Arsenal’s squad will be undergoing some significant changes next summer.
Barring a miracle, it’s almost certain that Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez will leave the club when their contracts expire in the summer.
Their departures will pose significant challenges to Arsenal’s recruitment team. While about £100m worth of talent will walk out the door for nothing, the club will need to secure replacements for two players that have been so integral since joining, while also filling the other holes in the squad.
Internally, Arsenal do have some options.
Aaron Ramsey could push up into one of the attacking midfield spots, while the likes of Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck would be pushing for a starting spot. Even Jack Wilshere has been floated as an unlikely, yet popular, replacement.
If Arsenal want to be cheap and show tremendous, if perhaps undue, faith in their current options, they could opt not to sign anyone at all.
In which case, Arsenal could start the 2018/19 season like this:
Cech – Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal – Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac – Iwobi, Welbeck – Lacazette
However, that would be a side lacking in star quality, with no name jumping out as one who could turn a game on their own with a moment of brilliance.
This is the greatest challenge in replacing Ozil and Alexis, and one that could be solved by a big-money signing.
There are two obvious names to consider: Monaco’s Thomas Lemar, and Paris St. Germain’s Julian Draxler.
Arsenal attempted to sign the former during the summer, and Arsene Wenger has said he will try again for the winger. Draxler, on the other hand, has been a name that’s come up every summer since his breakthrough for Schalke in 2012.
Arsenal would have room to sign both, although it’d cost a significant amount of money.
Nonetheless, the following team looks a touch more exciting:
Cech – Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal – Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac – Lemar, Draxler – Lacazette
Away from the attack, there are doubts in defence.
Shkodran Mustafi could have been sold during the summer, Per Mertesacker is retiring and Laurent Koscielny’s chronic tendinitis means he can no longer play every game. The need for a centre back is clear, and it’ll be interesting to see if Arsenal go back in for West Brom’s Jonny Evans, or fork out for Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk.
Realistically, though, Arsenal will only have enough funds for one, maybe two, major signings.
It’d be difficult, for example, to see us spending £90m on Thomas Lemar and signing Draxler and van Dijk as well.
With that in mind, Arsenal’s most likely line-up could be:
Cech – Koscielny, Evans, Monreal – Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac – Lemar, Welbeck – Lacazette