It emerged this morning that Arsenal’s pursuit of former loanee Martin Odegaard looks set to end in frustration as Real Madrid will likely opt to keep their man.
With the Norwegian playmaker the club’s number one target, and the back-up option, Emi Buendia, snatched from under our noses by Aston Villa, where does that leave our pursuit of a number 10 for next season?
While we’ve no idea of knowing what other plans or targets the club may have lined up, it is concerning that two of our targets for a key position now seem beyond us. Working down the list to option three this early in the summer transfer window is far from ideal.
I confess, I always thought it would be a difficult ask to prize Odegaard away from Madrid because, well, they’re Real Madrid and we don’t even have European football to offer, but I’d hoped that by passing on Buendia we had some confidence we could get a deal done.
If what the Athletic says turns out to be true, and they have impeccable sources at Arsenal, it leaves us too heavily reliant on Emile Smith Rowe than is practical, even in the absence of the additional fixtures of a European campaign.
I pray that we have a few more irons in the fire because heading into the season with one recognised number 10 will see us face more of the same struggles we encountered for the majority of last season, when progressing the ball proved so troublesome we simply stopped scoring goals for a few months.
Elsewhere, there is at least good news in the Athletic’s reporting of a move for Anderlecht midfielder, Albert Lokonga, a rising star in the Belgian ranks and he looks to be cheap at circa £17million. He seems well thought-of both at Anderlecht and in the Belgian national set up, which, let’s face it, is not short of midfield talent. He is a dribbler and progressive passer by trade, the Athletic says, so he will at least help in our efforts to get the ball forward.
The club also seems to be stepping up its overtures for Brighton defender Ben White, although I confess that this is a baffling one. We are wildly over-stocked in defence, particularly on the right-hand side, so what another option will add is unclear. At £40million, White would be no bench-warmer either, which calls into question the futures of Calum Chambers, Dinos Mavropanos, William Saliba, and Rob Holding.
Clearly, we can’t keep all of these players in a squad without European football so sales will have to be made but who will be shown the door?
On that note, it seems we have an absolute abundance of players available for sale this summer but, as yet, no sign of anybody heading for the departure lounge. Make no mistake, we need to raise a lot of funds to bolster our acquisition ambitions so, in many ways, getting players sold will be just as important as adding new names to the squad.
It’s still early days of course but, hopefully, we will start to see things take shape over the next few weeks. After all, early business is good business.