Many Arsenal supporters expressed intense frustration with the club’s lack of activity in the 2015 summer transfer window. Arsenal added longtime Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, while ignoring depth to a roster that has a well-established track record for failing to stay healthy.
Arsene Wenger’s side would go on to finish second to Leicester City’s improbable title run, with Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere among the many notable players to miss a significant portion of the season.
But falling short last year may have sparked more interest in bolstering the roster, as Arsenal appear more eager to dip into their vast war chest. In February, Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph reported on a £75 million budget to spend on new players. In recent weeks, winger Riyad Mahrez and forward Alexandre Lacazette have both been linked to a move to the Emirates.
Mahrez, who has three years remaining on his contract, is clearly the more intriguing prospect after his successful spell with Leicester. Born in France to an Algerian father and a mother of Algerian and Moroccan descent, Mahrez spent most of his career with Le Havre in Ligue 1 before joining the Foxes in 2014 and sticking around for their championship season. A gifted dribbler with creativity to spare, the 25-year-old would invigorate the Gunners’ attack. Adding Mahrez would also mean a crucial subtraction for Leicester, a club that may once again feature prominently in the Premier League title race.
Arsenal may feel slightly worried that the pursuit might be in vain after coming up short to land Leicester striker Jamie Vardy. It almost seemed like a done deal that Vardy, undoubtedly coming off his best season, would be wearing an Arsenal kit. But Vardy reportedly snubbed Arsenal because of uncertainty over his perceived role, and Mahrez could be in a similar situation. He could leave the defending champions to join a club where he could split time on the right side with the likes of Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey just to name a few.
While the estimates for Mahrez range from £35 million ($46 million) to £41.8 million ($54.9 million), Lacazette’s price tag could reach £40 million ($52.5 million). The Lyon forward, who made his professional debut in 2010, has scored 72 goals in 173 career appearances and would likely share time with Olivier Giroud.
Lacazette, 25, was linked to Arsenal last summer after he scored 27 goals in 33 Ligue 1 matches with eight coming by way of penalty kicks. In 2015-16, he scored 21 goals in 34 matches, with just two from penalty kicks, and added two goals in six matches in Champions League.
The rumors surrounding Mahrez and Lacazette are still rumors, but adding one or both could be a serious boon for Arsenal. Manchester City, Leicester and Tottenham all scored more goals than Arsenal last season and with the Gunners shut out in eight matches. New and experienced players would provide a significant boost to a roster that might be predictable with so many carryovers from last season.
Meanwhile, Swiss star Granit Xhaka remains Arsenal’s only major transfer signing. The defensive-minded central midfielder arrived on what is believed to be a £34 million fee from Borussia Monchengladbach and is expected to compete against Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny. Rob Holding, a 20-year-old defender with 26 appearances with Bolton Wanderers, joined Arsenal last week for a reported £2.5 million fee.