5 Players Arsenal Should Target in January BY Matt Gault
The 2017/18 campaign has, so far, been all too familiar for Arsenal fans. There have been the uninspiring downs – such as the defeat to Watford – coupled with hopeful ups, like the dismantling of Everton.
After eleven Premier League games the Gunners sit sixth in the table. They’re level on points with Liverpool and also, incredibly, Burnley. So there is still plenty of work to be done.
The Gunners acquired the services of Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolašinac in the summer but fans are expecting the club to dip into the January transfer market in order to avoid missing out on Champions League football again.
Arsenal will also have to start preparing for the likely departures of Manchester City target Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil, who has been linked with United. Neither player has signed a new contract and their current deals expire a the end of the campaign.
Losing the duo would be a bitter blow for the Gunners given their importance to the side. But nobody is irreplaceable and there are several exciting players who could be available in January.
Arséne Wenger isn’t a man who is easily parted with his cash, but our friends at Football Whispers have picked out five players Arsenal should be considering a move for in January.
The gifted yet enigmatic German playmaker has long been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium. However, there is the genuine possibility that, if Arsenal choose to pursue the Paris Saint-Germain once again, they would finally get their man.
January will be no different to the summer, however. Arsenal will only be willing to sell Sánchez if they have a replacement lined up. Draxler certainly fits the bill.
The big-money arrivals of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé in the summer have somewhat marginalised him at the Parc des Princes, but Draxler remains a dangerous attacking talent.
In PSG’s 6-2 win over Bordeaux earlier this season, Draxler provided a thrilling snapshot of his ability, starting an attack before finishing it with a sensational volley.
With PSG currently under investigation to see if they have adhered to financial fair play regulations following their heavy summer spend, the club may be pressured to sell and, with the World Cup next summer, Draxler would be wise to seek pastures new.
The versatile midfielder came close to signing for Arsenal on transfer deadline day, but Wenger may opt to test Monaco’s resolve once more with a sizeable bid.
Lemar enjoyed a stellar 2016/17 campaign, scoring nine goals, registering ten assists (a league best) and averaging 2.2 key passes per game as the principality club ended PSG’s four-year dominance at the Ligue 1 summit.
And if Wenger continues with the 3-4-3 formation he first turned to at the back end of last season, then Lemar can operate on either side of the front three. Alternatively, he has proven himself to be a devastating outlet on the left of a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2.
Lemar hasn’t quite replicated last season’s sparkling form yet but, at 21, he is a burgeoning talent that has the potential to become a genuine Premier League star – albeit a pricey one. He could be the long-term successor to Sanchez on the Gunners left flank.
Virgil van Dijk
The powerful centre-back has made no secret of his desire to leave Southampton and, although he has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool in the summer, joining Arsenal would make a lot of sense.
Above all else, the Gunners need a long-term replacement for Laurent Koscielny. The Frenchman is 32 and has become a regular injury concern over the last two seasons, so shopping for his successor is necessary at this point for Wenger.
There are also doubts over how long Shkodran Mustafi, who is currently out injured, will remain at the North London club after his summer move to Inter Milan collapsed over wage demands. Per Mertesacker, meanwhile, is retiring at the end of the season.
Van Dijk represents arguably the strongest defensive candidate available to Arsenal. He won’t come cheap – a fee of £60million has regularly been mooted – but he is physically and technically impressive and, at 26, is approaching his peak years.
There is likely to be stiff competition from Liverpool and possibly Manchester City, but van Dijk is simply too attractive an option not to go for.
The tough-tackling midfielder enjoyed the best season of his career last term, pipping van Dijk to Southampton’s Player of the Year award.
More pertinently, though, he represents something Arsenal have often lacked in recent years: stability and cover in the middle of the park.
The 26-year-old is a robust, uncompromising presence in midfield. This season he is averaging three tackles a game, as well as 1.8 interceptions and clearances.
He is also a threat in attack, playing 1.1 key passes a match from his deeper role.
Last season, only Idrissa Gueye and N’Golo Kanté made more tackles than the former Barcelona and Chelsea man, while he was third in total interceptions.
With concerns over the futures of Jack Wilshere and Francis Coquelin, Arsenal need more depth in midfield. Romeu, positionally astute and composed in possession, could be a solid investment for Wenger in January.
The Burnley defender has been in outstanding form this season and, at 24, looks destined for a move to one of the Premier League heavyweights in the future.
Following Michael Keane’s departure to Everton in the summer, Tarkowski has admirably stepped up to the plate and has been every bit the essential defensive cog his predecessor was.
Playing alongside Ben Mee at the heart of the Clarets defence, Tarkowski has averaged the second-most clearances (8.8) and the joint highest blocks (1.7) per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season.
His sure-footed and commanding performances at the back for Sean Dyche have seen his stock rise dramatically and, should he continue in the same vein, Burnley may have to resign themselves to losing another quality centre-half.