Arsenal are moving closer to fulfilling Mikel Arteta’s summer transfer window plan.
After missing out on Europe for the first time in 25 years, the Gunners boss made it clear that the squad would need to change in order to compete with their Premier League rivals.
“The squad needs changing,” Arteta said shortly before the end of last season. “There were already a lot of changes in December, something that has not been done in years, but it tells us where we were. Things are going to have to change and the owners are going to back it up.”
It has been a relatively quiet start to the window across the continent however, with many clubs waiting for the end of Euro 2020 before completing deals.
But with England’s defeat in the final now in the rear view mirror, there are signs that it could be set to kick up a gear.
As for Arsenal, they have completed the signing of Nuno Tavares from Benfica, while David Luiz and Matteo Guendouzi have already left, with William Saliba and Hector Bellerin’s departures edging closer.
Meanwhile, Albert Sambi Lokonga’s £18million transfer from Anderlecht should be completed this week and Ben White’s £50m pursuit of Brighton ’s Ben White could be nearing its conclusion.
That would bring Arsenal’s summer spending over £70m, but won’t signal the end of their ambitious plans in the window.
There have been claims that Arteta and technical director Edu will look to sign at least one more midfielder, while Hector Bellerin’s exit could force them to sign another right-back.
On the pitch, Arsenal suffered a disappointing start to pre-season as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Hibernian.
During that encounter, Arteta opted to start in a 4-4-2, with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang looking lost in the new shape. Should the manager opt to stick with that formation, it appears a near certainty that a new striker would need to be brought in to partner the club captain.
But while those moves are all speculative, one that has been all but confirmed by Arteta is the need for a new back-up keeper.
Ever since Emi Martinez’s ill thought out move to Aston Villa last summer, the Gunners have been scrambling for an able deputy to Bernd Leno.
Alex Runar Runarsson was initially signed to fill that berth, but looked shaky when called upon, forcing Arteta to move for Mat Ryan in the January window.
He has since returned to Brighton and now looks set to join Real Sociedad.
The club have high hopes for Arthur Okwkonkwo, but after making a glaring error against Hibs, Arteta confirmed he would only be the third-choice option in the squad.
“He’s confident in the relationship with his teammates and everything. It’s time to support him. He is our third goalkeeper and we need to give him confidence.”
That leaves the door open for a genuine number two, with the likes of Aaron Ramsdale, Andre Onana and David Raya extensively linked.
Leno could yet leave which would only exacerbate the situation, but it is looking clearer and clearer that Arsenal’s new transfer priority is to find a genuine Leno alternative.