Arsenal: First fixtures of 2021/22 Premier League season
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Arsenal director Edu is expected to be a busy man this summer as he looks to help Mikel Arteta reshape his squad ahead of the new season. The Gunners will be aiming to improve on their disappointing eighth-placed finish in the Premier League last time around but will need plenty of new arrivals in order to stand any chance of returning to the division’s upper reaches.
The north London club have already confirmed the signing of defender Nuno Tavares on a long-term deal from Benfica.
A new central midfielder will now be the order of the day, with Anderlecht’s Albert Sambi Lokonga believed to be closing in on a £15million switch to the Emirates Stadium.
However, Arsenal could opt to land two players in the position if they also decide to pursue a move for long-term target Houssem Aouar.
The Lyon playmaker has been heavily linked with the Gunners in recent weeks after it became clear that a deal to bring Martin Odegaard back to the club was out of the question.
Aouar was initially on Arsenal’s radar at the beginning of last year, with Arteta eyeing a move for the Frenchman just two months after replacing Unai Emery at the helm.
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Although his signing would represent a significant coup for the three-time Premier League champions, especially given the cut-price nature of any move for his services, he could be snubbed altogether in favour of Italy midfielder Manuel Locatelli.
The 23-year-old has been one of the standout performers at Euro 2020 this summer and has been linked with Arsenal and Juventus ahead of the new campaign.
The Gunners are seriously interested in Locatelli but will wait until the Serie A giants are out of the equation before launching an approach, according to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano.
It is claimed that Arsenal see the Sassuolo man as the ‘perfect’ solution to their midfield woes, but he would prefer a move to Juventus in order to play Champions League football in his country of origin.
If Arteta sanctions a move for Locatelli over the coming weeks, it could see new Tottenham director of football Fabio Paratici given a free run at Aouar.
Spurs have also been credited with an interest in the Lyon star, who made 33 appearances in all competitions last season.
Arsenal’s bitter rivals are keen on recruiting a playmaker and it seems as though the Gunners would likely forgo a move for his signature if they are successful in landing Lokonga and Locatelli.
Aouar made a name for himself as an attacking midfielder but is more regularly deployed in a box-to-box role at Lyon.
With Mikel Arteta keen on adding reinforcements all over the pitch this summer, it would be counter-intuitive for him to splash a significant portion of his side’s transfer kitty on not one or two, but three players in the same role.
Arsenal are also believed to be in for a centre-back and a goalkeeper this summer, with the club needing as much financial help as they can get in order to fulfil their ambitions of a large-scale summer overhaul.
Brighton and Hove Albion’s Ben White is understood to be their main defensive target but the Seagulls have already rejected two bids for the 23-year-old.
Whether Lokonga, Locatelli or Aouar will feature as part of Arsenal’s midfield trio next season remains to be seen, but the club will need to make the right decisions over the coming weeks in order to build on their early progress under Arteta’s guidance once the new campaign gets underway.
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