As the 2013/14 campaign has showed us, Arsenal are just a few world-class players away from rediscovering the magic that made them English football’s overlords a decade ago.
The current crop of Gunners include some of the brightest talents ever to don the famous red shirt; and with the FA Cup tied up on Saturday, ending a nine-year wait for silverware, the sky appears to be the limit for Arsene Wenger’s stars.
Wenger’s transfer philosophy has always been about breeding raw talent—take this season’s superstar Aaron Ramsey, for example—but the £42.4 million signing of Mesut Ozil back in September shows us that the French manager is now looking for immediate success from his transfers.
Among Wenger’s targets is Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria, who has enjoyed a remarkable campaign in the Spanish capital with Los Blancos this term.
Per ESPN.co.uk, the Argentinian is La Liga’s leading assist maker for 2013/14, providing the telling pass for goal on 17 occasions this season. He’s also chipped in with four league goals of his own and has produced the kind of performances that would warrant a hefty price tag.
And that’s exactly what he’s got; according to the Metro, the 26-year-old is worth a staggering £45 million—just out of Wenger’s price range. However, a player of Di Maria’s calibre will undoubtedly be on the Frenchman’s radar throughout the summer, as his squad-strengthening mission continues.
With the report suggesting that Arsenal were prepared to offer £32 million for the talented midfielder, it’s clear that Wenger’s purse strings have been well and truly loosened, but he needs to improve in the right areas if the Gunners’ success is going to continue.
Improving in the attacking positions will be job No. 1 for the Frenchman. With Olivier Giroud and the vastly inexperienced Yaya Sanogo the only realistic forward options for the north Londoners, reinforcements are desperately needed.
Giroud’s FA Cup final performance reinforced what Arsenal fans have been moaning about all season—he just doesn’t quite cut the world-class mustard.
Though his fox-in-the-box style, deft flicks and aerial prowess wins plaudits—his assist for Ramsey’s FA Cup-winning strike on Saturday was nothing short of genius—his all-round game has endless room for improvement.
Rather than being patient with the French striker, Wenger will be looking to draft in a replacement for the 22-goal Giroud, and he has Real Madrid frontman Karim Benzema well within his sights.
As Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph reports, Arsenal have been linked with a £30 million move for the 26-year-old as part two of their Bernabeu raid.
With 17 goals and eight assists in La Liga this season, Benzema’s quality has been clear for all to see with Real; but with one year remaining on his contract, the Spanish giants will need to make a decision regarding whether or not to cash in on the striker while they still can.
Wenger will reportedly approach the French striker after May 24’s Champions League final, giving the Real hierarchy plenty to think about.
Benzema has been a target of Arsenal’s for some time now, and they came closest to landing the talented forward’s signature back in August.
However, Benzema’s agent Karim Djaziri told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche at the time that his player may finish his career plying his trade in Madrid—as the Metro reported:
“We can’t stop the rumours. But I tell you: Karim will not go to Arsenal. It’s never been a question for him and no contact has been made. Karim could very well finish his career at Real, the club of his dreams.”
However, Wenger will not give up on landing Benzema, who is among several strikers linked with a move to the Emirates.
Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic is one of said targets for the Arsenal boss, per James Dickenson of the Express, who can make his ambitions clear to the Gunners faithful by delivering some high-profile players to north London over the summer.
The feeling of success that formerly came as second nature to the Gunners returned on Saturday at Wembley Stadium and so too did the fans’ faith in their manager.
If Arsenal can bring in the right striker to lead the club to glory, then forget simply competing among English football’s elite, the Gunners will almost certainly be a European force once again.