Arsenal Transfers: Why Arsene Wenger Needs to Sign a Winger This Summer

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2014

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 25:  Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger talks with player Serge Gnabry as Theo Walcott warms up during a training session at London Colney on November 25, 2013 in St Albans, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Revitalizing Arsenal's attack will be a summer priority for manager Arsene Wenger. His main focus should be adding a true winger to his ranks.

A natural wide player can make a structural difference to the balance of Wenger's team, as well as offer a crucial stylistic difference. Whether he adds a high-profile centre-forward or not, Wenger must also recruit a marquee attacker for the flanks.

The Gunners boss recently indicated that he is looking for extra quality offensively, but not necessarily through the middle.

Speaking before Arsenal's 1-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion, Wenger noted the need for greater support for main striker Olivier Giroud, per Sky Sports: "There is perhaps room for an attacking player who can play in a different position to Giroud. Someone who can play with him as well."

Wenger's description helps explain the persistent links to Queens Park Rangers forward Loic Remy, who was seen in the crowd at the Emirates Stadium observing Arsenal's final home game.

Arsenal continue to be linked with a move for Loic Remy.
Arsenal continue to be linked with a move for Loic Remy.Julian Finney/Getty Images

Wenger moved quickly to pour cold water on speculation regarding a move for his countryman, per

Honestly I have just been informed that Loic Remy was here, I didn't know. So don't see any sign of us signing Loic Remy in that. I hope he has paid for his ticket! No [I didn't invite him], that's why I tell you I have not invited him.

Despite Wenger's slightly overzealous attempts to quell any Remy rumors, the player does fit what the manager says his team needs in attack.

Blessed with an eye-popping turn of pace and genuine composure as a finisher, Remy is a major threat as a striker. But he is also adept at frightening a back four from wide areas, usually the left flank.

Another player the Gunners are linked with who could both support and partner Giroud is Nurnberg forward Josip Drmic. Sky Germany pundit Lothar Matthaus has maintained Drmic is Arsenal-bound this summer, per Swiss newspaper Blick.

Switzerland international Drmic can play centrally and thrive, but is also capable of operating from the right flank. Like Remy, Drmic possesses the versatility Wenger usually craves in his attacking players.

Neither are true wingers, but Wenger's original description of the attacking player his squad is missing depicted a wide striker. That is essentially what Theo Walcott is, and the England international might miss the start of the new season as he continues to recuperate from a serious knee injury.

Lukas Podolski also fits the bill as a wide player who can double as a striker. But despite some excellent performances recently, there always seem to be lingering doubts about Podolski's longevity in North London.

Rather than looking for another flexible striker, Wenger would be better served targeting a traditional winger. One of the problems created by putting strikers wide is their desire to drift into the middle more than they should.

This disrupts the balance of the team, taking away its natural width. Of course, Wenger always rightly encourages fluidity, but a formation still needs structure.

Having natural width provides that structural balance Arsenal have missed too often this season. As a midfielder first, a true winger is also more likely to double up and provide cover for a full-back.

That is one area where both Walcott and Podolski are lacking. But the presence of a natural wide player would have greater benefit to the way Arsenal attack.

Specifically, it would give Wenger's team another dangerous weapon on the counter-attack. At times this season, Arsenal have been lethal on the break.

They were exactly that in away victories over Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and Hull City. Arsenal also ripped apart Everton on the break in the FA Cup quarter-final.

Mesut Ozil has made Arsenal a greater threat on the break this season, but he needs more runners to aim for.
Mesut Ozil has made Arsenal a greater threat on the break this season, but he needs more runners to aim for.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

A player who can break behind advancing full-backs down the flanks, would make the Gunners even more efficient as a counter-attacking force. At the moment, roving central schemers Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil take turns wandering wide to offer width on the break.

Ozil in particular, knows how to exploit the wide gaps behind an opponent's advancing lines. But Wenger needs the brain of his team hovering centrally when Arsenal break.

Ozil needs to be in the middle where he can receive the ball quickly from defence and target pacey runners breaking on either side of him.

As he begins to morph into a Dennis Bergkamp-style role for Wenger's current charges, Ozil needs speed around him, provided by players who share his counter-attacking instincts.

A winger can provide both of those qualities. Essentially as Wenger builds around Ozil, as he must, he needs to find a Marc Overmars to partner his record signing.

This Arsenal squad needs another Marc Overmars.
This Arsenal squad needs another Marc Overmars.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

That's what Bergkamp had back in 1997/98. Overmars was a classic wide attacker with frightening pace and clever movement, the ideal foil for Bergkamp's cerebral class.

Ozil needs a similar archetypal "flying winger" to help him reach his best level next term. That is why Real Sociedad's intelligent speed demon Antoine Griezmann is the best signing Wenger can make this summer.

The 23-year-old has the pace, finishing quality and clever range of movement to be one of Ozil's favourite targets next season. Arsenal have reportedly already inquired about the young French star's availability, according to reporter Wayne Veysey.

But Griezmann isn't the only traditional winger piquing Wenger's interest. He remains keen on PSV Eindhoven prodigy Zakaria Bakkali, according to Sky Sports, citing a report from Voetbal International.

Targeting a natural winger is a smart ploy by Wenger that can also help vary Arsenal's style. Wenger loves his team to play between the lines via quick and intricate passing combinations.

But the Gunners have had trouble this season playing between the lines against teams who pack the middle. A lack of explosive pace has been a major issue, but so has an inability to beat defenders one-on-one.

A tricky winger with devilish ball skills can win single duels and drag defenders out of position, helping to break down defensive walls.

Wenger clearly wants to add another element to Arsenal's attacking play. Signing a fleet-footed, crafty winger is the best way to get it.


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