The Gunners are in the market for two forwards, a goalkeeper, a central midfielder and possibly a new right-back and centre-back as they press ahead with rebuilding plans
By Wayne Veysey
Arsenal hope to tie up two new signings before the World Cup as the Gunners are press ahead with their transfer plans despite the uncertainty surrounding the future of Arsene Wenger.
The north Londoners have already identified the areas of the squad that need rebuilding as they prepare to make use of a transfer kitty of around €122 million.
Arsenal want to sign two new forwards (including a versatile player who can operate anywhere across the front three), a central midfielder and a goalkeeper. They are also in the market for a new right-back and a new centre-back depending upon whether Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen remain at the Emirates Stadium next season.
Goal has learned that the Gunners want to have deals in place for up to two players ahead of the World Cup, which starts on June 12.
Wenger is heavily involved in the forward planning even though he has yet to sign a two-year contract extension which he agreed with the club last season and is unlikely to do so until after the FA Cup final on May 17.
The Arsenal board are continuing to plan under the proviso that the Frenchman will be in command next season, with the club whittling down their priority transfer target list, finalising scouting reports and holding meetings with agents.
One of the forwards on their radar is Real Sociedad winger Antoine Griezmann, who has a burgeoning reputation in La Liga and could be prised from Spain for less than €30m this summer. Representatives of the Gunners have already been in contact with Griezmann’s camp.
Arsenal have not yet identified their principal centre-forward target but are continuing to monitor the situation of German sensation Julian Draxler, whom they tried to sign from Schalke in January.
In central midfield, the Gunners are looking closely at Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin and Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender as they prepare to bring more youth and energy to the anchorman position currently shared between Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini.
Wenger is also in the market for a new goalkeeper, with deputy Lukasz Fabianski out of contact in the summer and set to end his seven-year association with the club. Fabianski is tempted by offers from Bundesliga clubs Schalke and Borussia Dortmund.
Arsenal have also drawn up plans to reshape their defence in the event that they lose one or both of Sagna and Vermaelen this summer.
As revealed by Goal, Arsenal are waiting to hear from Sagna, who current deal expires in June, after making him an improved offer last week worth more than €98,000-a-week spread over two years with the option of a third year.
They are eyeing up Eintracht Frankfurt’s Sebastian Jung and Toulouse’s Serge Aurier as possible replacements for Sagna, having done some of the groundwork on a deal for Jung in January.
Meanwhile, club captain Vermaelen has only a year remaining on his contact and could push for a move after falling down the pecking order in the last 15 months before regular centre-back pair Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.
Arsenal are confident of holding on to Koscielny, who has been targeted by a number of marquee clubs in England and on the continent over the last 12 months, including Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Kosicelny, who shares the same agent as Aurier, is expected to sign a new contract with the Gunners.