As the 2010/2011 ultimately draws nearer to it's conclusion, Arsenal's English Premier League title aspirations fade and fade, ultimately ensuring a sixth successive season in which no silverware has been achieved by the North London giants. In what was certainly a gallant effort by Arsene Wenger's men, the Gunners advanced to the Carling Cup Final before Birmingham City inflicted defeat, were eliminated in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League and the quarter final of the FA Cup, and have maintained the pressure on Manchester United in the EPL all season in second place.
However the distinct absence of trophies still dominates the Arsenal head lines which have resulted in Wenger admitting he will implement changes into his youthful squad during the up coming Summer transfer window. The Frenchman was heavily criticized for his lack of activity in transfer windows and his tentative financial approach.
However the Arsenal tactician has sufficient funds to now chase quality services in order to boost the Gunners title challenges for 2011/2012. Fans and critics alike have victimized the defence as the main area in need of reinforcements but Wenger will undoubtedly have his eye on midfield and forward prospects.
Baring in mind a number of squad players are rumoured to be nearing exits with Wenger said to be offloading some out of form members. Andrei Arshavin, Nicklas Bendtner, Manuel Almunia, Denilson, Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Eboue all have their Arsenal futures under concern. Meanwhile there is also the internal prospects that Wenger has to be wary of. A number of youngsters have impressed on loan spells and look certain to challenge for first team honours next season.
So here are the top 25 targets for Arsene Wenger to chase in a bid to reinstate Arsenal's diminishing presence on the World Football stage.
*No particular order
Cost: £13-18 million
2010/2011 may have witnessed the emergence of Wojciech Szczesny as one of the best young keepers in World Football and the future of the Arsenal keeping ranks, and the maturity of Lukasz Fabianski, who flourished into a consistent, imposing shot stopper after a couple of developing years of torment, but it hasn't stopped the speculation of big name keepers arriving to the Emirates.
One keeper who has consistently been targeted by Wenger is Liverpool's Pepe Reina. The Spaniard is one of the strongest keepers in World Football and held in the highest regard by the Reds. The 28 year old has been a consistent force for Liverpool since arriving at Anfield in 2005.
Boasting over 300 appearances and numerous gloveman awards, Reina is highly chased by many big name sides. Although many fans are eager to see the continuance of Wojciech Szczesny as the Arsenal number one, most wouldn't mind the arrival of Pepe Reina, even if it is for £15 million.
Cost: £10-12 million
The future of English football, Connor Wickham is a hugely talented striker whose performances in the Championship for Ipswich Town have resulted in a large number of clubs pursuing his signature. The 18 year old made his debut for the Tractor Boys in 2009 as a 16 year old has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Wickham has been in sublime form this season with 38 appearances and 7 goals including a hattrick. The English U-21 star's form ensured he received both The Football League Young Player of the Year, and the Championship Apprentice Award at the 2011 Football League Awards.
Wenger was heavily linked with a move for Wickham in both the Summer and January but Ipswich Town are eager to maintain their young gun and have put a hefty price tag forward for the big name clubs.
Cost: £8-12 million
The heart and soul of AS Roma's backline, Phiippe Mexes would be a stunning addition to the Arsenal defence and would surely help eradicate the lingering problems that are associated with Arsenal's centre half. The Frenchman has played over 250 games for the Italian giants and his a veteran in the UEFA Champions League.
A tenacious defender who boast a similar style to that of Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen, many believe Mexes would thrive in the harsh atmosphere of the Premier League as the 29 year old has all the defensive traits to succeed.
The French international has been on Wenger's radar for a number of seasons now and with the call for a quality centre half intesifying at the Emirates, Philippe Mexes could very well join Arsenal.
Cost: £14-20 million
A tough, imposing centre half, Neven Subotic is touted as the next big defensive prospect after emerging strongly in the German Bundesliga with first Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund. The Serbian is highly regarded by a number of sides including Tottenham, Manchester United, Liverpool and of course Arsenal.
At 6ft4 Subotic is a enforcing presence from set pieces alongside boasting impressive balance, speed and strength. The 22 year old has made over 100 appearances for Dortmund and 22 for Serbia. It is believe the German giants demand around £20 million for their Serbian defender after Chelsea had a January offer of £17.5 million rejected. It may seem expensive but Neven Subotic is certainly a quality defender.
A versatile, powerful defender who can play as a central defender or a defensive midfielder. Mbia was highly linked with a move to the Gunners in the summer, but a deal failed to materialize. Wenger has a tendency to favour players from the French Ligue or of French nationality as it ensures the player can make an easy transition to the Emirates due to the heavy French culture.
The Cameroon international is a highly regarded player with huge strength and size. Blessed with a superb passing range and a tenacious playing style, many liken the 24-year-old to a combination Yaya Toure and William Gallas. M'Bia has over 13-0 appearances for Marseille and 32 caps for Camerooon
At 24, the versatile defender has a glistening future and his form last season was superb as Marseille won the French Ligue, furthermore the former Rennes defender is a typical Arsenal signing for Wenger.
Cost: £9-14 Million
The Frenchman stormed onto the English Premier League scene last season after Blackburn acquired N'Zonzi from French third division side Amiens SC for £500,000. A commanding, imposing midfielding presence at 190 cm, the Frenchman enjoyed a stellar debut season in World Football's toughest league appearing 38 times and scoring twice, one of which came against Arsenal.
Injury has restricted the 22 year old in the early exchanges of this season but has found his form and fitness in recent months. Arsenal were accused of having a distinct lack of midfield depth when key injuries to midfield players coincided with the Arsenal demise. With Gunners midfielders Denilson and Abou Diaby seriously under performing in recent months, there is heavy calls for the duo to depart the Emirates, which could open the door for young N'Zonzi.
Arsenal were linked with the imposing enforcer during the January transfer window and the France U-21 star could be a dynamic partner with Alexandre Song or Jack Wilshere as the defensive midfielders in the Arsenal midfield.
The Gunners also lack premier height when defending set pieces and corners and with N'Zonzi's height, the Frenchman would be one of the biggest Arsenal players. However Blackburn would not allow their young star to depart cheaply but nothing less than £10 million would be imagined.
Cost: £8-13 million
The future of veteran left back Gael Clichy has come under concern in recent months with speculation linking the Frenchman to a move to Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid. This has prompted Wenger to chase one of the most consistent and highly regarded left backs in the EPL, Everton's Leighton Baines.
The 26 year old is a terrific, no nonsense defender who works tirelessly week in week out and also provides a stellar attacking option. The Englishman has played over 150 times in the Premier League for Wigan Athletic and Everton thus rendering him a veteran in the EPL. Although David Moyes will not be keen to allow his defensive dynamo to depart, cash strapped Everton may look to offload Baines for £10 million to relieve debt trouble. A price more than appealing for Wenger, however the Frenchman faces stiff competition from Liverpool.
Cost: £18-30 million
Similar to Clichy, Russian dynamo Andrei Arshavin's future is also unclear and if the 29 yea old departs Arsenal, Wenger will have the perfect replacement in Eden Hazard. The hottest prospect in World Football, the Belgium winger is wanted all around Europe and it's easy to see why.
A devastating attacker, Hazard is blessed with amazing speed and balance alongside great creativity and a ferocious shot. Boasting over 130 appearances for French giants Lille and 19 Belgium National caps, Hazard ticks every box. Did we mention he's only 20?
Many have likened the Belgium magician to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo due to his explosive style of play. The youn gun made his debut for Lille as a 16 year old and has since won the UNFP Young Player of the Year award twice as well as being named in French League Team of the Year.
Lille are currently top of the French table and Hazard has been integral in the achievement, the Mastifs are well aware of their dynamo's talent and the attraction the Belgium international is materializing and it is said the French side are asking for up to £30 million
Cost: £8-15 million
Another tantalizing prospect as replacements for either Andrei Arshavin or Nicklas Bendtner, whose future is also under speculation, is Hazard's teammate Gervinho. The Ivorian is an incredibly quick and strong striker who is equally effective on the wing.
The 23 year old has been prolific in the French Ligue particularly this season as Lille surge towards title triumph. A big fan of the Gunners, Gervinho has expressed his interest to join the North London giants despite the interest of a number of other clubs.
The Ivory Coast international is not the most expensive prospect either with Lille said to be wanting up to £15 million for their sharpshooter.
Cost: £8-12 million
The Frenchman is a strong, quick defender who has been a consistent performer in the French League for a number of seasons now. Currently with Bordeaux, the 26 year old is blessed with imposing strength and a giant header.
Ciani is also a natural leader who boasts a similar playing style to Thomas Vermaelen but unlike the Belgium International, plays with a right foot. The French International would bring much needed power and presence to the Arsenal back line and can also provide a threatening figure off set pieces.
Ranging from around £8-12 million, Ciani is well within Wenger's price range and reach.
Cost: £10-12 million
Arsenal's defence has often endured criticism as at times, the back line is outmuscled or overpowered. Many believe the centre half is lacking a forceful, English presence who thrives under physicality and power. There seems no better option than Birmingham City's Roger Johnson.
Birmingham City have surprised all since their re-elevation the the Premier League last season and it's no surprise that since Johnson joined the Blues in 2009, Alex McLiesh's men have remained in the Premier League. A tough, no nonsense centre half who has thwarted the best strikers in the EPL, including Arsenal's Robin van Persie in the Carling Cup final in February, in which Birmingham went on the win.
A natural leader who completes a large amount of work each match alongside providing a reliable presence when both defending and attacking set pieces, the 27 year old would be well worth the £10-12 million
Cost: £10-14 million
The engine, leader and heart of the West Ham line up, captain Scott Parker has been immense for the Hammers despite their poor form that sees the London club in contention for relegation. The English international will be hugely sort after by every EPL club come the Summer regardless of the outcome to West Ham.
In 37 appearances and 7 goals, Parker has been one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. The 30 year old would be a stellar buy for Wenger as the Englishman's presence in the midfield would provide stability, leadership, strength and an intelligent play maker.
Parker has a great desire to play UEFA Champions League football, a privilege Arsenal can offer and should West Ham endure relegation, which many believe they will do, Parker would have his price reduced.
Cost: £10-15 million
Wigan Atheltic are another side who face the devastating prospect of relegation and should that happen Hugo Rodallega will become the one of the hottest prospects in the Premier League. Not that the Colombian already isn't it. The 26 year old is a massive point of the Wigan attack thanks to his powerful yet pacey presence and tireless movement.
Comfortable all across the forward line and as a second striker, Rodallega maintains a consistent strike rate despite the Latics notorious poor attack, the worst in the Premier League. This season the Colombian international boast eight goals but the prospect of what Rodallega can do beside an attack like Arsenal and the likes of Jack Wilshere, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie would surely triple that goal tally.
Rumoured to be around £15 million, should the likes of Nicklas Bendtner and Andrei Arshavin depart, Hugo Rodallega would be a sterling replacement.
Cost: £10-15 million
Almost indentical to Scott Parker. Charlie Adam has been the engine, leader, heart and soul of newly promoted Blackpool this season and almost every Premier League club desires the Scots presence. Like Parker's West Ham, the Seasiders are in danger of relegation which means Adam could be in need of a new club come the Summer.
28 appearances with 10 goals for Ian Holloway has ensured the 25 year old is one of the Premier League's best midfielders and one of the most regarded. Adam's would add steel, power and leadership to the midfielder alongside providing excellent assistance for the forwards and for up coming youngsters.
It is rumoured that regardless of how Blackpool's season concludes, Adam's is aiming for a bigger Premier League club with Liverpool, who tried endlessly to secure the Scottish internationals services during January, said to be the favourite.
Cost: £10-15 million
Touted as the next Theo Walcott, it appeared Arsenal had beaten off the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham during January after a £10 million deal with Southampton looked destined. However it failed to materialize properly and the 17 year old sensastion is still up for grabs.
An amazing promise, Chamberlain is a hugely fast and clever winger whose performances in League One this campaign ensured the youngster was named in the PFA League One Team of the Year. Wenger is still eager to finally secure Chamberlain as it is evident the English midfielder is destined for glory.
However Southampton are certain to want even more after his sterling efforts in 2010/2011.
Cost: £6-10 million
A giant of a striker who has been more than prolific in the Romanian League with CFR Cluj, before recently transferring to Russian outfit Kuban Krasnodar. At 6ft8 the Ivorian is a immensely imposing figure who is almost unstoppable from set pieces and crosses. Traore also possesses admirable and impressive feet and technique alongside strong balance making him an all round striking dynamo.
Furthermore the Ivory Coast international is a mere 20 years old but made his professional debut as a 16 year old in 2007. Despite joining Krasnodar in February, Wenger is still a realisitc chance of acquiring the striker dubbed the next Emmanuel Adebayor as Traore has a strong desire to play at the Emirates.
Cost: £7-11 million
The French defensive midfielder has been hailed as the next Patrick Vieira after a number of seasons as a consistent performer for Tolouse in the French League. Young and French, Wenger is a huge fan of the combative midfielder and is eager to make a Summer bid for Sissoko.
At just 21, the French international has over 144 appearances for the French outfit and many have predict Sissoko would thrive in the Premier League particularly with Wenger. An increasingly likely prospect for the Gunners particularly with the futures of Abou Diaby and Denilson coming under concern.
Wenger will be able to materialize a deal by offering on of his exciting array of youngsters with Gilles Sunu, who has gained experience with Lorient FC this season, Dutch sensastion Oguzhan Ozyakup or Samuel Galindo.
Cost: £9-13 million
Wigan Athletic may be a struggling side in the English Premier League alongside boasting the worst attacking prowess in the Legaue, but there is no denying Roberto Martinez has some serious talent on his roster. If the Latics continue to falter towards relegation the Spaniard is destined to loose most of the Wigan calibre.
One player who would almost certainly depart is young gun James McCarthy. The Irish international has been a revelation for the Latics since joining the DW Stadium last season after becoming a hugely impressive force in the Scottish Premier League with Hamiliton Academical.
Although injury has somewhat tainted 2010/2011 for the 20 year old, McCarthy is an experienced starlet in the EPL who has expressed desire to play for the Gunners. McCarthy is blessed with great speed and playmaking skills. Furthermore, the Irishman is capable of fulfilling any role in the midfield alongside the wing and second striker roles.
Furthermore should Wigan face relegation, James McCarthy's price would drop enabling Wenger to pounce for a steal.
Cost: £12-16 million
Per Mertesacker would send relief through Arsenal fans if Wenger managed to sign the imposing centre half as the German could potentially single handedly eradicate the Gunner's defensive faults such is Mertesacker's calibre. At a huge 6ft6, the 26 year old is a strong, efficient defender who boast natural leadership and a smashing header.
Wenger has been strongly linked with the German international as Mertesacker eyes and exit from the Bundesliga and into World Football's toughest legaue. Experienced domestically, UEFA Champions League and internationally, the Bremen defender is greatly renowned for his clean defensive style and intelligent ball play.
However Werder Bremen demand a high fee for their centre half but with Wenger's need for a trophy and defensive calibre instesifying, Mertesacker may just be worth it.
Cost: £11-16 million
The Bolton centre half has been a prime target for Wenger for a number of seasons now after becoming one of the strongest defenders in Premier League. With over 130 appearances in the EPL and national caps for England, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal are all working tirelessly to secure Cahill's services.
Bolton manager has admitted it is an uphill battle to keep hold of his English international ensuring a heavy price has been instilled for Cahill. However the 25 year olds defensive presence would be a huge benefit for the Arsenal defence particularly as the former Aston Villa boasts immense speed and strength.
Cost: £9-13 million
The Ajax defender has been a consistent performer in the Dutch Eredivisie for a number of seasons now, attracting heavy attention from a number of clubs in Spain and England, Arsenal among them.
The 23-year-old is a strong, imposing defender with great height and a solid tackles. Capable of playing throughout the backline as well as a defensive and central midfielder, the Belgium international is destined for Arsenal thanks to his playmaking abilities and no nonsense defending.
Furthermore Vertonghen shares a strong relationship with defensive leader Thomas Vermaelen, due to their time at Ajax and Belgium. The pair formed a rock solid partnership at Ajax and have maintained their dominance with the Devils
Cost: £13-17 million
Arsene Wenger has made numerous offers to David Moyes to bring Phil Jagielka to the Emirates but Everton are not eager to lose one of their fearless leaders and immense defenders. With over 150 Premier League displays and 8 England caps, the 28 year old is held in the highest regard by the English footballing public for his no nonsense, calm and effective defending.
Jagielka is also equally effective as a midfielder and despite not boasting the most imposing height, the Englishman is also a superb option from set pieces and corners. It is believed Moyes wants over £15 million for his enforcer but Arsenal are Jagielka's preference should he depart Goodison park.
Cost: £11-17 million
French players often thrive at Arsenal. With Wenger, a renowned French tactician, and a high number of French presences in the Arsenal squad, it's no surprise that most of Wenger's signings are French or of French descent.
One Frenchman who has been a clinical presence in the French league this season is Lorient FC striker Kévin Gameiro. The small yet efficient forward has secured a more-than-impressive 17 goals in 26 appearance for his French side, and many believe the 23-year-old will thrive in the Premier League.
With majority of Arsenal's strikers, tall, imposing powerful players, Gamerio would instill a much-needed poacher effect to the Gunners' attack, as well as speed and composure in front of goal. With Andrei Arshavin's future uncertain, the Frenchman would be a strong replacement, and with Arsenal boasting an even stronger relationship with Lorient FC, a more-than-useful deal would almost certain to carved out as the French side enjoy utilizing Arsenal's youngsters on loan.
Cost: £10-14 million
The most likely defensive signing for Arsenal and arguably one of the most needed. Mamadou Sakho has long been touted as an excellent option for Wenger and the Frenchman has tried to bring the 21 year old to the Emirates.
At 21, Sakho is already a leader in the PSG line up having made his debut as a 17 year old, boasting over 100 appearances for the French giants. A strong, elegant and incisive centre half, Sakho can play anywhere in the back line but will undoubtedly be used in the centre of defence.
Wenger is believed to have Sakho at the top of his transfer list with a rumoured £12 being readied.
It happens every Summer, Wenger is linked with numerous big name signing but ultimately a young, unknown prospect arrives for a cheap sum and becomes a strong player in the Premier League. This season Laurent Koscielny was the lucky man, who could it be this Summer?