Exploring the options for Unai Emery this summer...
Friday 17 May 2019 12:52, UK
The biggest change for Arsenal last summer saw Unai Emery replace Arsene Wenger as the Frenchman left after 22 years at the club - but will there be a more of an overhaul of the playing squad this year after a fifth-placed finish?
In his first summer at Arsenal, Emery brought in Bernd Leno, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi before Denis Suarez joined on loan in January, while Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla were the two highest-profile departures.
The exits of Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck and Petr Cech have already been confirmed but, having had a season to assess his squad, who else will Emery want to replace? And which players will he want to strengthen the squad? Read on to find out...
Dharmesh Sheth: "Arsenal's transfer plans will, in part, be dependent on Champions League qualification. They face Chelsea in the Europa League final knowing victory means qualification to Europe's premier competition.
"As Cech is retiring, Emery is expected to be in the market for a new goalkeeper to challenge Bernd Leno. Emery is also likely to seek a replacement for Juventus-bound Aaron Ramsey and could add to his attacking options after deciding against offering striker Danny Welbeck a new contract.
"Full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner is out of contract and Arsenal are yet to activate an extension. But defensive reinforcements may not be top of Emery's priorities, with Arsenal set to welcome back Rob Holding and Calum Chambers - Holding is stepping up his recovery from a knee injury and Chambers' loan spell at Fulham is now over."
The defence needs a lot of work: Arsenal may have finished fifth but only seven teams kept fewer clean sheets than Emery's side. Part of the problem is the number of shots Arsenal allowed opposition sides across the season (499, 185 on target), West Ham were the only top-half side to allow more (528, 201 on target) and Watford and Newcastle also restricted their opponents to fewer.
Arsenal did boast the best shot conversion of any side in the league (15.63 per cent) but whether through failing to create the openings or being a little shot-shy when the chances did present themselves, they ranked 11th for total shots attempted (467), behind Crystal Palace (493) and Southampton (483).
Emery on transfer plans: "We have to keep taking steps forward and the club is working towards that. There could be a lot of movement in terms of signings and departures or there could be a little, but first of all I believe there is a good base for the team already here."
Emery on promoting youth players: "There are players coming through from the academy who are producing good performances and who could progress. We could replace (Ramsey) with a player from outside, or with a player who is already here who can grow like he did himself."
Charlie Nicholas: "We need a whole new backline. I am disappointed that Petr Cech is retiring. I would have encouraged them to give him another year. Bernd Leno has got mistakes in him and would have benefited from Cech giving him a helping hand.
"We are looking for four defenders, so on top of the crazy situation of letting Aaron Ramsey go for nothing, it is not great. They need two centre-backs and two full-backs.
"Hector Bellerin will come back and play right-back, as Ainsley Maitland-Niles could be pushed on potentially. Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Sead Kolasinac are good to have as squad players. Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny are getting on a bit now. Shkodran Mustafi must be released in my opinion. Konstantinos Mavropanos and Rob Holding are still to come back when they are fit.
"It comes down to who we can get rid of. If Emery doesn't want Mesut Ozil then get rid. Ozil is on huge wages, but where will he move to? If he won't play, then Ozil won't stay. He has got too big of a personality to stay and be on the bench. If Arsenal can get him out with a transfer fee then I would.
"I would give the youngsters a couple more games next year and bring Reiss Nelson back, while looking at a big midfielder too."
A left-back, a left-footed centre-back, a box-to-box central midfielder, and a winger-forward.
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