Tag Archives: Saul Niguez

Who should Arsenal target this summer?

On Friday, we dissected the squad to look at what we actually need in the summer to improve the first team and squad. From this, it was a common consensus that Arsenal need:

  1. A first choice goal keeper
  2. A first choice centre back
  3. A first choice defensive midfielder
  4. A squad winger

So I was then asked the above.

Simply put, who should Arsenal sign?

We were already working on a blog to discuss this, putting potential signings into 4 categories:

  1. Money no object
  2. Realistic signing
  3. Realistic signing
  4. Budget option

With the help of EastLondonGooner, we completed the list. Here are the players who would make up our fantasy target list:

Money No Object

Jan Oblak  – Goalkeeper

The Atletico Madrid goalkeeper has been one of the most consistent in Europe over the last 2 and a half years.

Atletico paid €16 million for the Slovenian international in 2014. The 25 year old would be a big money signing, his release clause is reported at €100m, but would be first choice keeper for the next 10 years.

Samuel Umtiti – Centreback

Barcelona are starting to worry that the French centreback has a £54m release clause is too low. And in the current market it probably is.

Umtiti is just 6 months older than Manchester City’s new record signing Aymeric Laporte – who cost City £57m. Umtiti also keeps his compatriot out of the national side.

A left footed, left sided centre back, he would provide great balance to Shkodran Mustafi on the right hand side.

Sual Niguez – Defensive Midfielder

I am a massive fan of Saul Niguez for a few years.. The Atletico Madrid player is a terrific player. He is an all action central midfielder, reminding me a lot of Steven Gerrard. He can defend, he can attack. He can pass, he can score.

For Atletico, he tends to play in a more advanced position, but this is due to their defensive approach to the game. At an attacking side like Arsenal, he would have the skills and ability to adapt to playing deeper.

Would Atletico Madrid let him go? Certainly not easily, but they are traditionally a club who have to sell before they buy. With Diego Simeone set to leave Madrid this summer, there might be an exodus to follow.

Could a deal involving Alexandre Lacazette be of interest?

Thomas Lemar – Winger

Arsenal had a £90m deal for the young Frenchman collapse on the summer 2017 deadline day. Interest was not renewed in him in January as Arsenal instead secured Henrik Mkhitaryan as replacement for Alexis Sanchez.

Having also signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and with Mesut Ozil signing a new contract, I would be surprised if Arsenal re-enter the race for Thomas Lemar. It would be a lot of money spent on a player who would not be guaranteed a start (unless Arsenal return to 4231).

Realistic Signing

Jack Butland – Goalkeeper

The Stoke City stopped became the the youngest goalkeeper to play for the senior England team when he made his debut in August 2012.

6 years on and he seems to have recovered from the ankle injury which same him miss almost all of the 2016/17 season.

25 years old, 6ft 5in and English, it would take Arsenal back to the days of David Seaman having England’s number 1 (which I am sure he will be at this summers World Cup).

Kostas Manolas – Centreback

Arsenal reportedly failed with 2 deadline day deals. One of which was allegedly for long-term target Manolas.

The Greek centreback has been on Arsenal’s radar since 2015, could 2018 be the year Arsenal finally secure their man?

Fabinho  – Defensive Midfielder

The Brazilian was heavily linked with Manchester United in the summer, but with Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva and Tiémoué Bakayoko leaving, Monaco managed to hold on to both Fabinho and Thomas Lemar.

This summer will see sides go in for the pair again, and this time it might be Fabinho who is top of Arsenal’s wish list, rather than Thomas Lemar.

Malcom – Winger

A deal for Malcom to Arsenal would have been completed in January if the Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang deals did not present themselves.

Arsenal pulled away from the deal, but this could be a temporary measure. If has given the club an additional 6 months to look at and monitor the talented young winger.

A deal for around £25m could be completed early in the summer.

Realistic Signing (2)

Alban Lafont – Goalkeeper

When it comes to young goal keepers, all the talk is about AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, but at just 19 years old, Frenchman Lafont is quietly building a reputation for himself.

Already with over 90 first team games, this is his 3rd season as Toulouse’s number one.

With Petr Cech having one more year on his contract, a move for Lafont would be great for succession planning, as the veteran goalkeeper takes a back seat and mentors the youngster.

David de Gea had a tough time when he came to England, Lafont will go through similar. But the investment in De Gea worked out for Manchester United. With the right coaches and enough game time, Lafont could become one of the worlds best.

Harry Maguire – Centreback

The Leicester City defender seems to grow in stature every time I see him.

Not a fashionable name, he joined Leicester from Hull City in June 2017 and his career has continued on a upward curve.

From Sheffield United to Hull City to Leicester City, he would not be the name at the top of many peoples lists, but he is turning into a top Premier League defender and has recently forced his way into England reckoning.

He has the no-nonsense defensive attributes that you would expect from someone who has made his way up through the leagues, but he can play as well. I have been very impressed with his ability on the ball when in an England shirt.

25 in March, he is a serious contender.

Jean-Michael Seri – Defensive Midfielder

We are struggling to transition the ball from defence to attack. Something that has ended up leaving Mesut Ozil isolated and coming deeper to get the ball.

Santi Cazorla has not been replaced. Xhaka was supposed to be that replacement, starting out attacks from deep, but too often he gives the ball away in dangerous places leading to goals conceded.

Seri is a diminutive, hard working midfielder who has a £33 million release clause.

He is a defensive midfielder who covers a lot of ground, so would fit in perfectly with Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere either side.

Leon Bailey – Winger

The 20-year-old Jamaican speedster joined Bayer Leverkusen for €20 million in the  2016/17 transfer window. He has broken through to the first team this season, scoring 8 goals in his 16 appearances.

At a reported £35m, he is a lot of money for an unproven talent. But he is a talent.

With the growing contingent of German speakers at the club, Bailey could fit right in

Budget Option

Danijel Subašić – Goalkeeper

At 33, the Monaco goalkeeper would be a short term solution to replacing Petr Cech.

Having been at Monaco for 7 years, he signed a year extension to his current deal in the summer of 2017, taking him through to the end of 2020.

He may wish to see out his career at Monaco, but a chance to join a massive club in the twilight of his career might be too much to turn down. And would Monaco turn down £10-15m for the ageing goal keeper?

Jonny Evans – Centreback

Alan Pardew gloated the day the transfer window shut that Arsenal had failed with a £12m bid for the Northern Irish centreback. He laughed as he said it would have taken an offer twice that amount for WBA to accept the bid.

Arsenal could have the last laugh as the experienced defender could be available for as little as £3million if WBA get relegated.

Idrissa Gueye – Defensive Midfielder

In the 2016 calendar year, the Everton midfielder made the most successful tackles and interceptions out of any player in Europe’s top five leagues.

Gueye is a strong tackler, but he can also play from the back and is able to distribute quickly – something which Granit Xhaka struggles with.

He is a proven Premier League player that would immediately improve the Arsenal squad.

Florian Thauvin – Winger

If you are scratching your head thinking I recognise this name it is probably because you will remember him for a poor spell at Newcastle in 2015.

After not settling in the North-East, he was loaned back to Marseille before rejoining the club he left for the Geordies in 2017.

Since returning to Marseille, he has returned to the sparkling form that led Newcastle to pay £15m for him – scoring 29 goals in the last 18 months in France.

An outside bet to make France’s World Cup squad, if Arsenal do not require a first team winger, the speedster could be a cheap, but quality, option.

So in summary:

If we have missed anyone, please leave a name in the comments below!


10 Potential Santi Cazorla Replacements

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla goes down injured against Norwich City.

After yesterdays news that Santi Cazorla’s Arsenal career was almost certainly over, I wrote a few words about a Granit Xhaka / Aaron Ramsey axis being an ideal central midfield moving forward. out of that article, a load of names were thrown at me as potential Santi Cazorla replacements. Here are the top 10…


A long term favourite, the Real Madrid midfielder has found himself on the edges of the Real Madrid squad this season. There is no questioning his talent, but it is whether he is sorted for the deeper playmaking role that Cazorla made his own.

Everytime I have seen him perform, he has either been in the number 10 role, or on the wing. He is lightweight and is not great defensively. I would love him at Arsenal, but as a winger or more attacking player, not as a replacement for Santi Cazorla.

Marco Verratti

The Italian midfielder is another who has been on the Arsenal radar for a long, long time.

Like Cazorla, he is a midget, but has brilliant positional awareness and passes for fun. Verratti and Thiago Motta ran the game between Arsenal and PSG at the Emirates the other week.

He would certainly replace Cazorla’s creative ability in the middle of the park, but would he be up for the physical midfield battle of the Premier League?

Saul Niguez

I am a massive fan of Saul Niguez. The Atletico Madrid player is a terrific player. He is an al action central midfielder, reminding me a lot of Steven Gerrard. He can defend, he can attack. He can pass, he can score.

Would Atletico Madrid let him go? Certainly not easily, but they are traditionally a club who has to sell before they buy. With Diego Simeone set to leave Madrid this summer, there might be an exodus to follow.

Vincent Koziello

A new name to many, the 21 year old Nice midfielder has broken through to become a first team regular over the last 18 months.

Comparisons to Santi Cazorla mainly revolve around the fact that he is just 5’ 6” and plays in the middle of the park. With a 90%+ pass completion ratio, he has also consistently averaged over 3 tackles a game since his major break through last season.

He might be a bit small for the Premier League, but he certainly has tonnes of ability and punches above his weight.

Danny Drinkwater

With Leicester City’s crown now having slipped, from Premier League champions to relegation battle in 6 months, it is only a matter of time until the rats leave the sinking ship.

A lot of talk is about replacing Santi Cazorla’s playmaking ability. But in the Arsenal squad we already have the likes of Granit Xhaka, and potentially a returning Jack Wilshere, who can replace this.

Could a move for an out and out defensive talent (who is an adequate passer) free up someone like Granit Xhaka to become the midfield playmaker? Or is Danny Drinkwater just a French Francis Coquelin?

Marcos Llorente

The Real Madrid youngster is currently on loan at Alaves, where he has put in a string of impressive performances.

Linked fairly heavily with Arsenal recently, a move for Llorente would not happen until the summer. He finds his path to the Real Madrid 1st XI blocked by the impressive Casemiro, so is likely to have to look elsewhere next season for 1st team football.

He is a boyhood Real Madrid fan, so would take a lot of convincing to be prised away. Madrid’s recent policy of inserting buy back clauses into deals when selling their youngsters will mean plenty of negotiating for the Arsenal transfer team.

Cesc Fabregas

Perhaps the one name I saw spoken about mostly on social media last night. Would Arsenal (or Arsene) really move for the former captain?

Having turned down the chance in 2014 due to already having Mesut Ozil in the squad, Cesc would have to transform himself from the lazy number 10 he now is, to the all action central midfielder that he used to be.

When he first broke through at Arsenal, he did it all. Covered ground, tackled, passed, scored, assisted. But a mixture of his own ego, and fitness problems, saw him end up further up the pitch, and rarely putting in a shift.

Add in his ongoing niggling injuries, and the fact that Chelsea would unlikely sell to a title rival, why is he even being mentioned?

Adrien Rabiot

Yet another long term favourite of fans. Rabiot seems to have been around forever – he is still just 21.

Rabiot has more physicality than many of the others on the list so would be a bit more a defensive option. He has a decent left foot on him. But would he not just be another Granit Xhaka?

It is a worry that he has still yet to break through at PSG, but him being their might encourage them to allow Marco Verratti to leave.

A move for Rabiot would more be about filling squad places rather than as a Santi Cazorla replacement.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

A replacement within. Could Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finally get his break with Cazorla being out?

His best performances for Arsenal have been in the middle of the park. He certainly has the attacking ability of Cazorla, able to find space with a drop of the shoulder, and his drive forward and ability on the ball would give another tactical option in the middle of the park.

Oxlade-Chamberlain can defend, although he lacks the defensive awareness in the middle of the park.

There would also be fitness concerns. Does he have the basic level of fitness to play 90 minutes, covering ground, in the middle of the park.

Hakan Calhanoglu

I know little about the Turkish international, the German league does not interest me that much. But he is a name who has been floated around for 6 months.

An attacking midfielder, does he have the defensive work rate required?