Arsene Wenger will be less involved in transfers this summer – the only question is by how much.
The Arsenal coach is hanging on to his job by a thread, with two wins nixing a run of four ugly defeats.
Still, there’s room for optimism in a club that has for so long seemed marooned. Arsenal’s revamped transfer structure has already proven itself, with recruitment director Sven Mislintat working alongside club negotiators Huss Fahmy and Raul Sanllehi to bring in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Wenger might be less involved in the decision-making process, but he won’t mind so long as any new arrival aids his latest rehabilitation.
If Arsenal do manage to secure a route back into the Champions League, the following five players could help them kick on.
1 Abdoulaye Doucoré - Watford
His form might seem like a revelation but, in truth, Abdoulaye Doucouré’s excellence has been slow to arrive. The Frenchman was an anonymous signing at Watford two years ago, dispatched to Granada and then Lorient on consecutive loans.
Granted a first-team spot under Marco Silva, however, Doucouré has dominated central midfield in Hertfordshire. Unlike the early star of Watford’s campaign, Richarlison, he has continued to plough through the opposition with his long stride and bustling, crisp performances.
He’s exactly the kind of player Arsenal need.
2 Kerem Demirbay - Hoffenheim
Hoffenheim’s number 13 is one of the biggest talents in the Bundesliga. Composed, elegant and assured, the German would be a natural fit in the Gunners midfield, with a left foot that is more accurate and incisive than Granit Xhaka’s.
With European football looking unsure under Julian Nagelsmann, the 24-year-old might consider it a prudent time to seek pastures new. Arsenal would offer something of a step up for Demirbay, showcasing him on the bigger stage that the Premier League is.
3 Faouzi Ghoulam - Napoli
Napoli haven’t been the same since Faouzi Ghoulam hurt his anterior cruciate ligament last autumn. The Algerian is the best left-back in Italy, a prototype of the modern wing-back with his perky technique and swashbuckling forward runs.
He would command a significant fee but his arrival would solve a nagging problem for the Gunners on the left wing. Sead Kolasinac has largely tailed off after a promising start, whilst Nacho Monreal’s advancing years mean he is less able to command the position effectively.
4 Malang Sarr - Nice
Malang Sarr’s success is no secret. He might only be 19 but the French centre-back has been a revelation at the Allianz Riviera.
Nice’s best defender by a mile, he is rugged in the challenge whilst being technically adept, having featured in a number of combinations and positions since his emergence two years ago.
Naturally left-footed, he would also provide some much-needed balance alongside one of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi.
5 Alban Lafont - Toulouse
Petr Cech may have finally got his 200th Premier League clean sheet last week but it was a testament to the brilliance of his early career rather than his corrigible time at Arsenal.
With David Ospina lacking the stature and assurance needed in an elite-level number one, Arsene Wenger may look to one of Ligue 1’s most exciting talents as a long-term solution.
Alban Lafont is slim and agile, with a big reputation despite Toulouse’s perilous position domestically. He became the youngest goalkeeper in Ligue 1 history when he made his debut three years ago and has rarely looked out of place since.
Dependable with the ball at his feet and rapid across the ground, he looks ready to take the step up.
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