On December 20, 2023, we celebrated four years of Mikel Arteta's Arsenal. During this time, the Spaniard has undertaken a comprehensive squad rebuild. However, the final pieces to his puzzle are not yet added and he may well be on the brink of completing it in the upcoming January transfer window.
Miguel Delaney, journalist for The Independent, has revealed that Arteta feels he needs only four other positions – centre-forward, another midfielder & two full-backs – to complete his squad. Many reports have emerged linking the likes of Dusan Vlahovic, Douglas Luiz, and Ivan Toney to the club.
However, there are obstacles such as FFP and, in the case of Douglas Luiz, a club's reluctance to sell. Whether Arteta can fulfil his desire to complete the squad in the upcoming transfer window remains uncertain.
When examining Arteta's past signings, it's evident that he is not after big names, but rather hidden gems. He prioritises profile and a players’ work ethic as a player's work rate is crucial to fulfilling their potential and delivering their best performance on the pitch.
The current profiles that the Spanish manager seeks is a traditional #9 striker—tall, physical, dominant in aerial and ground duels, and adept at poaching in the box. In midfield, Arteta wants someone akin to Declan Rice– versatile and physical. As for the full backs, versatility remains a key feature.
So who would be the ideal signing for the Gunners in these positions and why?
As mentioned before, Arteta is prioritising a traditional #9 to lead the line. The names being taken around a lot are Dusan Vlahovic and Ivan Toney. However, I reckon Dusan Vlahovic would be the ideal signing for the striker position.
Vlahovic fits the profile Arteta demands and is also a younger player than Ivan Toney. Although not in the best form at Juventus, Juventus' struggles as a team may contribute to this factor. At Arsenal, he will have an environment in which he can thrive and can showcase a better version of himself
To be able to complete this move, Arsenal will have to negate Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches by selling Eddie Nketiah.
In midfield, the likes of Amadou Onana, Florian Wirtz, Douglas Luiz and Joao Palhinha are reportedly the targets shortlisted by the Gunners. In terms of their profile, all of these players, except Wirtz, have a couple of things in common: a strong physical stature and versatility.
Wirtz is a more attacking-minded player and seems like more of a possible replacement if Emile Smith-Rowe leaves the club. Ideally, the north London side would sign Douglas Luiz from Aston Villa. However, Villa are reluctant to let go of the player and that is a massive obstacle.
Amadou Onana is the best alternative if Arsenal are unable to sign Luiz. Joao Palhinha is also an incredible player and has good experience, however, being 27-years-old he may not be the most future-proof solution. He is also linked with Bayern Munich and Liverpool along with the Gunners but there is nothing on where the player may end up.
And lastly, for the full-back positions, I personally do not believe there is a need for two additional players. Even one more full-back seems like a relatively unnecessary addition. Jakub Kiwior's recent performances and the presence of Jurrien Timber in the squad (currently injured) make an additional full-back appear relatively unnecessary.
Takehiro Tomiyasu has been performing well, however, his injury prone nature seems to be becoming a bit of an issue. Much like his previous signings, Arteta’s priority here will be a versatile profile in defence.
Ivan Fresneda has been previously linked with the Gunners, but there is nothing that suggests the move is possible in January. If Timber returns to the squad soon, the need for a full-back will be lessened.