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How cash-strapped Arsenal could line up next season

  /  autty

It has been reported that the Gunners will only have £45 million to spend this summer, so what can Unai Emery do to improve his team for 2018-19?

Arsenal fans might have been deflated to read reports that Unai Emery would have only £45 million at his disposal in the summer transfer market.

That kind of money would buy a decent left-back these days and not much else. And that is merely one position that the Gunners might need to reinforce come next season.

A number of high-profile and expensive players are coming to the end of their contracts, including Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck and Petr Cech, but the flip side of a saving on the wage bill is a lack of fees coming in to bolster transfer funds.

If Arsenal are going to complete a permanent deal for on-loan Denis Suarez for example, that signing would take them very close to their expected spending limits.

It could mean a summer of very little, or at least very shrewd business for Emery – who will be working for the remainder of the season without departed head of recruitment Sven Mislintat – unless significant fees can be raised through the sales of fringe players.

Arsenal’s insistence on keeping flagship players like Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang under contract sends a strong message to rivals that this club won’t be bullied in the transfer market, as happened when losing key players under Arsene Wenger.

However, it means an enormous proportion of the money available at the club is going towards maintaining relatively few contracts.

Emery is going to have to work within those restrictions with little sign that owner Stan Kroenke has any inclination to inject more funds. Arsenal, therefore, are likely to face another frustrating season of transition as Emery attempts to juggle the budget.

On the bright side, there are some signs of promise, with young players returning from loan and providing an extra boost in numerical terms. The likes of Calum Chambers, Emile Smith-Rowe and Reiss Nelson should see some first-team football next season.

There is optimism around Arsenal’s youth sectors currently, where the coaches are bringing through some fantastic talent, and there is the sense that unlike at clubs like Manchester City or Chelsea young players will get their chance to break into the first team whenever they look to be ready.

GOALKEEPERS

Petr Cech’s thigh injury earlier this season finally opened the door for new signing Bernd Leno and the veteran recently announced he will retire at the end of the season. Leno should be Arsenal’s long-term No.1 going forward.

David Ospina’s loan deal with Napoli expires at the end of the campaign but he is expected to leave on a permanent basis. Matt Macey and Emiliano Martinez are also on loan but not at the required level.

Therefore, there will be the need to recruit a back-up.

DEFENDERS

Emery could probably have done with some extra help in the backline in the winter transfer window but, as the Spaniard publicly admitted, Arsenal's budget meant he could only pursue loan deals.

Next summer the coach will require a new left-back, with Nacho Monreal out of contract and Sead Kolasinac failing to convince.

Question marks exist over Shkodran Mustafi after a string of high-profile mistakes and he could be among those sold to raise money for investment elsewhere.

Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis Papastathopoulos are dependable but getting on in age, with Rob Holding ready to step back into the first team after making a decent impression before injury.

Meanwhile, Calum Chambers has a future at the club in the eyes of Emery and will return after a loan spell at Fulham.

Hector Bellerin will also be back from injury next season to replace out-of-contract and unloved Stephan Lichtsteiner, with Konstantinos Mavropanos also in reserve.

Carl Jenkinson is also out of contract but has never been at the level of an Arsenal first-team player despite his commitment to the cause.

Back-up could come in the form of Jordi Osei-Tutu, who has already been with the seniors for pre-season.

MIDFIELDERS

Aaron Ramsey is one of a trio of high-earners – the others being Cech and Welbeck – whose expiring contracts will mean a little wiggle room in the wage bill come the end of the season. The Gunners were ultimately not prepared to meet Ramsey’s demands and he will improve what Juventus have got.

New signing Matteo Guendouzi has been a transfer market hit alongside Lucas Torreira and in those two Emery will have his midfield base for years to come.

Stand-in captain Granit Xhaka will also be available to the manager, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles’s versatility makes him an asset.

Emery would have liked to offload Mohamed Elneny in winter and the Egyptian could well be among those who make way so Arsenal can increase what is likely to be a meagre transfer budget.

Suarez’s loan deal will end, although there is the opportunity to make it permanent with Barcelona at the end of the season.

Much depends on whether or not the 24-year-old can find a spot in the team and make a difference. The fact he signed a new Barca contract before leaving for London suggests the Catalans would be looking for a big fee.

Consequently, attentions could turn elsewhere, with Leandro Trossard of Racing Genk reported to be on the radar and a little cheaper than Nicolas Pepe, the Lille wide man linked earlier this season.

Arsenal are also credited with interest in Adrien Rabiot, the PSG midfielder, who is out of contract in the summer. He is a player used to Champions League football, however, and is unlikely to settle for life on the fringes of the elite.

Emile Smith-Rowe, on loan at RB Leipzig, is only 18 and has not yet played in the Premier League. However, hopes are high that he can become the next young Arsenal talent to make the breakthrough.

Joe Willock has also been making good strides under Fredrik Ljungberg at under-23 level and could come into contention next season.

ATTACKERS

The big conundrum will be Mesut Ozil. The German playmaker is on around £350,000 per week and therefore taking up a huge chunk of the wage budget on his own.

And those wages will inhibit his ability to find another club. It is clear now that Emery is not getting what he wants from Ozil, otherwise he wouldn’t be such a marginal figure in what is a pretty ordinary Arsenal set-up.

Arsenal fans were delighted when he signed a new deal but his usefulness to the club is questionable right now so long as they persist with this coach.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been another expensive mistake. He cost nothing but is on massive money and moving him on won’t be easy. He has been dealing with injury but has not yet carved out a key role in the Arsenal line-up. Whatever the case may be, he will never be an integral player.

Alex Iwobi has made progress under Emery and will be around for a long to come but Welbeck – following yet another bad injury – will be out of contract in the summer.

STRIKERS

This is one area where Arsenal are pretty secure. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the club’s few world-class players and remains in peak condition. He has forged a good working relationship with Alexandre Lacazette, with the Frenchman finding goals and consistency after a slow start.

Reiss Nelson has been in great form on loan at Hoffenheim and his development should be welcomed when he returns from the Bundesliga at the end of the season.

Eddie Nketiah is seen as a promising player within the club and will provide back-up to the main players. Takuma Asano will come back from Hannover 96 but is unlikely to make the grade.