Arsenal are interested in re-signing Serge Gnabry with his future at Bayern Munich uncertain, but the club must now wait another year – so what other former Gunners stars could return instead?
Gnabry is one of just 11 German nationals to play for the north London outfit after spending five years at the Emirates Stadium. The forward initially joined the Premier League side from Stuttgart in 2011 as a youth, before progressing through the ranks for 18 first-team outings.
However, after an unsatisfactory loan spell at West Brom under the defensive-minded Tony Pulis, Arsene Wenger opted to sell Gnabry. He returned to Germany with Werder Bremen in a mere £4.5m deal, before Bayern Munich swooped for an €8m (£7m) deal just a year later.
Gnabry could be heading for the Allianz Arena exit doors soon, however, as the 26-year-old is out of contract in 2023. He has not penned an extension with the Bundesliga giants since March 2019, despite his key role and helping win four league titles and a Champions League.
Arsenal are interested in re-signing Gnabry amid uncertain Bayern Munich future
Arsenal are monitoring Gnabry’s situation at Bayern Munich with Mikel Arteta interested in his return to north London. That’s according to Bild journalist Christian Falk, who claims the 31-cap Germany star Hansi Flick calls ‘dynamic’ can also imagine playing at the Emirates again.
But a transfer is very unlikely this year after the Gunners failed to qualify for the Champions League. The club cannot afford Der FCB and Gnabry’s demands without the income that the UEFA tournament offers. So, Arteta has to wait another year for Gnabry to be a free agent.
Gnabry will merit a larger salary as a free agent, but Arsenal could stand a greater chance of meeting his expectations without also owing Bayern Munich a fee. That’s because Defensa Central have noted he wants €15m-a-year (£245k-a/w), which is too much for Real Madrid.
There are a handful of alternative former Arsenal players who Arteta could sign this year to get the Gunners back into the Champions League, though, if Gnabry stays at Bayern Munich. So, with that in mind, here are five former Emirates stars who could play a role there again…
Arsenal could secure bargain Oxlade-Chamberlain return if Gnabry interest fails
Arteta could secure a bargain transfer to take Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back to Arsenal this summer from Premier League rivals Liverpool. The Mirror claim Jurgen Klopp is ready to sell the midfielder for offers of around £10m as he will enter the last year of his contract in July.
Aston Villa and West Ham United are presently the favourites to sign the 28-year-old should he leave Anfield. Reds icon and Villans manager Steven Gerrard is a long-term admirer of his – despite the 35-cap England international not playing a single league game since February.
Arsenal received £35m when selling Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool in August 2017 after 198 appearances. He could now prove a bargain addition and add depth in Arteta’s plans on the wings and in central midfield ahead of the club’s greater number of fixtures next season.
Arteta has shown interest in Arsenal possibly re-signing Oxlade-Chamberlain from Liverpool, as well. The Sun reported last October that the Spaniard was mulling an initial mid-season loan move as the Gunners boss has a good relationship with the Portsmouth-born dynamo.
Arsenal can add key midfield depth by re-signing Coquelin from Villarreal
One of the major reasons why Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League this term was the lack of depth Arteta had available in midfield after Thomas Partey’s thigh injury. The Gunners could help to solve that issue this summer, though, by re-signing Francis Coquelin.
The Frenchman left north London in 2018 to join Valencia for £12m before joining Villarreal in 2020. Yet Coquelin remains fond of his time at Arsenal, telling El Periodico Mediterraneo last November: “I was, between loans, ten years at Arsenal. It’s a lifetime, it is my home.”
Arteta could see how strong Coquelin’s feelings are after seeing the 31-year-old thrive in the Champions League this season. He helped Villarreal reach the semi-finals and also scored in the second-leg with Liverpool. But he rose to prominence at Arsenal with his ball-winning skills.
Arteta can give Fabregas career swansong following Spaniard’s Monaco exit
Cesc Fabregas will already go down in history as an Arsenal legend after captaining the club from 2008 to joining Barcelona for £35m in 2011. Wenger gave the midfielder the armband at just 21, replacing William Gallas, which made him the Gunners’ second-youngest skipper.
The midfielder led by example and was one of the Emirates natives’ most consistent players across his 303 appearances. Fabregas also offered 57 goals and 94 assists in all competitions after producing his best displays for Arsenal before joining Barcelona, Chelsea then Monaco.
Fabregas has already confirmed to So Foot that ‘it’s sure that it’s over between Monaco and me’, and that he will leave when his contract ends in June. So, Arteta could give the 35-year-old a swansong to his career at the Emirates in his bid to return Champions League football.
Vela can provide Europa League cover amid uncertain LA Galaxy future
Along with a lack of depth in central midfield, the 2021/22 season showed Arteta is highly reliant on Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli performing on the wings, with £72m forward Nicolas Pepe rarely forcing his way into the Spaniard’s plans this term.
Arsenal’s interest in re-signing Gnabry amid the winger’s uncertain future at Bayern Munich shows Arteta is keen to now strengthen. So, another former Gunners player in Carlos Vela could be of interest to provide support – particularly for Saka – in their Europa League ties.
Vela joined Arsenal in 2006 from Guadalajara’s U20 side and played 64 senior games before leaving in 2012. A decade on, the Mexican is still thriving with LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer, but the 33-year-old’s existing contract is presently set to expire at the end of 2022.
FOX Sports journalist Doug McIntyre has reported Vela and LA Galaxy are close to finalising an extension. MLS insider Tom Bogert has also claimed the deal will run at least through the 2023 season. Yet their reports are yet to materialise, so the face of the franchise may leave.
Arsenal can now secure Kamara return after January interest in Rangers ace
Glen Kamara spent five years on Arsenal’s books between 2012 and joining their U18s from Southend United, to joining Dundee for free in 2017 after seeing his contract expire. Yet the 42-cap Finland international only played in one senior game for the Gunners in the EFL Cup.
Gerrard then saw enough from Kamara with Dundee to strike a £50,000 transfer as Rangers boss in January 2019. The Dens Park natives accepted a discounted fee for the midfielder to prevent him moving to Ibrox for free at the end of that season once his contract had ended.
Kamara’s subsequent performances for Rangers have put him back in the spotlight of some at Arsenal, too. 90min reported this January that the Gunners had scouted the 26-year-old very closely over the prior 18 months, before he went on to reach the Europa League final.
It might not be overly hard for Arteta to prise Kamara from Rangers’ clutches, either. The Athletic reported in September the Gers and midfielder have an agreement that will let him leave if they receive a suitable offer, after reaching a compromise in contract negotiations