With the real football over for another season we can be sure the summer will be filled with the usual transfer speculation for Arsenal as well as every other club. As season's go 2014/15 wasn't a bad one for Arsenal as they retained the FA Cup and managed to go one better in the league than last season by finishing third. We could dwell on the fact that second place was there for the taking towards the end, but I think the players held a little back for the cup final which is why the league performances faltered in the last few weeks.
The victory in the cup final was fantastic and so unlike last season as they dominated from first to last minute to win 4-0. There's still a lot of work to be done if they're going to challenge for the title next season, but most of the signs are very positive. If they're going to take that next step they will need to add to the squad this summer and the players below are just a few of those already linked to Arsenal. I'll try to give my opinion on each of them to the best of my knowledge and judge what I think are the actual chances of Arsenal signing each player.
Arsenal were very close to signing Higuain a couple of years ago and had supposedly agreed a price with Real Madrid before Napoli came in and offered more. Arsenal decided to concentrate their efforts on Luis Suarez at the time, but they didn't get their man after he chose to stay at Liverpool for another season at least. With Rafa Benetiz departing Napoli for Madrid and no Champions League football for the Italian club next season there are rumours of his departure from the club.
I'm not so sure Higuain is the player Arsenal need and I don't think he's particularly better than what they have already. Olivier Giroud had a very good return this season considering how long he was out injured and I don't think Higuain is so much better than him that Arsenal should invest a large chunk of their transfer fund in him. I think Arsenal need to find a striker who can match the very best and I just don't think Higuain is quite up to that level.
Martinez has done well with Porto and has a very good goals per game ratio, but the Portugese league isn't exactly among the elite leagues in Europe. Prior to joining Porto he wasn't as prolific and he's no younger that Giroud or Higuain either. He does have more pace than either of them though and he might just fit nicely into Arsenal's style of play given the chance.
Porto don't sell their players cheaply though and I expect Arsenal would have to pay a very high price for a player who will be 29 before the year is out. If they're going to pay through the nose for a striker I would prefer to see a younger player come in who might grow with the team and become a great player. I know a tried and trusted scorer with plenty of pace is what's needed, but I'm not certain Martinez is that player either.
Benzema has done well in a Real Madrid team where he can never be top dog with the ego of Cristiano Ronaldo alongside him. He hasn't set the world alight for me though and his goal scoring rate is hardly that of a world class striker. I know Ronaldo grabs all the headlines at Madrid, but surely Benzema should have a few more goals to his name in such a free scoring team.
There's also the small matter of the pay scale at Arsenal and what Benzema is currently getting paid in Madrid. I can't see him taking a large cut in his pay to join Arsenal even if the new management at Madrid decide he is surplus to requirements. For me Benzema doesn't do enough often enough to warrant Arsenal breaking the bank to sign him.
Abumeyang is a little younger than the other three strikers I've mentioned as he won't be 26 until later this month. His pace certainly fits the profile for the striker I think Arsenal need to sign and he has had a good season in terms of scoring goals with Borussia Dortmund. He won't be easy to pry away from them, but he has been rumoured to be looking for a move with no Champions League football for Dortmund next season.
If he can be acquired at a price to suit Arsenal he might just be the player for Arsene Wenger to turn into the striker he's looking for. Given the choice of course I would love to see Sergio Aguero or Luis Suarez in the Arsenal team and either player would surely help to take the team to the next level, but neither of them are coming our way. It might not be a bad thing for Aubameyang to become an Arsenal player though and I personally would prefer him to Higuain, Martinez or Benzema.
Schneiderlin is a different type of player to what Arsenal have at the moment and he might be something more in the mould of Patrick Vieira. Francis Coquelin has grabbed his chance with both hands since he got into the team, but his emergence doesn't mean there's no place in the squad or the team for another player who can play a defensive midfield role. Schneiderlin offers more going forward than Coquelin though as well as being more than capable of doing the donkey work which Coquelin has excelled at.
A squad with both of those players would leave plenty of room for rotation and even the option of a proper double defensive axis when it's required. Arsenal can offer him Champions League football and he's at the stage in his career where he needs to play at the next level. There will be plenty of competition to sign Schneiderlin after his impressive season with Southampton, but surely Arsenal have to be right up there with a chance to sign him and I think he would be a valuable addition to the squad.
Cech has had a great career with Chelsea, but he has lost his place to Thibaut Courtois and wants to play first team football. Arsenal have two good keepers in David Ospina and Wojciech Szczesny, but I'm not sure if either of them are the real deal. I think Arsenal need a better keeper than either of them and the question is whether Cech is that player or not.
I'm not so sure about Cech though and I don't think he's the keeper he was a few years ago. I don't think he's as quick off his line as he used to be and he's not as good on crosses either, but he is still probably better than both Ospina and Szczesny. If the rumours are to be believed he's on the way out of Chelsea and wants to stay in London which would make Arsenal a very attractive option for him.
Sterling has apparently made it clear to Liverpool that he won't be signing a new contract and they could be forced to sell him as a result whether they want to or not. He has two years to run on his contract and they would still get a very good price for him this summer. If he's looking to challenge for trophies and play in the Champions League he could do a lot worse than making the switch to Arsenal.
Whether Arsenal should sign him or not is another thing and I'm not so sure he would make the team any better for the price Liverpool would charge. He can beat players for fun at times, but his finishing leaves a lot to be desired and I think Arsenal should spend their money elsewhere. I can't imagine his wage demands will be anything but high and I'm not sure he's good enough to earn the sort of money that world class players like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez earn.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.