Arsenal’s bid to win the Premier League ended with defeat at Nottingham Forest on Saturday, a result that saw Manchester City crowned champions of England for a third successive campaign.
A busy transfer window was always anticipated at the Emirates Stadium — however the need to strengthen Mikel Arteta’s squad has been exacerbated by the way their title ambitions faded away.
Arteta has publicly admitted Arsenal must “absolutely nail” their summer recruitment as they look to build on this season’s progress and prepare for the return of Champions League football.
Bolstering midfield is a priority and the north London side’s main target remains West Ham United captain Declan Rice, whose contract has a year left to run plus an option to extend by 12 months.
They also want to add creativity in a more advanced position and that has fuelled the pursuit of Mason Mount — although there is strong competition from Liverpool and Manchester United, while Chelsea will make a final push to extend his terms, which are scheduled to expire in 2024.
Arsenal are determined to sign the England internationals (both 24) and may require an additional player in that department if Granit Xhaka exits, with Bayer Leverkusen in talks to recruit the Swiss.
Reports last week linked them to Ilkay Gundogan as his Manchester City deal draws towards a close and speculation grows over whether he will prolong his career there or leave as a free agent.
Arsenal do hold a concrete interest in Gundogan and Arteta is driving it, having worked with the 32-year-old German at the Etihad Stadium and identified him as the ideal replacement for Xhaka.
Fresh efforts will be made to keep him at City and Gundogan has other possibilities including Barcelona, but as things stand, no agreements have been reached and the situation is still open.
Another midfielder yet to resolve his future is Arsenal prospect Ethan Nwaneri. The 16-year-old became the youngest player in Premier League history when Arteta introduced him from the bench at Brentford in September and he is regarded among the country’s most promising talents.
Nwaneri’s schoolboy registration finishes in June and the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United are monitoring. Arsenal have not given up hope of convincing him to accept their offer and new dialogue has recently taken place, although all parties are awaiting a decision.
Nwaneri scored the winner for England against Croatia in the group stage of the European Under-17 Championship in Hungary on Thursday and Arsenal team-mate Myles Lewis-Skelly opened England’s account in a 4-1 win against the Netherlands on Sunday. Lewis-Skelly, 16, has already agreed terms to stay at Arsenal.
Kudus set to leave Ajax – Premier League clubs monitoring
A player being considered by multiple suitors for a summer switch is Mohammed Kudus, the Ajax attacking midfielder who has scored 22 goals in 48 games for club and country so far this season.
Kudus is under contract at the Johan Cruyff Arena until 2025 but he rejected a one-year extension in April, and has made the Dutch side aware of his intention to exit once the window opens on June 10.
Precedent suggests that if valuable squad members cannot be renewed, Ajax tend to sell rather than allow them to enter the final 24 months of their deals. It is expected to require a fee of around £40million ($49.8m) to sign the Ghana international, although that might be influenced by which teams are in for him.
Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle United are among those tracking Kudus, and while other candidates may be above him on their transfer lists at present, the 22-year-old is admired.
He moved from Nordsjaelland in July 2020 and came close to joining Everton last August before Ajax blocked the switch. Kudus also caught the eye at the 2022 World Cup, scoring two goals.
Avram Glazer’s £250k trip to watch Women’s FA Cup final
Avram Glazer has attended two cup finals involving Manchester United this season, a rare sight of the club’s co-owner being visibly involved. But his visits to England have not come without significant cost, writes Laurie Whitwell.
When Glazer flew in for United’s Carabao Cup final against Newcastle in February, via private jet, the price put down in the accounts was £250,000. He travelled the same luxurious way to the women’s FA Cup final last weekend, with the club footing the quarter-of-a-million bill again. It is understood security and accommodation were additional fees.
Glazer lives in Tampa, Florida, so requires an eight-hour flight to London, but even in the context of private jets, his journey was at the very top end. Footballers often hire their own for holidays at a price of around £50,000.
The high price of Glazer’s trip for the women’s game at Wembley, when Chelsea beat United 1-0, is in stark contrast to the running costs of Marc Skinner’s team.
United generated a revenue of £5.3m for 2021-22, which, with a 40 per cent soft salary cap, means they could spend up to £2.1m on player salaries. In the latest accounts, “other expenses” was put at £563,000.
Glazer watched the women’s FA Cup final with his daughter Libby and the pair walked through the mixed zone after the game. Glazer refused to answer a question from a journalist about how long the proposed sale of Manchester United would take.
Glazer’s trip to Qatar for the World Cup, when he took his family, came at an even higher travel cost than his visits to England. Again, it was paid for by United as a business expense.
Liverpool aiming to bring in Schmadtke for start of summer window
Prospective Liverpool sporting director Jorg Schmadtke is set to visit the city this week to finalise terms on a deal to start work ahead of the summer transfer window.
It promises to be a period of significant change at Anfield, with Liverpool targeting an injection of quality in midfield and considering their options in defence, while a back-up goalkeeper may also be required if Caoimhin Kelleher moves to be a No 1 elsewhere.
Liverpool have already done the majority of the groundwork ahead of the window opening but having a new sporting director in place is seen as an ideal solution ahead of such a crucial summer.
Schmadtke, 59, is likely to agree an initial short-term deal to replace Julian Ward, who is leaving at the end of the season. There will be an option to extend his stay if the role goes well or Liverpool may decide to explore other options.
Head of recruitment Dave Fallows and chief scout Barry Hunter would work closely with the former goalkeeper, who is available to start work immediately after announcing his “retirement” from Wolfsburg in January.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is very supportive of the appointment, which would enable Ward to hand over properly to Schmadtke, but pointed out last week that his compatriot is not a target simply because of his nationality.
“If it happens, it would not be a Jurgen Klopp signing because we are both German or both know each other,” said the Liverpool boss.
“Jorg Schmadtke I have known a long, long time. He knows me probably not as long as I know him because he was a much better player.
“But we started in a similar moment, our second career (as managers)… so from there, we know each other a little bit.”
Brighton’s Dunk in frame for England call-up
England manager Gareth Southgate will announce his squad on Wednesday for June’s 2024 European Championship qualifiers away to Malta and against North Macedonia at Wembley.
A long and arduous season is certain to present Southgate with a series of selection dilemmas, while Manchester City’s participation in the Champions League final six days before the Malta fixture could have an impact on the availability of players such as John Stones and Kyle Walker.
Those are among the reasons why the group may feature some different faces this time and one who is under strong consideration to be picked is Brighton & Hove Albion’s Lewis Dunk.
The 31-year-old centre-back has enjoyed another magnificent campaign, captaining his club to European qualification for the first time in their history.
Dunk was given his only previous cap in a 3-0 victory over the United States in 2018 — although he also made the 55-man provisional shortlist for the 2022 World Cup. But Southgate was recently a spectator as Brighton beat Manchester United and Arsenal, when the defender shone.
Dunk’s level of performance has led to heightened calls for a return to the England set-up and he is firmly in the frame.
His chances are helped by the fact these are competitive ties rather than friendlies, and England need wins to strengthen their grip on Group C, which they lead having beaten Italy and Ukraine.
Brighton team-mate and defensive partner Levi Colwill — on loan from Chelsea — has also earned praise but is set to be used for the Under-21 Euros later in June.
Clubs on alert for Valencia goalkeeper Mamardashvili
Valencia had goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili to thank for their 1-0 win against Real Madrid on Sunday night, writes Guillermo Rai.
The result was overshadowed by the racist abuse suffered by Madrid’s Vinicius Junior, which La Liga has promised to investigate, and Mamardashvili was booked for his part in the stoppage-time altercation that resulted in Vinicius being sent off after it was reviewed by the video assistant referee.
But the Georgia goalkeeper underlined his importance to this Valencia side yet again with a string of fine saves.
The 21-year-old is likely to leave the Mestalla this summer, however, with clubs such as Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur, Villarreal, Atletico Madrid and Porto monitoring his progress. Mamardashvili’s priority is to secure a No 1 spot and he would not countenance moving to be a back-up keeper.
He has a buy-out clause of €100million ($108m) but there is recognition from all parties that he might be able to leave for less, although nothing has been confirmed yet.
Mamardashvili’s contract runs until 2027 and talks between Valencia and his agency continue.
Bryan Reynolds set to leave Roma – with West Ham among interested clubs
West Ham are among the clubs interested in signing full-back Bryan Reynolds this summer, reports Tom Bogert.
Reynolds, 21, is expected to leave Roma after spending the season on loan at Westerlo and the Italian side have already rejected an initial bid from the Belgian top-flight club.
Championship clubs have also expressed interest given the USMNT international is thought to be eligible for a work permit to move to England.
Reynolds has made 32 appearances for Westerlo this season, having spent the end of the 2021-22 campaign on loan at Kortrijk in Belgium. He has never won Jose Mourinho’s trust at Roma, playing just one minute in Serie A since the Portuguese took over.
Reynolds broke through at FC Dallas, making 31 appearances for the Major League Soccer side before Roma beat Juventus and Club Bruges to sign him in 2021 for a deal worth around $8million (£6.4m) up front.
(Top photos: Getty Images; design: Sam Richardson)