Arsene Wenger has been "ordered" to spend big this summer or face losing his job as Arsenal manager, with Toni Kroos, Gonzalo Higuain, Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and John Stones all named on his transfer shopping list.
According to the Sun's Mark Irwin, the Gunners won't give their manager a new contract "until he starts competing in the transfer market," having presumably lost patience with the squad's current limitations.
It's mentioned that Arsenal's cash reserve—money sitting there ready to be spent—currently sits at £159 million, and yet Mohamed Elneny is the only senior outfield player the club has purchased since January 2015.
The north Londoners may look to the likes of Ibrahimovic—out of contract in June—to improve their attacking options, while Pogba and Kroos would give a serious injection of quality in the middle of the park.
But Wenger has been reluctant to spend heavily in the past, and the Gunners appear to be paying for their lack of investment now after injuries have once again taken their toll on the campaign.
Ibrahimovic will be available on a free transfer when he leaves Paris Saint-Germain at the end of this season, but former Arsenal veteran Paul Merson recently told Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday Wenger won't move for the Swede:
He's got to play the game with the fans sometimes. He gets asked about Zlatan Ibrahimovic. All you have to do is turn around and say 'I'd love to get him, if he wants to come to London I want him'—and the fans would be happy. If you don't get him, then you don't get him—but don't say 'oh, I'm not sure'.
Ibrahimovic is a winner. He's won 13 trophies in so many leagues. Of course, Wenger isn't going to sign him because he's going to question him.
He doesn't want someone sitting in the dressing room questioning him. He doesn't want people to come in after the game and start tearing it up. He just wants people to come in and recover.
Last year (Karim) Benzema didn't come in and he said (Olivier) Giroud's going to get more goals then [sic] Benzema. Seriously?
The north Londoners' search for an elite scoring presence has continued this season, and fit-again Danny Welbeck is now showing good form in front of goal, with two goals in his last two Premier League games.
Napoli striker Higuain, meanwhile, is rampaging to Serie A's Golden Boot award with 29 league goals this term, more than two times as many as any other player.
BT Sport's Italian football expert, James Horncastle, believes the Argentinian will be available to leave Naples this summer:
BT Sport Football @btsportfootball
.@JamesHorncastle is convinced @G_Higuain will leave @sscnapoli, but is he @premierleague bound? #BTEFS https://t.co/fqpdGzNbJn2016-3-20 19:50:37
Central midfield could be considered the area most in need of new faces this summer, with Mikel Arteta, 33, Tomas Rosicky, 35, and Mathieu Flamini, 32, all set to see their contracts expire at the Emirates Stadium.
Meanwhile, injury-ravaged Jack Wilshere is still to make an appearance this season, and the team has struggled to replace Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla during recent injury spells.
Former Manchester United youngster Pogba has long been linked with a return to the English top flight, but Juventus will drive a hard bargain for a player widely regarded as one of the best young stars in the world.
Kroos may be considered an easier capture from Real Madrid, and Spanish football expert Guillem Balague claims the German wants to leave the Bernabeu, per the Sun's Anthony Chapman.
Kroos has struggled to carry his Bayern Munich form to Madrid, and Goal's Ben Hayward recently noted his decline in Spain:
Ben Hayward @bghayward
@realmohamed1 That said, Kroos argely disappointing since first six months. Plays too close to Modric, not disciplined enough in deep role.2016-3-14 00:03:46
Of the five names mentioned, Everton centre-back Stones is the only target already in the Premier League, but the Daily Mail's Rob Draper reported in January that the likes of Barcelona, Real and Manchester City will all challenge for his signature.
The ultimatum reportedly issued to Wenger means the Frenchman may be forced to go against his moral code and give fans the splurge they've been seeking or risk giving up his Emirates future.