Arsenal Influencers Pick Their Top Summer Transfer Targets

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2017

French starlet Kylian Mbappe of Monaco is just one of the stars Arsenal fans would love to land this summer.
French starlet Kylian Mbappe of Monaco is just one of the stars Arsenal fans would love to land this summer.Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

The transfer window is open, and buoyed by their team's FA Cup success, Arsenal fans are dreaming about the players manager Arsene Wenger might be able to lure to the Emirates Stadium ahead of next season.

Reinforcements are needed. Despite ending the season with some silverware, Arsenal fell well short of expectations in the Premier League and Europe. If they are to stand any chance of achieving their stated aim of competing for football's biggest prizes, they will need to reinforce.

For this piece, Bleacher Report spoke to a number of renowned Arsenal influencers to find out which star names they'd like to see arrive in north London this summer.

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Andrew Mangan, aka Arseblogger: Arsenal Blogger and Podcaster Extraordinaire

Twitter: @arseblog

Top Target: Kylian Mbappe

France's forward Kylian Mbappe runs during a training session at the Roazhon Park stadium in Rennes, on June 1, 2017 on the eve of the friendly football match between France and Paraguay. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE        (Photo credit should read FRANCK F
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Venerable Arsenal blogger Andrew Mangan is dreaming big. He told Bleacher Report: "It is very unlikely to happen, but what a statement it would if Arsenal could secure Kylian Mbappe.

"It would shatter the club's transfer record, provide evidence that there is an appetite for change in how things are done and show that despite a lack of Champions League football Arsenal can still attract top talent—not to mention what it might mean for Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in terms of convincing them to stay at the club."

Mangan is right. Mbappe's arrival would send a message to the rest of Europe that Arsenal are determined to reassert themselves as a major force. He would also offer an immediate upgrade on striking options Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud. However, the chances of landing such a highly prized talent remain slim.

    

Tim Clark, aka Arse2Mouse: Host of the 'Arse2Mouse' Podcast

Twitter: @arse2mouse

Top Target: Riyad Mahrez

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 18:  Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City looks on during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur at The King Power Stadium on May 18, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Image
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Another Arsenal blogger, Tim Clark has gone for Leicester City's Algerian sensation, Riyad Mahrez. The playmaker had a somewhat disappointing campaign last term after the extraordinary highs of 2015/16 but remains a midfielder of considerable talent.

"The bloom might be slightly off him after last season, but I'd still like to see a move for Riyad Mahrez," Clark said. "I'm not convinced we have the strength out wide some fans think, and his pace, creativity and finishing would fit our playing style in an almost Piresian manner.

"Leicester's comparatively dumpster campaign will have shaved a few million off his price, and I don't need to tell you whose eyebrow will be raising coquettishly at that prospect."

The Arsenal fans might be a little disappointed if Mahrez were recruited as a direct replacement for Sanchez or Ozil, but his arrival would strengthen the squad.

     

Jane Cavendish: Arsenal Fan and Blogger

Twitter: @jcav90

Top Target: Naby Keita

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - APRIL 23: Naby Deco Keita of Leipzig controls the ball during the Bundesliga match between FC Schalke 04 and RB Leipzig at Veltins-Arena on April 23, 2017 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Jane Cavendish has her eye on improving Arsenal's midfield. She has highlighted Guinean midfielder Naby Keita as the man to partner Granit Xhaka next season: "My first choice would be Naby Keita from RB Leipzig. He's as good as Aaron Ramsey in and around the edge of the opposition box and, crucially, is much better and more mobile on the edge of our own.

"He had great numbers for tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga. He's the sort of quick, athletic destroyer who could screen our back three and launch our own transitions, as well as being able to play in an intermittent press with equal facility."

High praise indeed, and it seems Cavendish is not alone in her admiration for the athletic midfielder.

     

Clive Palmer: Arsenal Fan and Commentator

Twitter: @ClivePAFC

Top Target: Naby Keita or Jean Seri

Writer and podcaster Clive Palmer is another who would love to see Keita lining up for Arsenal next season. 

"He's a versatile central midfielder who can play the deeper role, as well as duplicate the Ramsey role," Palmer said. "His attributes are similar to N'Golo Kante's, as he has real speed into the challenge, but in addition, his offensive dribble and driving play is of a higher standard—his goals and assists validate this. At 22, his ceiling is high. 

Palmer is right. According to WhoScored.com, Keita recorded eight goals and seven assists in 31 Bundesliga appearances last season.

Jean Seri in action for Nice.
Jean Seri in action for Nice.Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

However, if Arsenal cannot land Keita, Palmer has an alternative option in mind: "Jean Seri, a 25 year-old midfielder who plays for OGC Nice. He's a classy playmaker, more in the mould of Granit Xhaka or Santi Cazorla 

"Seri was born in the Ivory Coast and helped drive Nice to Champions League qualification. He makes a team tick with the range and rhythm of his passing and technical security. He sees giving the ball away as a sin, similar to the midfielders of Barcelona, which happens to be his dream destination."

Palmer may think Seri dreams of Barcelona, but who knows what might happen if Arsenal came calling?

      

Elliot Smith, aka YankeeGunner: Host of the 'Arsenal Vision' Podcast

Twitter: @YankeeGunner

Top Target: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Dortmund's Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks on prior the German Cup (DFB Pokal) final football match Eintracht Frankfurt v BVB Borussia Dortmund at the Olympic stadium in Berlin on May 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Christof STACHE / RESTRICTIONS
CHRISTOF STACHE/Getty Images

While Mbappe is the obvious choice for a new striker, Elliot Smith is banging the drum for another one of Europe's leading lights: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

"I'd go for Aubameyang," Smith said. "While he won't come cheap, he feels more attainable than Mbappe. He turns 28 in June, meaning he needs to make his big move now if it's going to happen.

"He's in his prime, so the manager could expect to get the best from him immediately, and if Arsene only has two years left, now is not the time for signing youth projects. He has the pace and finishing tailor made to lead the line for Arsenal."

Aubameyang does look like the ideal striker for Arsenal, and unlike Mbappe, he is an experienced player ready to step straight into the first team. Mbappe could be considered a gamble, whereas the Borussia Dortmund man is already established as a reliable goalscorer.

       

Jim from East Lower: Arsenal Blogger

Twitter: @eastlower

Top Target: Alexis Sanchez

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal celebrates victory after the Emirates FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Veteran Arsenal blogger Jim from East Lower would like to see Arsenal make a real statement signing. He wants a player with the name value and attitude to take the Gunners to the top: "I'd say a player whose work rate sends an example to his team-mates, whose single-mindedness can win games and whose explosive technique can magic a goal from nowhere. So: Alexis Sanchez."

It's a fair point. Tying Sanchez down to a new deal is arguably the most important signing Arsenal could make. Should they lose the Chilean this summer, it might take buying several of the names on this list to pacify their furious fanbase.

       

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and follows the club from a London base.