Amidst all the frenetic speculation concerning the various targets on manager Unai Emery’s wish-list of recruits, a couple of things seem to have been forgotten. Not exactly a couple of things, actually — rather a couple of players. Make that three, come to think about it.
While the tabloid newspapers and various media outlets throw names around like confetti, what has slipped their minds seemingly, is that Arsenal can call on three “new” players for next season who are already in their ranks.
Much has been said about how the Gunners must strengthen at the back and players such as Leicester City ace Harry Maguire are already being linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium in the summer — with fans and critics suggesting an exodus of the old guard from north London (think players such as Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi Nacho Monreal).
But beavering away at the Arsenal training and rehabilitation complex are two players who should be fit and raring to go when the season commences — those players are Hector Bellerin, the fleet-footed full-back, and talented central defender Rob Holding. Both players have been out injured for long periods but when you think they will return, along with Calum Chambers (who spent a season-long loan at Fulham), then already the rear guard can be seen to be bolstered.
Of course, the recruitment drive may have already begun in terms of Emery’s targets, but he will suspend that mode of thinking for a while yet as he turns his focus to the Europa League final against Chelsea at the end of the month in Baku, Azerbaijan. If the Gunners can win the trophy the added bonus is the berth in next season’s Champions League.
To overcome the Blues, Emery will need hotshot frontman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the sort of form that earned him the Golden Boot at the end of the Premier League season, with 22 goals. The Gabon marksman shared the award with Liverpool duo Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
And, speaking to the club website, he said: “It means a lot. I am really happy and proud of it. I am sharing this trophy with Mane and Salah. I like these two guys. We are representing Africa so it is a good sign for the continent. I am really proud and I have to thank my team-mates for helping me to get it.
“I had great seasons in Dortmund but this one was a tough one. I would say in truth this was maybe not the best but I gave everything to try to be in the top four with the team and to get a trophy. I am happy with my season, not the best but I am happy.
“It took a little bit of time for me to adapt. I had six months to adjust to this league. I think I did well in the first six months and now I have the whole season. I am happy with that. It is always a tough battle when you play a game here in England and you have to be ready physically. That’s the most important change when I came here from Germany. Hopefully I will do better next season.”