The Champions League final on Saturday has reminded us of the huge gap between the best team in Europe and the Arsenal.
With Vivianne Miedema extending her stay, the core of the team is secured for next season, let’s have a look at how it could shape up.
If we consider the right squad size is 23 players with three goalkeepers and 20 outfield players doubling up every position and the base system is the classic 4-3-3, let’s have a look at how the team is being built up and where new blood is needed.
Of course, we start by looking at the number 10 position. Vivianne Miedema has extended her stay and asked to play there rather than at number 9. She is of course the first name on the teamsheet considering she is now allegedly the highest-paid player in the FA WSL. Her backup in that position should be Mana Iwabuchi and Jordan Nobbs who are both injured.
The next key position is centre-back and Leah Williamson who is also a key player. Alongside her is left-footed Rafaelle Souza, who complements her very well and offers passing options and angles that help Arsenal’s build-up play. The first backup is Lotte Wubben-Moy who has been superb while Rafaelle was injured and will compete for the left-centre back spot.
The big question is what next for all the other centre-backs. Boye-Sørensen and Beattie did not get much playing time, while Schnaderbeck and Patten went on loan to Spurs and Villa. We could see all four players leaving the club this summer. It is reasonable to expect that the three older players could look for gametime somewhere else. Patten will not come back to be a fourth-choice centre-back at the club, she needs playing time to be able to compete for an England place. We will see if she goes on loan for another season or if it is a transfer.
The first choice for the double-pivot in midfield is Little and Wälti, with Maanum the first backup. Another central midfielder would certainly be useful: a top-quality one to come and be a starter would be great. Alternatively, we could get an up-and-coming player who would be used in the rotation as a third or fourth choice. Malin Gut was used in that role, but her ACL injury stopped her from playing, and then she transferred back home in the January window.
At left-back we have Steph Catley and Katie McCabe competing for the spot, but signing a top left-back would free McCabe from defensive duty and use her exclusively as a forward or at number 10. There is no real need for a signing there unless an excellent player becomes available.
At right-back, the club is sorted with Noëlle Maritz as the first choice and Laura Wienroither as her backup. The same situation as at left-back, unless a world-class right-back becomes available, there is no need for a new player there.
Goalkeeper is an area where new signings will be needed. Manuela Zinsberger established herself as number one and you expect Lydia Williams and Fran Stenson to leave. Hermione Cull as the number 3 goalie would make sense, with Natalia Negri who went on loan to Charlton could compete with her for the third spot. Therefore, one senior goalkeeper should be signed up to be the number 2 or to compete for the starting position.
The striker situation is clear with Stina Blackstenius signed up as the number nine and Caitlin Foord used as her backup with a different tactical profile. There is no real need for a new number 9 as a backup unless Foord leaves.
In terms of wingers, Beth Mead is obviously the first choice; Katie McCabe and Caitlin Foord are also excellent on the wings and perform consistently. Tobin Heath left before the end of the season, and Nikita Parris did not have many starts and could leave if she wants regular first-team football. Therefore, a winger needs to be signed.
So if we lose five players in this transfer window, signing five new players would be needed to make it to a 23 players squad.