Arsenal Transfers: Top 9 Transfer Targets for Arsene Wenger
Arsène Wenger needs to sign a backup goalkeeper, a right-back and a left-back.
Promising shot-stopper Damian Martinez should be loaned out so he can experience regular senior football.
Keep Bacary Sagna in your thoughts, as he’s undergoing the laborious process of rehabilitation. A right-back should be the No. 1 priority for Wenger. Playing Francis Coquelin there is an option, but he has world-class potential as a defensive midfielder.
A quality left-back is needed because André Santos is regularly caught out of position (though, he is a prolific ball-winner) and Kieran Gibbs is mediocre.
This article will break up the targets into three different signings: Ligue 1, foreign and U-25.
Given that Olivier Giroud and Yann M'Vila are likely to join the Gunners, this article will not target centre-forwards or defensive midfielders.
9. Ligue 1 Backup Goalkeeper: Steeve Elana
Brest, Age: 31, French
Without Steeve Elana's heroics, Brest would be playing Ligue 2 football next season.
Elana came up big in the two pivotal final games against Valenciennes and Evian, both 1-0 wins for Brest.
The woodwork was his best defender in a 1-0 win over Nice, but he made seven saves.
In a 0-0 draw against Toulouse, Elana stopped Aymen Abdennour, Étienne Capoue and Moussa Sissoko from scoring.
Elana saved an 84th-minute penalty from Eduardo Ribeiro to deny Ajaccio from stealing three points.
Do you know who had the third-best defence in Ligue 1? Brest, and they only escaped relegation by three points.
Yes, Jonathan Zebina earned back some credibility after a dreadful spell at Juventus, but Elana was easily Brest's best player.
8. Foreign Backup Goalkeeper: Craig Gordon
Free agent, Age: 29, Scottish
Chronic knee issues have left Craig Gordon's career in limbo.
Breaking his arm in training added to his misfortunes at Sunderland.
That save against Zat Knight has to rank as one of the greatest saves in recent memory.
Arsenal should implement a two-year contract with clauses protecting them in case Gordon does suffer another long-term injury.
7. U-25 Backup Goalkeeper: Ali Ahamada
Toulouse, Age: 20, French
How can a 20-year-old be this good?
Ali Ahamada is just a notch below Marc-André ter Stegen, but Ahamada's penalty-saving exploits will enhance his reputation in years to come.
Eric Mouloungui had to suffer the guilt of having his 97th-minute penalty saved by Ahamada.
Moussa Sow endured the same emotions when Ahamada stood tall.
Olivier Giroud, a man for the moment, was shocked when Ahamada read where his spot kick was going.
Bruno Grougi, who's hit-and-miss with penalties, blazed his penalty over when facing Ahamada.
6. Ligue 1 Right-Back: Mathieu Debuchy
Lille, Age: 26, French
The lack of world-class full-backs has enabled the likes of Mathieu Debuchy, Gregory van der Wiel and Federico Balzaretti to become highly touted transfer prospects.
In reality, all three are better going forward than defending.
Unsurprisingly, van der Wiel has been exposed at the Euros. All Balzaretti did against the Irish was attack. Debuchy has been the best of the three.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, Lille will attempt to inflate Debuchy's transfer fee to the point where it's not value for money.
5. Foreign Right-Back: Theodor Gebre Selassie
Slovan Liberec, Age: 25, Czech
It's a testament to Theodor Gebre Selassie's mental fortitude, his tuning out the racial abuse and playing to the best of his ability.
His energetic performances, his resilient defending and his incisive crosses have already attracted bids from clubs in Europe's elite leagues.
Selassie said in his blog (via Goal.com):
There were some offers in January, CSKA Moscow's interest was known by everyone, but I would say that there are more serious offers now. I am close to joining Werder Bremen, but I am only focused on the Euros now.
In the past, Arsenal convinced Matthieu Flamini to reject Marseille's contract offer. The Gunners also persuaded Park Chu-Young to screw Lille over, so they need to apply the same underhand tactics in signing Selassie.
Regarding Slovan Liberec inflating Selassie's transfer value, the Czech club have never sold anyone for more than £3 million.
Just a cautionary warning: José Bosingwa had a successful Euro 2008 tournament. Giourkas Seitaridis was superb in Greece's Euro 2004 triumph. Neither defender has lived up to expectations since.
4. U-25 Right-Back: César Azpilicueta
Marseille, Age: 22, Spanish
César Azpilicueta's highlight of the season was pushing Nenê around in a 3-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain.
The Spaniard made six tackles and intercepted the ball 12 times, so he won back possession 18 times, which is as rare as a forward scoring a double hat-trick.
Why can't he play like this every week? That being said, he's only 22, and he has potential to become an elite right-back.
3. Ligue 1 Left-Back: Henri Bedimo
Montpellier, Age: 28, Cameroonian
Henri Bedimo's season would be classed somewhere between elite and world-class—yes, he was that good.
In the final game of the season, Eden Hazard was unproductive whenever he ventured into Bedimo's zone.
Anyone remember Hérita Ilunga? He had that one excellent season for West Ham United, and that was it. So it remains to be seen if Bedimo's form is a blip or a trend.
2. Foreign Left-Back: Guilherme Siqueira
Granada, Age: 26, Brazilian
It's taken him several seasons to finally get it together.
He reads the play well, which is why he intercepted the ball 118 times. He's an efficient tackler, as evidenced by 0.7 fouls per game in return for 76 tackles.
From 12 yards out, he's ice-cold, having converted two penalties in the last minute.
He was the starting left-back in Sid Lowe's La Liga Team of the Season.
1. U-25 Left-Back: Fabian Johnson
Hoffenheim, Age: 24, American
Having originally represented Germany in national youth teams, Fabian Johnson made a pragmatic decision to represent the United States.
His pace and determination have cemented a permanent position for him in Jürgen Klinsmann's starting XI.
In a 4-1 loss to Brazil, the £38 million-valued Hulk didn't get anything out of Johnson. Meanwhile, the 24-year-old was doing his best impression of Marcelo as he constantly attacked Danilo's flank.