Best and Worst Moves Arsenal Could Make in the Transfer Window

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2017

Kylian Mbappe is surely the No. 1 target for Arsenal this summer.
Kylian Mbappe is surely the No. 1 target for Arsenal this summer.Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

With the transfer window open, speculation about Arsenal's business has gone into overdrive. Fans hungrily devour stories linking players with moves both from and to the Emirates Stadium.

It's tempting to get caught in the hype, but the transfer window is a period when some strategic thinking often pays dividends. Arsenal need to think carefully about the business they do if they're to stand any chance of challenging for major honours next season.

In this piece, Bleacher Report examines the three worst moves Arsenal could make in the following window, before looking at the three best possible deals.

        

Worst Move No. 3: Let Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Go to Liverpool 

CROISSY-SUR-SEINE, FRANCE - JUNE 12:  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain speaks to the media during the England press conference at the Chemin De Ronde Stadium on June 12, 2017 in Croissy-sur-Seine, France.  (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has just 12 months remaining on his Arsenal contract. With his position at the club vulnerable, it's no wonder potential buyers are circling, with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool deemed his most likely destination. 

According to David Maddock and John Cross of the Mirror, Liverpool have made official contact with Arsenal over their desire to bring Oxlade-Chamberlain to Anfield:

"Liverpool have made their move for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Anfield chiefs' direct enquiry to Arsenal represents the first step in trying to pull off a remarkable transfer coup for the £25million-rated England international.

"And although the Gunners rebuffed that first approach, they could be ready to sell Oxlade-Chamberlain as his contract talks have ground to a frustrating halt."

This would be a terrible time to lose the England international. Last season was arguably his best in an Arsenal shirt, and he was particularly effective in a wing-back role after Arsenal's switch to playing three at the back in April.

However, Oxlade-Chamberlain reportedly sees his future in central midfield—a position he'd be likely to assume in a Liverpool shirt.

Having invested so much time in his development, it would be disastrous to lose Oxlade-Chamberlain just as he appears ready to fulfil his potential.

      

Worst Move No. 2: Allow Wojciech Szczesny to join Juventus

AS Roma's Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szcesny gestures during the Italian Serie A football match Chievo vs AS Roma at the Marcantonio Bentegodi stadium in Verona on May 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA        (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AF
MIGUEL MEDINA/Getty Images

Like Oxlade-Chamberlain, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has just a year left on his deal. He has spent the past two seasons on loan at AS Roma, where he matured into one of Europe's most reliable goalkeepers.

This would appear the ideal time to bring him home to Arsenal. Petr Cech isn't getting any younger, and Szczesny has the ability to provide a challenge for the No. 1 shirt. In the long term, he could well be Cech's successor. Having come through the Arsenal academy, it would be fantastic for the fans to see someone with such an affinity for the club establish themselves in the first team.

However, it appears there's a risk Arsenal will lose Szczesny this summer. Sky Sports News HQ reported that the 'keeper has agreed terms on a four-year contract with Italian champions Juventus, who see him as the heir apparent to the great Gianluigi Buffon.

If Juve deem Szczesny worthy of succeeding Buffon, surely Arsenal should be considering him as the next in line to Cech? Finding another goalkeeper of Szczesny's calibre would not be easy.

     

Worst Move No. 1: Sell Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal during the Emirates FA Cup semi-final match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on April 23, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

This is the big one. Alexis Sanchez is yet another player whose Arsenal contract is perilously close to expiry, and no situation will worry fans more than the Chilean’s future.

There is no positive news about a possible extension. That leaves Arsenal with a choice: Hold Alexis to the remaining year of his contract or sell him this summer in order to recoup a fee.

If they choose to go with the latter of those two options, they must sell him abroad. Strengthening a Premier League rival is unthinkable. After allowing Robin van Persie to go to Manchester United in 2012 and effectively win them the title, Arsenal must not make the same mistake again.

Manchester City are the side most commonly linked with the player, with Warren Haughton of The Sun suggesting Pep Guardiola's club is confident of pulling off a £50 million deal.

Even if it means receiving a lower fee, Arsenal must not allow Alexis to join one of their close rivals.  It would be tantamount to strategic suicide.

        

Best Move No. 3: Buy Naby Keita 

Arsenal's central midfield is an area that could do with some attention. For too long, they have been reliant on the remarkable talent of Santi Cazorla. However, with the Spaniard injured with increasing frequency, they need an alternative plan.

Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka appeared to be striking up a useful understanding toward the end of last season, but Arsenal could still do with cover and competition.

When it comes to central midfielders, they don't come much better than Naby Keita. The Guinea international starred in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig last term. And he seems tailor-made for Arsenal and the Premier League.

In an interview with German publication Die Welt (h/t Carl Markham of the Press Association, via MailOnline), Keita admitted the Gunners have already made contact about the possibility of a move. When asked who had approached him, he responded: "Arsenal, Southampton, Manchester City and Liverpool, although I did not talk with the coach."

Keita would not come cheap, with a fee of £70 million mooted. However, his immaculate passing and intricate dribbling suggest he might just be worth it.

       

Best Move No. 2: Extend Alexis’ contract

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal during the Emirates FA Cup semi-final match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on April 23, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Arsenal must pull out all the stops to keep Alexis at the club. He was by far their best player in 2016/17, scoring 30 times and assisting a further 15 goals across all competitions.

He can be frustrating to watch at times, with simple passes going astray a little too often. However, he remains the most productive player on the books. When Arsenal need something, Alexis invariably comes to the fore.

They must propose a contract that makes the Chilean the highest-paid player in the club's history. Perhaps they should even consider inserting a release clause so he could move on in the next couple of years while ensuring Arsenal still receive a fee.

       

Best Move No. 1: Sign Kylian Mbappe

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 13:  Kylian Mbappe forward of France Football team during the International friendly match between France and England held at Stade de France on Juin 13, 2017 in Paris.  (Photo by Frederic Stevens/Getty Images)
Frederic Stevens/Getty Images

There is no doubt who is top of Arsenal's wish list this summer: AS Monaco striker Kylian Mbappe.

According to Jason Burt of the Daily Telegraph, Arsenal have had an £87 million bid for Mbappe rejected. The Gunners know they will have to go in higher if they are to get their man.

It might seem like a risk to spend an entire transfer budget on an 18-year-old. However, Mbappe is no ordinary teenager. If Arsenal can land him, they would be getting the most exciting young footballer in the world.

      

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