Zaha in, Mustafi out? Arsenal’s transfer plans this summer

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There will be plenty of comings and goings during the off-season as Unai Emery attempts to build a squad capable of challenging for the top four

It’s going to be a busy summer at Arsenal as Unai Emery continues to try to construct a squad capable of closing the gap to Premier League champions Manchester City.

We saw five new faces arrive during the manager's first summer transfer window and we could see something similar this time around.

How much money the Spaniard has to spend has yet to be decided, with the outcome of the upcoming Europa League final against Chelsea key in terms of the finances.

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Win, and Arsenal could have a budget somewhere in the region of £75 million to £100m, but defeat in Baku will see that budget set at £40m-£45m, although those figures could be bolstered by player sales – of which there are expected to be several.

Here,  Goal  takes a look at Arsenal’s transfer plans ahead of what looks set to be an exciting summer at the Emirates...


DEFENCE


William Saliba Saint-Etienne 2018/19

There could be wholesale changes to the Arsenal backline as Emery looks to tighten up a defence that conceded 51 league goals during his first season in charge.

The Spaniard is open to cashing in on Shkodran Mustafi after another error-strewn campaign from the German centre-back.

Mustafi has two years left on his contract and Arsenal see this summer as the perfect time to cut their losses on a player who never got close to justifying his £35m price tag.

The Gunners are well aware that they will not get their money back on the World Cup winner, but an offer around the £20m mark should be enough to persuade them to do business.

There is some interest in Mustafi from Italy, but it’s unlikely that anyone from Serie A would match the defender’s wages, so it could still prove difficult for Arsenal to get him out of the door.

But moving Mustafi on is seen as essential as Emery is keen to add another centre-back to his ranks, with the Gunners keen on Saint-Etienne’s William Saliba .

Arsenal have watched the 18-year-old extensively during the season and were in the stands on Saturday night once again to see him play the full 90 minutes during a 3-0 win against Nice.

Saliba fits the profile of the type of player Emery is looking to recruit this summer as the north London club work on revamping a squad that is viewed as unbalanced and ageing.

Saint-Etienne know of Arsenal’s interest and although they are reluctant to let Saliba go, they understand it will be tough to keep him if an offer of around £20-£25m arrived.

Another central defender who could be allowed to leave Arsenal this summer to make way for Saliba is Calum Chambers . Although the Gunners are not actively looking to sell the former Southampton man, that stance could change if an acceptable offer is forthcoming.

Chambers spent last season on loan with Fulham and has fallen behind Rob Holding in the pecking order at the Emirates.

Holding was arguably Arsenal’s best defender last season before he suffered a cruciate ligament injury which ruled him out for the campaign and the 23-year-old hopes to be fit for the start of the 2019-20 season.

In terms of the full-back positions, Arsenal do not expect to bring in a right-back, even with Carl Jenkinson and Stephan Lichtsteiner set to leave. Hector Bellerin is progressing well having also suffered a season-ending cruciate ligament injury and the Gunners are happy with the cover that has been provided by Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

But a new left-back is seen as a priority, with the Gunners holding a long-term interest in Kieran Tierney at Celtic, although he could prove too costly.

Should a new left-sided defender be found, that could open the door for Nacho Monreal to return to Spain.

With Petr Cech retiring, a new No.2 keeper needs to be found. Emiliano Martinez spent the second half of last season on loan at Reading and was very impressive.

Emery hopes to convince Martinez to stick around next season, but the Argentine will only do that if he is guaranteed game time.

Ins : William Saliba.

Outs : Shkodran Mustafi, Stephan Lichsteiner, Carl Jenkinson, Petr Cech.


MIDFIELD


Adrien Rabiot PSG Paris Saint-Germain 2018-19

Finding a replacement for Aaron Ramsey is one of the key items on Arsenal’s agenda this summer.

Ramsey will join Juventus at the end of his Gunners contract on June 30 and Emery knows he needs to bring in a similar type of player who can provide energy in midfield and also a goal threat.

Christopher Nkunku is a player Emery knows well from his time at Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal did attempt to bring him to north London in January.

That bid failed, however, with the Gunners unable to offer PSG money for a permanent deal, but they could rekindle their interest this summer and the French champions are keen to do business.

Another PSG player Arsenal are looking at is Adrien Rabiot .

Although he would not be a like-for-like replacement for Ramsey, the 24-year-old is an attractive proposition given he is out of contract – especially with finances relatively tight at the Emirates.

In terms of outgoings, Mohamed Elneny is heading for the exit door, with Arsenal hoping to receive at least £10m for the Egypt international, who saw little game time last season.

Emery is open to allowing both Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to leave, but understands how difficult that will be given their high salaries.

Ozil has already publicly stated he wants to remain until the end of his contract in 2021 and finding a buyer for Mkhitaryan – who currently pockets £180,000 a week – will be just as difficult.

Ins : Christopher Nkunku, Adrien Rabiot.

Outs : Aaron Ramsey, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mohamed Elneny.


ATTACK


Wilfried Zaha Crystal Palace 2018-19

Arsenal are already working hard trying to supplement their attack with a goal-scoring winger.

The Gunners relied heavily on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette last season, with the two strikers accounting for almost half (35) of Arsenal’s 73 Premier League goals.

The third highest scorer was Mkhitaryan, with six, so that is an issue Emery knows he must address, especially with Danny Welbeck being let go.

Nicolas Pepe has been a long-term target for Arsenal and talks with Lille have dragged on for well over a year.

But given the Ivorian's exploits this season, with the winger scoring 22 goals, his price tag now looks out of Arsenal’s reach – even if they qualify for the Champions League.

The same goes for Wilfried Zaha , who has many admirers at the Emirates. Emery is a big fan of the Crystal Palace winger and would be keen on luring him across the capital, but Palace want around £75m for their star man.

Arsenal will look to try and get a deal done, but may have to look elsewhere, potentially at someone like Ismaila Sarr at Rennes – another player the club have been watching for some time – or Ryan Fraser at Bournemouth.

Leandro Trossard , who scored 22 goals for Genk last season in Belgium, has also been watched and could be available for around £20m.

One player who definitely will be arriving is teenage Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli . A £6m deal has already been agreed with Ituano FC for the young forward, who is expected to join once he turns 18 in June.

Ins : Gabriel Martinelli, Wilfried Zaha.

Outs : Danny Welbeck.

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