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What will the ambitious Arsenal look like next season?

Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta said last week that it “still hurts me inside” that Arsenal lost the title after so long.

Arsenal began making their moves in the transfer market as they completed the £65m signing of Chelsea’s Kai Havertz and made recorded a £105m bid for West Ham’s Declan Rice..

Arsenal were eight points top of the league at the start of April but finished five points behind Manchester City, who went on to win the Treble.

Injuries at key positions played a part in their decline at the end of the season.

As well as Havertz and Rice, they also have a £30m bid for Ajax defender Jurrien Timber..

BBC Sport looks at what the trio can bring to the Gunners this season – if they all continue – and what Arteta’s side will look like.

Flexible Havertz adds to the Gunners’ options

Kai Havertz
Kai Havertz is one of Chelsea’s many departures this summer

Havertz never lived up to expectations at Chelsea – although he did score one of the greatest goals in their history with the winner in the 2021 Champions League final win over Manchester City.

The 24-year-old German international has scored 32 goals in 139 games for the Blues following his £71m move from Bayer Leverkusen in 2020.

He will give Arsenal more options throughout midfield and on the front line with his high level of adaptability.

Havertz played as an attacking midfielder, winger and striker or false nine for Chelsea. For Leverkusen and Germany, he also played in central midfield.

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There are suggestions that he will replace Granit Xhaka in Arsenal’s midfield. But he will provide competition for Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah, Leandro Trossard and potentially Reiss Nelson going forward.

Havertz finished last season as Chelsea’s joint top scorer in all competitions – though the fact he did so with nine goals shows just how difficult the Blues’ season has been.

Conversely, Martin Odegaard, Martinelli, Saka and Jesus all hit double figures for Arsenal, with Xhaka and Nketiah hitting nine each.

Havertz managed just one assist all season for Chelsea, with 12 Arsenal players managing more.

Can Rice make the difference?

Arsenal now appear likely to beat Manchester City to the signing of England midfielder Rice.

The Gunners have offered a deal worth a club-record £105m, with City unwilling to match that. West Ham have yet to accept the offer.

The development of rice in recent years has been remarkable.

In 2018, the Londoner was playing for the Republic of Ireland and was often deployed at centre-back – but has since become an automatic pick for England in the center of midfield and West Ham captain.

Last season, Rice won possession more times (334) and made more interceptions (63) than any other Premier League player.

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Only three players – Brighton centre-back Lewis Dunk and Manchester City duo Rodri and Jack Grealish – carried the ball further than Rice’s 7.1km. Arsenal’s Saka was fifth at 6.8km.

So how does he compare to his potential rivals for a place in the Arsenal team?

With Xhaka playing these days, Thomas Partey and Jorginho, after moving from Chelsea in January, were the Gunners’ defensive midfielders last season.

Ghana’s Partey and Italy’s Jorginho played more successful passes and held the ball better – but they played in a team that won 26 games to West Ham’s 11.

Rice won the ball more times, created more chances and had slightly better passing accuracy than the pair.

Declan Rice Thomas Party Jorginho
Successfully passed 50.5 62 58.6
Touches 71.3 85.4 80.5
Opportunities are created 1 0.9 0.5
Tackles 2.2 2.5 2.5
Blockages 1.7 1 1.3
Property wins 9.2 8.2 7.9
Passing accuracy 88.1% 88% 86.3%

Timber can strengthen defense options

Jurrien Timber
Jurrien Timber is 5ft 10in but has a strong build

Other players known to be on Arsenal’s wish list this summer are Ajax ballplayer and Netherlands defender Timber.

Ajax are thought to want more than Arsenal’s £30m bid, while other Premier League clubs have also been linked with him.

The 22-year-old, who came through Ajax’s youth system, is primarily a centre-back – that’s where he played all his games last season. But he has played at right-back in the past for club and country.

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This puts him in a similar position to Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Jurrien Timber Gabriel Ben White William Saliba Takehiro Tomiyasu
Achieved goals 1.13 1.13 1.03 0.93 1.52
Tackles won 1 0.8 0.9 0.8 2.5
Clearances 2 3.1 2.2 3.1 2.1
Blockages 1.3 0.8 0.7 0.7 1.9
Errors leading to shots 0.03 0.05 0.03 0.15 0.14
Fouls are admitted 1.1 0.7 0.8 0.7 0.8

Who else are Arsenal chasing?

The players mentioned above are those who have been signed or approached – but Arsenal have also been linked with others.

Arteta still wants Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo, having failed in a £70m bid for the Ecuadorian in January.

BBC Sport understands even if they sign Rice, they might even go to Caicedo even though they play in similar positions.

They may also have the fourth joint top scorer in France’s Ligue 1 last season in their team.

Folarin Balogun netted 21 times during a loan spell for Reims last season and is set to return to the Gunners this summer – despite suggestions they could sell him.

Predict Arsenal’s starting XI for next season – if they land their top targets

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As a seasoned content writer for our company blog, Ann brings a unique blend of creativity, research prowess, and an unwavering commitment to delivering engaging and informative content. With a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of our target audience, she effortlessly crafts articles that educate, inspire, and captivate our readers.

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