With half the season gone, and Man City coasting to a title, the January window becomes all the more important to bolster teams chances of making the champions league and trying to compete next year. Arsenal have been nowhere near their best this season with a few good performances sprinkled in with general mediocrity. This January window will be very important if the Gunners are to have any chance of better competing for a spot in the top 4 and trying to pose a title challenge in coming years.
Lets take a look at some likely departures and potential new signings or youngsters to fill in these positions:
- Alexis Sanchez- Lets cut right to the chase with this one. Ever since Arsenal was knocked out of the Champions League, the Chilean superstar has been disgruntled by the manner of Arsenal’s defeat to Bayern, and thus sought a transfer away from the club this summer, only to watch Arsenal hold their ground. This January window will be the last opportunity for Arsenal to sell a player who will certainly be leaving at the end of the season. The question is really a matter of where Alexis will land. At the start of the season Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain were the front runners and those two are still the most likely destinations.
However, Pep mentioned not wanting to disrupt the team chemistry and harmony his current side have had, really leaving just Paris Saint Germain as the main landing spot for Alexis in January. This would be ideal for Arsenal as they would likely receive a large transfer sum and move Alexis away from the Premier League rather than strengthening a rival. However, Paris Saint Germain already have a wealth of attacking talent, with the likes of big money summer signings of Neymar and Mbappe, alongside other players including Cavani, Draxler, Di Maria, and Lucas, so Alexis will certainly not be guaranteed as much playing time, freedom, or stardom as he’s afforded in London.
- Theo Walcott– Arsenal’s longest serving player, having been signed from Southampton in 2006, seems to be on his way out this January. He has really never pushed on to the heights that were expected of him as a youngster when signed, despite having several good seasons with the Gunners and starting for England. Following injuries and the influx of new faces, whether it be signings (Alexis, Lacazette, Welbeck) or new youngsters (Iwobi, Nelson) his spot in the premier league starting XI has been lost with no hope in sight of him earning it back. Furthermore, with wages of more than a 100,000 pounds, he is one of the highest earners at the club, and this money would definitely be better used elsewhere. He has yet to start a game in the premier league this season, and has only started in cup and Europa League matches. His pace still remains, but his dribbling, finishing, and other aspects of his game remain unpolished. He is likely to return to his childhood club Southampton, with West Ham and Everton also keen on the winger’s services.
- Mathieu Debuchy– The former French international started off well with the Gunners before suffering a shoulder injury versus Stoke City and then saw his spot taken by the young Spaniard, Hector Bellerin, who has made the position his own. Although he has looked solid in his limited outings in cup competitions this year, he will likely be seeking more playing time, and a return to France seems most likely.
On the Fence
- Mesut Ozil–
The German playmaker and superstar is the most obvious one here. The general consensus is that Arsenal will not let both their superstars leave in the January window, and Ozil staying is much more likely than Sanchez. He is well settled in London and offered more freedom at Arsenal than at most other clubs where the use of a classic number 10 has disappeared, so he definitely has more incentive. That along with what is likely to be a massive wage increase will hopefully be enough to convince him to stay. His performances have improved in recent months with him scoring more goals and contributing to the defensive side whilst maintaining his renowned passing ability and chance creation. Rumors of Barcelona and Manchester United have circulated, but neither seem to have much substance.
- Olivier Giroud– The much criticized, but undeservingly so, French forward fielded a number of offers in the summer only to turn them down and continue to fight for a place at Arsenal despite the new signing of fellow countryman Alexander Lacazette. Giroud has been very good at Arsenal, scoring over a 100 goals for the club and offering a physical and aerial option that Arsenal did not have before his arrival.
His hold up play and ability to play quick one-twos with Arsenal’s attacking contingent have led to the creation of some of the most beautiful goals in premier league history (Norwich City anyone?). He’s also surprisingly acrobatic, with some top notch finishes highlighted by that scorpion goal against Crystal Palace. He has been very good for Arsenal coming off the bench and has started sporadically, but he may want to play even more than what he has been afforded this year. Arsenal and Wenger will certainly be reluctant to let him go, and many of the fans have come to love Frenchman over the years. Everton were keen to sign him in the summer and remain interested along with a number of other middling Premier League Clubs, but he is likely to stay this January transfer window.
- Riyad Mahrez–
The Algerian playmaker has been previously linked with a move to the Emirates, but with the likely departures of Alexis and Walcott, his ability will be needed more than ever. Mahrez has returned to form in recent weeks, and has already well established himself as one of the top wingers in the Premier League. With a better team around him, he should have the chance to push on at Arsenal. He will likely require a massive transfer fee and Leicester may be unwilling to let their prized asset go this window, but Arsenal will certainly make a strong attempt.
- Jonny Evans– There were rumors of Manchester City and Arsenal being in for Johnny Evans over the summer, but nothing materialized, however with Arsenal’s backline injured, a veteran presence like Evans could be a big boost. With Mertesacker in his final season and with Mustafi’s injury concerns, Evans could slot into a back 3 or 4 alongside Koscielny. However, given the exorbitant amount Liverpool paid for Virgil Van Dijk the asking price for Evans likely surged as well, so it will be a matter of whether thinks Evans is worth the price, or if giving Chambers and Holding more playing time is the better option.
- Reiss Nelson– If Arsenal choose to stay in house to replace the likely loss of Sanchez and Walcott, Nelson would be the front-runner. This Arsenal youngster made a name for himself with some fine cup and Europa League performances, and will likely see the biggest boost in playing time. He’s another pacy, skilled talent who is versatile and can play as a winger or wingback depending on Arsenal’s formation.