Arsenal: Arteta lauds 'intelligent' Odegaard
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Arsenal chiefs will once again need to back manager Mikel Arteta this summer if they believe he is the right man to lead the club forward. The Gunners’ league position of ninth is simply unacceptable and could have seen Arteta sacked if it wasn’t for last season’s FA Cup success. Express Sport looks at how Arsenal could line up next term if Arteta completes deals for some of his targets.
Goalkeeper – Leno
Critics may say Arsenal sold the wrong goalkeeper last summer, and in some regards they may be right.
But Emiliano Martinez was the one who wanted to leave, so Bernd Leno kept his spot as No 1.
The German has not been at his best of late, inexplicably conceding at his near post against West Ham on Sunday.
Leno has also been dodgy passing out of the back, arguably at fault for two goals given away in that regard in recent weeks.
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That being said, Arsenal’s budget will not be massive and replacing Leno will not be a priority.
Defence – Lamptey, Konate, Gabriel, Tierney
The defence could see a couple of new signings from the start of next season.
Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey is a reported target at right-back and his attacking ability would rival that of Kieran Tierney’s on the opposite side.
Hector Bellerin cannot rediscover his pre-injury form and Cedric Soares is not a long-term solution in that position.
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RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate has a release clause of around £40million, so that could tempt the Gunners to upgrade on the right side of the centre of defence.
Gabriel has come out of his mid-season sticky patch and is again starting to show defensive capabilities that Arsenal have not had for several years.
Midfield – Rodriguez, Partey; Odegaard
Real Betis star Guido Rodriguez has emerged as a reported top target for Arteta this summer.
The Argentine has a release clause of around £69m and reports from Spain say the Gunners will push hard to sign 26-year-old.
Granit Xhaka has had almost five years in the Arsenal midfield, and despite Arteta being a fan of the Switzerland international, it has reached the time where the club moves on.
Rodriguez could form a strong partnership with Thomas Partey, who Arteta will be hoping is available more often in his second campaign at the club.
In the No 10 position is Martin Odegaard. Arsenal clearly want to keep the Norway star, whether it is a permanent deal or another loan.
That decision is likely to come down to Real Madrid.
Attack – Saka, Edouard, Smith Rowe
Odsonne Edouard is the fifth new signing in this XI. Leicester have emerged as strong contenders to sign the Celtic star in recent weeks.
But Arsenal have held a strong interest for over a year now and the attraction of becoming the club’s main centre-forward could be enough to make him choose the Emirates over the King Power.
Bukayo Saka has almost nailed down a spot on the right of the attack, with Nicolas Pepe and Willian both not able to usurp the teenager this season.
And if Odegaard does indeed stay, then Emile Smith Rowe can take up a spot on the left, where he drifts inside and allows Tierney to burst past him on the outside.
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