With the new season just three days away now Arsenal signed their third player of the summer transfer window on Monday. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain signed from Southampton for a fee of anything up to €15 million according to various reports. He's only 17 years old but he is seen as a real star of the future.
Arsenal's real needs in the transfer market this summer are in their defence, but Chamberlain will hopefully prove to be well worth the money spent on him. Arsene Wenger has said he is doing all he can to bring in players of "super quality" before the end of the transfer window, but time is running out for him. I'll attempt to analyse some players who could still possibly end up as Arsenal players before the end of August.
Gary Cahill has been a target for Arsenal for quite a while now, but Bolton Wanderers are adamant he will not be sold for less than £17 million. He has only one year left on his contract at Bolton, and I'm sure they will not want to lose him for no fee next summer. The Daily Mail has reported that Arsenal are again chasing his signature with only a matter of days to go before the season starts.
Cahill has plenty of Premier League experience and of all the central defenders they are chasing he is probably the best candidate. It would seem that Arsene Wenger might be happy to wait one more year for Cahill, so that he can get him on a free transfer next summer. That might not be the best decision for Arsenal, but his notoriously frugal ways are hard for him to move away from.
I would prefer to see Cahill signed immediately, as I have very real fears that Arsenal's failure to defend set pieces will be a problem for them yet again. He has shown with Bolton that he has the exact qualities that Arsenal are looking for in a defender. He's still only 25 years old, and at six feet two inches he has the stature to impose himself on opposition strikers which Arsenal are missing all too often.
Christopher Samba is another player who Arsenal are said to have being tracking since the start of the transfer window. There is no doubt that he has the required physique to deal with set pieces, and his heading ability could also be a bonus in attacking situations for Arsenal too. He may not be as good a footballer as some of the other candidates for the role, but surely he doesn't have to play in every game.
His addition to the squad would be a real bonus when Arsenal come up against Stoke City, and other Premier League teams who try to exploit Arsenal's aerial weakness when they play each other. Samba is still only 27 years old, but he has plenty of Premier League experience and he would be a positive addition to the squad in my opinion. Whether Wenger considers him to be of "super quality" or not is another matter, and it could be the stumbling block to his signature.
The player himself has stated his desire to play in the Champions League, and Arsenal are one of only four English clubs capable of offering him that opportunity this coming season. If Arsenal were to sign Samba I think it would be a good move for both parties, but at the moment it doesn't look too likely.
With Arsenal's pursuit of central defenders seemingly not reaping any rewards this summer they have recently been linked with Birmingham City's Scott Dann. Metro are currently reporting that Liverpool will pip Arsenal to his signature, as both clubs look to strengthen their defences with the new season approaching. I don't think Dann is the person to solve Arsenal's defensive woes, as I have said before but the prospect of him joining them seems very real.
When I last wrote about Dann a number of Birmingham fans were very quick to tell me that he was a much better player than I thought he was, but I stand by my original assessment. I don't think he is good enough to play at the highest level with Arsenal, but if he does sign I do hope he proves me wrong.
Per Mertesacker is yet another central defender who has been linked with Arsenal for quite a while now. If the report in the Daily Mail is to believed he has issued a come and get me plea to Arsenal, and his club are prepared to let him leave as he has entered the last year of his contract. He would be available a fairly reasonable price compared to the prices being quoted for English central defenders.
Mertesacker would seem to fit the bill for an Arsenal team which so obviously needs a commanding central defender. He six feet and six inches tall, and he's commanding in the air as well as being good on the ball. He isn't the quickest player, but Arsenal have plenty of other defenders with pace.
I think he would be an excellent purchase for Arsenal at €6 million, but it's Wenger's opinion which matters most of all. If Arsenal really want Mertesacker there is nothing to stop them signing him, and he will become a player very soon if that is so.
Bruno Ecuele was signed by Lorient last summer to replace Laurent Koscielny, who had been sold to Arsenal. He's an international central defender who plays for Gabon, and he has impressed in his first season with Lorient. He's still only 23 years old, and his price tag should not be prohibitive for Arsenal.
Give Me Football have reported an interest in the player from Arsenal, but there's no way of knowing what truth is in it. He's only 6'1", and his relative lack of experience might mean he's a long shot for Arsenal to sign.
Phil Jagielka is an English international central defender who would probably be a very good acquisition for Arsenal this summer. He's not the tallest player, but his organisational skills might go a long way towards sorting out Arsenal's defensive woes. His ability in the air is very good for a player six feet tall, and his positional play is excellent too.
However, Arsenal have already had a bid for him turned down, and Everton are looking for a lot of money for a player who will be 29 next week. I can't see Arsenal parting with €20 million for a player of that age, despite the fact that he might be the player they need to improve their defensive record. There are other options open to Arsenal at a better price, and I think they will opt for one of them.
Arsenal's interest in signing Juan Mata from Valencia has been known for quite a while now, and if the reports are true they have already had a bid turned down. With Samir Nasri looking close to an exit from Arsenal, Mata is seen as the man to possibly replace him. The chances of Mata signing for Arsenal will probably depend on Arsenal managing to offload Nasri for a fee of at least €25 million.
Mata is only 23 years old, but he looks to have a very bright future in football. He's already a full Spanish international despite the huge range of excellent players Spain have to choose from. He has starred at every underage level for Spain and his capture would be an excellent signing for Arsenal in my opinion.
Give Me Football have reported Arsenal are again interested in signing Mata, and they will move for him with the fee they receive when they sell Nasri. His signature could leave Arsenal with a formidable attacking line, as they have already signed Chamberlain and Ryo Miyaichi has had his work permit approved too.
Arsenal are believed to have had a bid for Douglas Costa turned down by his club Shakhtar Donetsk in June of this year. It has been rumoured recently that they will lodge another bid, but with Chamberlain, Gervinho and possibly Mata all arriving the chances are he won't be moving to the Emirates. He is a player with an awful lot of ability, and he would be an excellent addition to almost any team in my opinion.
He won't be 21 until next month and he still has a lot to learn in the game, but he has made excellent progress since joining Shakhtar Donetsk last year. If Arsenal are in need of yet another attacking player they could well decide to move for him, but it will depend on other players leaving. I think there is still a chance of Arsenal signing him, but possibly next January if their squad needs a boost at that stage.
Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner has revealed he has agreed to join another club, and he will leave when the two clubs have agreed a price. If Arsenal do sell Bendtner they might well find themselves a little short in attack, and Odemwingie is a player who could possibly fill the void. He was linked with them at the start of the transfer window, and there's a possibility West Brom will be willing to sell if they manage to capture Shane Long from Reading.
Odemwingie had a very good season for West Brom last season, and he would certainly be a good alternative to Robin van Persire if the Dutchman were to pick up an injury. Marouane Chamakh filled in admirably for RVP in the first half of last season, but he has been far from impressive since then. Arsenal need a striker who can fill in for RVP when he is injured or needs to be rested, and Odemwingie could be that man.
He turned 30 last month and at that age Odemwingie might prefer to stay with a club where he is guaranteed first team football. On the other hand Arsenal are a team qualifying for trophies, and he might like the chance to win a few of them at this stage in his career.
Arsenal have been close to signing 19-year-old Costa Rican international Joel Campbell for quite a while now. It looked like they had the deal tied up recently, but the player had other ideas and he is still available to purchase. He's a young player with a lot of potential, and he plays in a wide attacking role like so many recent purchases for Arsenal.
If Arsenal decide to finalise their move for Campbell it will be very soon, but he might not be able to obtain a work permit to play in England. He would be an excellent acquisition for the future for Arsenal, and if Metro are to be believed he actually signed a few days ago. Obviously they were a little previous with their reporting, but it does look like Campbell will be an Arsenal player very soon.
With the new season starting in three days Arsenal's most pressing needs in the transfer market are in their defence in my opinion. Thomas Vermaelen missed almost all of last season due to injury, and his presence was sorely missed by the team. If he can stay fit for this season he will be the mainstay of their defence, but the squad still needs strengthening at the back.
If a top class partner can be found to partner Vermaelen it should help Arsenal to overcome their defensive problems from last season, but that player has to be signed as soon as possible. Laurent Koscielny is currently the most likely candidate to take the role, but Arsenal also have Johan Djourou, Sebastien Squillaci and Ignasi Miquel to choose from. I think a top class central defender would not only improve the team, but he might also get the best out of the other players as they attempt to challenge for a place.
I worry that Arsenal will not sign the central defender they need, and they will probably struggle from set pieces yet again this season. As a fan of the club I will always support them, but I sometimes feel they do all they can to make my life a misery.
That's it for today.
Finally for today this season's Fantasy Premier League is up and running again. My league has almost 100 teams in it already, but I will welcome any new teams. Just go to the site and use the code 125540-42785 to join my league when your team is set up.
Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter, tumblr and Facebook too.
See you tomorrow.