Arsenal are set to start the season with neither of their senior centre-backs fit to face Liverpool on 14 August.
Per Mertesacker will miss the start of the season with a potentially serious knee injury that ruled him out of the pre-season trip to the United States. While the extent of that injury is not yet fully known it is likelier to keep him out for months rather than weeks.
The problem for Arsenal is that their other experienced centre-back Laurent Koscielny will also miss the start of the season. He is not expected back from pre-season training until Monday 8 August, having been given four weeks to recover from Euro 2016. Koscielny and Olivier Giroud both played for France in the final, which they lost to Portugal on 10 July, and Arsene Wenger has promised that he will not rush the pair back into first team action.
That means that Giroud and Koscielny are unlikely to be ready for the Liverpool game at the Emirates on 14 August. They are likelier to return against Premier League champions Leicester City on 20 August or even against Watford on 27 August. Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey, who return to training this Monday, will be racing against time to be ready for the Liverpool game too.
This leaves Arsenal short of both of their leading centre-backs for the start of the season. Gabriel, signed from Villarreal in January, is almost certain to start against Liverpool and Leicester City, providing he can recover from an injury that kept him off the trip to the US.
Arsenal’s summer transfer targets for 2016/17
The Frenchman scored 21 goals for Ligue 1 side Lyon last season and has since emerged as hot property within the European market. West Ham have already had their two offers for the 25-year-old rejected and Arsenal were reported to have joined the race for his signature. But despite indications that they were prepared to pay the £34.2m fee that will trigger talks with the player, Lyon club president recently revealed that the Gunners have yet to make a bid for the forward. Could Arsenal be biding their time?
The Wolfsburg left-back has said he expects to leave the club this summer and that it would be “exciting” to join Switzerland teammate Granit Xhaka at Arsenal. Rodriguez, 23, has a €25 million release clause in his contract and the Gunners have recently been tipped as forerunners to sign the Swiss defender.
According to recent reports, Arsenal launched a £43m bid for the German player as speculation continues to mount about his future at Wolfsburg. The Gunners are looking to bolster their striking options to aid striker Olivier Giroud and Arsene Wenger is known to be an admirer of Draxler, having targeted the winger last summer. The former Schalke star scored ten goals last season since his move to the Volkswagen Arena.
With many urging coach Arsene Wenger to bring in a new centre-back, Borussia Dortmund’s Neven Subotic could be the answer. The 27-year-old has only made six appearances in the Bundesliga for Dortmund this past season and has reportedly been given permission to miss training in order to discuss his future. Costing an expected £14m, Arsenal are reportedly contemplating making a move for the player in what would be a fantastic bit of business given his quality and relatively low price-tag.
The Belgium international looks destined to leave Goodison Park this summer after stating his desire to play Champions League football next season. Arsenal could be the club to offer him that as Arsene Wenger continues to search for a striker having been snubbed by Leicester’s Jamie Vardy. Ray Parlour urged his former club to sign the forward, arguing that the side needs “someone of the calibre of a Sergio Aguero or a Luis Suarez.” The Emirates hierarchy is reportedly keen on bringing in him but Everton’s £50m price-tag could prove to be a sticking point.
Arsenal were one of the many sides linked to Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata after the Spaniard recently returned to the Bernabeu. Reports seemed to suggest that Real Madrid had brought back the striker in order to sell him on for a profit and Arsenal had emerged as favourites at one point to sign him. However, valued at around £65m, the striker may prove out of Wenger’s price range while other reports suggest Madrid will now be keeping hold of the striker.
After failing to prise Jamie Vardy away from the King Power Stadium, Arsene Wenger seems to have turned his attention to another Leicester City gem. The French manager has publicly praised his fellow countryman in recent weeks, describing him as “One of the revelations of the French team”. Whether Gunners decide to make a formal bid for the 25-year-old remains to be seen but there’s no doubting the midfield dynamo would slot nicely into the Arsenal outfit.
The former Real Madrid striker has been repeatedly linked with a move to north London but the transfer has failed to materialise in the past. In an encouraging turn of events for fans, Higuain’s agent has allegedly made contact with Arsenal who are potentially interested in trying again to bring the Argentinian to the Emirates. Higuain scored 36 Serie A goals in 35 appearances for Napoli last season, breaking a league record in the process. The striker would be the perfect addition to Arsenal’s front-line.
After impressing at Euro 2016 for France, Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko has been linked with a move away from the Teesside club to the Emirates. The 26-year-old failed to prevent Newcastle from slipping into the Championship last season and was subject to widespread criticism for his underwhelming performances. But after finding his form in France, Arsenal have now emerged as favourites to sign the £35m-rated midfielder.
A number of British and foreign media outlets have linked Inter Milan’s Stevan Jovetic with a move to the Emirates this summer. Reports suggest the forward won’t be a part of Roberto Mancini’s plans at the San Siro despite joining the club on a permanent basis with the club following an 18-month loan stint in Milan. Following a flurry of rumours mid-June, Arsenal’s links to Jovetic have dropped off somewhat in recent weeks.
Barcelona are reportedly willing to offload midfield misfit Arda Turan for as little as £23m this summer. Turan has underwhelmed for the Catalan giants who are apparently looking to cut their losses on the Turkey international. According to Marca, Arsenal may be prepared to take the midfielder, who spent much of last season largely on the bench, off Barcelona’s hands.
Questionable this one, admittedly, but there have been some whispers on the grape vine. The Arsenal boss was spotted chatting to the Frenchman during Sunday night’s final but, given the context, it’s hard to imagine Wenger was attempting to persuade the player to move to Arsenal. The chances of Griezmann making the switch are, well, pretty slim. The Atletico Madrid player is committed to the club until 2021 and rumours suggest he has a release clause set at €100m. There’s no harm in dreaming, though.
But Gabriel will have to be partnered either by a young player or a part-time centre-back. Calum Chambers is the likeliest solution but Arsene Wenger lost faith in him last season and he only started two Premier League games, having started 17 in the league the previous season. Arsenal have been considering loaning Chambers out but only if they can be confident he will play enough games to develop as a player, and that is far from certain.
Rob Holding, signed this week from Bolton Wanderers, could make the step up to Premier League football after a good season in the Championship last year, which prompted Arsenal to spend £2.5million on him. 20-year-old Holding is likely to be competing with Krystian Bielik to be next in the queue. The Polish 18-year-old completed his first full season at Arsenal last year, including a brief first-team debut, but Wenger sees him as much as a midfielder as a defender.
During the 2014-15 season Wenger solved a defensive crisis by playing Nacho Monreal at centre-back. While he was one of Arsenal’s best players last year at left-back, the lack of experience elsewhere may push Wenger into drafting him into the middle of defence.