Arsenal face a huge summer as they look to build on the impressive season they have enjoyed under Mikel Arteta. With some high profile arrivals and departures expected, it’s going to be a big few months for the Gunners leading up to the 2023-24 campaign, when they will not just be competing in the Premier League, but in the Champions League as well.
From player contracts, to new signings, there are plenty of situations that need resolving before the new season gets underway in August.
Below, GOAL takes a look at some of the most pressing matters facing Arsenal over the coming weeks...
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Arsenal have done some great work when it comes to getting key players tied down to new long-term deals. Gabriel Magalhaes started things off earlier in the season, then Gabriel Martinell followed suit, and in the past fortnight extensions have been announced for Aaron Ramsdale and Bukayo Saka.
But despite talks having been ongoing throughout the season with William Saliba’s representatives, the centre-back has yet to put pen to paper on a deal of his own.
And with just 12 months of his current contract remaining, that is something that has to be resolved quickly this summer for Arsenal to avoid being placed in a difficult position with the France international, who could walk away on a free transfer at the end of the 2023-24 season.
That’s why it’s imperative that contract talks come to a swift conclusion over the coming weeks.
Sign Rice and replace Xhaka
An overhaul of the midfield is going to be one of the key parts of Arsenal’s summer, with their attempt to land Declan Rice at the heart of it all.
With Granit Xhaka set for Bayer Leverkusen, a new face is needed and Arsenal have identified Rice as a priority. He will not be the only midfield arrival, as there is also interest in Moises Caicedo, Mason Mount and Ilkay Gundogan, but the West Ham skipper is the man who Mikel Arteta really wants.
It would be a huge signing for Arsenal if they can get it done, one that would send a message of intent out ahead of the rest of the summer.
Sort out Smith Rowe’s future
Emile Smith Rowe remains a hugely popular figure at Arsenal, which is why his continued absence from the team on a weekly basis causes so much debate. Given what he produced last season, it’s understandable that fans are confused as to why the attacking midfielder is being constantly overlooked by Arteta.
So Arenal need to make a decision this summer when it comes to Smith Rowe, because his current situation is not helping anybody. If Arteta does not see his part of his long-term plan, then he should be moved on, with the money that comes in being reinvested elsewhere.
Make a decision on Balogun
Another player who Arsenal must decide on is Folarin Balogun. After enjoying such an incredible season on loan with Reims in France, Balogun is due for talks with Arsenal over his future this summer.
He has already made it known that he wants to be playing regular first-team football next season and at present that looks unlikely at Arsenal. And with Balogun having just two years left on his contract, another loan spell will not do the club any good, unless he signs an extension before he went out.
That scenario looks all but impossible, so it feels like the best thing Arsenal can do this summer is get as much money for Balogun as they possibly can. His stock is incredibly high right now and with several clubs understood to be interested, the young forward should bring in a very big transfer fee.
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Bring in a centre-back
As well as midfield, Arsenal need to look at their options at centre-back. Saliba’s injury this season highlighted a lack of depth and that needs to be rectified ahead of the start of the 2023-24 campaign.
Champions League football is only going to add to the workload, so Arsenal must ensure the squad is stronger than it has been in recent years. Rob Holding came in at times this season and was clearly not at the level required and he could be one of the many players sold this summer. His place in the squad, then, will need replacing.
Find a new full-back
If Kieran Tierney leaves, which looks highly likely, Arsenal must find some extra cover at full-back. It’s currently unclear how long Takehiro Tomiyasu will be sidelined for with his knee problem, while Oleksandr Zinchenko has shown this season that he can suffer with fitness issues.
So adding another option feels crucial for Arteta and his squad building plans. Joao Cancelo has been linked and can operate on either side of the defence, but that feels like an unlikely signing given the finances involved and Manchester City’s reluctance to sell to Arsenal. Ivan Fresneda at Real Valladolid is another player Arsenal have looked at, and the teenager would be a far cheaper and more attainable option.
Whatever happens, it feels like an area that must be strengthened ahead of the start of the new season.
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Sign cover for Saka
Bukayo Saka has now played in 79 consecutive Premier League, that’s a run dating back until May 2021. No current player in the English top-flight has played more consecutive games than the 21-year-old, and so it’s no surprise that he seems to have tired over the closing weeks of the campaign.
Arsenal need to find quality cover and competition for Saka on the right side of the attack, especially with Champions League football to come. Arteta must have the ability to be able to rest Saka when needed. Clearly, he does not feel in a position to do that at the moment, and that’s something that has to change.
All eyes will be how well Edu does this summer when it comes to selling players. The big criticism of Arsenal’s technical director in recent years has been over the lack of money he has been able to bring in when moving players on.
But with names like Tierney, Smith Rowe and Balogun potentially leaving this summer, Arsenal have the potential to make some big money which can be reinvested back into the squad. The Gunners must show they can sell well because they have been viewed as an easy target in that department in recent times.
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Get business done early
This sounds easier than it actually is, but Arsenal did manage to get some significant business done quite early last summer and that undoubtedly played a part in their strong start to the season.
So it’s important that they do that again, as the sooner new signings are on board, the sooner they can start to adjust to their new surroundings and adapt to the way Arteta wants them to play.
Arsenal head to the United States in July for a pre-season tour and it would be a huge boost if some of their most important business has been done by then.
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Get Saliba and Martinelli fully fit for pre-season
Both Saliba and Gabriel Martinelli have had to miss the end of Arsenal’s season. Saliba has not played since March due to a back injury, while Martinelli suffered ankle ligament damage following a foul by Caicedo when Arsenal lost to Brighton earlier this month.
Both players are hugely important to Arteta’s squad, and Arsenal’s manager will be pushing his medical staff as hard as he can to ensure both players are ready for the start of pre-season with the rest of the squad.