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While Arsenal’s 2021/22 campaign may have ended in disappointment, there were plenty of positives for Mikel Arteta and his staff to take from the season as a whole. After a summer overhaul, a young squad was assembled to return the Gunners to European football.
The first few results were sluggish, as the new players got used to each other and injuries and illness ran through the camp, but they picked up. A charge towards a Champions League return was on the cards. However, they had to settle for fifth and Europa League football.
If Arteta is hoping his side will go one step further next season, some work will have to be done to the squad. The lack of squad depth was on display towards the end of the last campaign, while the need for a clinical striker, or two, will likely be a priority.
With this being said, football.london takes a look at how Arteta’s options could look next season.
Aaron Ramsdale looks set to continue as the first-choice goalkeeper heading into next season. The England international won the shirt early into his arrival at the club last summer, impressing in his debut campaign in a Gunners shirt.
Bernd Leno, however, could be one that leaves the Emirates. The German shot-stopper was the owner of the number one shirt for a few years but has been unable to earn it back since.
That’s where the incoming Matt Turner comes into play. The USMNT international has already confirmed his move to North London, looking set to be the backup choice for the gloves.
The defensive department could be one for contemplation for Arteta heading into the transfer window. While Ben White and Gabriel have held down the two centre-back positions, the return of William Saliba from a loan at Marseille may change things.
Despite rumours over an exit, the Spaniard has already claimed that the 22-year-old must return to Arsenal. There is also the case of the full-back positions.
Kieran Tierney has struggled with repetitive injuries, while promising backup Nuno Tavares has struggled to adjust to life in England. The right-back role looks similar, with Takehiro Tomiyasu impressing but hit with injuries.
Cedric Soares has played deputy in his absence, though Hector Bellerin is set to come back to London after a spell in Spain with Real Betis. That leaves questions over whether one or both leave the club.
Central midfield is a particular problem area heading into the summer window. Duo Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka were the go-to choices for the roles, though there was little in the way of depth beyond either of them.
Mohamed Elneny has signed a new contract with the club that will keep him for one more year, with the option of another, while Albert Sambi Lokonga is another option. However, there could be a view to adding more quality and depth here, with the likes of Ruben Neves and Youri Tielemans linked.
The forward department could be the one that gets the most attention in the summer. The left side of the front four looks to be fine, with Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli able to fill in there.
Similar can be said of the number ten role, with Martin Odegaard and Smith Rowe also able to play there. The right side could be one area that has some movement, with Bukayo Saka the first-choice but club-record signing Nicolas Pepe out of favour.
The Ivorian has since been linked with a move away, while the likes of Cody Gakpo have been linked to filling that position in his absence. The main area of concern will be at centre-forward.
Alexandre Lacazette looks set to leave the club as a free agent, though academy graduate Eddie Nketiah seems set to extend his stay at the club with a new contract. However, that doesn’t address the wider problem of a lack of a clinical goalscorer, which will need to be solved in the window.
Several players have been linked with an exit, with Nicolas Pepe, Bernd Leno and Hector Bellerin among those named in various reports. According to CIES Football Observatory, all three would be worth roughly £46million in transfer fees, allowing for further investment in the market.
The Gunners are said to be looking to tie youngster Bukayo Saka to a brand new deal, with his current one expiring in 2024.
Goalkeepers: Aaron Ramsdale, Matt Turner
Defenders: Ben White, Gabriel, William Saliba, Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney, Aaron Hickey, Nuno Tavares, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Cedric Soares
Midfielders: Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka, Youri Tielemans, Ibrahim Sangare…