There’s been a lot of idle speculation (is there really any other sort?) around who will join the Arsenal once the transfer window finally opens. With it set to open Wednesday morning, it’s possible that we’ll see an actual announcement or two. The Edu-Arteta-Garlick triumvirate have been characteristically mum, holding their cards close to the vest, but it seems clear that they want signings done early (and, it is hope, often) so that new signings can bed in and start training straight from the off. Let’s have a look at a few of the key rumours that have been making the rounds…
The early word was that we were holding off on making a bid until after West Ham finished their season. Now that they’ve won the Europa Conference League title, goalposts seem to have shifted, with reports now suggesting that we’d wait until after the international break, postponing any possible announcements until after England’s 19 June match against North Macedonia. For as frustrating as this may be, it just gives Special Agents Ramsdale and Saka more time to complete Operation: Cook the Rice. In more-positive news, Bayern Munich seem to have ended their pursuit of the man, perhaps marking the first time that Arsenal have beaten the Bavarian at anything.
I might be more excited at the possibility of securing Caicedo’s skills than I am about Rice; Caicedo is more-versatile in his ability to play RB as well as DM. Rumour has it that we haven’t submitted an official bid for the Ecuadorian, but we apparently came close back in January with a £72m offer. De Zerbi has spoken openly about his belief that players like Mac Allister (off to Liverpool) and Caicedo deserve to play at a higher level than what Brighton can offer, and Caicedo has expressed his desire to play Champions League football. Chelsea have come sniffing around, but even if Kanté goes off to Saudi Arabia, they can’t offer Champions League and also plunked down £107m for Enzo Fernández. This one might be more of a reach than Rice, but it doesn’t feel like our reach exceeds our grasp here.
The 32 year old is out of contract as of 23 June, and if Per Mertesacker is to be believed, Gündoğan “never stopped having contact with Arteta” and Mertesacker believes that Arsenal “are in a pretty good position” to sign the all-everything German. He can play anywhere from second striker to defensive midfield and may be interested in a challenge different to the one he’s fulfilled at Man City. It’s one thing to play for a front-running squad; it’s something else to elevate a young, aspiring squad to that next level. Seeing how Jesus and Zinchenko have flourished in starting roles might also appeal to a player who’s been in and out of the XI at City. We may have to vie with Barcelona for his services, but he’d offer an injection of silverware-winning experience to a callow squad short of the same.
Haha, this one’s here for the sh*ts & giggles. Mbappé stunned PSG by announcing that he’d leave the club when his contract expires next summer, triggering absurd rumours that he’d be open to move this summer, most likely to Real Madrid after seeing Karim Benzema f*ck off to Saudi Arabia’s retirement league. Those of us dreaming of seeing another French striker with electric pace and finishing who loves drifting out to the left before eviscerating opponents should look at the price tag: Mbappé’s weekly wages are somewhere in the area of £900k/wk. What’s more, Mbappé is very much of the “me first” school of thought, something quite antithetical to what we’re building here at the Arsenal, and there are questions as to the lad’s perseverance in the face of adversity. One last point: a transfer fee this summer would almost certainly approach if not exceed £200m—we wouldn’t have enough left to sign anyone else.
Looking farther afield, there are long-shots projects like Fresneda and journeymen like Castagne who could and maybe even would be useful. It’s still possible that we’ll make a move and perhaps even sign a player to whom we haven’t even been linked to yet. The silly season opens in earnest today. For as great as it would be to see us announce a signing or two, the reality is that we’ll probably have to bide our time. Still, dare to dream…