For so long Arsenal have seemed reluctant to spend significant money on transfer fees, but in 2013 that may well begin to change.
It may have to. With a new big-money sponsorship deal, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has confirmed that there are funds at his disposal and there will be big pressure for some of that to be spent in next month’s transfer window.
While the Gunners have won three straight Premier League matches, the team looks set for the toughest battle yet to try and maintain a spot in the hallowed Champions League. Missing out would be unthinkable both for the club’s business plan and perhaps for the future of Wenger.
Few would argue that the squad needs strengthening if Arsenal are to compete once again for the top honors both at home and in Europe. Here are five players that could help them achieve that goal.
David Villa (Barcelona)
With the forward struggling to for first-team opportunities at the Camp Nou following his return from a broken leg, recent reports have suggested that Villa could be on the move. According to Catalan publication El Mundo Deportivo, neither Villa or Barcelona want a move in January, although that situation could change next summer when he will have just a year remaining on his contract.
A fee of around £12 million has been mooted for the 31-year-old. Despite his age and a serious injury behind him, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger would surely be mad not to try and sign the man who has scored more goals for Spain than any other in history.
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Montpellier)
An increasingly accomplished-looking center back, Yanga-Mbiwa was strongly linked to both Arsenal and Milan last summer. The 23-year-old led Montpellier to their first ever Ligue 1 title last season and has gone onto become a France international.
Yanga-Mbiwa signed a new contract last month to keep him at the club beyond next summer, but just a two-year extension suggests that Montpellier may have merely been trying to assure themselves a decent fee when he inevitably moves on. Also capable of playing right-back, Yanga-Mbiwa could add much to an Arsenal defense that can still be found wanting on occasion.
Victor Wanyama (Celtic)
With Alex Song departed and Abou Diaby once again unable to keep fit for any significant length of time, Arsenal badly need someone capable of breaking up opponents’ attacks in the middle of pitch. Wanyama has been discussed as a potential target and his reputation has soared in recent months following his performances in the Champions League. Particularly noteworthy was his dominant display in Celtic’s victory over Barcelona.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon has suggested that the Kenyan would cost any suitor £25 million, however it is likely that he would be available for less. The 21-year-old could be just the man to complement the creative qualities of the likes of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla.
Mohamed Diame (West Ham)
In similar fashion to Wanyama, Diame could be another option to add physicality and dynamism to Arsenal’s midfield. Having joined West Ham on a free transfer from Wigan in the summer, the 25-year-old has played an important part in the Hammers’ impressive return to the Premier League.
While Diame may well be sidelined until February with a hamstring injury, he could still be a shrewd signing for Arsenal in January. The Senegal international has a release clause in his contract speculated to be around the £6 million mark. At that price, he is certainly an option worth considering for the Gunners.
Adrian Lopez (Atletico Madrid)
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was reportedly keen to sign Adrian in the summer before the arrival of Olivier Giroud, but speculation has continued about a potential move to the Emirates. The 24-year-old had a fine season during his first campaign for Atletico last term, but has struggled to dislodge Diego Costa as the main support for Radamel Falcao in attack this term.
Capable of playing all along the front line, the Spain international could be an excellent addition to Arsenal’s squad and may well be available next month. Adrian is reported to have a buyout clause of around £15 million—an amount that even the notoriously shrewd Wenger would struggle to argue doesn't represent value for money.