Today, June 10, marks the official opening of the summer transfer window. Arsenal fans are eagerly awaiting their club’s next move.
For now, Arsenal are focusing on targets in positions considered to be priorities: a new centre-forward and a central midfielder, namely Gabriel Jesus and Youri Tielemans respectively.
In either case, the next few weeks should be revealing.
The end of post-season international matches and the official start of the window will see a natural acceleration in transfer activity.
The past few weeks have been a time for players and agents to weigh their options. At the end of their club season, many footballers have an idea of their future – however, this changes frequently as new bidders emerge and older interest wanes.
In the case of Tielemans, Arsenal still consider themselves in a strong position.
With just one year left on his contract at Leicester City, the growing expectation around his current club is that the 25-year-old Belgium international will leave within that window – and as of today Arsenal have presented the player the most convincing proposition. Tielemans, like Arsenal, had hoped to play Champions League football next season but no longer sees it as a necessity.
On Wednesday, Tielemans started Belgium’s 6-1 demolition of Poland, playing as a left central midfielder – one of the main roles Arsenal plan to play if he joins them.
As was the case in their pursuit of compatriot Albert Sambi Lokonga last summer, Arsenal have also used their close ties with the Belgium international outfit to carry out thorough background checks on the player.
The situation with Jesus appears a little more complex.
As with Tielemans, talks between technical director Edu and the Manchester City striker’s side have been going on for months.
Arsenal’s failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League could have ramifications for this deal, however. There have since been expressions of interest in Jesus from elsewhere, including within the Premier League, with Chelsea keeping abreast of developments. If a serious contender were to emerge in the next fortnight, Arsenal would have a fight to fight.
Arsenal remain confident they can hit their two main targets but, naturally, must also consider alternatives.
Athleticism reported in May on the shortlist of strikers examined in addition to Jesus.
Many of these hypothetical transfers would be extremely difficult to achieve at this time. The offers for Lautaro Martinez and Tammy Abraham look particularly tough this summer. In some ways, a move for Gianluca Scamacca from Sassuolo is one of the most feasible options.
The perception of many Italian players is that they are reluctant to go abroad. In Scamacca’s case, such fears are misplaced – at 16 he left Roma’s academy to join PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
Scamacca have been closely followed by Inter Milan, but apart from that there aren’t many clubs in Italy with the financial clout to meet Sassuolo’s demands.
Ordinarily, an Italian player might be hesitant to leave Serie A in a World Cup year, but Italy’s failure to qualify for Qatar allays any worries there. Now 23, Scamacca is ready to play beyond the borders of his native country again.
Scamacca would be feasible within Arsenal’s budget. The question is, how much do they want it? Arsenal’s coaching staff are said to have reservations about a player stylistically very different from their main target. With the announcement of a new contract for Eddie Nketiah now close, they are likely only looking for one new centre-forward this summer. With Jesus their number 1 target, any move for Scamacca is effectively on the back burner – and meanwhile other clubs have made their interest in him known.
In England, Newcastle and West Ham are monitoring the situation. The favorites at this stage are arguably Paris Saint-Germain, who have already held exploratory talks with Sassuolo.
Timing could also be crucial – Sassuolo have several other sellable assets in their squad, such as winger Domenico Berardi, midfielder Hamed Traore and striker Giacomo Raspadori. If one or more of them were to leave, they could decide to keep Scamacca.
These uncertainties illustrate the vagaries of the transfer window. Interest in targets can increase or decrease within weeks.
It’s hard to say for sure that any given deal won’t happen during a window: things can change and develop quickly – the goalposts, to borrow footballing terminology, can move.
As things stand, however, the chances of Serge Gnabry joining Arsenal this summer are slim.
The German international’s contract situation at Bayern Munich has sparked talks over whether he could be set to return to the Emirates Stadium. Gnabry’s existing deal expires at the end of next season and talks over a new one are at an impasse.
As the German serial champions look to revamp their front line, which includes the pursuit of Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, it has been suggested that Arsenal could capitalize on the situation and buy back a player they sold to Werder Bremen there. six years ago.
Such a transfer, however, seems highly unlikely.
Should Bayern leave, Gnabry, now 26, would have the interest of a wide range of suitors – several of whom would offer the Champions League football that Arsenal cannot next season and the potential to significantly higher gain.
For him to consider returning to his old north London stomping grounds would require a financial package that would stretch Arsenal’s revamped wage structure.
For their part, Arsenal haven’t discussed Gnabry as an active target. The financial consideration here is important: the total outlay in terms of transfer fee and salary to re-sign him would likely be well over £20m a year.
It is not just the resources, but the area in which the club would allocate them.
Arsenal would spend a significant portion of their annual budget on a player who could block the developments of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli. Arsenal are heavily invested in their pair of young wingers and with new deals on the cards for one, if not both, that level of investment is set to increase.
Gnabry is at a different stage in his career compared to those two. He turns 27 in just over a month, so his next contract would take him the furthest beyond the early years of a winger.
All things considered, it would be a huge surprise if Gnabry lines up for Arsenal next season.
Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko is another who has been publicly linked with the club.
It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve shown interest in the Ukraine international – as far back as 2014, then-coach Arsene Wenger showed interest in luring 17-year-old Zinchenko away from Shakhtar Donetsk.
Arteta, who worked with the player when he was Pep Guardiola’s No. 2 at City, is an admirer of the 25-year-old’s technical ability and tactical intelligence.
However, Zinchenko is not a major priority for Arsenal as it stands. Given City’s financial situation, it’s believed his acquisition would require the kind of fees and wages usually associated with a regular starter. Unlike Jesus, it is uncertain whether Zinchenko would meet these criteria if he moved to the Emirates.
The situation would be different, of course, if Granit Xhaka’s Arsenal future were seriously in doubt. Zinchenko and Xhaka work best in similar areas of the pitch, namely the left half-spaces.
The Switzerland international flirted with a move to Roma last summer, and it has been suggested that the Serie A club’s interest could be revitalized this year. However, their impending signing of Nemanja Matic, a free agent after leaving Manchester United, would appear to close that door. As it stands, Xhaka seems to be sticking around.
Arsenal’s first official signing of the window is still expected to be Marquinhos, the 19-year-old Brazilian striker who has agreed to join from Sao Paulo.
Wolves believed the player had an agreement to move to Molineux when his contract expired, but Arsenal appear to have jumped the queue by agreeing to pay Sao Paulo a fee of around £3m.
While Wolves have been deeply frustrated by this turn of events, there is an acceptance on all sides that in these situations what the player wants invariably wins. The degree of dispute will depend on the nature of Wolves’ deal with Marquinhos – Arsenal hope the matter does not turn into a costly legal affair.
The signing of a promising young player is a welcome addition, but Arsenal remain focused on strengthening their first XI by landing their top targets.
With the window now open, these efforts should be about to intensify.
(Top photo: Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)