In the upcoming winter transfer window, Arsenal must fortify their defensive and offensive lines to bolster their title ambitions. While historically adept at strengthening their squad during winter windows, the Gunners’ significant spending during the summer may constrain their transfer activity.
Despite their strong start to the season, Arsenal’s urgency to reinforce their team in January remains apparent. The long-term injury to Jurrien Timber, coupled with Takehiro Tomiyasu’s imminent absence due to the Asian Cup, leaves the Gunners short in the full-back position. Additionally, ongoing form issues with Thomas Partey highlight the necessity to enhance midfield depth.
Concerns also loom over the attacking front. While Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli shine, the lack of goal-scoring contributions from Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah raises worries despite the Brazilian’s multifaceted contributions beyond scoring.
In contrast to several other clubs, Arsenal has historically secured decent results during January transfer windows. Notably, the acquisition of Leandro Trossard last season provided a much-needed offensive spark, while Jorginho and Jakub Kiwior proved reliable options when given playing time.
In 2021, Arsenal made a significant acquisition by bringing in current captain Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid, initially on loan. As the north London side embarks on another serious Premier League title campaign, manager Mikel Arteta will hope that the January signings can replicate the impactful contributions made by past acquisitions to elevate the team’s performance.
Ivan Toney (Brentford)
Tony faces a notably eventful month ahead. The Brentford striker’s suspension due to betting is set to conclude on January 17, coinciding with his probable prominence in ongoing transfer speculations.
Interest from Arsenal and Chelsea in the player, who boasts a solitary appearance for the England national team, has been longstanding. Bees coach Thomas Frank openly acknowledged the potential departure of his star player from the club this winter. Toney’s allure for top clubs is evident.
His remarkable goal-scoring prowess from the previous season, where only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane outscored him in the Premier League, has attracted attention. Additionally, his underrated creativity and adeptness in link-up play have contributed to Brentford assigning a staggering price tag to him.
Reports diverge, with more audacious estimates proposing a hefty £100 million valuation by the West London team for the centre forward. While this figure might deter Arsenal, their previous substantial investment in Declan Rice during the summer signals a willingness to spend big on a player perceived as the optimal choice.
Creative financial arrangements, like an initial loan arrangement with a subsequent purchase option, might be necessary, resembling Arsenal’s past deal with Brentford for David Raya. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to dispute Toney’s potential as a significant upgrade to Arteta’s attacking lineup.
Perhaps this reinforcement could be the catalyst to propel Arteta’s team over the finish line in the title race.
Goncalo Inacio (Sporting)
After briefly considering Ben White at the start of the season, Arteta has stuck mainly with his dependable centre-back pairing of William Saliba and Gabriel this term.
While this duo complements each other well, Saliba’s untimely absence towards the end of the 2022/23 season highlighted the potential issue of injuries, given the lack of similar quality among Arsenal’s backup defenders.
The acquisition of Inacio could address this potential problem. The Portuguese player has been a consistent presence in Sporting’s defence for a considerable period and, at 22 years old, still has room for further development.
Inácio rarely loses possession and favours advancing from the defensive line. His exceptional reading of the game compensates for his shorter stature. The primary question revolves around his potential price tag.
According to media reports, Sporting values him at a €60 million pay-off, which might be too steep for Arsenal to greenlight a deal in January.
Ousmane Diomande (Sporting)
Inácio isn’t the only Sporting defender linked to Arsenal in transfer rumours. His fellow centre-back partner, Diomande, has also drawn interest from several top teams, including Arsenal.
After honing some of his football skills in Middjylland’s renowned talent academy, the Ivorian has certain similarities to Inácio. Both epitomise modern defenders, boasting impressive passing abilities and adeptness at thwarting attacking threats. However, Diomande possesses greater height than his teammate.
Given his younger age and stature, Diomande is slightly more highly valued, with Sporting setting an asking price of £69 million. However, it is not a bargain; Arsenal could potentially secure a starting centre-back for the next decade if his progress continues at its current rate.
Unfortunately, should they pursue his signature, Diomande will likely be unavailable in January as he has just secured a spot in the Ivorian squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Jorrel Hato (Ajax)
In an otherwise disappointing 2023/24 season for Ajax, the emergence of Hato as a regular in the main team stands out as one of the few bright spots.
At 17, Hato showcases versatility by adeptly playing in the centre or left wing of defence. He appears poised to become the next European star from the renowned talent pipeline in Amsterdam, drawing interest from several clubs, including Arsenal.
Despite his youth, Hato has already captained Ajax twice this season – once in the Europa League and once in the Dutch Cup. Notably, he scored a goal in the match against Vitesse, contributing to Amsterdam’s dominant 5-0 victory over their struggling opponents.
Given Timber’s expected absence for several more months, Arteta values Hato’s flexibility in defence. However, acquiring Hato might involve a considerable expense, even though his contract at the Johan Cruyff Arena extends until 2025.
Pedro Neto (Wolverhampton)
Neto’s remarkable form this season has primarily escaped widespread attention. Despite not featuring since October, he remained at the top of the assists chart as of Christmas – having failed to create a goal in only three of his 10 Premier League appearances.
The 23-year-old has been strongly linked with Liverpool, but Arsenal has recently emerged as his most probable destination. His ability to operate upfront and his established presence in the top flight draws immediate comparisons to Trossard, whom Arsenal acquired a year ago to revamp their attacking setup.
Given Arteta’s apparent discontent with Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson, the prospect of Neto joining this winter seems plausible, possibly involving one of the Hale End graduates moving the other way. However, his full recovery would need confirmation before any potential transfer.