What Does Arsenal Need to Do During the 2020 Summer Transfer Window?

By Ben Morris in Soccer
| April 14, 2020 12:21 pm PDT
What Does Arsenal Need to Do During the Summer Transfer Window?

There is no question that Arsenal’s dodgy recruitment has had a detrimental effect on the club in recent years. The Gunners have fallen behind many of the Premier League’s top teams and have failed to qualify for the Champions League since 2016/17.

Arsenal has been languishing in mid-table for much of the current campaign, so it’s clear that a lot of work needs to be done during the summer transfer window.

Given the current situation, it’s unclear exactly when the transfer window will open. England’s 2020 summer window was originally set to be open from June 10 to September 1, but it’s highly likely that those dates will now be changed.

However, FIFA is confident that a revised schedule will be created to deal with the extraordinary circumstances.

In this post, I discuss which players Arsenal should be looking to get rid of when the transfer window finally opens, along with realistic transfer targets for Mikel Arteta’s side. I also assess whether Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should be sold at the end of the season.

Let’s begin by looking at who Arsenal should sell during the summer transfer window.

Which Players Does Arsenal Need to Get Rid Of?

Here are three players who I believe should be sold by Arsenal during the summer transfer window.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Sokratis joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in 2018 for around £15 million. The Greek center-back had made a name for himself as one of the best defenders in the Bundesliga, but he has failed to live up to expectations in the Premier League.

Last season, Sokratis featured prominently under former boss Unai Emery. However, he has been used sparingly by Mikel Arteta this term. It’s clear that the new manager doesn’t think very highly of the 31-year-old, so he is likely to be moved on when the transfer window opens.

Ultimately, Sokratis has made far too many mistakes during his time in England. He has struggled to adapt to the demands of the Premier League, and his lack of pace has been exposed on countless occasions.

If Arsenal is serious about finishing in the top four next season and securing Champions League soccer for the first time in four years, then Sokratis must be sold.

Shkodran Mustafi

It has recently been reported that Arsenal ignored advice from the club’s head of recruitment to avoid signing Shkodran Mustafi back in 2016. And with all due respect, when you consider some of his questionable performances in recent years, it’s easy to see why.

Apparently, Francis Cagigao hadn’t even shortlisted Mustafi as a potential transfer target. But with the Gunners in desperate need of reinforcements, they ended up forking out a whopping £36 million to sign the center-back from Valencia.

Mustafi’s time at Arsenal has been blighted by defensive errors. Injuries to other players have seen the German reclaim his place in the starting lineup this season, but he’s done little to convince Arteta that he’s got what it takes to play in the Premier League.

The 27-year-old has become a laughing stock alongside Sokratis in Arsenal’s backline, so I can’t see him remaining at the Emirates Stadium for much longer.

Granit Xhaka

When Granit Xhaka clashed with supporters while leaving the pitch against Crystal Palace in October, it looked like his Arsenal career was over. The midfielder reacted angrily to being jeered by the Gunners fans, and many believed that he would never play for the club again.

Following the fallout, Emery stripped Xhaka of the Arsenal captaincy and forced him to spend a lengthy spell on the sidelines. The Switzerland international looked set for a move to German side Hertha Berlin in January. But after Emery was sacked, Xhaka was reintroduced back into the team by Arteta.

Although the new boss has expressed his desire for Xhaka to stay, Arsenal supporters are still very much divided over the situation. Many of the club’s fans have refused to forgive the midfielder for his actions, while some believe that he deserves a second chance.

In my opinion, Xhaka simply isn’t good enough. He’s had more than enough time to prove himself at Arsenal, but his performances are generally below par.

At the end of the day, Xhaka isn’t a popular figure at the Emirates, so the club would probably be better off without him. I was very surprised that Xhaka didn’t leave during the previous transfer window, so it’s surely only a matter of time before he departs.

Which Players Should Arsenal Look to Sign?

Here are three realistic transfer targets that I think Arsenal should be in the market for.

Dayot Upamecano

It’s safe to say that just about every major European club will be keeping tabs on Dayot Upamecano right now. The RB Leipzig defender has caught the eye with some standout displays in 2019/20, and he is widely regarded as one of the best young center-backs in the game.

At just 21, Upamecano has already established himself at the heart of Leipzig’s defense and has played a starring role for Julian Nagelsmann’s team this term.

Not only has the French youngster helped Leipzig to remain within touching distance of Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga title race, but he’s also shone in RB’s maiden run to the Champions League knockout stages.

Upamecano is quick, strong, and comfortable with the ball at his feet. He is also capable of starting attacks just as effortlessly as he cuts them out, so he possesses all the attributes to become a perfect modern-day center-back.

With a £50 million release clause in his current contract, Upamecano certainly isn’t the cheapest option. But Arsenal must be ambitious in the transfer market in order to compete with Europe’s top clubs once again.

Above all, Upamecano would be a huge upgrade on both Sokratis and Mustafi, so I believe Arsenal must make him a prime transfer target.

Adrien Rabiot

Adrien Rabiot has been linked with Arsenal for years. The Gunners are long-term admirers of the midfielder, and former manager Arsene Wenger repeatedly tried to bring him to England. However, for one reason or another, a deal never materialized.

After falling out of favor at PSG, Rabiot eventually joined Juventus on a free transfer last summer. But due to the fierce competition for places at the Allianz Stadium, Rabiot has failed to make an impact in Italy.

The 25-year-old has been in and out of Maurizio Sarri’s team throughout the campaign, starting just eleven of Juventus’ 26 league games in 2019/20.

Rabiot’s professionalism and off-field antics have been called into question on numerous occasions in the past, but there’s no doubting his ability. Rabiot is a technically gifted midfielder, and his dynamism would undoubtedly improve Arsenal.

I think Rabiot would thrive under Arteta. The Spanish coach’s no-nonsense approach would get the best out of the maverick Frenchman, and this would significantly benefit the team.

Thomas Partey

It’s no wonder that Thomas Partey is being linked with a move away from Atletico Madrid. The versatile Ghanaian has gained a reputation as one of the best midfielders in world soccer, and at 26, his best years are still ahead of him.

Thomas would be the ideal replacement for Xhaka, as the Atletico man is known for offering stern protection to the backline. But he is also capable of playing further up the field, so he’s got a lot to offer.

Last summer, Atletico lost a number of important players through release clauses. Antoine Griezmann, Lucas Hernandez, and Rodri all left the club because their valuations were met, and Thomas could soon join that list.

Atletico is reportedly willing to sell Thomas for €50 million. Although he is one of the most valuable players in his position, he would surely be worth every cent.

Arsenal will definitely face competition for Thomas. But if the Gunners are able to acquire the services of such a talented player, it will send out a big statement to their rivals.

Aubameyang – Should He Stay or Should He Go?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was Arsene Wenger’s last signing as Arsenal manager, and he’s proven to be an excellent parting gift.

The speedy forward has arguably been the club’s standout performer since his arrival in 2018, finishing as the Gunners’ top goalscorer in each of the previous two seasons. He also shared the EPL Golden Boot with Liverpool duo Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah last term.

However, there has been a lot of speculation surrounding Aubameyang recently, and the Gabon international is being linked with a high-profile move away from the Emirates. Barcelona and Inter Milan are both rumored to be interested, while various other clubs are keen on signing the 30-year-old.

Does Aubameyang Want to Leave Arsenal?

It’s a difficult situation for Arsenal. Of course, the club wants to keep hold of their star striker. But does Aubameyang want to remain in North London?

Although Aubameyang hasn’t publicly expressed his desire to leave the club, he will surely be weighing up his options. Now in his thirties, he doesn’t have long left at the highest level, so he’s got a big decision to make when the season finally comes to an end.

Since joining Arsenal for £56 million from Borussia Dortmund, Aubameyang has suffered defeats in the Europa League and Carabao Cup finals. He is yet to win a trophy in England, and there is a sense that he needs to join a more ambitious club in order to secure some silverware.

Additionally, Arsenal has been miles away from the top four throughout 2019/20, so it’s highly unlikely that the Gunners will qualify for the Champions League next season.

A player of Aubameyang’s quality needs to be playing in the UCL, and failure to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition will only lessen the chances of him staying at the club.

Should Arsenal Cash in on Aubameyang Before It’s Too Late?

In the past, Arsenal has been guilty of letting players run down their contracts. This means that the club has been forced to let players leave for free when their deals run out.

After failing to tie down Aaron Ramsey to a new contract, Juventus was able to sign the Welshman for nothing last summer. This was a grave mistake on Arsenal’s part, and it’s vital that the club doesn’t let a similar scenario unfold with Aubameyang.

The forward’s current deal is due to expire at the end of next season, so the upcoming transfer window is likely to be the last opportunity for Arsenal to generate any money from selling him.

Sure, the Gunners wouldn’t want to sell their top scorer. But if there is a chance that he could leave the club for free next year, it might be a good idea to cash in on Aubameyang before it’s too late.

In my eyes, it makes sense for Arsenal to let Aubameyang leave at the end of the season. This means the club would still get something for the player, and the profits could be used to reinforce the squad.

The Verdict

It’s clear that Arsenal’s defense is in need of a major makeover. The Gunners have conceded far too many goals in the past few seasons, so it’s vital that changes are made during the summer transfer window.

Sokratis and Mustafi obviously aren’t good enough, so I think Arteta will be looking to offload the unreliable duo at the end of the current campaign.

Arsenal signed highly rated center-back William Saliba last year but chose to loan him back to Saint-Etienne for the duration of 2019/20. The promising youngster will join up with the Gunners in the summer and will certainly improve Arteta’s backline.

Despite Saliba’s arrival, I still think that Arsenal needs to sign another top-class center-back, and Upamecano would be a fantastic addition. The Leipzig defender is already a special talent, and he’s only going to get better.

The Gunners have also lacked bite in midfield of late, so Xhaka must be moved on. I believe that Thomas would add some much-needed power in the middle, while Rabiot’s creativity would be hugely beneficial.

On the other hand, Arsenal’s attacking options are extremely exciting. Young forwards Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli, Reiss Nelson, and Bukayo Sako all have big futures ahead of them, while Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette offer valuable experience.

Still, it’s only a matter of time before Aubameyang leaves the club, so I think Arsenal should sell him during the summer transfer window if they want to get a substantial fee for their star forward.

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