Arsenal are unlikely to make significant additions to their squad in the January transfer window, but discussions are already taking place with a view to strengthening Mikel Arteta’s hand in the summer market.
A tumultuous summer behind the scenes ultimately culminated in Arsenal spending £45million on Thomas Partey on deadline day with the former Atletico Madrid star joining Brazilians Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes as the third of three high-profile additions.
The new recruits have all endured mixed starts to their Arsenal careers with only former Lille defender Gabriel impressing on a consistent basis. Willian, meanwhile, has failed to make the immediate impact that was expected of him and Partey’s acclimatisation is likely to be stifled by the ankle injury which forced him off at half-time during Sunday’s calamitous 3-0 home defeat against Aston Villa.
That setback represented the low point of Arteta’s reign thus far, with the Gunners now heading into the international break stuck in mid-table having lost four of their eight Premier League games to date and in the midst of an alarming goal drought.
Arteta had looked to address his side’s lack of midfield creativity by targeting Lyon’s Houssem Aouar in the summer, but Arsenal failed to agree a fee with their Ligue 1 counterparts and it appears to have been a costly miss.
According to David Ornstein, Arsenal are likely to maintain an interest in Aouar but a move in January is a remote possibility, while reports in Germany claim the Gunners could also miss out on their alternative target Dominik Szoboszlai.
Arsenal are said to have a more realistic chance of signing Aouar in the summer when the wages of big-earners Mesut Ozil, David Luiz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos will be off the books.
The Gunners will also look to target the signing of a right-sided centre-half should, as expected, Luiz depart. The former Chelsea star’s future was a matter of conjecture during the summer when he claimed he harboured a desire to finish his career at Benfica.
The France Under-21 international is still waiting to make his Arsenal first team debut following his £27million move from Saint-Etienne 18 months ago and is said to be growing increasingly frustrated over a lack of playing time following the collpase of a proposed loan move back to his homeland.
Saliba’s fellow Frenchman, Dayot Upamecano, has been a long-term target of Arsenal, but the Gunners are likely to face significant competition from Europe’s leading clubs for the RB Leipzig central defender.