Arsenal’s season may have ended in bitter sadness after falling short of Tottenham at the final hurdle, but Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu Gaspar can go into the summer knowing exactly what they need to work on. They require goals, especially from the centre forward position. Last season’s leading scorer in that position (Eddie Nketiah) with five goals in eight starts. After falling out with his manager, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was fired in midseason, while Alexandre Lacazette ran out of steam before May. They serve as a reminder that even strikers worth $60 million are not guaranteed, but Arsenal still requires one.
Ramsdale might have wobbled in the latter weeks of the season, but he has still been a huge success since arriving from Sheffield United for what at the time was viewed as a hefty price tag. The England international brings a confidence on and off the ball that is infectious and has swiftly built the tightest of bonds with the Emirates Stadium. It will take quite the performance to usurp him.
Even without a top tier forward, Arsenal might have got across the line if not for injuries to key players, exposing a lack of depth that they thought might have been hidden by a season without European football. That will change in the Europa League and the Gunners are aiming to secure at least three new additions with further flexibility in the market if they can clear out some high-earning fringe players.
Turner is coming to London believing he can do exactly that. Signed on the recommendation of goalkeeping coach Iñaki Caña, the U.S. international will finalize his transfer on the week of June 20, when he is due at London Colney to complete his medical. Caña and Arteta have offered no guarantees but Turner will arrive as the No. 2 and should get regular minutes, likely in the Europa League and cup competitions. He will hope it is enough to allow him to earn the USMNT starting spot in Qatar.
Ideal moves: In this position at least Arsenal can feel that their business is done. Getting a sizeable fee for Leno, finding a new home for Alex Runarsson and a landing spot on loan for the highly rated Arthur Okonkwo would make for a successful summer.
The only potential complication in Arsenal’s plan is Leno’s future. The German is wanted by Hertha Berlin and two other Bundesliga clubs as he heads into the final year of his contract. The Gunners want in excess of $10 million to sell Leno, but having already secured their planned No. 2 for next season gives precious little leverage to push for a sizeable fee and may be forced to accept significantly less.
He may never have played a game for the club he joined for nearly $35 million three years ago, but it is Saliba who is the talk of the town in north London. An outstanding loan spell at Marseille that saw him named Ligue 1 young player of the year has increased his value and dispelled any doubts as to his readiness to contribute at Arsenal. The mood music coming from all parties is encouraging after a year in which the center back’s every comment was parsed for hidden meaning. Saliba wants to show supporters “his true face.” Arteta says “he has to come back.”
If there is a fly in the ointment, it is Saliba’s contractual situation. He is out of contract in two year’s time; if he cannot be tied down to fresh terms, the 21-year-old would doubtless fetch a high price with Real Madrid counting among his admirers. Gabriel is also catching the eye of top teams, but Arsenal are determined to retain the Brazilian; CBS Sports first revealed in April that they are considering an improved contract for their left-sided center back.
Sources close to Bellerin, meanwhile, have confirmed that the Arsenal vice captain does not want to return to the club next season after a successful year on loan at Real Betis. It is not certain he will remain with the Seville club, but he has made peace with leaving north London. Getting a fee back for a player on big wages in the final year of his contract will be a challenge for Arsenal, especially when buying clubs are acutely aware of the precedence Edu has set by paying up the contracts of a string of high earners over recent years. Pablo Mari would also be allowed to leave if Arsenal can find the money and space in the squad to add a left-footed center back. Auston Trusty is arriving from Colorado Rapids but will be loaned out to Europe. Ideal moves: Arsenal are looking for a left back to rival Kieran Tierney, who has battled with injuries throughout his career in London. His fellow Scot Aaron Hickey has impressed with Bologna and is being tracked while signing Oleksandr Zinchenko ahead of Everton would give Arteta options in midfield and at left back.
Then, and this will be a recurrent theme throughout the summer, getting good money for Bellerin and Mari would be a welcome fillip that would allow for further strengthening of defense. The best deal of all, however, might be a new contract for Saliba.
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