Following a drab 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Tueday, Arsenal head into the last game of the season with nothing to play for (unless you're Aubameyang, who is chasing that golden boot). A top 7 finish is impossible now. It's FA cup victory or bust now.
That performance from Arsenal was a real leveler for the fans and showcased yet again that heavy investment is needed for us to get back to the top. With that in mind, here are my thoughts on the players that have been linked to Arsenal recently.
1. Thomas Partey - Starting off the list is probably the most touted transfer story this summer. Thomas Partey, one of the world's best defensive midfielders, in his prime, is 'interested' in moving to 10th place Arsenal this summer. Forgive my pessimism, but either Arteta has magical powers of persuasion or Thomas doesn't mind not winning any significant silverware for the next couple of years. Now don't get me wrong, he would completely transform our midfield. But this signing does not make any sense to me from a sporting perspective. Arsenal have one of the youngest squads in the premier league. That means that by the time many of our young players (i.e. Saka, Martinelli, Saliba, Tierney) reach the required level of consistency in their development (i.e. 24-27), Partey will be in his early thirties and will need replacing. Not only is the age profile wrong, but it would be pointless at this stage of the project to buy the ready made player when we won't have the quality around the field to compliment him. And for the reported 43 million pounds that is being touted, I think this amount of money is better spent elsewhere (even if we were able to pay it in installments). I reckon Arsenal should be aiming lower in the age profile, which leads me to the next target...
2. Marc Roca - Now this is a signing I'm less on the fence about. He's 23, technical, mobile, and creative. According to multiple news sources, Arteta 'likes' the player and the player reportedly has a 40 million euro release clause. However, due to Espanyol's relegation to the 2nd division of Spanish football, the Catalan club would probably be willing to sell him for less than that. In 2019/20 season, he averaged 3.2 tackles and interceptions. Only 0.2 worse than Thomas Partey by the way. He follows that up with a respectable 81% pass accuracy. He's young enough to be moulded, but not too young that we would need a couple of years to adapt and thrive. Again, it all depends on the futures of some of our midfielders, in particular, Guendouzi, and Torreira.
3. Malang Sarr - Next up is 21 year old Nice defender Malang Sarr. This summer he is a free agent and reportedly has multiple offers from a number of clubs including Arsenal. He's 21, quick, agile, good on the ball, and has some versatility. He can cover as a center back, left back, and on the left of a back three. He seems like a very good upgrade on Kolasinac to me. He's a better defender, he's a lot younger and is much better on the ball. For free, I think this is a no brainer for Arsenal.
4. Gabriel Magalhaes - This is one of my favorite ones at the moment. Gabriel is a 22 year old, left-footed defender with bags of potential. Standing at190 cm (6' 3"), he would have no problem adapting to the physicality of the premier league. He's strong in the air, on the ground and agile. Plus, he even has Champions League experience. Over the 19/20 campaign, he's won a whopping 70% of his ground duels and 65% of his aerial duels. He averages around 3 tackles and interceptions per game and has helped his team collect 11 clean sheets in his 23 starts. His pass accuracy stands at a respectable 82% but it's reasonable to assume that will only go up over time. He is the complete package. Reports are saying Lille want 22-25 million euros, which I think is a good bargain.
5. Memphis Depay - This target only came up as an alternative to either Aubameyang and Lacazette. Arteta reportedly thinks of him as a target should either or both leave and I wouldn't object to this either. Depay can play on the left or down the middle, similar to Aubameyang. However, he is much more naturally suited coming off the left than him. If Aubameyang was to leave, I wouldn't mind getting someone of Depay's age and quality. He's had somewhat of a renaissance at Lyon. In 2017/18, he finished with 19 goals and 13 assists. In 2018/19, he added a further 10 goals and 10 assists in 29 starts. This year before lockdown, he finished with 9 goals and 2 assists. He's 26, and reaching his prime. The more I watch him, the more I can see another Mo Salah story. The player who flopped in his first few seasons in the premier league, went abroad and comes back to set the league alight. Now, maybe that won't happen but his consistent level of elite production is encouraging. He would certainly add more balance to the squad, given he is more of a natural left winger than Aubameyang.
6. Willian - Please, just no. I really hope this rumour is just paper talk. Again, Arsenal are using contacts scouting to bring in old players with no resale value. Willian is coming to the end of his contract and his agent, Kia is pushing Arsenal's exec's for a move. I hate every aspect of this deal. He will be on high wages, he will stunt the growth of many of our prospects like Saka and Martinelli, and he will have no resale value in the future. Yes, he has experience, yes he's a great player on his day but he is not someone you bring in when there are more pressing issues in the squad.
7. Dayot Upamecano - This one is a bit of a dream signing. Upamecano is wanted by numerous clubs in Europe. He reportedly has a 60 million euro release clause and has only 1 year left on his contract. Leipzig would prefer to sell now if he does not sign a contract. Like the other defenders on this list, he's strong in the air and on the ground and is good on the ball too. He's a bit smaller than Gabriel but he makes up for that with his pace. He has Champions league experience and is still only 21. This season he's averaged 3.4 tackles and interceptions with a great 89% pass accuracy. He wins 60% of his total duels and completes 76% of his dribbles. Interestingly in the champions league, his tackles and interceptions go up to 4.5 and his successful duels go up to 68%. He's also comfortable in a back three. For me, 60 million is perfectly fine with the amount of potential he has, but I wouldn't mind if Arsenal opted for Gabriel given how many clubs are vying for his services.
8. Houssem Aouar - This rumor comes off the back of Guendouzi being offered to 'several european clubs in swap deals' by Arsenal. The possibility of Lyon swapping Aouar for Guendouzi is not far fetched. They're both 21 and 22 respectively with plenty of potential. I like this potential swap deal more than the Partey for Guendouzi one. He's technical, creative and does not lose the ball easily. He can play as a number 8 and number 10. However, if we extend Ceballos' loan or buy him, I feel they are too similar to have both in the squad.
That's it. What are your thoughts of my assessment? Who would you buy from this list? Who would you sell to fund some of these moves? Tell me in the comments below.