Although Arsenal face a tricky Premier League tie away to Leicester City this weekend, boss Arsene Wenger will doubtless be a little distracted. The very next day, the transfer window will close. Time is running out. Between now and Monday, there is vital business Wenger must conduct to ensure his squad is strong enough to compete on all fronts.
It’s not an unfamiliar situation for Arsenal to be in. Last season, they faced Tottenham Hotspur in the north London Derby on the eve of deadline day. Between beating Spurs and the end of the window, they managed to pull off the remarkable coup of signing Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid.
Speaking to Rob Kelly of Arsenal.com to preview the Leicester game, Wenger was keen to stress that this is not always an easy time to secure quality signings:
It's harder to buy top, top, top players, yes. Many clubs are on the market and everybody knows each other.
The last few days are poker games. There's a lot of lies there in the few days, everybody is interested in the same player even if you're the only one who wants the player.
[When you are experienced] you can call it a bluff when it is a bluff.
However, he did insist that he will be “active” on the market. He needs to be: There are three positions in which his squad needs strengthening.
Arsenal have needed an additional centre-half for some time. Last season, they scraped through with just Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen as their senior central defenders. They were fortunate in that they could call upon the versatile Bacary Sagna when necessary.
However, Sagna and Vermaelen have since departed. Calum Chambers has come in, but despite all of his promise, he lacks experience at centre-back. Arsenal require a fourth central defensive option to ensure they have the requisite strength in depth to survive the rigours of a long season.
The man they are currently being linked with is Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos. According to Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, Arsenal are prepared to pay as much as £12 million to bring the Greek international to London. It remains to be seen whether or not Dortmund would be prepared to let him leave just one year after arriving from Werder Bremen.
2. Holding midfield
Despite being named as Arsenal’s full-time captain, doubts persist over Mikel Arteta’s ability to play regularly as a holding midfielder in a title-challenging side. Arsenal may need to move for a younger, more powerful alternative if they are to build a team capable of coping with the muscular midfields of Manchester City and Chelsea.
Their primary target appears to be Adrien Rabiot of Paris Saint-Germain. However, according to French newspaper Le Parisien (h/t Metro), the Gunners face stiff competition from AS Roma for the prodigiously gifted midfielder.
Having lost Olivier Giroud to a fractured tibia, Arsenal may require a centre-forward, too. Outwardly, Wenger appears confident that he can manage with his current options. However, he must recognise that failing to bring in a new forward would place an enormous burden on new signing Alexis Sanchez to deliver the goods.
Anthony Chapman of the Daily Express claims Arsenal could attempt to complete an audacious loan for Colombian striker Radamel Falcao. If such a deal is on the table, Wenger would be mad to pass it up.