A summer of change is in the offing for Arsenal and manager Mikel Arteta.
After bowing out of the UEFA Europa League at the semi-final stage last week, being held to a goalless draw in the second-leg by Villarreal, Arsenal have very little to play for between now and the end of the campaign, with their prospects of qualifying for next season’s Europa League hanging by a thread.
Their Premier League campaign has been disappointing to say the very least, with performances and results not having been up to standard expected for a club of Arsenal’s size and stature.
With that said, changes are needed this summer, and big ones at that.
Manager Arteta has already confirmed that this summer will be crucial in taking Arsenal forward, with football.london understanding that the club wants to bolster at least four new positions, including left-back and central attacking-midfield.
As well as that, though, Arsenal could be set to prioritise landing a new central-defender.
David Luiz is out-of-contract at the end of this season at the Emirates Stadium and it still remains unclear whether or not he will remain in north London.
Should he exit the club in the coming weeks, that would leave Arsenal with six senior centre-backs on their books, including both William Saliba and Konstantinos Mavropanos, who are both currently out on loan.
But whilst Mavropanos is unlikely to feature in Arteta’s plans next season, Saliba, who has spent the second half of this season on loan at French outfit Nice, could be handed an opportunity to impress.
Back in February, Arteta addressed what the future holds for Saliba after a disappointing beginning to his Gunners career, insisting that he would get the opportunity to prove his worth in the forthcoming pre-season campaign.
“He will come back for pre-season and he will be with us,” said the Spaniard. “Hopefully he will come back after playing a number of games and his performance raising and his development progressing in the right way. That’s why we made that decision.
“I know that sometimes it’s difficult to explain or understand after the money that the club has spent trying to bring him in, to send him on loan.
“But a lot of things have happened to him he’s a long-term player for us and we need to protect him as well. And giving him three or four games is not enough.
“For him he needs much more than that, because what happened in the last 18 months, he’s been through some personal problems as well that we have to try to help him and stay as close as possible to him.
“And now he needs to play, play and play and enjoy his profession as well. And in order to do that I think we found the right club with him.
“He’s very happy to got there now. Hopefully he can enjoy his football and be ready for us for next season.”
Considering that Saliba has no shortage of potential within his locker and Arsenal are in need of a change in tact, Saliba, who is young and hungry to succeed, could be just what the club needs.
However, should Saliba return to Arsenal, impress and stake a claim to become a first-team regular, he could, potentially, be joined by a new arrival in the heart of the Gunners’ defence.
That is because, according to a report by the Telegraph, Arsenal have joined north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the race to sign Lyon centre-back Joachim Andersen, who has spent this season on loan at Fulham.
In what has been a difficult campaign for the Cottagers, who were officially relegated back to the Championship on Monday evening following a 2-0 home defeat to Burnley, Andersen has been a shinning light, producing an array of impressive showings.
His performances most certainly have not gone unnoticed, with football.london understanding that Spurs having identified him as a target. Given that he will not be returning to Fulham, the race to sign him this summer is set to be competitive, with Spurs already keen.
Now, though, Arsenal have joined the race for the Danish international who is expected to leave Lyon this summer in a deal worth £20million.
This season, Andersen, who is 24-years-old, has racked up 29 appearances in the Premier League, scoring one goal, that coming in a 2-1 defeat to Leeds United back in March.
Source by Football London