For several weeks, there has been incessant talk about major changes that were afoot for Arsenal.
It now appears that these changes are on the verge of happening. According to multiple reports, midfield stars Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri are on their way out of Emirates in the biggest Premier League shakeup in quite some time.
Fabregas is set to depart for Barcelona in a £35 million deal. An agreement between the two clubs could be made as early as this weekend.
Manchester City and Arsenal appear to have agreed upon a £25 million transfer for Nasri, who has been dismissive about a contract extension with the Gunners.
The loss of two prolific midfielders may signal a serious problem at Emirates: that Arsenal can't hold on to their star players. Manager Arsene Wenger has been adamant about securing perhaps his two best players, but recent signs seemed to point to Fabregas seeking a return to his boyhood club, and Nasri wanting a significant raise and a fresh start with a title-contending club.
Negotiations are still ongoing and Arsenal has yet to formally accept a deal for either player, according to The Guardian. There are countless examples of two clubs agreeing on a deal, only to have things fall apart. The most recent case was Carlos Tevez and his potential move to Brazilian club Corinthians.
Nasri and Fabregas are both only 24, but their departure may mean a major youth movement for Arsenal. The combined £60 million will likely go to up-and-coming midfielders to fill the void.
The most likely target would be Juan Mata of Valencia, an accomplished and coveted winger. Mata, 23, is seen as an overall solid player who can create well for his teammates, and is a legitimate threat to score. Earlier this summer, Arsenal attempted to add the Spaniard but ran into a complication with the expiration of Mata's £22 million buyout clause.
Another player that could be offered a deal is Lille attacking midfielder Eden Hazard. The 20-year-old Belgian is one of the most promising young players in Europe. He is very fast, and extremely creative. Hazard's estimated value is £20 million, which might be an enormous bargain considering his potential.
There could be an outside chance to land Inter Milan star Wesley Sneijder. Manchester United is in negotiations to add the £35 million-rated Dutchman, but if talks break down, Arsenal may be poised to swoop in and make a deal. Sneijder shares similar technique to former Gunner great Marc Overmars and would fit well in Wenger's attacking style.
Arsenal still need a centre back, and the possible £60 million from moving Fabregas and Nasri might mean renewing talks to add heavily favoured defender Phil Jagielka. Arsenal were rejected in an earlier bid this summer for Jagielka, and have yet to make a serious bid for Christopher Samba or Scott Dann.
Jagielka also fits with Arsenal's need for an extra defensive midfielder. At age 28, Jagielka would offer experience to a potentially youth-filled squad. Starting goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is only 21, and the Gunners also recently added 19-year-old back Carl Jenkinson.
Centre back options aside, the midfield immediately becomes the most pressing need with the possible departures of Fabregas and Nasri. Though a defensive upgrade was a top concern going into this summer transfer period, Wenger now has to shift gears to find attacking midfielders and that could be a serious challenge.
However, a midfield shakeup might offer a great opportunity to bolster the attack. Hazard and Mata are exceptional talents, who have the skills to create more scoring chances for Robin van Persie and Gervinho.
Arsenal could become the envy of the Premier League with elite midfield talent. Wenger has already been quick to praise 18-year-old Japanese winger Ryo Miyaichi. Along with Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, Wenger will have his choice of playing midfielders with a great deal of potential.
Meanwhile, Nasri and Fabregas have had their share of injuries, and Nasri looked somewhat fatigued towards the end of last season. Arsenal may be better off without players who would probably have been be a distraction.
The possible replacements will likely seek to make a name for themselves with a high-profile club.