Arsenal are optimistic that they can still prove an attractive destination to the world’s top footballers even if they miss out on Champions League qualification once again this season.
The Gunners remain firmly in the battle for a top four spot, and may even be considered the slight favourites at the moment as the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham look unconvincing, while West Ham have failed to go the distance in the recent past.
Still, there was some criticism aimed Arsenal’s way after a difficult January in which they lost Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and failed to replace him with their top target Dusan Vlahovic.
The Serbia international instead moved from Fiorentina to Juventus, but CaughtOffside understands that Arsenal still feel they have that pulling power even after years out of Europe’s top club competition.
The likes of Alexander Isak, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Youri Tielemans are now set to be among Arsenal’s summer targets, CaughtOffside understands, and there’s no panic within the club about failing to strengthen and build on the job Mikel Arteta is doing.
A source told CaughtOffside that they felt Vlahovic’s decision to join Juventus “was not solely down to Champions League football” and that “Arteta is running the club well, and players will want to come and join this hungry group.” There is, of course, the recognition that “finishing in a Champions League place will no doubt help that cause.”
As well as seeking to attract more signings to build on the arrivals of the likes of Ben White and Martin Odegaard last summer, a key priority for Arsenal will also be to tie down Bukayo Saka to a new contract.
Once again, there is optimism inside the Emirates Stadium that they can convince Saka about the project underway at the club, even if the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and top clubs from abroad are showing an interest.
The England international is a major success story of Arsenal’s academy, and there is a strong desire to build around young talents like him and Emile Smith Rowe for years to come.
Speaking to CaughtOffside earlier in the week, Arsenal legend Michael Thomas suggested that Saka should stay and that he was also optimistic that the young forward would do so, even if speculation over his future is inevitable due to his world class potential.
“Saka is an amazing footballer and young man. He has all the talent and humility to become one of the world’s best,” Thomas said.
“If Arsenal are not performing and matching this ambition then there will always be links to other clubs who are doing better at any given moment.
“I do however think Arsenal are moving in the right direction and he is a major part of that so he should stay as we as fans all hope.”