Managing Arsenal as Fernandinho move made, Granit Xhaka axed and Luis Suarez lined up


If a week is a long time in football then a day can absolutely fly by.

It was only on Monday when our Mirror Football team were putting things right at Manchester United and setting up Erik ten Hag’s squad with the tools they need to get the Dutchman’s Old Trafford revolution off to a strong start.

Now it is on to Arsenal.

With a somewhat blank canvas, armed with only the knowledge of the deals that the Gunners want to get over the line this summer, as well as the ins and outs already achieved, we gave our team the keys to Emirates Stadium to see how they would mould Mikel Arteta’s young squad ahead of what promises to be a testing season.

The results were varied…

Tom Victor

Arsenal will need a bigger squad this season thanks to the demands of the Europa League, and the obvious place to start is in attack.

The departure of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang since the turn of the year means the Gunners could really use two new faces.

Gabriel Jesus would be a good addition if the price is right, but ideally he would be one of two to come in – if they want another addition with Premier League experience they could do worse than look at Ivan Toney , who has made noises which suggest his Brentford future is anything but secure.







Ivan Toney could be an eye-catching addition in the Arsenal attack
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It seems clear by now that Mikel Arteta doesn’t trust Nuno Tavares to be the senior backup to Kieran Tierney, so the reported interest in Aaron Hickey makes plenty of sense, and a move for the Bologna youngster could set plenty of minds at ease. In midfield, meanwhile, the addition of Fabio Vieira shouldn’t force Arteta to ignore Youri Tielemans , especially if the £25m price-tag quoted for the Belgian international proves realistic.

After a number of departures in January, Arsenal shouldn’t need to trim their squad too much, though the likes of Hector Bellerin and Ainsley Maitland-Niles have gone so long without regular Arsenal minutes that permanent exits after last season’s loans shouldn’t hurt as much as they might have done.

There might also be a temptation to part ways with Cedric Soares, who has rarely convinced on the right, with a new and homegrown player replacing him. With a move for Djed Spence seemingly off the table, it might be time to test Southampton ’s resolve with a bid for Tino Livramento , though Arsenal’s recent history of buying players while injured might put them off.

Alex Richards

First up, get Gabriel Jesus done.

For an all-round centre-forward of his proven quality, with his work ethic and goalscoring ability, £50million is a no brainer given Arsenal’s need for a new No.9.

He’ll also have a point to prove no doubt, having never really been trusted by Pep Guardiola despite 95 goals in six seasons. Put simply, the Gunners aren’t going to do any better than the Brazilian right now and there’s little reason he doesn’t score 20+ goals in that side next season.

Defensively they look pretty settled and were exemplary from set pieces last term and Jesus will solve their striking issue but the other major thing that should be being drilled into Arteta and his backroom staff from those above is the need to get to work on Thomas Partey – especially if the Ghanaian is going to be asked to play as a sole holding midfielder this season – with Martin Odegaard and either Fabio Vieira/Emile Smith Rowe alongside him – as Arteta looks to change from 4-2-3-1 to more of a 4-3-3.







A lot rests on the displays of Thomas Partey
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Partey, now 29, missed 14 league games last season – and another 14 the previous year – and Arsenal need to do more to ensure his durability, keeping him fit and available. They spent big to get him and sanctioned huge wages, but his best has only infrequently been seen in North London.

Now if they can get him near anything like his Atletico Madrid pomp, then he’ll bring balance to the side, shielding the defence and allowing its talented young attacking players to do what they do best, much like Fabinho at Liverpool and Rodri at Manchester City.

Ensuring that they can get him on the pitch for at least 32/33 Premier League games next term may not sound sexy, but it’ll make a huge difference to their top four hopes.

Ricky Charlesworth

Last season was boom or bust, with Arsenal drawing a scarcely-believable three times in 38 outings. They lost 13 games – more than a Crystal Palace team that finished 21 points behind them.

Had only a couple of defeats been turned into draws they would have pipped arch-rivals Tottenham to fourth.

Next term they have to tweak those fine margins in their favour and key to that is in the final third. Alexandre Lacazette has gone and although Eddie Nketiah scored double figures last term he isn’t the answer. The Gunners need a centre-forward and so I’d be going all out to sign Chelsea outcast Romelu Lukaku .







Fernandinho could provide some valuable experience for a year
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A fit and firing Lukaku with the likes of Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli and new boy Fabio Vieira in behind sounds very appealing.

In midfield Thomas Partey should start to come into his own having had a full season under his belt. I would however be tempted to go in and sign another defensive midfielder, and try to sneakily coax Fernandinho by offering a short-term deal. Even at 37 he is still capable of marshalling a midfield and would bring plenty of experience to what is a relatively young side.

In defence, the only issue I see is on the right-hand side so I’d try and bring in someone capable of challenging and surpassing Takehiro Tomiyasu better than current back-up Cedric Soares. Achraf Hakimi from PSG would tick all the boxes.

In terms of outgoings, whilst the squad is pretty lean there are still some who could do with moving on such as Hector Bellerin, Nicolas Pepe and Pablo Mari.

Mark Jones

There’s got to be depth added to the squad, and even though we’re going to push ahead and pull the trigger on the Gabriel Jesus transfer that the club have done so much work on already this summer, there needs to be another one added.

With Jesus as the No.9 for the big games and the newly signed up Eddie Nketiah still at the club – a new contract decision I’d also have taken – there is room for a slightly more experienced forward to lead the line when needed. Step forward Luis Suarez .

Yes he’s 35 now, but nine years after the infamous £40,000,000+£1 bid he’d be available on a free transfer, and having scored 13 goals for Atletico Madrid last season he could come in and do a job for 12 months, thereby helping Arsenal back into the Champions League and to the front of the conversations for the array of attackers who, as it stands, will be available on frees next summer.

We’re talking Serge Gnabry, Riyad Mahrez, Wilfried Zaha, Roberto Firmino and maybe Raheem Sterling.







Luis Suarez would be an eye-catching short-term addition
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In midfield there’s a lot of talk around Youri Tielemans, but I’d be looking at Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz as a more solid citizen in there who can allow the young guns to go and play.

If Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and maybe even Albert Sambi Lokonga can be moved on I’d also try and revisit the Houssem Aouar deal as he’s a player we know the manager likes, has just a year left on his contract now and should be available. Some sort of swap with Nicolas Pepe maybe?

Meanwhile with William Saliba back in the fold the defence is largely fine, although Nordi Mukiele from RB Leipzig – who can play on the right or in the centre – is another who is worth a look.

Oh, and we’re tying Bukayo Saka down to a big new deal too. Future captain.

Colin Millar

It is no revelation to highlight Arsenal need to add bodies to their squad and particularly in attack, with Eddie Nketiah their only recognised senior striker.

Nketiah netted just five goals last season and the Gunners need to add two more forwards to their ranks to replace Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Manchester City ’s Gabriel Jesus would be a good start, but the Brazilian hit double figures in the Premier League just twice in five-and-a-half years at the Etihad.

The Gunners need a starting striker who is comfortable in a central role and who can be relied upon to deliver 20 goals or more a season.

But depth across the squad is an issue, especially with the club back in the Europa League.

Arsenal should cash-in on Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Lucas Torreira and Pablo Mari to ease their wage bill and allow for investment in players who will compete for starting spots. The club should also listen to offers for Nicolas Pepe, whose career has stagnated in North London.

Decisions need to be taken too over Nuno Tavares – who struggled when deputising for Kieran Tierney and William Saliba, who is surely too good to not be starting regularly. But would another loan spell away be palatable for such a talented defender, and would that signal that he has no long-term future at the Gunners?

Arsenal need to strengthen both full-back positions, add another goalkeeper to deputise for Aaron Ramsdale, sign at least one more wide attacking player and two forwards who can challenge for a starting spot. In short, there is plenty of work to do over the summer months.

Daniel Orme

The priority coming into this window was clear for Arsenal – sign a striker. Despite Eddie Nketiah having penned a new contract with the Gunners, that need for a forward is still present and could be the difference between a successful or disappointing season at the Emirates Stadium.

A number of names have been bandied about – some more expensive than others – but one affordable option could be Lille forward Jonathan David . The Canadian is expected to leave the Ligue 1 club this summer and is fresh off the back of a 19-goal season so would no doubt be capable of filling the gap at the sharp end of the Gunners’ attack.







Jonathan David could be ideal for the Arsenal attack
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One thing that Arsenal do need to do before they welcome new faces though is clear out their squad. The likes of Bernd Leno, Nuno Tavares, Lucas Torreira and Nicolas Pepe would all be candidates to leave and would give Arsenal some vital funds for the rest of the window.

Questions do of course also remain over the immediate future of young French defender William Saliba but with a lack of real depth at centre-back, he must be handed a place in the first-team squad this summer or a permanent exit could well be on the cards.

A final bit of business that should be prioritised is the future of Bukayo Saka.

The Hale End academy graduate has been linked with a move to Liverpool and with his contract expiring in 2024, a new deal would not be a bad idea to ensure the Gunners are not forced into selling sooner rather than later.

Kieran King

After missing out on Champions League football, it is crucial the Gunners forget about that particular disappointment and focus on improving their squad ahead of the new season.

Mikel Arteta has already been quick to identify targets such as Lisandro Martinez, a player who could bolster their defensive options. But I think Arsenal should be going to try and hijack Tottenham’s pursuit of Djed Spence after the right-back’s impressive spell at Nottingham Forest.

This would mean Ainsley Maitland-Niles would have to go on a permanent deal, while Takehiro Tomayasu could be used as a centre-back in a back-three or a two.

William Saliba should be given a chance to impress but may have to bide his time with Ben White and Gabriel ending the season in excellent form. When fit, Kieran Tierney is one of the league’s best left-backs and will no doubt be first-choice with Nuno Tavares and Cedric both kept as suitable cover.

Following the arrival of Fabio Vieira from Porto, I believe the Gunners do not need to sign any more midfielders unless Granit Xhaka is sold. I would keep the Swiss international, though, for his experience in the middle of the park, leaving Thomas Partey, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Mohamed Elneny and Vieira as our five senior central midfielders. Youri Tielemans would be an astute addition but I feel the funds should be used elsewhere given the amount of depth already in midfield.

Martin Odegaard is seen as an integral part of Arteta’s plan, and if the Spaniard sticks with 4-2-3-1, he is no doubt first-choice for that No.10 position with the versatile Emile Smith-Rowe providing back-up. Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka should both be kept amid interest from European clubs after the pair had impressive campaigns.

Meanwhile, I feel the Gunners are missing an extra offensive spark – someone who can operate in the centre of that attacking midfield three and out wide.







Brighton’s Belgium international Leandro Trossard would be an eye-catching signing
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For me, Brighton’s Leandro Trossard would be perfect for that role and suits Arteta’s possession-based style, having played a similar way under Graham Potter. It might not be an easy player to get but I feel as though Trossard would not turn the opportunity down.

Up front, Arsenal must sign Gabriel Jesus this summer. He knows the way Arteta likes to play after working with him at Manchester City and the transfer makes sense for both parties. He and Eddie Nketiah would battle for that first-choice slot while European football will allow Arteta to rotate and give each other minutes.

David Hughes

Following their final day victory over Everton, Mikel Arteta signed off last season by stating “We need resources and we need to increase the quality and the depth of the squad.”

It’s therefore little surprise the club have been linked with a host of names so far this summer. However, as of yet they have only confirmed the signing of one player, Marquinhos from Sao Paulo.

That said, deals for both Matt Turner and Fabio Vieira are thought to be at an advanced stage and could be announced imminently. The latter has the potential to significantly boost the Gunners’ attacking threat next season, with goals and assists a key staple of his game at Porto.

His arrival was supplemented by tying down Eddie Nketiah on a new deal, which I think was a wise move based on his form at the tail end of the campaign. Yet even so Arteta’s men could do with at least one more key attacker, which is why both Gabriel Jesus and Raphinha remain primary targets.







Raphinha could transform the Arsenal attack
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Both are subject of interest from other Premier League sides, meaning the Gunners might face a fight for their signature. In an ideal world, they’d get deals over the line for the two of them, however that’s unlikely.

If only one is viable and I was calling the shots, I’d be going all out for Raphinha . I think in a better team, he has the potential to have a higher ceiling and is also naturally left-footed, making him an ideal replacement for Nicolas Pepe who I’d be looking to cut my losses on and sell.

While it’s starting to come together in attack, reinforcements are needed in midfield. Mohamed Elneny was worthy of his extension, though he’s probably not the long-term solution they need.

Youri Tielemans could be though, and he’d be the perfect perfect profile to allow Arteta to stick with the 4-3-3 formation that brought Arsenal plenty of success during the final months of the campaign.

Freddie Keighley

First things first, Arsenal must delay no further and strike a compromise with Manchester City to sign Gabriel Jesus and satisfy their burning need for a big-name addition in attack.

They cannot afford another lengthy saga that ultimately bears no fruit, having missed out on then-Fiorentina ace Dusan Vlahovic to Juventus in the January transfer window. Eddie Nketiah did just about enough to warrant his new contract towards the end of the season just gone but, next term, he must play second fiddle to a player with a better track record in front of goal.







Gabriel Jesus would bring Premier League goals to Arsenal
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Jesus fits the bill and at the age of 25, he still has his prime ahead of him, meaning Arsenal can afford to raise their initial £30million offer and meet City – who value the Brazilian at £50million – in the middle. Elsewhere, the Gunners have plenty of star power in the starting XI but sorely need more depth across the defence and in central midfield as they return to European football.

Offloading fringe players who lack the quality Mikel Arteta desires – such as Pablo Mari – must be the priority to make space for new names. While Ajax star Lautaro Martinez has been linked with a move to the Emirates, the quality of Benjamin White and Gabriel’s flourishing partnership means these funds would be better used to add a couple of squad players.

Back-up for the injury-plagued Kieran Tierney is needed, while Takehiro Tomiyasu also struggled to remain fit during his impressive debut season in North London. Further up the field, it is up to Fabio Vieira to show he has quality akin to Youri Tielemans and Ruben Neves – the other midfielders linked with Arsenal earlier this summer.

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