Arsenal’s underwhelming season was compounded by a heavy home defeat by Liverpool at the weekend, and Mikel Arteta may already be tempted to draw a line under his first full season in charge.
Of course, the Gunners have a Europa League quarter-final with Slavia Prague to look forward to, but a turbulent campaign has highlighted a lack of quality in the Spaniard’s squad.
Arteta appears to be wasting little time planning his summer recruitment and reports from Italy claim he is already closing in on Inter Milan right-back Achraf Hakimi.
The Morocco international may arrive in north London as a replacement for Hector Bellerin, who remains heavily linked with an exit this summer.
A playmaker able to grab the game by the scruff of the neck is also on Arteta’s shopping list, and reports from Portugal claim Arsenal are weighing up a bid for a rising star dubbed ‘the next Bruno Fernandes’.
Former Arsenal stars have also handed Arteta and Sergio Aguero advice as the season enters its closing stages.
All of that in Thursday’s Arsenal transfer round-up.
Gunners eyeing ‘next Fernandes’
Arsenal have shortlisted Sporting Lisbon talisman Pedro Goncalves for a summer transfer, according to Portuguese publication A Bola .
Emirates chiefs have monitored the 22-year-old – who made one appearance for Wolves in 2018 – for some time due to his eye-catching form in the Primeira Liga.
Goncalves has grabbed 15 goals and four assists in 23 top-flight appearances this season and has been dubbed ‘the next Bruno Fernandes’ due to playing a similar attacking midfield role.
Mikel Arteta is believed to want to sign a new creative player at the end of the season and could target the Portugal youth international as an alternative to on-loan Real Madrid star Martin Odegaard.
But Sporting will demand a considerable fee for Goncalves, who is under contract until 2025 and protected by a €60million (£52m) release clause, while Manchester United and Liverpool are also reportedly monitoring the situation.
Which No.10 should Arsenal target this summer? Have your say in the comments.
Aguero handed more Emirates encouragement
The Argentine striker will leave City at the expiry of his contract this summer and Gunners legend Paul Merson insists the Emirates “ticks the right boxes” for his next move.
Clichy also believes Arsenal is a “good fit” for his former teammate, telling Stadium Astro : “I could see him staying in the Premier League, because he will want to climb to third or second [in the all-time top goalscorer charts].”
The Frenchman added: “Can he see himself at another English club? That’s the question. He loves the sun.
“I would like to see him stay [in England] to get to second or third in goals, but I think he will move away from the Premier League.
“I think Arsenal is a good fit, in terms of style of play. They play nice football and they create opportunities, but I really doubt he would go there. I’m pretty sure he will go to Spain.”
Arteta urged to enforce summer clear-out
Former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit has called on Mikel Arteta to show his ruthless side with a drastic summer clear-out.
The Gunners suffered a 3-0 defeat by Liverpool on Saturday and French World Cup-winner Petit believes some senior players are treating his former side as a “retreat football club”
Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at their launch of the 5-A-Side Bet, he added: “I don’t really expect them to win big games anymore.
“If you took away the name ‘Arsenal’ and looked at that group of players… average. At the end of the season, if I’m Arsenal, if I’m Arteta, if I’m on the board, to be honest with you, I think my main concern is getting half of the dressing room out. Honestly.”
Mirror Football has taken a look at six players who could face Arteta’s axe this summer.
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