A Complete Look at Arsenal's Summer Transfer Plans

Dean Jones@DeanJonesBRFootball Insider at Bleacher ReportJune 5, 2017

A Complete Look at Arsenal's Summer Transfer Plans

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    Arsene Wenger has pledged his future to Arsenal with a new two-year contract, and now the manager needs to prove he can turn this squad into title-winning material.

    It's time to spend money in the transfer market, but will this be a summer when Arsenal show plenty of intent yet ultimately fail to pick up their top targets?

    Or is Wenger going to surprise us all and make a statement that turns the Gunners from Premier League pretenders to contenders?

    There have already been plenty of big-names linked; Carlos Bacca, Kylian Mbappe, Alexandre Lacazette and Riyad Mahrez are among the rumoured arrivals, as the board encourages the boss to sign marquee players.

    Here I break down Arsenal's transfer plans to get a better idea of how the window will unfold.

The Mission for Mbappe

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    There would be no bigger statement than to sign the most exciting teenager in world football, but Arsenal remain some way from luring Mbappe to north London.

    Wenger is a long-time admirer and already has a good relationship with the player. He has always been confident that if Mbappe decides to leave AS Monaco, he would choose to join the Gunners.

    Arsenal have been seriously exploring the possibility of signing him and contact has been made with the French side over his availability.

    Although L'Equipe reported that a formal bid of £87 million has been lodged, sources in England have told me that an offer has not been made.

    Arsenal almost went ahead with a move to sign him last summer but decided to wait to see how he improved. No one could have expected him to explode in quite such sensational fashion, as he scored 26 goals and made 14 assists.

    Now Real Madrid are in the picture. Jason Burt of the Telegraph suggested a £103 million bid had been turned down but do not expect that to deter the Spanish side.

    I'm told Madrid could even look into business that would see them sign Mbappe now and loan him back to Monaco, if it helps secure the deal.

    One positive sign is that Arsenal are pursuing this transfer early in the summer. It's one of the changes I outlined in this piece on how we should expect the Frenchman to alter his mindset over the next two years.

How Many Signings to Expect?

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    There will not be the same level of spending as you will see at Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea, but Wenger is being handed a substantial kitty to boost his squad.

    Over £100 million is available and the bulk of the cash will go on adding game-changers to the current squad.

    Wenger does not feel the need for a major overhaul but does realise there is too much reliance on Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to step forward as big-game players. After talks with chief executive Ivan Gazidis at the end of the season, the Gunners boss is hunting for star quality.

    We should expect another three new faces to arrive who can impact the starting XI to push the club forward. Returning to the Champions League is crucial, but a challenge for the Premier League title has to be the aim.

    Midfielder Pablo Fornals is one man worth keeping an eye on. He had been close to joining Valencia, but Arsenal lodged interest in light of Santi Cazorla's latest injury setback.

    I'm told a new central defender is also high on the agenda as Wenger is keen to pursue his success with the three-man back line.

    We already know left-back Sead Kolasinac is about to be announced on a free transfer from FC Schalke 04. Henry Onyekuru of Belgian side Eupen is likely to arrive, although he is not likely to be one of the significant names that makes an immediate impact.

Breaking the Wage Structure

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    Cash has been carefully managed at the Emirates Stadium, but the bar will now be lifted in a bid to allow them to seriously challenge for next season's title.

    It is expected that Ozil will soon sign an improved contract worth around £280,000-a-week and that will change the structure of the club. 

    Mark Irwin of The Sun explained how it would be the first time any player has earned more than Wenger.

    But it still might not be enough to keep Chilean forward Sanchez, who has been hoping for a contract worth £300,000-a-week.

    Discussions are ongoing and Wenger remains defiant over his position, but Sanchez is ambitious and a bid from Bayern Munich or Juventus will prove tempting.

Marquee Signings Needed

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    Riyad Mahrez looks like the most attainable option for Arsenal right now.

    His stock is not as high as it was a year ago when he had inspired Leicester City to the title, but Wenger has seen the qualities he believes could give his attack an extra dimension.

    He will no longer command the £50 million valuation of last summer, and as he pushes for a transfer, it is likely to become a tug-of-war between Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain to sign him. I'm told Mahrez is open to either option.

    In other business, Arsenal are going to have to make themselves attractive in order to land players such as Alexandre Lacazette, who is a genuine target.

    Lack of Champions League football does not always stop big players from joining, but the Lyon striker would have to be convinced of their ambition.

    Thomas Lemar could arrive from Monaco if the Mbappe deal falls flat, while Arda Turan of Barcelona has also been opening up as an option, with the Spanish club in pursuit of Hector Bellerin.

    AC Milan's Carlos Bacca has long been on Arsenal's watch list, but again the deal is unlikely to materialise.

Keen for a New 'Keeper

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    Signing goalkeepers has never been one of Wenger's favourite jobs, but his scouts have been on the lookout for new options in recent months.

    There is doubt about how long Petr Cech will remain reliable as the Gunners' No. 1 and two other stoppers look to be on the move.

    Wojciech Szczesny is close to agreeing a £14 million move to Italian giants Juventus, following a loan spell at Roma last season. And David Ospina could join Turkish side Fenerbahce for around £4 million.

    This isn't a high-priority area for Wenger over the summer, but if a good deal opens up, it would not be a surprise.

Time to Become Ruthless

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    The other piece of Wenger's summer transfer puzzle is to get rid of some dead wood.

    Yaya Sanogo is on his way out and Joel Campbell will most likely leave too. Fellow frontman Lucas Perez has not made the impact he would have hoped either, and Wenger is likely to decide he can leave if a good enough offer arrives.

    Mathieu Debuchy, Carl Jenkinson and Calum Chambers could go, and Wenger seems to have made his mind up that he can no longer wait for Jack Wilshere.

    Wenger has shown much patience and loyalty to certain players in the past, but he cannot afford to do so in these final years of his Arsenal reign.

    All information acquired firsthand unless otherwise noted.