At the end of last season Arsenal knew they had to take a different approach to the transfer window in order to restore hope for next season.
The failure to clinch European football left them in a strange spot - who could be tempted to join them?
That European pedigree has always been a big selling point yet insiders were hinting that a new direction would be needed when it came to evolving the team.
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They have been bold, still identifying emerging talent in the likes of Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares, but also investing £50 million on Brighton’s Ben White to help bolster their defence. A third bid for £30m-rated Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale is also on the way.
Yet there are two positions they have still not filled and they are key to how far we can expect this team to push on next season. Arsenal want a creative midfielder and a forward, with plenty of work ongoing to solve both issues.
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The Gunners have been testing the water with some of the biggest names around, looking for star names that might be up to embracing their challenge. Arsenal are trimming the squad at the same time as they open up funds towards £150m to help navigate a return among the elite.
Finding a new forward has not been straightforward, particularly as they have not found a buyer for Alexandre Lacazette, who they ideally would have liked to move on. But Arsenal set the bar high early in the window as they began to sound out targets.
It is understood one of the first check calls they made was to Manchester City, where it has been reported both Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez are available.
The enquiry did not get far, but the call had been made. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Yet with one month to go of this transfer window a new signing in attack is still proving elusive.
The Gunners have been linked with Alexander Isak, Odsonne Edouard, Andre Silva, Tammy Abraham - and the latest is Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez.
Inter could be tempted by Arsenal offer
On the surface it would seem a big climbdown for the player, who won Serie A last season.
Yet Inter Milan are in financial difficulty and Martinez is one of many players who have been weighing up whether to stay or leave this summer. So Arsenal have been looking into the situation.
Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez
Image credit: Getty Images
Inter are publicly determined to keep the 23-year-old Argentina striker, who has two years left to run on his contract at San Siro.
Yet, as one source put it, the club is “in a bit of a mess” and they could be tempted to sell almost anyone. Lautaro is open to getting out of there, too - he has always wanted to test himself in the Premier League.
Arsenal may not seem like the ideal move - given he could perfectly well fit into other teams who have qualified for Europe - yet no other formal enquiries are being made at this stage for him to consider.
The message being relayed by sources is that this deal could be done if Arsenal meet Inter’s valuation. The problem: His price-tag is around £65m.
Taken on its own, that fee may not be out of reach. Yet the ongoing search for a creative midfielder adds a layer of concern in terms of budget.
Edu earmarks Maddison but price tag is prohibitive
Edu is aiming high in the market, desperate to push the club closer to a top-four Premier League finish next term, and a lot of options have been looked into.
Emi Buendia, Yves Bissouma, Ruben Neves, Manuel Locatelli, James Maddison, Houssem Aouar and Martin Odegaard have all been linked - and to a varying degree there has been genuine interest in all. Arsenal are trying to gauge which market they are shopping in right now and who can be tempted to join.
Odegaard has been the preference but a breakthrough has not yet been found. As such, Maddison is the name now on trend when it comes to identifying which midfield player is most likely to sign, with some reports suggesting a deal is edging closer.
Mikel Arteta the Arsenal Manager during the Arsenal training session
Image credit: Getty Images
In some sense that would make sense as he was on their original list of 10 top targets at the end of the season and is viewed as a player who is open to a new challenge.
Here's the problem: Maddison is also very expensive. Leicester have put a £70m price tag on him and do not intend to budge.
With all the will and intent in the world a double signing of Martinez and Maddison is a huge ask in this financial climate.
Agents are continuing to monitor the market for new names that could hold appeal and Arsenal’s recruitment team hope there is soon a clear path to solving their dilemma.
It may yet even be that the club have to make a decision to add just one more significant name to their squad.
However this pans out, Arsenal will rest in the knowledge they are leaving no stone unturned.
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