Should Arsenal’s underwhelming start to the season continue, there is one fact that Arsène Wenger knows will repeatedly be uttered as criticism in his direction: Arsenal were the only club in one of Europe’s top five leagues not to sign a single outfield player this summer. The Gunners’ transfer window had started positively, when the capture of Petr Cech from Chelsea delivered a long-sought commanding presence in goal. But as Arsenal remained quiet with the deadline drawing ever nearer, frustration grew, especially with the squad’s main deficiencies so evident out on the field.
Arsenal retain a hugely talented squad that is well stocked in a number of positions. Yet it is also easy to understand why the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust released a statement calling into question the club’s recruitment department. Not for the first time there is a feeling that Arsenal could have become serious challengers for the Premier League title had they just made a couple of key signings. In this case it is the lack of a truly top-class striker and depth in the defensive midfield position that stand out.
For his part, Wenger repeatedly stated that he was open to making further signings, but that the players who could improve his squad were few and far between and extremely difficult to prize away from their current employers. But should Arsenal be off the pace in January, there remains the possibility that Wenger may make a concerted effort to correct the lack of action when the transfer window reopens.
Here are three players who may be targeted.
Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli)
Before the summer transfer window even came to a close there were rumors that Arsenal were lining up a move for Higuaín in January. The links with the Argentina international go a long way back, with Arsenal having been in the running to land his signature before he left Real Madrid for Napoli two years ago. Wenger’s interest was thought to have resurfaced this summer, but Napoli were repeatedly adamant that he would not leave unless his massive 95 million euros (£70 million) release clause was met. Yet were Napoli, who failed to qualify for the Champions League for this season, to be struggling come January, Higuaín could potentially agitate for a move to such an extent that his asking price is reduced to a more attractive figure.
Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain)
According to the Daily Mirror, Arsenal made a last-gasp approach for Cavani, only to balk at PSG’s £50 million asking price. The chances of Cavani leaving the French capital this summer always looked slim, however, with the Uruguayan seen as the successor to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is aged 33 and in the final year of his contract. It appears unlikely that situation will change in January, then, unless Cavani, as he has done before, shows his frustration at having to play out wide due to Ibrahimovic’s presence. Yet even were that to happen, Arsenal will surely be reluctant to spend big on a player who will turn 29 next February and who, in all likelihood, will be ineligible for the Champions League.
Adrien Rabiot (Paris Saint-Germain)
Another PSG player was on Wenger’s radar as the summer transfer window came to a close, according to the Daily Mail. Arsenal’s scouts are believed to have watched the Rabiot extensively and it is easy to imagine that the 20-year-old French midfielder with a strong passing ability will appeal to Wenger. His skillset mean he is arguably not exactly what Arsenal need in the defensive midfield role, but he could still be an interesting acquisition. And, with Rabiot having some serious competition in the PSG midfield from the likes of Marco Verratti, he could be tempted by a move away should he fail to get the game time he desires.