In the wake of their woeful League Cup exit to League Two side Bradford City on Tuesday evening, Arsene Wenger is facing the most important transfer window of his career in January. Who should be brought in to salvage the season for the Gunners?
He’s built a reputation on his frugality since his arrival in North London in 1996 – he’s a bargain hunter and, as such, Wenger is unlikely to spend his budget on one expensive addition. The squad has several areas that need improvement. Here’s a run down of the best players he could buy with the money available to him…
Fernando Llorente is entering the last six months of his contract with Athletic Bilbao and has confirmed to the club that he will not be signing a renewal. Subsequently, he’s been benched for the much of this season.
His 115 senior goals for the club make him a valuable asset to any side and the club will be reluctant to let him leave on a free transfer in June. His market value is estimated at £26 million but he could go for just over the half the price. He’d be a quality addition to the Gunners’ attack and would help fill the void left by Robin van Persie.
Likewise, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s contract at Schalke expires in June and he’ll be another mover this January, by all accounts – whilst rumours have been played down by both the player and his club, I would be highly surprised if Wenger didn’t make a bid for the Dutchman. With 48 goals in 48 appearances last season, he’d be an absolute bargain at around £10 million.
His teammate at Schalke, Lewis Holtby is hailed as one of the most gifted youngsters of his generation. The 22-year-old playmaker’s contract also expires in June and, whilst he’s being linked with a number of clubs, including Arsenal – he could be lured to the Emirates on the basis of Champion’s League football. For around £10 million, the Gunners could have the German equivalent of Jack Wilshere.
Barcelona’s Cristian Tello is unsure of his future at Barcelona. Despite breaking into the first team this season, his preferred positions as an attacking midfielder or winger are currently occupied by the likes of Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas, David Villa, Alexis Sanchez, and Pedro.
He’s yet to renew his contract, which conveniently expires in the summer. He’d cost somewhere in the region of £6 million which for a highly rated 21-year-old Spanish international, doesn’t sound like a bad idea. He could also replace Theo Walcott who seems to already have one foot out the door at the Emirates.
Whilst Arsenal have been using Mikel Arteta in the role vacated by Alex Song – the most defensive of their midfield trio – they’ll likely need some quality cover in that area.
Although Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye has been linked with the Gunners, a shrewder alternative could be Zdravko Kuzmanovic whose contract is up at Stuttgart in the summer.
He’s not only a solid and formidable holding midfielder – along with his physical presence, he possesses exceptional technical quality and has a cracking right foot on him when he shoots from distance. He can strike a mean free kick too and for around £5 million he’d be an absolute steal.
Another dead-ball specialist that’ll be out of contract in June is Keisuke Honda. The Japanese playmaker is a seasoned professional – now 26 he’s at the peak of his powers and can cause some real damage in and around the area.
He’s quick, nimble, and intelligent and, for around £12 million Wenger could have himself a great option to bring off the bench. He’s a real game-changer – something Arsenal desperately lack in the current squad.