Arsene Wenger's push for the Premier League title came undone in swift fashion during the latter half of this season, so once again Arsenal pin their hopes on the model of "better luck next year."
However, luck won't be quite enough to secure the club their first top-flight title since 2004, and this summer's drive for reinforcements will likely dictate whether the Gunners can challenge their elite peers for league silverware next term.
This week, transfer speculation focuses on transfers of the German variety as a host of Bundesliga names become more closely linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium.
Julian Draxler, Schalke
The Gunners have had new hurdles placed in their path on the road to signing Julian Draxler, following comments from the player's agent, Roger Wittman.
Schalke's prodigious attacker is contracted to the club until 2018, and his representative is quoted by the Daily Star's Gary Jones saying both he and his client have a new belief in the project that's emerging under Jens Keller:
Why should a player leave the club if the club have just built a top team? I also think it's good if players stick to what they have signed. It would take an awful lot to happen for one of the two [Draxler or Jefferson Farfan] to leave.
The players understand that there is currently a lot of peace at the club and a lot of optimism about their future there.
Earlier this year, WhoScored.com ranked Draxler highest of any player under the age of 21 this season:
Julian Draxler: Is WhoScored's top rated player (7.76) aged under 21 in Europe's top 5 leagues this season; Paul Pogba second (7.73)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 7, 2014
The Star report points out Arsenal as 1/2 favourites for Draxler's signature, while Bayern Munich currently sit on odds od 7/2 and Manchester United are a more distant 8/1.
Jones does state that Arsenal still stand as favourites to land the starlet ahead of Manchester United, but any departure at all would seem less likely thanks to Wittman's latest notes.
Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt told German television channel SPORT1 that Arsenal didn't sign Draxler in January because they didn't offer enough money, per Metro's Daniel Jones, and their valuation of the player isn't likely to have fallen since then.
Heldt said: "It was a lot of money, but it wasn’t enough for us."
The German giants are in no dire need to sell given the length of his current deal, and Wenger won't be over the moon if it turns out his target is content with staying on at the Veltins Arena.
The most advantageous factor of a move to London for Draxler would be what some may determine as a more assured chance of Champions League football but with a risk of possibly slipping in the pecking order.
As things stand, the youngster is assured of first-team football and with a club who have solidified their place as one of the Bundesliga's heavy hitters, meaning a summer exit is far from a sure thing at this point.
Lars Bender, Bayer Leverkusen
In a bid to add more depth to their midfield ranks, Lars Bender is back on Wenger's list of priorities this summer after enjoying another impressive campaign with Bayer Leverkusen.
The North Londoners' fall from Premier League grace this season coincided with the injury layoff of Aaron Ramsey, showing just how pivotal his role is in the side's central hub.
Although fielded out in a wider capacity than he's used to for stretches of this season, Bender has provided his usual steel for Leverkusen, per Squawka:
Arsenal target Lars Bender turns 25 today. He's won 82 tackles in the Bundesliga this season. pic.twitter.com/WMrydXKmKn— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 27, 2014
John Cross of The Mirror mentions that the player they launched a £19 million move for last summer is again high on Wenger's shortlist, but convincing the Factory Squad to sell their star will again be a test.
Club director Michael Reschke backed up such notions last autumn, per Sky Sports, saying:
Lars Bender is under contract with our club, he is a regular first-team player and a very important part of our first-team squad. We have a long-term contract going on with him. We definitely have no ambition to sell Lars. This is a fact.
Four weeks after those comments, the official Bundesliga website reported that Bender had extended his deal at the BayArena until 2019, giving an idea of just how highly Leverkusen rate their star, not to mention how difficult he'll be to prise away.
Josip Drmic, Nurnberg
Ex-German international star Lothar Matthaus is again insisting that Nurnberg's Josip Drmic will move to Arsenal this summer, a month after claiming the striker's wife—whom it became apparent doesn't exist—was seeking property in London, per Metro.
Speaking to Swiss newspaper Blick (h/t Metro), Matthaus this week revived the link, saying:
Although now Dortmund, Gladbach and Leverkusen all have an interest. I’m saying: Josip Drmic will switch to Arsenal. I made a mistake. I said his wife was already looking for apartments. The fact is that this is his girlfriend. Drmic has had a girlfriend for nine months. She has lived five or six months with him in Nuremberg.
Look, if a journalist hears something, he researched and wrote that then its true. I’m kind of a journalist and have heard the rumour of a move to Arsenal. I then found out that this is true.
Irrespective of how adamant the former defender is that the move will go through, Drmic remains a Nurnberg player and, as such, there can be no certainty placed on his summer destination just yet.