Arsenal Must Focus On Strengthening Midfield Before January Window Closes

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Arsenal might be five points clear at the top of the Premier
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League table (with a game in-hand over Manchester City), but there is still a sense Mikel Arteta squad’s lack of depth could cost them in a title race against the defending champions. This is presumably why the Gunners have been so active in the January transfer window.

Leandro Trossard has already made the move to the Emirates Stadium from Brighton with the Belgian international broadening Arsenal’s options in the attacking positions while Polish defender Jakub Kiwior has arrived from Spezia. The North London club must still do more to strengthen their squad, though.

Most notably, Arsenal need reinforcements in the centre of the pitch. Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka have performed well as Arteta’s first-choice midfield pairing, with Martin Odegaard positioned slightly further forward, but there isn’t much at all beneath them in the way of squad depth.

Youri Tielemens has been linked with a switch to North London from Leicester City. The Belgian international would suit Arteta’s style of play and already boasts a wealth of Premier League experience. It’s easy to see why the Gunners have explored the option of signing Tielemens on a cut-price deal.

Weston McKennie is also believed to be on Arsenal’s radar with crisis-hit Juventus reportedly willing to sell the American international for as little as €25m. However, McKennie is most comfortable in a midfield three while Arsenal most commonly play with a double pivot in the centre of the pitch.

Moises Caicedo would be an ambitious signing. His arrival at the Emirates Stadium would be a statement of intent with the Ecuadorian midfielder also a target for Chelsea who have already had a bid rejected by Brighton. Caicedo would be much more than just a depth option and a symbol of Arsenal’s intent to further improve.

Declan Rice would cost just as much, if not more, than Caicedo. The England international will enter the final year of his contract at West Ham this season with the Hammers reportedly open to selling their prize asset for £70m. Rice is proven in the Premier League and would certainly strengthen Arsenal’s midfield.

However, there are concerns over Rice’s inability to move the ball quickly and that’s something that could stop Arsenal from moving for him. It’s something that could also prevent the 24-year-old from joining Chelsea or Manchester United, both of whom have been linked with the England midfielder.

While Arteta deserves great credit for the development of Arsenal as a table-topping team on the pitch, this has been coupled with smart recruitment off it. This must continue if the Gunners are to take the next step – they will need a deeper squad to compete in the Champions League as well as the Premier League next season.

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