An Important Summer Transfer Window For Arsenal

Arsenal are out of the Champions League and will most likely finish second in the Premier League. So where do they go from here?
Arsenal v AC Milan - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: Second Leg
Arsenal v AC Milan - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: Second Leg / Julian Finney/GettyImages

The first Champions League campaign for Arsenal under Mikel Arteta is now over. And despite higher expectations and the widespread disappointment in the wake of their quarter-finals loss to Bayern Munich, the efforts from the squad are nothing short of commendable.

We have to remember, most of Arsenal’s players were competing in Europe’s premier club competition for the very first time in their young careers. They did extremely well to finish top of their group and to then eliminate such seasoned campaigners as Porto, even if they were slightly, and understandably, nervous and not at their best across the two legs. The team also ran Bayern Munich close who, even if they have struggled domestically this season, remain six times former winners of the Champions League, are managed by a former UCL winner in Thomas Tuchel, and boast such players as Harry Kane, Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman, Thomas Müller, Jamal Musiala, Joshua Kimmich, Alphonso Davies, Matthijs de Ligt, and Manuel Neuer in their star-studded ranks.

Yes, there were mistakes. Especially in the first leg at home, where a fresh, more confident Arsenal team does not concede either of the two goals they did. Perhaps, there was naiveté too, and it is only to be expected of a manager and squad who have never been here before. And of course, there were plenty of nerves against a team who rank amongst European royalty, along such clubs as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, and AC Milan.

In the Premier League, Arsenal sit just two points behind what most people consider to be the best team in world football, coached by arguably the greatest manager in the world. There are six games left to play, and if Arsenal remain two points behind at the end, or even three or four, there is certainly no shame in it. Or Manchester City slip up, though unlikely, and Arsenal win it—or maybe even Liverpool rediscover their form to win a second Premier League under Jürgen Klopp.

However the season ends, there are steps which Arsenal must take in the summer transfer window which, if not always obvious this campaign, have come into stark focus over the past couple of weeks.

First, and perhaps most obvious—since it has been discussed far and wide in recent weeks and months—is Arsenal’s need for a reliable goal scorer. Gabriel Jesus has not been the player he was in his early Arsenal career since his injury at the Qatar World Cup, and while Kai Havertz has done well as a false nine in most matches, he cannot carry this team to trophies.

Of equal importance—maybe even more than a striker given Mikel Arteta’s increasingly apparent lack of trust in Thomas Partey, and indeed the isolated travails of Gabriel Martinelli down the left flank—is the signing of a central midfielder who can complement Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard in addition to carrying the ball through midfield, offering another source of creativity, and bringing Martinelli into effective play when the team’s right flank is stifled as effectively as managed by Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

Lastly, Arsenal need competent cover in at least two more positions: right wing and central defense. Bukayo Saka has seemed absolutely knackered in recent matches, as has most of the starting eleven, and William Saliba has played nearly every minute of every game. For the third season in a row now, Arsenal have dropped off in form and energy in April, and they simply need a bigger, better squad which can be rotated without the risk of compromising quality.

They have come a long way under Mikel Arteta, and while the calls for him to be sacked are utter nonsense, Arsenal do need to reinforce their squad this summer transfer window if they are to progress further and win trophies.