would also allow Wenger the luxury of resting Arteta, which could soon become imperative as the Spaniard isn't getting any younger.

    Arsenal have been linked by the Mirror with Lyon's skipper Maxime Gonalons. Signing the powerful Frenchman would immediately add steel and discipline to the Gunners midfield.

A World-Class Centre-Forward

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    Since losing Robin van Persie to Manchester United, Arsenal desperately lack a world-class goalscorer.

    Olivier Giroud has tried manfully to fill the void left by Van Persie's departure, but appears to lack some of the Dutchman's guile in the penalty area.

    In January Arsenal were heavily linked by Mundo Deportivo with Barcelona's David Villa (h/t HereIsTheCity.com). Come the summer, they may deem Villa too old to meet their requirements. Villa's last few months at Barcelona have been far from impressive.

    If the rumours from the Daily Mail are to be believed, they may turn to Fiorentina's Stefan Jovetic instead. Jovetic is younger, quicker and has greater potential to improve. He would fit the profile of an Arsene Wenger signing, although with a reported £25m price-tag, would require a shift in spending policy.

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    What do you think? Who should Arsenal sign this summer? Let us know below.