As Aaron Ramsey hammered home a stunning volley for the Gunners during their final-day victory over Norwich, Arsenal supporters must have been left wondering how they would have fared had the talismanic Welshman been fit for the entirety of the campaign.
Nonetheless, injuries are an inevitable part of the game and something that an experienced manager like Arsene Wenger would have known he would have had to contend with; it’s what makes the Frenchman’s hesitancy in both the summer and January windows all the more peculiar.
Despite still having failed to sign a new deal at the time of writing, Wenger claimed before his team’s final Premier League game that the contract is “not totally done, but it should be sorted soon,” per Jason Burt in the Telegraph.
It means Wenger looks set to be in charge of the club's summer recruitment. You suspect that after leading the way in the Premier League for significant parts of the campaign and eventually finishing just seven points off eventual winners Manchester City, the Arsenal boss will be looking to bridge the gap and bolster his squad with some astute acquisitions this summer.
With the reopening of the transfer window imminent, here’s the very latest on some potential purchases that could help facilitate a more potent title challenge from Arsenal in the 2014-15 season:
The Gunners are set to embark on a tug-of-war with Juventus in the race to sign Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez, according to reports. The Catalan giants could let the Chilean international leave the Camp Nou this summer, and Wenger is reportedly tempted to part with £20 million to bring the player to the Emirates.
Andres Iniesta has been speaking about the potential comings and goings at Barcelona this summer, suggesting there are a few players that could be out the door at the end of this season:
Iniesta: "After Sunday we'll talk about lots of things, coaches, players, who goes, who stays. Until then not correct to talk about that.”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) May 12, 2014
According to Alan Nixon of the Mirror, Sanchez would be interested in a move to the Premier League, and the possibility of the Barca man swapping the Blaugrana strip for Arsenal red is a tantalising prospect.
Gunnerblog cited Alexis as an ideal fit for Arsenal last month:
If Barca are permitted to replace him, AFC should target Alexis Sanchez. Pace, skill, movement, versatility. 17 Liga goals, 10 assists.— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 23, 2014
Blessed with blistering speed, spades of quality and an eye for goal, £20 million is a steal for a player who, at 25 years old, still has his best years ahead of him.
Sanchez would provide this Arsenal team with a frightening new dimension. He’s not only intricate and classy with the ball at his feet, but his lighting straight-line speed enables him to stretch defences and create space for others.
He’s enjoyed a great campaign for Barca in a tough season for the club, notching 18 goals and 11 assists per WhoScored.com. Here are some of the best bits:
Sanchez could yet end up a league champion with the Catalans, and he may favour a move back to Italy after the success he sampled there early in his career at Udinese.
But the Chilean would be a wonderful signing for the Gunners, and if there’s even the tiniest chance of a deal being done, Wenger would be wise to splash the cash on this scintillating talent.
Sanchez is not the only player from Barcelona being linked with a move to North London, with the Gunners, Manchester City and Manchester United all reportedly keen on a move for Xavi.
The Spanish international is a legend at the Camp Nou, but at 34 years old, his time out on the pitch is naturally beginning to deteriorate. According to Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star, that’s prompted a host of Premier League clubs to keep tabs on the player, who has two years left to run on his current deal.
Here's what has made Xavi such a legend in Catalonia:
From an Arsenal perspective, Xavi would have once been tailor-made for Wenger’s team. The Spaniard is a wonderful technician, capable of dictating the pace of a game with poise and purpose. He’s been central to the rapid rise of both Barcelona and Spain in recent years, and his status as an all-time great for both his club and national side is secured.
Should Arsenal make a move for Xavi?
But now, he’s not a player that Wenger should be looking to make a move for. Yes, he still has class in abundance and could certainly do a sterling job in the Premier League, but Xavi would be better served at a club other than Arsenal.
Wenger has a host of riches in the midfield area, all of whom are younger and better long-term options than the Barcelona man.
Xavi himself actually said back in February that he would not move to the Premier League, and it’s difficult to see how things will have changed so quickly for the player in such a short space of time, per Sky Sports:
I never thought of leaving like Cesc Fabregas, who went to Arsenal.
I want to be here forever. If I am not at Barcelona, I will always be thinking of Barca. If I had played for City, United, Arsenal or Chelsea, I'd keep asking what is going on at Barca - my club.
All the big English clubs know getting Xavi is impossible. They know Xavi is a fan of Barcelona, he won't come.
Despite his advancing years, the 34-year-old has still performed well in some big games for the Blaugrana, and you suspect he’ll see out his contract at the club. He'll be 36 years old at that point, and it'll be intriguing to see at that juncture if he hangs up his boots or goes in search of one final challenge.