Lifting the FA Cup back in May was both the end and the beginning for Arsenal: silverware sparked the end of a 10-year wait for success, the end of the jokes and, most importantly, the beginning of a new era for the Gunners.
Now that manager Arsene Wenger has acquired a taste for silverware, he’s hungry for more. And with such fine lines between depression and delight in the English game, the Frenchman will be looking to add to his squad to prepare for the highly competitive 2014/15 campaign that lies ahead.
Though lead striker Olivier Giroud found the net 16 times in the Premier League last season, per WhoScored.com, bringing a new front man to the Emirates appears to be the first order of business for Wenger.
Among those rumoured to make the switch to North London is football’s bad boy Mario Balotelli, who recently returned home from Brazil after a disappointing World Cup campaign with Italy.
Though the former Manchester City striker still has four years left on his contract with AC Milan, he’s been on Arsenal’s radar since the start of the summer, and David Kent of MailOnline reports that the 23-year-old could be on his way out of the San Siro.
Two of AC Milan’s vice-presidents have had contrasting words to say about their controversial striker, according to Kent, with Adriano Galliani defending Balotelli’s scrutinised performances in Brazil while Barbara Berlusconi labelled him “replaceable.”
With a feeling of unrest in the Italian capital, Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola told Gazzetta dello Sport that his player isn’t happy with life at AC Milan—per Kent:
Mario is sad, desperate. Only Galliani has defended him while the FIGC (Italian football federation) remains absolutely silent. I appreciate Galliani's comments but now I want to respond to Barbara Berlusconi. If for her Mario is replaceable, she should set up a meeting in the club's headquarters and we will find a solution, just as I am used to doing.
While the comments will be playing with Balotelli’s head, they’ll be making Wenger very happy as he looks to close in on the Italian’s signature.
For everything that’s said about Balotelli off the pitch, he remains one of the most lethal strikers in the world game, but would he fit in at Arsenal?
There’s no doubt that he can score goals, as he found the net 14 times in Serie A last term, per WhoScored.com, but whether or not he can fit into the Gunners’ system is another thing.
With so much class in midfield going forward, what Arsenal need is a striker who can bury chances as soon as they come to him—something that Giroud didn’t do enough of last season.
While Balotelli fits that bill, he comes with an astronomical wage bill and a transfer fee looking to be around £35 million, per Squawka—meaning that only a club with the madness of the man himself would part with such money for his services.
While it’s difficult to see Balotelli being the man to take Arsenal onward and upward, you just never know with him. The fact remains, though, that the Gunners need to invest in a striker in the coming months, and likewise in their defensive line.
With Bacary Sagna leaving the Emirates to controversially join Manchester City, Wenger is now on the hunt for a new right-back to make the switch to North London.
Though Ivory Coast international Serge Aurier was heavily linked with a move to the English capital, the deal appears to be going off the boil, forcing the French manager to look elsewhere.
Newcastle United star Mathieu Debuchy now looks to be on Wenger’s radar, and he hinted that he could be open to a move to Arsenal with Champions League football being the lure—per Ben Jefferson of the Express:
Personally, it's a great adventure. I have discovered English charm, which is very hard, Newcastle and their extraordinary fans.
It's really incredible to play in that atmosphere.
Having said that, I miss European football and the Champions League in particular. For the moment, I'm concentrating on the World Cup. We'll see about the rest afterwards.
Debuchy has started two of France’s three World Cup matches so far and looks to have the approval of manager Didier Deschamps over Arsenal’s former star Bacary Sagna.
Though many Arsenal fans will wince at the thought of Debuchy donning the famous red shirt after being part of Newcastle’s shaky back line last season, his capture would be worth celebrating, not lamenting.
As WhoScored.com revealed, the Frenchman was statistically the best right-back in Europe last season, with the points made up of several defensive points, including tackles, blocks and interceptions made.
He’s undoubtedly a player of Champions League class, with his willingness to get forward matched by his ability to hold his own in a tackle.
If Arsenal find a way to land Debuchy, they’d be gaining a player with experience at the highest level, and they may well be getting a world champion.
Elsewhere, Arsenal have been linked with former Newcastle striker Loic Remy, who is now back with parent club Queens Park Rangers after a loan spell at St. James’ Park.
It’s unlikely that Remy will stay at Loftus Road, and Arsenal could take full advantage of his bargain £8 million release clause price—according to Sami Mokbel of MailOnline.
Though Arsenal’s desperation for a striker of Champions League quality is understandable, bolstering their back line would be the sensible way to go about Premier League preparation.
Arsenal’s form against the top three sides last season tells you that, having shipped endless goals when up against England’s elite, they’ll endure another season chasing fourth place if they don’t bring in the right personnel.
The future is bright for Arsenal, though, and the fact that Wenger, who is infamous for not spending, is linked with big-name stars will bring encouragement to Gunners fans.
Whether or not Balotelli and Debuchy are who the Frenchman needs to complete his world-class puzzle at the Emirates remains to be seen, but they’d definitely be a step in the right direction.