Problems Up Front
The most glaring area in need of addressing is up front, where the problems are mounting for Arteta.
Star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is out of favour after a disciplinary breach saw him stripped of the captaincy earlier this month, though his lack of goals since signing a new contract in September 2020 was already a cause for concern.
Arsenal could do with finding a buyer for the Gabonese frontman this January, or will be left saddled with his reported £350,000-a-week wages until at least the summer.
Aubameyang To Barcelona
They will be desperate to avoid a similar situation to the Mesut Ozil contract saga which dominated the agenda during Arteta’s first year in charge – and will be hoping that Barcelona can provide a solution to the problem.
The cash-strapped Catalans are in need of a No.9 and a 32-year-old Aubameyang is unlikely to command much of a transfer fee.
There is also the possibility of a swap deal, with Arsenal having previously expressed interest in Barca goalkeeper Neto. If backup stopper Bernd Leno leaves – either in January or in the summer – then signing the Brazilian, 32, as his replacement would make perfect sense.
Lacazette And Balogun Out?
And the Gunners’ talisman might not be the only striker heading through the Emirates’ exit door.
Alexandre Lacazette is out of contract in June and it would be remiss of the club not to entertain bids for the 30-year-old Frenchman, while youngster Folarin Balogun, 20, looks set for a loan move to aid his development.
What To Do With Nketiah
Then there is the future of Eddie Nketiah to consider.
A graduate of Arsenal’s Hale End academy, the England Under-21 international issued a timely reminder of his goalscoring prowess on Tuesday night, when he netted a hat-trick against Sunderland in the League Cup quarter-final.
Nketiah has just six months remaining on his current deal and reports suggest that he is unwilling to sign a new contract with the North Londoners.
That gives Arteta and Edu a decision to make – should they hand more minutes to the 22-year-old forward in a bid to change his mind, or cash in on him in January?
If two or more of Arsenal’s attackers were to depart, the club would surely be forced into making a signing this month.
Doing business mid-season is always difficult, especially if the Gunners are looking to recruit a premium target like Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic or Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak.
But there are options available. Everton’s Financial Fair Play struggles could see them accept a sizeable bid for targetman Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 24, while a loan deal for Real Madrid’s Luka Jovic is a possibility – the 23-year-old has struggled for game time and goals in the Spanish capital.
The Gunners will want to keep their powder dry until the summer, but striking departures may just force their hand in the weeks ahead.
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