Amidst a punishing and ever-tightening battle atop the Premier League table, their FA Cup defense and injuries already taking considerable toll in midfield, recent reports indicate Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may make major changes to the midfield come the summer transfer session.
The Gunners are coming off a 2-1 victory over Queens Park Rangers that kept them in third place in the Premier League, and though they welcomed midfielder Aaron Ramsey back into the fold, Arsenal are still waiting out the returns of Jack Wilshere, captain Mikel Areta, and Mathieu Flamini from injury. Abou Diaby has been a complete afterthought due to numerous injury setbacks.
Whether any come back in time to make even the slightest contribution in any of Arsenal’s quests this season remains to be seen, but it does however seem quite clear that many of Wenger’s top midfielders won’t call Emirates home next term.
According to a report from The Sun, Wenger will likely let Diaby, who has appeared in only 16 league games the last four years, to walk and possibly sell either Flamini or Arteta off. There have also been rumors that Santi Cazorla could exit north London at season's end, though such a scenario seems unlikely.
Presuming Wenger is successful with any of those moves, that will leave a significant hole in midfield. Enter Arsenal’s hopes, as well as that of many of Premier Leagues top clubs, of landing Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba.
Daily Star reports that Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea are all monitoring the Frenchman’s much-speculated transfer availability, even with his agent stating another year with the Turin side appears likely.
His statistics (six goals and two assists in 21 Serie A matches this term) aren’t exactly gaudy, but the 21-year-old has looked even sharper during Champions League play with a goal and three assists, and his value has skyrocketed to as high as £80 million on the transfer market.
Adding Pogba’s ability to carve up opposing midfielders and finding space for forwards may be just what Wenger needs to take the Premier League by storm. Combining Pogba with Alexis Sanchez could provide Arsenal with a tandem that could bolster their chances of earning their first Premier League title since 2003-2004.
Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, was perhaps trying to increase his client’s value on the market by suggesting a number of clubs are in play.
"All the top clubs are interested in him," Raola said to Le Parisien. "Ligue 1 is not too small for Paul. We respect the Spanish, German, English, French and Italian leagues.
"Everyone thinks Paul will leave Juventus [in the summer], but it's not certain. It all depends on the will of the club and of Paul.
"When the time comes, he will leave."
Of course, Wenger could find another talented young striker to place opposite Sanchez this summer, and it could be Palermo’s Paulo Dybala. Express reported the Gunners join Chelsea and Manchester United as the top Premier League clubs hoping to thwart Borussia Dortmund’s £30 million offer for the Argentine, who ranks third in Serie A with 12 goals this term.
Should Dortmund’s reported bid actually be tangible and set the negotiations starting point, Arsenal will likely have to choose between signing Pogba or Dybala. It’s an enviable position, but the Gunners will likely have to sell off more players to afford even one of the budding Serie A stars.
Another plan to strengthen the attack could be centered on Juventus striker Alvaro Morata, according to Metro. Arsenal are apparently trying to beat Liverpool to an offer, though no figure was reported. The 22-year-old Spanish star has totaled six goals in his first year with Juventus since leaving Real Madrid, and is viewed as one of the top young forwards in Europe. Morata would be a major addition, but it may be difficult to envision a player of his caliber moving to three clubs in two years. Furthermore, Arsenal may have their strikers set for next season with Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck.