Arsenal’s summer rebuilding is already underway. Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka has committed to join the club, and will presumably be used to fill the gap in the squad created by the impending departures of Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini. But who else might Arsenal let go? And who could replace them?
SELL: ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN
It might well be time for Arsenal to cut their losses with the Southampton academy graduate.
Last season ought to have been a big one for Oxlade-Chamberlain. He scored the winning goal in the Community Shield victory over Chelsea, and was named in the XI for the opening Premier League fixture against West Ham. However, a defensive mistake on that day was a bad omen for the campaign that was to come.
Over the course of the next few months, Oxlade-Chamberlain lost his way. Injuries have played their part, but he’s also failed to develop the end-product required of an elite attacking player. Last season, he scored just one league goal and failed to muster a single assist.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is doubtless a gifted player, but it feels as if he may have to move on to get the regular football he needs to fulfil his potential.
REPLACE WITH: RIYAD MAHREZ
Arsenal would surely not be the only club with an interest in Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez. The PFA Player of the Year’s performances propelled his club to an unlikely Premier League title. It’s mouth-watering to think what he might be able to do alongside the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
Mahrez could take up the role Oxlade-Chamberlain usually plays on the right-hand side of Arsenal’s midfield. In some respects, he’s a more natural fit. While Oxlade-Chamberlain plays like a conventional winger, Mahrez prefers to come inside onto his preferred left foot. That would open up space for the speedy Hector Bellerin on the overlap.
The Algerian wouldn’t come cheap, especially after his eye-catching exploits last season. However, he would immediately improve Arsenal’s attacking potential.
SELL: THEO WALCOTT
After 10 years at the Emirates Stadium, things have gone a little stale for Arsenal and Theo Walcott.
Last summer, he was handed a new contract worth £140,000 a week and the opportunity to stake a claim for the centre-forward spot. After a bright start, his performances dramatically declined.
It seems that Arsene Wenger’s patience finally ran out after the 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford in March. Walcott did not start a single Premier League game after that match, and rumours have subsequently linked him with a move to London rivals West Ham.
The Gunners could be tempted to cash-in. Walcott turns 28 next season, and his primary attribute—his speed—could soon be on the wane.
REPLACE WITH: ANTOINE GRIEZMANN
Whether Walcott stays or goes, Arsenal need a new striker. Olivier Giroud’s recent goal drought has underlined the problems Arsenal have in the goalscoring department.
If Arsenal are prepared to break the bank, there is another Frenchman who could fit the bill. Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann scored 32 goals in all competitions. After his side lost the Champions League Final to neighbours Real, manager Diego Simeone hinted that this could be the natural end of his Atletico tenure.
If Simeone goes, that could spark the break-up of the whole side. Griezmann would probably be the most valuable asset, and his speed and finishing ability would make him highly desired in the Premier League.
SELL: KIERAN GIBBS
After making just three Premier League starts this season, Kieran Gibbs will surely be looking to move in order to kick-start his career.
It’s sad to see an academy product deemed surplus to requirements, but Gibbs has simply not progressed as hoped. This season, he has found it impossible to get ahead of the consistent Nacho Monreal in the battle for the left-back spot.
Like Theo Walcott, Gibbs’ poor season has cost him a place in the Roy Hodgson’s squad for this summer’s European Championships. If he is serious about reigniting his international ambitions, he’ll surely have to move to another Premier League club.
REPLACE WITH: RICARDO RODRIGUEZ
Having already signed one Swiss international this summer, Arsenal could add another in the shape of Wolfsburg full-back Ricardo Rodriguez.
Although ostensibly a defender, Rodriguez also offers a significant threat going forward. Last season, the scored three goals and created a further four for the Bundesliga outfit.
Rodriguez would offer real competition for Nacho Monreal, and at 23 would be the long-term heir to the left-back position. His quality would also enable Arsene Wenger to rotate more frequently next season, which will be useful when it comes to preventing fatigue and injuries.