Arsene Wenger helped guide Arsenal to their first trophy in nine years and was rewarded by the Gunners brass with a contract extension. Now the veteran manager must put together a successful summer to build off the signs of progress.
The club passed along comments on its official site from the Emirates Stadium stalwart after he agreed to a new deal. One thing he talked about was the importance of bringing more quality into the squad over the next few months:
We know we have to… have a successful June and July, that's where you strengthen the team. It's very important that we are good now in the next two months until the end of August, that we can give to the team some more quality and go into next season with the belief we got from [the FA Cup] win.
Wenger also went on to talk about how the fans should expect big things this summer, which in turn puts even more pressure on his shoulders to deliver. Of course, supporters have heard similar statements in the past. Actions are always going to speak louder than words.
Just last summer, a major influx of talent was expected. Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail reported the boss had been given £70 million to use in an effort to upgrade the squad.
It looked like Wenger was headed for disaster with only minor signings for most of the window. He ended up swooping in late to add Mesut Ozil, which warranted praise, but the summer as a whole still came in short of expectations.
One of the major reasons Arsenal were forced to endure that trophy drought is because it seemed like they were stuck in neutral. They were good enough to contend, both in the Premier League and tournaments, but lacked the talent to finish the job.
That's where the transfer market comes into play. A manager must be able to find the two or three players capable of filling key holes on the roster. Otherwise, those weaknesses will be exposed over the course of a campaign.
This season was a good example. Arsenal were in, and even led, the Premier League title chase for a while. As the season wore on, however, teams with more depth and attacking firepower were able to pass them by in the table.
Winning the FA Cup to finally bring a title back to Emirates Stadium was a step in the right direction. Now the focus must shift to titles in the Premier League and the Champions League.
Living up to his talk about having a fruitful summer is essential if that's going to happen.
Unsurprisingly, the rumor mill has already started to heat up with potential moves. Though most of the speculation this early never turns into actual deals, sometimes there's a grain of truth, at least in terms of what direction a side is planning to go.
The aforementioned Mokbel of the Daily Mail reports right-back, forward and the central midfield are the three areas of focus heading into the summer. He proceeds to list several names on the club's radar, including Karim Benzema, Alvaro Morata, Mario Mandzukic, Lars Bender and Atsuto Uchida.
More should be known about the availability of those possible targets and their willingness to join Arsenal in the weeks ahead. But what they do represent is the level of players Wenger must be shooting for this summer.
What can't happen is a repeat of last summer when everybody was expecting multiple notable signings only for very little to occur until the Ozil signing. It must be a sustained effort over the next three months to get the squad ready for next season.
Wenger once again said he knows the value of the transfer window to refine the roster. Now it's time for him to prove it.
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