Depending on which report you believe, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is reported to have been granted £60 million, or £70 million to splash around this summer.
After yet another disappointing season for the Gunners – one in which the Frenchman’s position in charge of the club has been under pressure for the first time in his 17-year service to the club – he is expected to spend big to repair the damage done by several years of selling the club’s best players.
But it will be a new conundrum for the boss – how should he spend his £70 million kitty? Or £60 million if reports of it dwindling are to be believed.
Arsenal need to reinforce in number of key positions this term but their priority has to be acquiring a top notch forward – at present they have only one recognized centre-forward in Olivier Giroud and that will likely be the first problem to be solved this summer.
I have good reason to believe Stevan Jovetic will be the man for that job. As I’ve outlined already this week, he’s been making all the right noises and several press outfits are reporting the deal as ‘done’.
That ought to take up a sizable chunk of Wenger’s budget – likely around £26.5 million, which is his current valuation at Fiorentina.
Meanwhile, I believe Wenger will want to make an additional forward signing – he’s renowned for his preference of attacking ammunition that defensive protection and I think Jovetic may well be joined by Aston Villa hitman Christian Benteke.
He fits the mould of a Wenger signing and could bring to the team a perfect alternative to the physicality of Giroud, the skill and artistry of Podolski (and Jovetic) and the speed threat of Theo Walcott. He’d be the ideal man to come off the bench when Arsenal’s tikka-takka fails to penetrate stubborn opposition.
Villa will be reluctant to let him go, regardless of whether they survive relegation this term but I suspect they’d be agreeable to a fee around £10.5 million.
Meanwhile, Arsenal look set to lose Lukasz Fabianksi whose current contract expires this June. The elder of the two Polish keepers will likely head off in search of pastures new and regular first-team football whilst Wojceich Szczesny desperately needs strong competition to keep him performing.
That competition will likely come in the form of Hamburg’s Rene Adler for around £8 million. At 28, he’s got plenty left in the tank and for the German national team he is second choice behind Manuel Neuer who he will be looking to challenge for his spot between the sticks at the upcoming World Cup.
He’s a much more cost-effective solution compared to rumoured ‘targets’ Victor Valdes and Iker Casillas of La Liga or Asmir Begovic and Simon Mignolet closer to home.
That leaves Wenger, according to my calculations with around £25 million to spare. The likely departure of contract-rebel Bacary Sagna and the still relative inexperience of Carl Jenkinson means he will almost certainly require the services of a right-back.
Toulouse fullback Serge Aurier is the mooted replacement for Sagna and at 20 years of age and valued at £4 million he would be a very typical Wenger addition.
Another ‘target’ is rumoured to be Sebastian Corchia, another young Ligue 1 prospect up-and-coming in the France U21’s. Whether it’s Aurier or Corchia, Wenger’s will still make a profit on the sale of Sagna who is valued at £13 million and linked with PSG. Either way it’s economical for the manager to bring in a new young gun to be blooded and rival Jenkinson for the right fullback spot.
Another glaring void in Arsenal’s team is a defensive midfielder – since the sale of Alex Song last summer, Mikel Arteta has been a revelation as the holding linchpin of the Gunners’ central trio.
However, Wenger will almost certainly bring in a fresh face to strengthen and cover for Arteta and in the absence of perpetually injured Abou Diaby, Arsenal lack a physical presence in midfield. That void could be filled most adequately by Etienne Capoue for around £12 million.
He would be a wiser option compared to Victor Wanyama or Sven Bender and his skill and technical ability would make him another typical Wenger buy.
That leaves Wenger with just £9 million left in his pocket and squad that’s starting to look decent and capable of challenging for trophies. But Arsenal are still so lacking in defensive stability. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have looked much better in the latter stages of this season but captain Thomas Vermaelen has been completely off the boil.
Forgotten men Sebastien Squillacci and Johan Djourou will certainly be gone by next season and young Ignasi Miquel isn’t quite ready to make the step up on a regular first-team basis yet.
For around £8 million give or take in the likelihood of a bidding war Arsenal could have Basel powerhouse Aleksander Dragovic. The 22-year-old Austrian is shaping up to be a world-class centre-back and Arsenal have been reportedly scouting him all season.
Alternative options like Swansea’s Ashley Williams or PSG wantaway Mamadou Sakho could be options but I think Dragovic would be the preferred option. That takes us to a total of £69 million which, for such a frugal spender, would be money well spent.
If the extra £10 million isn't possible, then Dragovic may just be seen as a bonus buy- or increased cash will have to be found from the deadwood in the squad.
How would you spend Arsenal's budget?