Before the 2016/17 Premier League season officially starts in 13 days time, if you look at the possible title contenders apart from Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal then we can pick a number of teams namely Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City & Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur (to play in the Champions League this season), Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United (Europa League), Antonio Conte’s Chelsea & Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool (no European football ).
Apart from these teams Claudio Ranieri’s defending champions Leicester City (Champions League), Slaven Bilic’s West Ham United (Europa League) and Ronald Koeman’s Everton can be the potential surprise packages this season.
Thus in order to win the English top flight title this season after a long gap of 13 years, club manager Wenger and 51-year old South African chief executive Ivan Gazidis must make bold and smart decisions in this summer transfer window.
The three main positions that we need to cover post last season were a central midfielder, a centre-back, and a striker. Signing a winger would be an added bonus. Before our pre-season matches began this season we did sign three players namely Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka from German club Borussia Monchengladbach, Japanese forward Takuma Asano from Japanese champion club Sanfreece Hiroshima and English defender Rob Holding from League one club Bolton Wanderers. Out of the three only Xhaka is a direct first team prospect.
The North London-based club have been linked with a handful of top players recently. Concerning the defense, the Gunners were heavily linked with 24-year old Valencia and German national team defender Shkodran Mustafi this week.
AFC have also reported interest in Manchester City’s Belgian defender Jason Denayer and Napoli’s Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly. And most recently Arsenal was touted to sign former Manchester United and current West Brom defender Jonny Evans. In the forward department, we have been linked with the likes of last year’s champion duo of Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez & English striker Jamie Vardy of Leicester City.
Vardy’s deal eventually fell apart at the end of June but here is still some hope regarding the Mahrez transfer. We have also seen our number one target Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain join Italian champions Juventus from Napoli. Recent reports have linked us with Lyon’s French striker Alexandre Lacazette, Inter’s Argentine forward Mauro Icardi, Juventus’ Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic and AC Milan’s Colombian striker Carlos Bacca.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the New York Times, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis gave an update on the club’s transfer activity a day before their pre-season friendly against the MLS All-Stars. According to Mirror, he said:
“We’re still active in the market, as are most other clubs, and if we find opportunities that our manager believes can improve our squad and add something to it, we’re certainly going to take those steps. But in terms of this week, I don’t think there will be any radical surprises”.
“Well, we’ll have our new signing Granit Xhaka, with us, and obviously, that’s a major investment for the club. He’s just reported for training because he was at the European Championships, and so it’s not really clear what game time he’ll get — this is literally his first week with the club.”
“In terms of the squad, I think people will understand that the players that went to the latter stages of the European Championships won’t be traveling with us, but everybody else will. But it’s a strong squad and a serious part of our preseason.”
Hence as we head into a new Premier League season with a season opener against Liverpool on August 14 at the Emirates stadium, we are in dire need of some top reinforcements in order to challenge for the EPL title.
So let us hope that Wenger delivers what he had promised this season by signing the right players necessary for the right positions as he heads into the last year of his current Arsenal contract. At the end of the season, two things are of utmost importance. Primarily Arsenal becoming English champions and then Wenger extending his stay at Arsenal. Come on you gunners.