Arsenal have ended the burden that was nine years without a trophy, but Arsene Wenger is expected to follow FA Cup success with a greater showing across the board when the 2014-15 season hits.
The Gunners are currently linked with moves for Andres Iniesta, Serge Aurier and Morgan Schneiderlin. As we head into a summer of transfer speculation, here's the latest news on a trio that would certainly improve Arsenal's prospects with immediate effect.
Latest on Arsenal's Potential Transfer Targets
In: Andres Iniesta, Barcelona
While this transfer appeared unlikely from the off, Barcelona's decision to include Iniesta in their promotional material for the club's 2014-15 home kit is a major sign of intent. He stands front and centre of a first-team selection that also incorporates Barca B players, the heart of a club that isn't willing to let their key figure leave, per Jersey Daeng:
FC Barcelona unveil the 2014-2015 home kit pic.twitter.com/kdVhamouWN— #JerseyDaeng (@jersey_daeng) May 21, 2014
It's worth nothing something very different happened when Thiago Alcantara was linked with a move away last summer. The young midfielder, who originally appeared in the promo image for kits Barca have worn over the past season, was cropped from the final release.
Throw in the fact Iniesta signed a new long-term contract in December, as reported by BBC Sport, and you have a rumour that is quickly being laid to rest.
In: Serge Aurier, Toulouse
Bacary Sagna's reported greediness looks set to introduce major change to Arsenal's defence. Ivory Coast international Serge Aurier is touted to replace the the Frenchman, a smart choice by Wenger.
"You can't refuse an offer from Arsenal," said Aurier, as reported by Gary Jones of the Daily Star. "It would be a dream."
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Sagna's demands—a three-year deal worth £100,000 per week, plus a signing on fee—could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Arsenal, who don't want to risk more than £75,000 per week across two years for the right-back, as noted by Jones.
Aurier is an all-action, ambitious and highly adaptable defender. He can play anywhere across the back four and is more than adept when pushing up the pitch. His six goals and six assists during 34 Ligue 1 games helped Toulouse to ninth place, per WhoScored.com. At just 21 years old, Aurier has already proven his quality but will be looking to improve under Wenger's tutelage.
Arsenal should tie this deal up before the World Cup. Aurier's reported £7 million price is likely to increase during the summer tournament, where many new fans will be privy to his skills.
In: Morgan Schneiderlin, Southampton
Arsenal need a naturally physical, well-built defensive midfielder to anchor their attacking play. Although Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini performed well across the previous season, there's a sense that a more imposing specimen could advance the Gunners' output even more.
Morgan Schneiderlin is one such candidate. The Frenchman recently admitted he needs to be playing Champions League football at this stage of his career, a realisation that may push Arsenal into action, according to Anthony Chapman of the Express.
"For my progress and my visibility, it would be better to play for a club who play in the Champions League," said Schneiderlin. "I know there is a lot of speculation, but I still have three years on my contract, it does not depend on me. We'll see in the coming weeks."
Arsenal may need a little help from Tottenham to land Schneiderlin's services. Should Mauricio Pochettino be lured to White Hart Lane—an entirely feasible prospect, per Sky Sports—Southampton's stars may wish to follow their manager out the door. Schneiderlin is just 24 years old, has plenty of Premier League experience and is wishing to take his career to the next level.
Such players should interest Wenger. The veteran boss will need to make a handful of signings across the summer, where bringing in proven quality is a priority. Wenger has shown a penchant for young stars across the years, but there's nothing stopping him from luring those who have already established themselves.
Although the signing of Iniesta is far-fetched, both Aurier and Schneiderlin make real sense. It's this type of acquisition, combined with one or two world-renowned names, that can significantly add to Arsenal's trophy cabinet over the coming years.