After enduring another wilting title charge, Arsenal fans will be hoping to see their team make some studious acquisitions in the summer transfer window.
Arsene Wenger's failure to bolster the squad with genuine quality in January left many Gunners scratching their heads, and their fears were realised as the team floundered in the race for Premier League and Champions League glory.
Even with the FA Cup and a spot in the Champions League still to play for, the Emirates outfit have already been linked with a move for a host of talents who could help power a title charge of better substance next season.
But with the end of the season looming, Wenger has insisted there will not be a flurry of changes at the club this summer, with the World Cup playing a key role in any potential dealings, per John Cross of the Mirror:
It will be busy, but the main thing for us will be to keep the stability because we feel we are close. We want to add something that makes us even stronger, but, number wise, it will not be massive.
From my experience, the World Cup years have always been very quiet until the end of the World Cup, with no players reachable.
Everybody is focused in the country on their national team and there’s not a lot happening. People are away. I believe this year again you will have to wait until July 15 to start going.
Here's the very latest on those players who could be donning Arsenal red in the Premier League next season.
The 27-year-old Dane is out of contract at the end of the season and has naturally been linked to a host of top outfits given the nature of his performances throughout the Championship campaign.
Quoted in Jefferson's aforementioned piece, Leicester boss Nigel Pearson seems resigned to losing his 'keeper:
When you prove that you are a capable and stable keeper through two difficult seasons in the Championship, you will be in demand.
But Kasper knows what he gets from us, and the important role he has in the Premier League. We can only hope makes the difference.
Schmeichel has been a vital man in the Foxes' excellent season, one that will see them return to the Premier League as Championship winners.
Previously viewed as raw and prone to concentration lapses, the Dane has developed into a commanding, assured presence between the sticks.
At Arsenal, whilst he would initially be back-up to Wojciech Szczesny, he'd represent an improved reserve option to current second-in-command 'keeper Lukasz Fabianski, who looks set to leave the club this summer, per John Cross of the Mirror.
On a free transfer, it's a no-brainer for the Gunners. Schmeichel is improving, is hungry and would surely be willing to seize his chance at an elite club like Arsenal. If it doesn't work out, there will be plenty of clubs looking for a goalkeeper of his quality and willing to pay a decent fee for his services.
According to Ben Jefferson in the Express, Arsenal are closely monitoring the situation regarding PSV starlet Zakaria Bakkali.
The 18-year-old enjoyed a superb start to the Eredivisie campaign, but his time on the pitch has diminished as the Dutch outfit have struggled on the domestic front. Despite his lack of game time as of late, his talent remains indisputable.
On paper, Bakkali would be a wonderful fit for the Gunners. Wenger has a patent for moulding young talents like the Belgian into thoroughbred stars, and you suspect he could smooth down the rough edges of a player who is fantastically dynamic but still a little raw.
In terms of his attributes, Bakkali is a player who could give Arsenal a refreshed attacking onus. He has blistering speed, something the Gunners have missed in Theo Walcott’s absence, and an eye for the spectacular.
Two attributes showcased in earnest earlier this season when Bakkali became the youngest player ever to score a hat-trick in Holland’s top flight:
Zakaria Bakkali(PSV) is the youngest 2 score hattrick(17yrs 196days)in the DutchLeague.Debuted last month for Belgium pic.twitter.com/D2dSMHsN5A— TheFootballScout (@FootballScout12) November 13, 2013
In his piece, Jefferson refers to disputes over the teenager's contract, with PSV opting for an apparent "take it or leave it" stance on a potential new deal. This could open the door for Arsenal, but given the burgeoning reputation of the player, expect there to be a long list of admirers.
The Emirates does look an ideal home for the player, though. He could blossom into a very exciting winger under the tutelage of Wenger, and you suspect that influence will be key when Bakkali comes to make a decision on his future.
German international Lars Bender is set to be Arsenal's priority target in the window according to reports.
Bender has shone this season at Leverkusen and has all the qualities required to beef up an Arsenal midfield that can occasionally look a little one-dimensional. And whilst Mathieu Flamini has done a decent job in the holding role this season, Bender is a class above the 30-year-old Frenchman.
Jan Aage Fjortoft has heard nothing on a potential deal but thinks Bender would be a good capture for the Gunners:
I haven't seen any report in Germany about "Lars Bender to Arsenal". I rate him. Would be a good "holding player" for a club like Arsenal— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) May 1, 2014
On the ball, he is astute and intelligent, but defensively he’s a monster. His diligent, lateral forays in front of the back four give his team excellent protection, with his positional sense and strength in the tackle manifest into an unshakeable presence in the middle of the park.
When considering the possibility of any deal, it is worth noting that Bender did sign a contract earlier in the campaign, keeping the 25-year-old at the BayArena until 2019:
Daily Mail: Lars Bender "top of the list" for Arsenal. Still 0 reports of that link in German press. Lars extended until 2019 in October— Clark Whitney (@Mr_Bundesliga) May 1, 2014
Nonetheless, after five years at Leverkusen, would it really come as a surprise if Bender was to go in search of pastures new?
Leverkusen have endured a turbulent campaign having sacked their manager Sami Hyypia. They're also set to lose their best attacker Sidney Sam to Schalke at the end of the campaign, per ESPN.
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are by far the biggest teams in Germany, and Leverkusen don’t have the financial clout to equip themselves to go up against the two Bundesliga juggernauts. If Bender is of the same mindset, Wenger has a great opportunity to swoop.