Photo Credits: Ben Sutherland
Arsene Wenger has already been busy letting players leave Arsenal in the January transfer window, but who is going to arrive at the Emirates Stadium?
In truth, Wenger probably doesn’t need much to justify Arsenal’s odds-on price in the Premier League betting to finish in the top four. But, at least one signing is expected before the end of the month.
There’s no point getting excited about the prospect of Real Madrid’s Isco joining, though, after Lukas Podolski moved to Inter Milan on loan, as Wenger won’t be looking for attacking signings.
“We have plenty of creative players,” said Wenger. “We are more short on the defensive of our game, not on the offensive side. So we won’t buy someone else in the attack.”
With Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott returning from injury, and Joel Campbell set to stay as back-up, there doesn’t seem any real reason why Wenger would change his mind.
At the back, though, and it’s more a question of where to start. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny’s two mistakes against Southampton on New Year’s Day only added to a below-par season for the Pole.
Petr Cech has been linked, but Wenger has ruled out any deal for the Chelsea keeper. It’s probably worth giving summer signing David Ospina a chance to prove himself in the second half of the season before reassessing the situation in a few months.
Central defence should be the area where Wenger looks to make a signing. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, who has missed most of the last three months with injury, are the only senior recognised centre-backs in the squad. Full-backs Mathieu Debuchy and Nacho Monreal, along with the versatile Calum Chambers, have all had to take turns filling in for Koscielny.
Wenger has already seemingly ruled out moves for St Etienne’s Loic Perrin and Villarreal’s Gabriel Paulista.
Virgil van Dijk has been linked, but the Celtic defender would reportedly cost £10million, which is a little off-putting. Wenger is interested in Ipswich youngster Tyrone Mings. You could easily see Wenger agreeing a deal for Mings, but then letting him stay at Ipswich on loan for the rest of the season.
The logical signing would be Winston Reid – a proven Premier League defender. Sam Allardyce expects Reid to leave West Ham at the end of the season when his contract expires. West Ham may not want to sell now, but a fair bid this month could see Wenger nab Reid.
Wenger has signed the 17-year-old Krystian Bielik is likely to sign another player before the transfer window closes. But it’s asking a lot to throw Bielik straight into the first team.
Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan and Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin both fit the bill in terms of the type of midfielder Wenger wants. But getting either of them for a price Wenger would like in January is doubtful.
So it’s likely the window will close with a highly-rated youngster signing to be possibly joined by a reliable centre-half and injury-free midfielder.