SportsClub takes a look at six players Unai Emery needs to revamp the Gunners’ squad – but who should be on his shortlist?
Arsenal go into the final weekend of the Premier League season, knowing that only a deeply unlikely set of results will get them into the top four. While there is still a possibility of winning the Europa League to qualify for the Champions League next season, it’s obvious that an overhaul is needed to put the Gunners back on track.
So who should they sign this summer? Here are some options…
Kamil Glik, centre back (Monaco)
With Laurent Koscielny injury-prone and Shkodran Mustafi wildly unreliable, Arsenal need at least two quality centre backs. One of them should be experienced, and preferably a natural leader.
That’s what they would get in Glik. The Pole used to be a target back in 2015 when he played for Torino, but now could be the perfect time to sign him. He was a stalwart for Monaco when they won the Ligue 1 title two years ago, and is powerful, tactically astute and hugely influential on and off the pitch.
With the Monegasques in crisis, Glik should be delighted to get a new challenge at the age of 31, before it’s too late. He could become an undisputed starter in north London, and might even contribute a few goals too.
Rodrigo Tarin, centre back (Leganes)
The second centre back can be much younger and come with a lower profile, so long as he has good potential.
And since Arsenal love signing La Masia graduates, Rodrigo Torin’s name springs to mind. The 22-year-old left Barcelona as a free agent last summer after failing to get into their first-team squad, but his performances for the reserves were once very highly appreciated.
Torin has been part of a good backline at Leganes this season, and the minnows have conceded just 13 goals in 14 matches with the youngster in their starting lineup. He is technically sound and distributes the ball well.
Junior Firpo, left back (Real Betis)
Left back is a position that needs strengthening too, with Nacho Monreal now 33 and Sead Kolasinac proving defensively inconsistent.
This could be the most significant investment, because Firpo’s release clause at Real Betis stands at €50-million, but it should be worthwhile too. The 22-year-old Dominican is an attack-minded fullback who is comfortable as a wingback, and it isn’t really surprising that Real Madrid have considered signing him as a long-term replacement for Marcelo. Firpo is also versatile and can play as a centre back, which makes him an even more attractive option.
Kenny Lala, right back (Strasbourg)
With Hector Bellerin apparently going nowhere, Arsenal need a decent backup who should be willing to sit on the bench when needed.
Lala, the 27-year-old who has arguably been the best right back in Ligue 1 this season, fits the bill. He is ambitious and good enough to play for Arsenal, comfortable as a wingback in 3-5-2, but won’t expect to be on the pitch every week in the Premier League after spending a few years in the second division.
He was insulted by Thierry Henry this year, however – which could add some spice to the move.
Ruslan Malinovskyi, central midfielder (Genk)
Arsenal have long wanted Sevilla’s Monchi to become their technical director. That didn’t work out, but they can still take a look at players who were targeted by the Spaniard.
Malinovskyi was reportedly close to joining Roma in January after excelling at title-chasing Genk in Belgium, and the 26-year-old Ukrainian is a versatile central midfielder known for his finesse, vision and some dead-ball magic.
He wouldn’t exactly be a direct replacement for Aaron Ramsey by any means, but should be able to provide some much-needed improvisation, especially when Mesut Ozil is off form – and the price shouldn’t be too high either.
Marcus Thuram, forward (Guingamp)
Arsenal have two top strikers in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, but need a new reserve option with Danny Welbeck on his way out this summer. That’s where Marcus Thuram, son of Lilian, comes in.
He is playing for Guingamp, who are likely to be relegated from Ligue 1, and his contract only runs until 2020. That means a real bargain could be possible for a player who can perform centrally and on the left wing, is a good dribbler and a quality finisher. Granted, he is inexperienced and moody, but the potential is there and it’s a relatively risk-free gamble to take.
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