When the curtain came down on the 2013/14 Premier League season, Arsenal fans were left to rue what could have been, as a league campaign that promised so much petered out into nothingness.
Having led the way at the top of the table for much of the season, the last thing fans would have expected is a scrap for the fourth-place spot that's been a best friend to the Gunners down the years.
That's what they got, though, and while the FA Cup triumph ended what felt like a generation of silverware misery, Arsene Wenger will be determined to establish the club as genuine title contenders next term.
The Frenchman will be using the transfer window to make sure that happens, and he appears to have some world-class talent on his radar, ready to be lured to the Emirates.
Target No. 1 is Alexis Sanchez, who was Chile’s outstanding performer in the World Cup. The Barcelona man was linked with a part-swap deal in Luis Suarez’s transfer saga, but it looks like Arsenal may just have beaten Liverpool to the striker’s signature.
As Wayne Veysey of Goal.com reports, Barcelona have accepted an offer of £32 million from the Gunners for Sanchez and agreed the structure of payments that Arsenal have proposed.
The deal looks set to go through in the coming days, and if Arsenal do get their man, it’ll be a huge step in the right direction for the club.
Sanchez proved in Brazil that he can cut it against the best in the world, as he simply tormented defenders all tournament. So much so that they had to resort to illegal tactics to stop him, per OptaJoe:
9 - Alexis Sanchez was fouled more times in a single #WorldCup match than any player since Alan Shearer (11) in 1998 v Tunisia. Hatchet.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 24, 2014
His 19 goals and 10 assists in La Liga last season, per WhoScored.com, also tell you all you need to know; he’s lethal in front of goal, but at the same time, he has the awareness and the ability to provide a telling pass.
With Olivier Giroud, Arsenal’s only real option in their one-man attack, Sanchez will provide stiff competition for a place in the Gunners’ starting line-up for the Frenchman, should he complete the switch.
The Chilean offers something different to Giroud, and while he’s not blessed with heaps of aerial ability, he more than makes up for it on the floor and could be keeping Giroud out of the side.
Sanchez is the kind of player that would fit in perfectly at Arsenal: talented, young and incredibly clever. The Gunners already have a talented squad, that much goes without saying, but the Barcelona star could be one of the final puzzle pieces needed to make them extraordinary.
Manager Wenger echoed such a sentiment recently, saying that while he may not be bringing in many players during the transfer window, the ones that do arrive at the Emirates will only strengthen the side, as per ITV:
"The main thing for us will be to keep the stability because we feel we are close, we want to add something that makes us even stronger, but number wise, it will not be massive."
There are just a few key areas that Wenger needs to work on in the coming months, and with Mathieu Debuchy’s transfer looking imminent, the right-back position can be ticked off.
“Yes, I will be joining Arsenal for next season.”
Though the success of Newcastle’s defence is hardly something Arsenal want to emulate, Debuchy is a defender that can certainly add something to the setup at the Emirates, as could Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin.
Another Frenchman, Schneiderlin has reportedly been on Wenger’s wish list for some time, and according to Adrian Kajumba of the Daily Star, he’s told his St. Mary’s colleagues that he won’t be returning to the South Coast.
Rated at £20 million, the 24-year-old is a very talented anchorman in the heart of midfield and would be exactly what Arsenal need to shore up their back line.
Speaking with Sky Sports, Schneiderlin revealed that he’d been in talks with Southampton boss Ronald Koeman about his future, but nothing has been decided just yet:
Yes, he (Koeman) called me about a week ago. But what was said will stay between us. He wants me to stay and we’ll see. I don’t know yet. I still have three years left on my contract at Southampton. Nothing has happened, I am going to relax and go on holiday and we will see.
His lack of decisiveness could mean that he’s set to be part of the Southampton exodus and leave the club, and what’s their loss will undoubtedly be Arsenal’s gain.
Wenger is an intelligent spender, as a man with an economics degree should be, and he knows that bringing in Sanchez, Debuchy and Schneiderlin would be money well spent.
Arsenal will definitely be there or thereabouts in the race for the Premier League title, and having three players of such class will only help their cause—making crossing the line that little bit easier.