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Arsenal need to get off their arses and secure Schalke’s Leon Goretzka

By Kevin Whitcher

Latest Transfer Window Thoughts

Sead Kolašinac and Alexandre Lacazette seem to be examples of good business by Arsenal. Optimism is high about what both players will bring to the squad, and specifically there is a belief that both will be regular first team starters. So far, so good. Ivan Gazidis told supporters at the end of June that “On the squad side, we’re not looking to add more squad depth now, we’re looking at players who can come in and compete for a starting position”, which to me is at least an admission that the current first choice eleven could do with some improvement.

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Let’s imagine that, given the success Arsčne Wenger enjoyed when he switched to a 3-4-3 formation after the Palace defeat, the manager will continue with it. Currently, he seems well covered for central defenders and left wing backs. But, on the right flank there could be problems if the Ox does not sign up for a new deal and the club decides to cash in. Granted, Mathieu Debuchy has another two years on his current deal, and Carl Jenkinson three more, but in the former case, will the former French international be content to continue playing second fiddle to Hector Bellerin, and is the latter good enough for the role? Or maybe the manager has Rob Holding earmarked as Bellerin’s back up. Maybe that’s a position where, even without the Ox, the club can get by.

The quality of depth in the middle of the park is a concern though, and this is why I think the club should go all out to secure young German international Leon Goretzka from Schalke. The player has a year left on his contract with his club, and can play both a box to box role or as a more disciplined holding midfielder. And he is very highly rated by people that watch far more German football than I do. At present, the first choice central midfield would be Xhaka and Ramsey. But the back up? Let’s forget Cazorla, effectively out for the season, and Jack Wilshere, who seems to have burned his bridges with the manager and is currently injured, with no date set for his return.

That leaves us with Elneny and Coquelin. I know the Egyptian has his fans, but I am not convinced he has the quality necessary to be the authoritative figure required, and the stats of the team’s defeats with Coquelin in the side last season are pretty damning. Effectively, Xhaka and Ramsey are secure in their positions and if one gets injured, the club are in trouble. So I say buy Goretska and be done with it. Perhaps secure a contract extension for Ramsey first, but don’t hang around as Goretska seems set to move this summer and other clubs may gazump the Gunners.

Up front, I’d be astonished and delighted if the club allowed Alexis Sanchez to run down his deal and leave as a free agent next summer. So on that front, assuming Alexandre Lacazette has been bought to add to the team rather than replace Sanchez, the club’s interest in Monaco’s Thomas Lemar is encouraging and the signs are that this deal may well happen sooner rather than later. So another player who would surely be an automatic starter, especially if Sanchez departs as expected.

That would leave one position to fill in the front three. One imagines Mesut Ozil will be at the club next season for the simple reason that no club will pay the amount Arsenal would ask for him (unlike Sanchez) and the player would be open to running down his own deal. There is obviously a long running debate about the German’s value to the team, but I’d put him in the front three alongside the two new imports, with the likes of Welbeck, Giroud and Iwobi as quality back up.

Theo Walcott should never get anywhere near an Arsenal starting eleven again if the club are serious about pushing on. Definitely one to try and offload, along with Kieran Gibbs. It’s a shame Lucas Perez was never given a proper chance by Wenger, but we don’t know the thinking behind the decision not to play him. My suspicion is that it’s personal between the player and the manager, something was said and that Wenger decided Perez had no future. Maybe one day the truth will out.

Might we assume that Serge Gnabry was another outspoken character? Arsenal sending him to West Brom when he had two seasons remaining on his deal turned out to be a wasted move, and when the player returned to Arsenal he didn’t get a look in. No wonder he rejected the club’s offer to sign an extended deal. He returned to Germany and is currently a Bayern Munich player.

Gnabry and Perez. Arsenal are looking at Thomas Lemar for a wide attacking position, and yet, they have let go (or will do in the case of Perez) two perfectly good players who never got the extended run they deserved. Strange. And what’s the betting Theo will be hanging around like a piece of fish gone off next season?

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11th July 2017 12:35:20

(8.7/10)

Comments and Reaction

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Redshirtwhitesleeves  13:17pm 11th Jul 2017

History tells us that having secured Lacazette then Sanchez is almost certain to be sold (probably on the eve of the new season, with Wenger yet again exposed as a liar having stated he will not sell him). However this early in the summer I'm quietly optimistic that we are finally serious about adding the 'top top qualitee' which we have heard about for so long. Lemar would be a fantastic signing but I agree with Kev, coquelin and elneny are not good enough even as back up and we need a big signing in central midfield. Your bang on about Walcott too, he should have been binned years ago, no other top side would have carried him like we have for 10 years, the bloke is a coward and a liability. Ditto Gibbs, wiishire et al, I hope we ship all the serial under achievers our this summer - Post No. 108354


Yes its Ron  13:43pm 11th Jul 2017

im right there with redshirts. The brigade pf passengers that the Club tolerates all need to go. We certainly need a dominant midfield player and have needed it for many years. It seems Matic is surplus at Chelsea, i d look to bring him in for a start. Hes not a solution but hes far better than what we have. Wllly, Wally, Cazorla, Gibbs, Walcott do all need releasing for whatever the Club can get for them. I d like to keep Ox but if he goes, i wouldnt be overly concerned. Even now, i couldnt tell you what his real and best position is. I hope and think Xhaka will come good this season. I think he has a lot to offer and hes tough with a mean streak to him. Its the midfield engine room at AFC that needs some serious attention. Ramsey cant be relied on for 55 games a season either and his form fluctuates anyway. Importantly too, not near enough goals come from midfield. - Post No. 108355


Alsace  17:58pm 11th Jul 2017

Whilst genuflecting before the Editor for another well informed and thoughtful piece, one wonders idly " what the H*ll does it matter". We could sign Messi, Suarez, Neymar, Jesus Christ, bionic android versions of Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp and Gilles Grimandi as well as Roy of the Rovers and he would ruin them all in 3 months. I absolutely refuse to get excited about anything to do with AFC whilst that bony bottom is enjoying the sinecurial seat. I am thinking of getting a book together called 101 uses of an expired manager. One of the uses would be to prop him up in the dugout at Arsenal. No one of course, would notice the difference. - Post No. 108356


Exeter Ex  19:34pm 11th Jul 2017

I echo Alsace. Big respect for Kev, but how can anyone paying attention for the last decade still think it makes any difference who the players are? But hey, I heard Jens Lehmann say he'll be watching from the stands next season in an 'apprentice' role. That'll be the 'catalyst for change' then. - Post No. 108357


Badarse  19:53pm 11th Jul 2017

Respekt? - Post No. 108358


Paulward  21:13pm 11th Jul 2017

Agree with Kevin about the central midfield situation. We cannot rely on Ramsey staying fit, whilst the jury is still out on Xhaka despite his improvement towards the end of last season. Of the others not too much can be expected, Santi will be sorely missed, whist Coq and Neny look bang average, Jack meanwhile looks set to play the Diaby role for the remainder of his Arsenal career. Would prefer the Lemar money to be spent on reinforcing the engine room, seems the need is greater there. - Post No. 108359


TonyEvans  8:47am 12th Jul 2017

Certainly agree we are missing quality and depth in the middle of the park when it comes to a Kante like, box to box, ball winner, and this area should be a priority. I'm not convinced about central defence either but don't foresee any changes there. It will be interesting to see how the three at the back pans out next season. Shipping out the likes of Walcott et al is the other must but I won't be holding my breath. Most likely will be one more 'versatile' forward (versatile in Wenger's eyes anyway) coming in and Sanchez leaving right at the death, leaving the usual dross to stink the place out for another season. As others have said though with Wenger still in charge it is, in all likelihood, academic anyway. - Post No. 108360


Bard  10:20am 12th Jul 2017

I have news that should life the spirits of the faithful and not so faithful. I bumped into the boss outside the Lidl supermarket in Newton Abbot. He was casting his eye over several players involved in a kickabout in the car park. I pressed him on transfers and backroom changes. He assured me he is working 28hrs a day to take the club to the next level and add super quality to the squad. Apparently we are seriously in for Mbappe. The boss has the ear of his father and has sold him the Arsenal vision. We will give him massive wages, he can play wherever he likes. He wont have any defensive responsibilities, he doesnt have to win anything and he can knock off around Christmas. According to the boss Mbappe's father thinks Arsene is Father Christmas. What this space !! - Post No. 108361


shu  12:28pm 12th Jul 2017

A replacement for santi should be the priority, look how our form dipped the last two seasons when he got injured,having said that I usually book tickets for the first home game but I am no longer bothered. Not even sure who it is against. - Post No. 108362


peter wain  13:06pm 12th Jul 2017

the major problem is in midfield where we have no replacement for Cazorla. OGL needs to buy someone. As far as quality replacements are concerned I think Walcott and Iwobi should both be on their way as neither is god enough by some margin. - Post No. 108363


Yes its Ron  16:26pm 12th Jul 2017

I think Cazorla was only ever a good player when facing the right opponent, usually weaker ones. Did he ever dominate another teams middle, technically and physically? I think not. We ve had far too many players like him this last 12 years who shone v teams who allowed them to shine. The middle needs a player who can play technically and boss the opponent. They cost a packet but its a price that has to be paid. Buying more 'wingers'is counter productive. What is a 'winger;' these days anyway? Is there such a thing? If there is, AW doesnt use them as such. They end up masters of nothing. Yes, we needed a striker and i hope Lacazette proves decent but its the vital midfield offensive destroyer type we still need, 12 yrs on from selling Vieira. PS I hear you both Alsace and Exeter and both make good points but Wengers in the seat isnt he. Whats will happen, will happen on the managerial front. Its of little use saying 'whats the point'. We cant change anything now and its far from likely that AW will be in the chair for 2 years. We still need to buy new players who his successor can operate with and ship out any players who any successor would ditch and we all know who they are. - Post No. 108364


Roy  17:11pm 12th Jul 2017

Yes, agree with Alsace and Tony E, it's difficult not to be apathetic about who comes or goes as long as AW remains. If he was going to get the balance right, it would have happened by now. As far as shipping out the deadwood goes, well he's already cost us a title by showing misplaced loyalty to certain players in the last year of their contracts who were obviously no longer up to the job, and failure to replace them meant Leicester romped home. The lessons weren't learned and now we've also dropped out of the CL - so no, don't hold your breath on Walcott and the like now. PV4 was a hard act to replace admittedly, but surely achievable in more than a decade ? Don't know a lot about this Goretzka, but one things for sure, a first choice midfield axis of Ramsey and Xhaka ain't gonna win you the title. Also agree with Ron that AW is unlikely to last 2 years, so a coherent succession plan should be being put together now. Don't hold your breath on that one, either. - Post No. 108365


equalizer  18:52pm 12th Jul 2017

Has anyone read his comments on tour today. For those of you that have not, well here it is folks. You really couldn't make this up... “I’ve stayed here for a long time because of the values I hold close to me. “One is to win trophies but more importantly it is to know who we are, and what is important to us in the game. It is that basis which wins football games and that’s what I will do until the end of my career.” - Post No. 108366


CBee  19:15pm 12th Jul 2017

equalizer - pass the vomit bag - Post No. 108367


Exeter Ex  20:26pm 12th Jul 2017

Wenger's latest comments are pure nonsense of course but the point of them is to convey the message that he is beyond winning and losing. He cannot lose, he cannot fail as long as he has these nebulous, undefined 'values'. So that justifies him going on for as long as he wants. It's all blatantly obvious self-protectionism. All Wenger is about is holding on to his job, shoring up his power. But the AKBs lap this sh*t up - the Dear Leader transcends the sport in their eyes. - Post No. 108369


mbg  20:28pm 12th Jul 2017

How Arsenal will persuade Lemar to join them ? a headline I read, it might have been easy enough if they'd have got rid of a fraud of a manager and employed a proper one. wenger out. - Post No. 108370


CORNISH GOONER  20:35pm 12th Jul 2017

I don't remember ever feeling so detached from L'Arse. I have as much confidence in Arthur Webster bringing home a major trophy as I have in May & Co's competence in negotiating a sensible Brexit "that works for everyone". Chants of "you don't know what you are doing" all round. What I see is a smug, complacent, bloated & sclerotic football Corporation. I really like Jens & Per but they will be allowed zero influence. In the meantime, ALL the deadwood & dross are still here. I predict very few departures & loads of dodgy, subsidised loan deals. Let's hope Ron is correct & that Arthur might not last the 2 full seasons. - Post No. 108371


Yes its Ron  10:01am 13th Jul 2017

CG - Im convinced the 2 yr contract thing is a holding exercise at SKs behest as much as anything else. Its perhaps the most flexible, 'we ll end it when it suits us' agreement as there can be. I think Arsene has agreed it with SK primarily to oversee the change of hands to his successor to suit SKs timescales and to have avoided leaving amidst all of the ignominy and clamour for him to go at the back end of last season. Its kept IG and the Board pacified because of that i think. I ve no basis to belive it, but the way Arsenal are traditionally, id be surprised if they didnt know already who s replacing AW already. It perhaps just want possible this Summer. I cd be totally out of kilter with this, but its why im not fussed now that Arsenes atayed on. Hes far from daft and knows its time to change the guard. Cmon the Gunners! - Post No. 108372


Issue #268 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

11th December 2017

More of the same at Southampton

Online Ed: Late equaliser spares Gunners’ blushes on south coast