Arsenal youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been ruled out of action for a minimum of three months with ligament damage following a knee injury suffered in Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to Aston Villa.
The 20-year-old England starlet had been expected to feature more regularly for the Gunners following the club’s sale of Gervinho to Roma but now his injury leaves manager Arsene Wenger with few options to replace him other than perpetual substitute Lukas Podolski.
The Gunners comprehensively beat Fenerbahce 3-0 on Wednesday in their Champions League qualification play off first leg featuring Santi Cazorla on the left flank. However, injury woes for Mikel Arteta leaves Wenger short of options in midfield where the tiny Spaniard will likely be required to play in the next few weeks.
1) Angel Di Maria
Arsenal are reportedly chasing Real Madrid attacker Angel Di Maria who has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs this summer. The imminent arrival of Tottenham’s Gareth Bale at the Bernabeu could mean the 25-year-old Argentine will lose regular access to first team starts, despite an impressive tally of 7 goals and 12 assists in La Liga last term.
2) Alexis Sanchez
His Chilean counterpart at Spanish champions Barcelona has also found it hard to cement his place in the Catalans’ starting Xi. Alexis Sanchez is another attacker who has been linked with a possible move from Spain to England this summer. The 24-year-old scored 8 goals and made 9 assists in La Liga last term and would suit the Gunners ideally if it weren’t for the potentially expensive price tag.
3) Erik Lamela
Another pricey option would be for Arsenal to hijack North London rivals Tottenham’s bid to sign Roma’s Erik Lamela. The 21-year-old Argentine was impressive last season in the Italian capital, scoring 15 goals and making 5 assists. Subsequently the figures being discussed for his transfer are in the region of £30 million, which would take a real statement of intent from Arsenal.
4) Victor Fischer
A cheaper option but still of exceptional quality would be 19-year-old Danish starlet Victor Fischer who is valued around £7 million by Ajax where he recorded an impressive tally of 12 goals and 6 assists in the Eredivisie last term.
5) Julian Draxler
Over in Germany Schalke have some superb options in attacking midfield and on the flanks. 19-year-old German midfielder Julian Draxler is another target linked with numerous English clubs this summer due to his fine form scoring 10 goals and making 4 assists in the Bundesliga last season. In many ways he is Oxlade-Chamberlain’s German equivalent and would be ideally suited to Arsenal.
6) Maximilian Meyer
Another Schalke youngster, two years Draxler’s junior at just 17 years of age, Max Meyer impressed in the youth and reserve teams last season, scoring a sensational 17 goals and making 9 assists in just 21 appearances for Schalke. He would possibly be preferable to Draxler given that he’d likely be cheaper and due to his age, he wouldn’t be a hindrance to Oxlade-Chamberlain’s progress in the first team when he does return to full fitness.
7) Raheem Sterling
Another young England star of last season was Oxlade-Chamberlain’s counterpart at Liverpool Raheem Sterling. After a spritely start to last season he tailed off a bit in terms of his form and fitness but the 18-year-old is hailed as a real future star for the Reds. Relations between the two clubs have been soured somewhat due to the Luis Suarez fiasco but Sterling could still be a genuine option for Arsenal if they were prepared to meet his valuation, with the player still said to harbour ambitions to return to London where he grew up.
8) Alexandre Lacazette
Back in Wenger’s homeland a big buzz surrounded Lyon youngster Alexandre Lacazette last term. He scored three goals but his technique and his assists were what made him a standout future star in France. He made 9 assists in Ligue1 and looks like he’ll improve this term – at 22, he’s already gained plenty of domestic and continental experience.
9) Iker Muniain
His Spanish equivalent is the very expensive option of Iker Muniain at Athletico Madrid. If Arsenal were prepared to shell out around £30 million, they could have one of La Liga’s finest young talents that are still up for grabs. His performance last term wasn’t his best with just one goal and one assists in 33 La Liga appearances but the previous season the 20-year-old notched up 10 goals and 10 assists following his award for La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year in 2011.
10) Pablo Sarabia
Another Spanish starlet is Getafe youngster Pablo Sarabia who, like Muniain, didn’t have the best of season’s last term. The 21-year-old attacking midfielder is more of a younger version of Santi Cazorla than a winger but his versatility could come in very handy for Arsenal and due to Getafe’s lack of European involvement, he could likely be acquired with relative ease compared to the other potentail options.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald