Arsenal look to be gearing up for a bumper summer transfer window, with Mikel Arteta in need of reinforcements to stand any chance of leading the Gunners back to the upper reaches of the Premier League table. The north London club have endured a torrid season with their hopes of European qualification melting away as the campaign draws to a close.
Arsenal are staring at the prospect of missing out on Champions League or Europa League football for the first time in over 25 years, with their league position a direct result of their distinct lack of quality.
A number of Gunners stars have simply failed to live up to expectations on a weekly basis, highlighting the dire need for improvement ahead of next season.
It seems as though a mass exodus could soon be on the cards, with six squad members reportedly on the chopping block in order to make way for new arrivals, according to football.london.
Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac are said to be the players in question.
While the departures of Bellerin, Torreira and Guendouzi would come as no great shock, Leno’s inclusion seems somewhat surprising in comparison.
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The German stopper has kept his place in the Arsenal side since arriving from Bayer Leverkusen in 2018, featuring in all but three of their Premier League matches this season.
However, the 29-year-old appears to have paid the price for a number of recent errors that have clearly damaged Arteta’s perception of his first-choice goalkeeper.
If Leno is eventually sold ahead of next season, Arsenal would need to replace him with a top-class successor.
The Gunners could be tempted to approach one of their former players in Wojciech Szczesny, who is currently the number one stopper at Juventus.
The 31-year-old has recently been linked with a summer return to the Emirates Stadium, although Arteta has remained coy over the possibility of securing his signature.
Szczesny failed to hit the heights of Jens Lehmann or David Seaman during his time with Arsenal, but showed plenty of promise and has since delivered on his earlier potential in Italy.
It remains to be seen whether the Poland international will leave Juventus for the Gunners this summer, but his arrival would represent an upgrade on Leno and add some title-winning experience to the club’s ranks.
Arsenal could also pursue the services of West Bromwich Albion’s Sam Johnstone to fill the void left by Leno’s potential departure.
The former Manchester United man has been one of the club’s few shining lights this season and could well be tempted to seek a quick-fire return to the Premier League with a summer switch.
He has proven his top-flight credentials despite failing to keep the Baggies up, and would likely see a move to the Gunners as a prime opportunity to stake his claim for a regular spot in the England squad.
Nick Pope is another Three Lions star with the potential to thrive at a club like Arsenal, with the 29-year-old establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s finest shot-stoppers in recent seasons.
Although he is far from the most glamorous option, his authoritative presence between the sticks would inject some much-needed confidence into Arsenal’s back four.
The Gunners have seemingly lacked all forms of self-belief at times this season, with a number of high-profile defensive errors stemming from the absence of a true understanding between the goalkeeper and his immediate receivers.
Pope has recently cemented his grip on England’s number one shirt ahead of the upcoming European Championships, and with Arsenal in dire need of star quality, they could do far worse than to pursue the Burnley man who is more than capable of performing at both club and international level.
Leno’s future in north London remains unclear, but if he is deemed surplus to requirements ahead of next season, it is critical that Arsenal secure a proper replacement.
Regardless of a team’s strengths and weaknesses, a good goalkeeper can often be the difference between success and failure, and if Arteta is serious about bringing the Gunners back to the top of the Premier League then he will need to ensure that he makes the right decision.