Who should Arsenal sign?
Arsene Wenger has regularly fielded accusations of parsimony during his time in charge of Arsenal, but the Gunners boss has been a little more liberal with the purse strings in the last few years.
Given that the Frenchman’s team are currently outside the Champions League qualification spots, he may have to spend again in the January window. To help Wenger out, we’ve selected nine players he should target this month.
Arda Turan (Barcelona)
Both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are out of contract this summer and seemingly have no intention of extending their stays at the Emirates Stadium, which may lead to Arsenal reluctantly entertaining bids for their two best players this month.
Yet even if Ozil and Sanchez stick around until the summer, the Gunners will need to find successors – and doing it in January would boost their chances of securing Champions League football for 2018/19. Attacking midfielder Arda isn’t getting a game at Barcelona and wouldn’t cost a fortune, with the Turkey international’s energy, vision and dribbling skills likely to make him a good fit in this part of north London.
Issa Diop (Toulouse)
Commanding centre-back Diop plays with a maturity belying his tender years, presumably because the 20-year-old has featured regularly for Toulouse since making his debut in 2015. A powerful presence in the heart of the backline, the Frenchman would add some much-needed muscle to the Gunners’ defensive unit.
There’s more to Diop than just brute force, however: the youngster is composed in possession and tends to feed the ball into his midfielders rather than launch long diagonals – something which would appeal to Wenger.
Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford)
Doucoure started just 14 Premier League games in 2016/17, but the Watford man has looked like a different player this season. A midfield all-rounder who’s best suited to a box-to-box role, the 25-year-old excels at breaking up opposition moves and then setting his own side on the attack.
Recent reports suggest the Hornets intend to offer Doucoure a new deal in an attempt to keep him at Vicarage Road beyond the January transfer window, but Arsenal will feel they have a chance of landing the Frenchman if he doesn’t put pen to paper on fresh terms.
Nabil Fekir (Lyon)
Alexandre Lacazette is averaging a goal every 180 minutes in the Premier League so far this season, following his big-money switch from Lyon last summer. But if Arsenal want to get even more out of the French striker, they should consider a move for his former team-mate at the Groupama Stadium, attacking midfielder Fekir.
The 24-year-old is in the form of his life right now, having scored 13 goals and provided four assists in 16 Ligue 1 appearances as Bruno Genesio’s charges challenge for a place in the top four. Intelligent and inventive, the Frenchman would presumably relish the chance to resume his partnership with Lacazette at Arsenal.
Han Kwang-song (Perugia/Cagliari)
With Alexandre Lacazette having established himself as the Gunners’ go-to centre-forward, there’s no need for Wenger to acquire an experienced No.9 in this window. It would, however, make sense for the Frenchman to target a younger striker, somehow who could then be loaned out until he’s ready to make an impact in the Premier League.
North Korean frontman Han has impressed in Serie B with Perugia this term, scoring seven goals in 17 appearances. On loan from Cagliari, the 19-year-old is fast, mobile and a composed finisher, and looks to be one for the future.
Kostas Manolas (Roma)
Arsenal have already snapped up Konstantinos Mavropanos this window, but the 20-year-old is one for the future rather than the here and now.
Mavropanos’s compatriot Manolas would fit the bill perfectly. Quick across the ground and an excellent reader of the game, the Roma stopper is also dominant in the air and strong in the tackle. The Gunners may have to spend big to prise the 26-year-old away from the Italian capital – Manolas is contracted at the Stadio Olimpico until 2022 – but there’s little doubt he’d be worth it.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester)
Mahrez was keen to seal a move away from Leicester in the summer, and he’d no doubt welcome offers from the likes of Arsenal in January.
The Algeria international admirably knuckled down in the East Midlands despite being denied his transfer before the season began, and the former Le Havre man has managed to recapture his best form under Claude Puel in recent weeks.
A tricky and elusive dribbler, Mahrez would provide guile and goals from either the right flank or in a central role behind the striker. He’d also require very little bedding-in time at Arsenal, having now played in England for four years.
Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria)
Sampdoria have been the surprise package in Serie A this term and Torreira has been one of their standout performers. The all-action Uruguay international would add bite and aggression to the Arsenal engine room, with Francis Coquelin’s move to Valencia opening up space for another midfielder in the Gunners’ ranks.
He isn’t just a pure ball-winner, though. The 21-year-old is a precise, if unfussy, distributor, and he isn’t afraid to pull the trigger from distance: all three of his goals in 2017/18 have come from outside the penalty area.
Javier Pastore (PSG)
The additions of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe at PSG were always going to produce casualties, and Pastore is among those who has had to get used to the Parc des Princes bench this term.
With his contract up in 18 months’ time and PSG needing to balance the books in order to satisfy Financial Fair Play requirements, Pastore could be made available for transfer in the coming weeks. The Argentina international is able to play in central midfield, as a No.10 or on the left flank, and his creativity would be welcome at the Emirates.
Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).