Well, would they?
My first reaction would probably be ‘absolutely, yes’, particularly given how dependent the Gunners became on their talismanic top two last season, both for goals and assists.
Frankly, in the last five-10 games of our season, Auba and Laca were all that separated us from sliding into the abyss.
But, given the scale of the task facing Unai Emery and Raul Sanllehi this summer, perhaps it’s time to think twice.
Our failure to secure Champions League football, even with the combined talents of our front two, means our business this summer is going to have to be smart, shrewd and, above all, self-funded.
A mere £40million is the figure that has been widely touted as the amount we have to spend this summer which, in today’s market, is about enough for one good player. In relation to Arsenal, it’s about enough to stand still and that simply won’t do if we want to make decisive progress next season.
In order to do that, therefore, we’re going to need to raise money – a lot of money. Shifting out some big earners and some dead wood will free up funds and space in the squad but it is unlikely to give us enough to compete for the signings we really need to strengthen the team rather than plug holes.
So, with clubs openly sniffing around Auba and Laca and figures in excess of £60million being discussed, would it be wiser to cash in on one of our dynamic duo in order to fund the purchase of two more?
Although we finished only two points adrift of third place, and our shortcomings were basically the result of our own implosion, nobody would deny we need five or six players to make this side competitive.
Our defensive frailties in particular and well documented, and we arguably need three new faces in the back line before we can even start looking further forward.
Our midfield needs an overhaul too. Although the likes of Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Bukayo Sako and Emile Smith-Rowe will play a much bigger part in proceedings next season, we are still going to need some tried and tested talent in order to lead by example while our starlets find their feet.
It’s not unreasonable to suggest that we need something in the order of £100-£120million to ensure we are in shape for August’s big kick-off. The potential sales of Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Shkodran Mustafi (assuming they are all on the chopping block and we are able to find buyers) will raise good money, but will it be enough?
Will a much greater sacrifice be required? Some short-term pain for the longer-term gain?
While it is incredibly undesirable, given how well Auba and Laca play together and how well they get on away from the playing field, but I don’t think it can truly be ruled out. If a Chinese side wants to put £80million on the table, and one of our star duo is content to move on, would it be wise to refuse?
I expect our resolve may well be tested this summer and it will be interesting to see what Unai and Raul – and perhaps our new technical director too – decide to do. Do they double down on the duo who have been central to most if not all of our good play or do they cash in their chips and stake their winnings on making good the mistakes of recruitment in the last five years.
The only certainty is that nothing should be ruled out and that what might seem mad is, in actual fact, the most sensible course of action.