Just one week is what remains left of another incredible and electrifying season full of unbelievable goals, implausible saves and some absolutely scandalous activities on the pitch. (Most notably, Luis Suarez biting a chunk out of Branislav Ivanovic’s arm several weeks ago)
Although this season may not have been the most competitive one with respect to Manchester United securing their 20th Premier League title and three clubs already feeling the full effect of a disappointing and underachieving season in the notoriously-feared relegation zone, we’ve still been treated to some wonderful highs and regrettable lows, including the fast-improving and mythical talents of Gareth Bale at the top end, and the sad retirement of a veteran and legend of the game at the bottom: Sir Alex Ferguson.
However, this also sees a time where transfer talk begins to hot up, a roaring fire further fuelled by fans’ desperate wishes and the media’s clueless reports published for both attention, and money. On the other hand, one of the shy culprits rarely linked with big money moves each Summer may have broken the financial barrier manager Arsene Wenger has so insistently tried to maintain in past years with signings of relative unknowns which have infuriated both the fans and players at the club.
Nevertheless, this year has seen Arsenal’s owners claim Wenger has a £70million warchest at his disposal, a happy prospect Arsenal fans will surely be licking their lips at. With the usual suspects such as Stefan Jovetic of Fiorentina and Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain linked with a summer move to the Emirates this year, I have taken a look at unlikely transfer targets Arsenal should try to pursue in order to build a team capable of contending for trophies again.
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – £13million
Saint-Etienne hitman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has sensationally lit up the French league this year – scoring a respectable 21 goals and nabbing 16 assists in 41 games this season, playing second fiddle to only Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the race for the Ligue 1 golden boot. A young player blessed with plenty of pace and skill with a calm and collected composure whenever in front of goal, Aubameyang’s transfer value has rocketed dramatically over the past few seasons. With the Gabon centre-forward enjoying the best form of his career so far, he has attracted many famous suitors from abroad, including the likes of Manchester City and Paris St. Germain. With a big decision still left to be made and seemingly being swept underneath the carpet until the culmination of the season, now would be the perfect time for Arsenal to swoop for the 23 year-old starlet. As Olivier Giroud has failed to step up to the mark miserably and establish himself as an Arsenal regular in the striking role, and with little squad depth in the position, Arsene Wenger could find himself digging deep into his pockets to secure the Les Verts forward who is also capable of playing as a right winger – a possibility which is surely a much better alternative to playing the inconsistent Aaron Ramsey. For as little as just £13million, Arsene Wenger could unearth a little gem in Aubameyang during the Summer transfer window – a signing almost every Arsenal fan would happily welcome to the Emirates.
How likely is the transfer? 55% – Aubameyang hasn’t given any hints as to which team he will be playing for next season and he has gained an increasing interest from big clubs in his talents, so the possibilities of his next destination are endless but he has publicly stated he would prefer a move away from Ligue 1.
2. Holger Badstuber – £22million
Perhaps the transfer that has the least chance of materalising yet one that would unquestionably pose a big impact on the inconsistent Arsenal defence, German centre-back Holger Badstuber would be an intelligent and beneficial addition to the Gunners’ back four. A towering player comfortable with soaring aerial duels and immaculate passing for somebody of his position; his unbreakable concentration and ability to maintain his discipline and composure on the pitch when defending have made his 12 performances in a Bayern shirt this campaign hard to fault. However, having missed most of the season due a string of frustrating injuries which stemmed from late October, the young defender still isn’t scheduled for a return to training until the close of the final month of the season. Furthermore, Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes replaced Badstuber with his fellow international representative Jerome Boateng, who has found unprecedented success in his new role at the heart of the defence. Now football pundits and fans alike are intensely speculating over whether the 24 year old will ever regain the stunning form and commanding presence on the field everyone knows he is capable of, in light of unfortunate injuries in recent years seeing future stars such as Aaron Ramsey or Anderson struggle to find that bit of special quality that allowed them to explode onto the footballing scene before their undeserved spells on the sidelines. A move to Arsenal could just be what Badstuber needs to silence the critics and doubters, with his place in Die Roten’s starting line-up in more danger than ever before. In fact, with the 2014 World Cup looming on the distant horizon, Badstuber needs regular playing time to cement the position he rightfully claimed 2 years ago in Joachim Low’s first team, vital playing time that may not be offered to him with the gauntlet of defensive powerhouses at Bayern’s disposal greater than ever.
How likely is the transfer? 15% – Badstuber had just started to find his feet with his name being one of the first on the teamsheet every week – and although he missed most of the season due to injury, its more than likely he will look to stay in his native country to fight for his place in Bayern’s back line.
1. Mario Gomez – £35million
Bayern Munich hitman Mario Gomez has been a prolific and established striker for several years now since his dream move to Bayern Munich from Stuttgart was completed four years ago. Despite not being the fastest or most technically gifted striker to grace some of Europe’s biggest stadiums, there may quite not be another forward on the planet who makes scoring goals look as easy as he does. Simply put, Mario Gomez is a goal-machine (netting an amazing 111 goals in 171 appearances for Bayern) with deadly finishing accuracy and a devastating proficiency when in front of goal – whether the ball is lofted high into the box or is delicately slid in front of his feet from one of his star teammates, expect Mario Gomez to find the back of the net 9 times out of 10 when given a clear-cut chance. However, this season has seen former Wolfsburg striker Mario Mandzukic break into the Bayern starting line-up in dramatic fashion, shaking the dynamics of the Bundesliga with his 15 goals helping Die Bavarians secure their 22nd title, following a string of injuries suffered by Gomez at the start of the season.
As Gomez was forced to have eye surgery before having to go under the knife yet again for a troubled ankle halfway through the season, he slowly watched his chances of regaining his first team place again decrease rapidly with every spectacular performance put in by the Croatian hitman. With rumours of another Dortmund raid this Summer in the form of Robert Lewandowski and Gomez struggling to nail down a regular place in the Bayern line-up coupled with Arsenal’s agonizing striking woes, the German striker may be forced to look elsewhere in order to keep his 2014 World Cup bid alive – and he is certainly far too good to waste away the indisputable talent he clearly has on the sidelines.
How likely is the transfer? 35% – Even though Gomez has spent most of this season on the bench and whispers of a Lewandowski or Suarez transfer are growing louder, it will probably be another season before he decides to move elsewhere – especially as he is one of the best strikers in the world when being at full fitness and on top form.