Arsenal endured a disappointing campaign in the Premier League, finishing eighth in the table for the second year in a row. The Gunners will not be competing in Europe for the first time in 25 years next term due to their failure in finish in the top seven and their semi-final exit from the Europa League. Pressure is growing on Mikel Arteta in the dugout as he failed to oversee an improvement in the club’s fortunes. There does not appear to be a simple resolution for their issues on the field.
Key players Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were on point, but not quite as influential as in past campaigns. The Gabonese put forward his lowest goal tally since his move from Borussia Dortmund in 2018, while Lacazette was hit and miss, although he did register 13 goals in the Premier League. Encouragingly for the Gunners, their top performers were their youngsters as Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Kieran Tierney all looked the part at the highest level. Nicolas Pepe took vital steps forward in his development, but the Frenchman still has a long way to go to justify his £80m price tag.
Arsenal have allowed Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard to return to Real Madrid after their loan spells with the club ended, while David Luiz was released. There is a real sense of change at the Emirates Stadium. For those Arsenal supporters hopeful of luring big names to the club, there are no signs that the Gunners are prepared to spend big. Their top reported transfer targets at the moment are a midfielder that has just been promoted out of the Championship, and one that is scheduled to play in the second tier next season.
Emiliano Buendia has been an outstanding player for three seasons with Norwich. He looked comfortable in his previous season in the top flight, although the Canaries were relegated on their return to the Premier League. Last term in the second tier, the Argentine was sensational in the final third, scoring 15 goals and providing 16 assists in only 39 appearances.
The 24-year-old would be a solid signing for the Gunners, but perhaps not one that would usher them back towards the top four. If you were lining up Buendia or Odegaard there would not be a great deal of difference between the players. Unless the Argentine can take his game to the next level, Arsenal may have to look elsewhere, while Norwich may not be in a selling mood in their bid to remain in the division.
The other name touted with a move to the Emirates is Sheffield United’s Sander Berge. The Blades paid £22m to secure his signature from Genk, but after making a solid start to his Premier League career, the Norwegian was underwhelming as the club struggled immensely last term. Arsenal have reportedly baulked at the £35m fee that they have been quoted by the Blades.
The club are under no pressure to sell and may even wish to keep Berge for a run at promotion where they are backed in the Championship betting odds at 11/4 to return to the top flight. Berge would certainly help the Blades in their push, and a season in the second tier may just be what he needs to become fully acclimated with English football.
A move to Arsenal would be a bit soon, and there would be pressure on the Norwegian from the off given his potential price tag. The Gunners have to ask the question would Berge be an improvement on their current defensive midfield options of Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny. Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi will also return from loan spells, bolstering the middle of the park. Given their situation, Arsenal have a lot to resolve before they can even think about additions in the midfield.
Arteta and the club’s hierarchy have to nail their recruitment to bring the Gunners back to relevance. The touted names at the moment do not inspire confidence.