Arsenal move into the summer facing a daunting task ahead in order to rebuild. Given Arsenal are a few games from finishing the season without news about Sanchez, Ozil and Arsene Wenger. I’m going to assume the worst and prepare a version of Arsenal without the club’s two best players and most successful ever manager. Here is what I believe Arsenal should do behind the scenes and on the pitch.
1) Hire a Director of Football – my personal choice would be Ralf Rangnick.
The Arsenal upper management have been rumoured to be looking to put into place balance checks against the Wenger in order to ensure his continued focus on the pitch. I believe should the Frenchman leave, that system will be of a benefit to Arsenal in the future and there isn’t a hotter, available property than Rangnick. His footballing principles are the modern evolution of ‘The Arsenal Way’ and putting him in charge above of my managerial choice would be a dream-team.
2) Hire a new manager, quickly – my personal choice would be Julian Nagelsmann.
Let’s be realistic, Arsenal will not be able to hire my first choice of Max Allegri and choices like Eddie Howe, Thomas Tuchel or Leonardo Jardim have their flaws. There are no consistently quality managers who would make the move to Arsenal as I believe 99% of them are already at clubs who’ll be challenging for titles. Tuchel & Jardim are in charge of the two youngest and most exciting projects in world football – why would they move? This is why we have to look a rung further down the ladder and again, Nagelsmann fits the bill as a talented manager who can coach Arsenal into a modern system.
3) Implement the modern, tactical aspects of the game into the team.
Arsenal are filled to the brim with players who have played under coaches with huge tactical nous. The German contingent have been playing under Joachim Lowe for several tournaments, there players in the squad who have played under Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Marcelo Bielsa, Jorge Sampaoli, Manuel Pellegrini and Sir Alex Ferguson. I don’t believe for a second those players cannot take on board instructions about team structure, modern pressing and percentage based attacking. The quality is there, the team just needs a direction.
4) Replace Mesut Ozil with Alex Iwobi.
This is a controversial replacement, mainly because Arsenal could believably sign James Rodriguez this summer, should rumours of Madrid’s need to raise funds for further Galactico signings be true. Iwobi is a severely underrated talent and the biggest problem I’ve seen with his play is that he excels in the area of the pitch currently occupied by Ozil. A free replacement that has space to grow and have a team work to his beat? I would take that in a heartbeat. There are no players who Arsenal could sign to slot into Ozil’s role with the same level of quality and be more consistent – so why not look inwards?
5) Replace Alexis Sanchez, with Romelu Lukaku
Arsenal need a goalscorer, and in keeping with Sanchez’s centre-forward position this season there is no better goalscorer this year in the Premier League than Lukaku. The Belgian forward’s reluctance to sign another contract and desire to play in the Champions League should mean that he would relish the chance to move to Arsenal. The North London club have a much better platform to launch a campaign to reach the Champions League and whilst he may have to sacrifice the chance to play for a further year – he should realise that swapping blue for red is an upwards.
6) Revamp the backroom staff
There are a lot of coaches who could conceivably leave should Wenger leave. Steve Bould, Boro Primorac and Neil Banfield are all trusted Wenger lieutenants who arguably have not shown they can provide opinions or coaching that fits within the current version of the world’s favourite game. A new Director of Football and Manager would ensure that a backroom change is inevitable and I would imagine all three to leave also.
7) Revamp the squad
Arsenal could conceivably raise £100million from player sales in the current market. Walcott, Giroud, Ramsey, Welbeck, Gibbs would leave for between £10 and £25million a piece. That would give Rangnick and Nagelsmann the funds to bring in players that would fit their system. Young, quality players like Naby Keita, the apparently unwanted Renato Sanches and another top young striker in Moussa Dembele would be ideal additions to bolster the quality and unload wage-heavy, under-performing former stars.
This is a lot to do, especially in 4 months. So perhaps, especially the signing of players could be spread out over a couple of windows. Get the club structure in place, allow (like Liverpool with Klopp) the tactical system to bed in over a serious months before signing players to improve the team overall. I don’t believe spending money on players to then find a system that fits them is a way any football team should be operating.