With midfielder Aaron Ramsey set to leave the club at the end of season, it’s likely Arsenal are going to need to introduce a new face to their midfield to replace him.
It’s not going to be like Arsenal to spend big on a big target, but they’re likely to look to sign someone of googe value or someone from their own ranks to make the step up.
Here’s six potential replacements for the Welshman.
5. Piotr Zielinski (Napoli)
Perhaps the wildcard option on the list, Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski has drawn comparisons with Kevin de Bruyne with his performances in recent seasons.
His ability to carry the ball with both feet is an invaluable trait and has found himself as a mainstay at the heart of Napoli’s midfield since his move from Udinese in 2016.
The Polish international has impressed some of the big teams in Europe and would represent a marquee signing for Arsenal in their attempts to replace Ramsey.
Whether Zielinski would be comfortable with moving from a side in the Champions League to one currently competing in the Europa League is another question, and may represent the biggest stumbling block over the Pole’s potential move to the Emirates.
4. Hector Herrera (Porto)
Porto captain Hector Herrera would represent the experienced option for Unai Emery in potentially replacing Ramsey.
At 28, Herrera has won 70 caps for his national side Mexico and has now played consistent Champions League football since his arrival at the Estadio do Dragao in 2013.
A tireless all-round midfielder, the Mexican would fit seamlessly into Unai Emery’s way of playing and add more leadership to a side often accused of lacking it. He was part of the impressive Mexico side that upset Germany in their World Cup group game this summer and symbolised the dynamism and energy of the entire team with his work in midfield.
3. Adrien Rabiot (PSG)
The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder has previously voiced his frustrations at not being allowed to play in his favourite position for his side, and then was left out of France’s World Cup winning squad.
Earmarked at an early age for his technical quality despite his height and frame, Rabiot’s form and consistency has been called into question.
He has publicly expressed his dissatisfaction at being asked to play as a defensive midfielder and has seemingly refused any attempts at contract offers by the club. Whilst Unai Emery himself when he was PSG boss faced difficulties managing the talented Frenchman, Rabiot would be an intriguing signing to replace Ramsey and would allow him to play in his more favoured attacking role.
2. Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United)
The name most heavily linked with a move to Arsenal in the near future is Atlanta United’s Miguel Almiron. Having arrived in MLS two seasons ago, the attacking midfielder has been a revelation in America and has delivered both goals and assists for his team.
His manager, Gerardo Martino, said recently that the Paraguay international “has a commitment to winning the ball back and pressing”, and that he’s “a player that’s always working”.
Martino’s words may be music to the ears of Arsenal manager Unai Emery, who has repeatedly insisted his side’s need to play with intensity and pressing. With Almiron, it looks like the perfect fit for both parties.
Despite murmurs that a deal has already been done, that is not the case, and he could set Arsenal back by as much as £30m.
1. TWO FOR ONE: Matteo Guendouzi & Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal)
Rather than paying big money to replace the Wales international, Unai Emery may look to promote from within and keep the club’s budget for strengthening other areas. This may particularly be an attractive option after the recent performances of both Matteo Guendouzi and Emile Smith Rowe in recent months.
French midfielder Guendouzi arrived in the summer from Ligue 2 side Lorient at a reported fee of just £7m, and went straight into Emery’s line-up for Arsenal’s opening games. His composure and distribution of the ball have drawn both praise and pleasant surprise from his manager, and he could well to be a key part of Arsenal’s central midfield in the future.
Whilst Guendouzi has been excellent, England youth international Smith Rowe has taken most of the limelight this season. After scoring a stunning strike against Atletico Madrid in pre-season out in Singapore, Smith Rowe scored his first competitive goal for the club in their Europa League fixture against Qarabag. Glenn Hoddle has remarked on the youngster’s uncanny ability to take the ball off both feet and has shown both quality and intensity in his appearances under Emery.
Both Guendouzi and Smith Rowe’s promising starts to their Arsenal career bode well for the future and if Ramsey ends up leaving next year, they will be hoping to take their chance with both hands.