The general consensus among the Arsenal legions is that Unai Emery has the summer to get things right ahead of the new campaign both domestically, in the Premier League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup, as well as in Europe, namely the Europa League. After all, the Spanish coach, once of Valencia and PSG, inherited the aftermath (in terms of personnel) of the reign of Arsene Wenger — following a successful 22 years with the North London club — when he took over a year ago.
Yes, he had time to bring in a few recruits, such as Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira, Sokratis, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Matteo Guendouzi, but you couldn’t help but get the feeling that this was a rushed recruitment process and that there was more to come. At least, Arsenal followers will hope that’s the case anyway.
And one former player thinks that a robust overhaul of the first team squad is in order during this break. Lee Dixon, a club legend, (who, as a right-back signed from Stoke City by George Graham, enjoyed a glorious spell with the Gunners in which he collected a clutch of silverware) says the summer will be one which demonstrates whether or not Emery is the man for the job.
“It’s a huge summer for Arsenal. It was always going to be a big summer regardless of where they finished and whether they got to the Europa League or not. I think Emery knew this season was going to end like this, to a point where we either got into the top four and got Champions League football or we didn’t. We failed on that front.
“So, he’s got to look accordingly, and try to convince the board and powers that be to give him enough money to improve the squad. It does need improving in all departments, and let’s hope we can keep hold of our best players in order to do that.”
Yes, keeping the best player is crucial — but luring more of the same is vital, too. And that is where Belgian ace Yannick Carrasco, from Chinese Super League outfit Dalian Yifang, comes in. The former Atletico Madrid winger is said to be close to joining the Gunners for a fee in the region of £25million. An asset he would certainly be.
How certain can we be that there is weight to this tale? Well, the player himself has stated he is on his way out of China. And the Emirates Stadium is as likely a destination for him as anywhere. Without revealing the identity of the club to which he is speaking, he said:
“Negotiations are going well. I am aware that I am an important player for the team but I hope the chairman understands and they let me leave.
“From a personal and family point of view, I would like to return to Europe and stay closer to my family. The adjustment for my family was also difficult over there. I have become a lot more mature and have learned a lot. Also, on the field, where I had to take more responsibility. But my wish now is to return.”
Arsenal supporters will hope the capture of Carrasco will be just the start of the Emery evolution.