Replacing Aubameyang, Lacazette's contract and how Arsenal's January transfer window could look

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal 2021-22Getty Images

After Arsenal's difficult start to the season, few would have expected to see the Gunners enter the New Year with their eyes firmly fixed on Champions League qualification.

However, Mikel Arteta's side are now reaping the benefits of a smart summer recruitment campaign and, after a fine run of form since September, they presently sit fourth in the Premier League standings.

Arsenal’s vibrant youngsters have exceeded all expectations so far and despite a few poor results – most notably the recent defeats at Manchester United and Everton – they are now starting to show they are a match for any team in the country, as underlined by their excellent showing against Manchester City on Saturday.

New signings Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Martin Odegaard have made a big impression, as have Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares when called upon.

So, could Arsenal look to strengthen further during the January transfer window in an attempt to boost their bid for Champions League football?

Below, GOAL takes a look at the deals that could be done at Emirates Stadium in the coming weeks...

Potential ins 

Given Arsenal’s significant outlay during the summer transfer window, it’s unlikely that the Gunners will spend big this month.

Arteta has already played down suggestions of the club doing any major business, but that does not mean they will not dip into the market should a good opportunity arise.

A new striker is top of the agenda, while the Gunners are also eyeing a central midfielder.

The likelihood is that the club will wait until the summer before pushing for one of their key targets, although they could fast-track a move for a forward should Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang end up leaving the club once the winter window opens.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Arsenal are longtime admirers of Lille forward Jonathan David but are also keeping close tabs on Everton forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Free-scoring Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic has been heavily linked, but sources at Arsenal continue to play down suggestions they are serious contenders for the 21-year-old.

With Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny due to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations in early-January and Ainsley Maitland-Niles attracting interest from home and abroad, Arteta could find himself light in central midfield.

Arsenal continue to be linked with Lyon’s Bruno Guimaraes, but while a move for a new midfielder cannot be ruled out, the Gunners do not want to rush into doing something hasty.

A short-term option could be appealing, such as the loan move which brought Odegaard to Arsenal from Real Madrid last January, but players of such quality are hard to find at this stage of the season.

A potential wild card could be Jack Wilshere, with the former England international having spent the past two months training with the first team in a bid to improve his fitness and find himself a club in January.

Rising star Charlie Patino, who scored against Sunderland on his first-team debut on December 21, could also be given more opportunities with Partey and Elneny away on international duty.

Potential outs 

The major talking point heading into the January window is Aubameyang's future.

The forward was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy by Arteta last month after his latest disciplinary breach and has been training away from the senior squad ever since.

Aubameyang, who will represent Gabon at the AFCON, has not been involved in a matchday squad since the defeat at Everton on December 6 and there are now significant doubts over his Gunners future.

It is understood the club will not stand in his way should he wish to move on in January, but finding a buyer could prove difficult – despite reported interest in his services from the likes of Barcelona and Juventus.

Arsenal will probably have to accept a loan bid with a view to a permanent transfer at the end of the season.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

It is set to be a similar story with Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The midfielder continues to struggle for minutes and Everton, who tried to sign him last summer, remained interested heading into the winter.

Roma, though, have won the race for the 24-year-old after a breakthrough in talks on Tuesday, with Maitland-Niles set to join fellow England international Tammy Abraham at Stadio Olimpico after a loan deal was agreed.

Another player Arsenal could sell is Eddie Nketiah.

Arteta wants to keep the young striker but he has turned down several contract offers and, with his current deal due to expire in the summer, Arsenal may reluctantly accept a bid in January rather than lose him for nothing in six months' time.

Crystal Palace are keen but there is also strong interest in the forward from Germany.

Loans 

Arsenal could allow Calum Chambers to leave on loan due to his lack of game time, while centre-back Pablo Mari – who has not featured since September – is also currently surplus to requirements.

Several Arsenal youngsters are also expected to be farmed out, with Folarin Balogun all-but-certain to join a new club until the end of the season.

The young striker has plenty of suitors and Arsenal are aware that he needs to be playing regular senior football to continue developing.

Folarin Balogun

Several Championship clubs are interested, but Middlesbrough are leading the race and a move to Teesside could be wrapped up relatively swiftly.

Under-23s midfielder Tim Akinola is another player Arsenal could look to send out on loan, while the likes of George Lewis, James Olayinka and Omar Rekik could also be allowed to leave on a temporary basis.

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Contracts to be sorted 

Alexandre Lacazette will be free to leave at the end of the season and is expected to bring his time in north London to a close.

Arteta has consistently said that a firm decision on the Frenchman's future will only be taken in the summer and has not ruled out the possibility of him staying put.

However, the likelihood is that Lacazette will move on and Arsenal will bring in a new striker ahead of the 2022-23 season.