Arsenal’s likely failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League will not prevent the club from investing heavily in the first-team squad this summer, with Mikel Arteta desperate to recruit a handful of quality additions to his young team.
Defeat at Newcastle United on Monday night all but ended Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the top four, with Arteta’s side now reliant upon Tottenham Hotspur losing at relegated Norwich City this weekend.
Arsenal see the upcoming transfer window as a major opportunity to improve the squad and have been planning accordingly, irrespective of whether they finish in fourth place or not.
Qualification for the Champions League would have given them considerably more financial firepower, and would have helped them in their pursuit of high-class players such as Gabriel Jesus and Youri Tielemans, but it is understood they will still have a meaningful budget to work with despite their financial difficulties in recent years.
Arsenal’s expectation at the start of this campaign was to make a return to the Europa League, so their late-season collapse is not seen to have ruined their long-term project under Arteta. It is clear that there is major disappointment at their back-to-back defeats by Tottenham and Newcastle, though, given the team’s progress in recent months.
Arsenal invested around £150 million in new players last summer and are ready to spend again as part of their plan to ultimately return to a self-sustaining model. They were able to clear a significant amount of space on their wage bill in January, when a series of players were allowed to leave the club — including top earner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — without any new recruits being brought in.
A priority is a centre-forward, with Jesus among the top targets for Arteta and Edu, the club’s technical director. The Manchester City forward’s agent has said that Jesus “likes the project” at Arsenal, but warned there are six other clubs who have shown interest in the 25-year-old.
With Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette both out of contract at the end of this season, Arsenal’s hunt for more forward options is not expected to stop at Jesus. They have previously shown interest in Lille striker Jonathan David and are known to be big admirers of Roma’s Tammy Abraham. Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin has also been considered.
Lyon forward Moussa Dembele, who has struck 21 goals in 35 appearances this season, is also expected to be an appealing option for a number of Premier League clubs as he enters the final year of his contract in France.
There is also a need for Arsenal to strengthen in midfield, with Leicester City’s Tielemans and Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves both among the players who have caught the club’s attention. Tielemans has only one year remaining on his current deal so he will be available for a knockdown price, but is reported to be keen to play Champions League football next season.
Telegraph Sport revealed earlier this season that Hoffenheim midfielder Florian Grillitsch, who will be a free agent this summer, had been added to Arsenal’s list of targets.
The north London club have been repeatedly linked to Bologna full-back Aaron Hickey, a 19-year-old Scotland international, but Telegraph Sport understands that reports in Italy of an agreed deal are wide of the mark.
Arsenal have already completed deals for two American players ahead of the start of next season, with goalkeeper Matt Turner and defender Auston Trusty joining from New England Revolution and Colorado Rapids respectively.
Turner will serve as Aaron Ramsdale’s backup in the event of Bernd Leno’s likely departure, while the plan at this stage is for Trusty to be sent out on loan to a European team.
Arsenal are close to completing a deal for young São Paulo forward Marquinhos, who is available for around £3m. The 19-year-old is regarded as a player for the future, though, rather than an immediate first-team option.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.