Arsenal: The first six fixtures of the 2021/22 Premier League season
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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta faces a mammoth task of reshaping his squad this summer after a disappointing domestic campaign and missing out on his top targets will only add to the misery. The Gunners finished eighth for a second consecutive season after bouncing back from their worst-ever start to a Premier League season.
The Spaniard is experiencing some difficulty in capturing a no.10 for next season after it emerged that Martin Odegaard is unlikely to spend a second campaign on loan in north London.
Arteta has publicly confirmed his interest in keeping the 22-year-old but the Norwegian is set to remain with Real Madrid, as new coach Carlo Ancelotti wants to take a look at his squad in pre-season.
Arsenal had also been in talks with Norwich attacking midfielder Emiliano Buendia but the Argentine opted to join Aston Villa in a club-record £38m deal earlier in June.
It means Arteta must go back to the drawing board to devise another list of targets to fill the void left by Odegaard, with Dani Ceballos also heading back to Madrid.
Express Sport looks at four playmakers who could replace him at the Emirates Stadium…
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The one that got away. Three years ago, Arsenal and Liverpool were in the race to sign the France international from Lyon after some magical displays in Ligue 1.
But concerns over his knee problems meant the Premier League duo withdrew from the running, allowing Real Betis pull off a coup with a £26m deal.
Fekir was expected to use the move as a stepping stone at first but he has settled into life in Seville.
While his form hasn’t set LaLiga alight with 12 goals in 65 appearances, he remains a key part of Manuel Pellegrini’s side as they finish sixth in LaLiga.
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The chance to move to a bigger side could be tempting for Fekir, who turns 28 in July, and Arsenal have seen an opening bid rejected for the playmaker, according to AS.
Betis’ sporting director Antonio Cordon has admitted the club will listen to offers but will not allow Fekir to leave on the cheap.
“At no club in the world is there a non-transferable player if tempting offers arrive,” he said.
“For us, we want keep him, so if someone wants to come for him, they will have to pay a lot of money.”
Arsenal passed up the chance to sign Aouar in the summer of 2020 after Lyon refused to budge from their £53m asking price.
But with the Ligue 1 outfit’s failure to qualify for the Champions League, it has been widely reported the club are willing to sell amid financial problems — and that could play into sporting director Edu’s hands.
L’Equipe have reported Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has reduced his demands for Aouar and a deal could be struck for between £22m and £25m in the transfer window.
The 22-year-old was a surprising absentee from France’s Euro 2020 squad this summer after scoring seven goals and registering three assists in 30 league appearances.
That would allow Arsenal to tie up a deal with few complications, although they could face competition from Juventus in pursuing a deal for the midfielder.
The 27-year-old is out of contract after failing to agree a new deal with AC Milan, with his reported demands for a £100,000-a-week contract yet to be matched by the Rossoneri.
Sky Italy claim Arsenal and Chelsea have been monitoring the situation and will no doubt observe Calhanoglu’s performances for Turkey at Euro 2020 ahead of potentially making a contract offer.
The player recently refused to discuss speculation regarding his future, only revealing he was still in contact with the Italian club and that staying at the San Siro is not out of the question.
“I spoke to Paolo Maldini [Milan’s technical director] three days ago, he called me and we spoke about AC Milan,” he said before Turkey’s 3-0 defeat to Italy.
“I wish to focus on Turkey. I have great respect for Ricky Massara [Milan’s director of football] and Maldini and if something does come to pass, then I will talk to them.”
But for Arteta, the opportunity to sign a player of Calhanoglu’s quality — without dipping into their limited transfer budget — could propel him to the top of their list of targets.
Still only 20 years of age, Kokcu has been heavily linked with Arsenal over the past 18 months.
While it would be lazy to make comparisons with Mesut Ozil due to their shared Turkish heritage, the midfielder has gained admirers all around Europe for his creative displays for Feyenoord.
He operates more as a central midfielder but has a tendency to get forward into the final third and that is reflected with his return of three goals and two assists in 25 appearances this season.
Kokcu signed a new five-year deal only last summer but the Eredivisie club have been hit by financial problems due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning he could be available for just £10m, according to The Sun.
Speaking about his future, Kokcu said, via Sport Witness: ”I have a contract until 2025 but the situation has changed.
“The club has been very clear about the financial situation and it is clear that it is not good.
“So if a club comes with a good proposal for me and the entity can enter a good amount, I imagine that it will be listened to.”
Available for such a low fee and a talent for the future, Arsenal may be tempted to revive their interest this summer.
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