There is no better time to be an Arsenal fan than right now. And I say that, speaking as an Arsenal supporter; for those of you that were not informed of my football allegiances.
Under beloved young manager Mikel Arteta, with Edu Gaspar as technical director, the pair of former Gunners midfielders have been at the forefront of “the process” and now have earned that valuable trust from a devoted fanbase with evidence-based success to the tune of topping the Premier League and leading the race for major domestic honors.
Arsenal is also one of the heavy favorites in the Europa League as the north London giants continue to make considerable gains on all fronts in an attempt to truly climb back into the upper rungs of the footballing pyramid both on English shores and on the continent.
But the upcoming January window could make or break a young and hungry Arsenal side gunning for glory, with Arteta and Edu already sanctioning a move for Shakhtar Donetsk’s 21-year-old Ukrainian starlet Mykhailo Mudryk, viewing the club academy product as a player with immense potential that would be an unquestioned needle-mover for the club to build a future around in conjunction with its current crop of gifted youngsters headlined by Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.
Despite the impending deal for Mudryk, Arsenal is still short in other areas of concern, namely in central midfield and arguably in the forward line after Gabriel Jesus is slated to be on the treatment table until late February or early March after picking up an injury during the 2022 World Cup.
With all this taken into account, 101 Great Goals looks at five players Arsenal could sign during the January transfer window to aid in their quest for a return to the Premier League summit.
Youri Tielemans (Leicester City)
Starting in familiar Premier League territory, Arsenal’s long-standing interest in Belgian international midfielder Youri Tielemans could bubble back to the surface in January in light of the fact that the Gunners remain relatively short on trusted central options. There is no denying that the first-choice midfield duopoly of Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey has been molded into one of the top central partnerships anywhere in the top flight of English football, but beyond them, Arsenal can count on just Mohamed Elneny and the painfully inconsistent Sambi Lokonga.
Summer signing Fábio Vieira can be slotted into midfield but his future certainly lies further forward, and with Leicester City surely of the mind to extract financial compensation for the former RSC Anderlecht academy product rather than losing him for free in the summer (with reports from Belgium suggesting Arsenal are the closest to agreeing to a deal), adding Premier League experience in the mold of Tielemans would add necessary central depth in quality to compete for the rest of the 2022-23 campaign.
Mohammed Kudus (AFC Ajax)
Perhaps not a name that many, if any, would have considered in the summer or even in January if not for his brilliant display for Ghana at the 2022 World Cup, AFC Ajax versatile midfielder Mohammed Kudus could be a sneakily strong move by Arsenal to not just add quality that can hit the ground running at the Emirates, but offers a player profile commensurate with typical recruitment aims of both Arteta and Edu when it comes to the long-term picture of the club.
Still only 22 and enjoying himself after finally settling with Dutch giants AFC Ajax, Kudus has developed smartly in the Venice of the north and currently sits on ten goals in the current campaign while also being a proven commodity both in the Eredivisie, Champions League (with four goals in six group stage matches), while being Ghana’s undisputed best player in Qatar. A product of Right to Dream Academy under the FC Nordsjælland development umbrella, Kudus’ ability to slot into the XI as an 8, 10, on the flank, or as a 9, his capture would guarantee depth across numerous positions while providing a player that could contribute immediately with little development needed.
João Félix (Atlético Madrid)
Moving into the realm of Football Manager levels of fantasy, the option of Portuguese international star João Félix is on the table for Arsenal as one of a myriad of top clubs that super agent Jorge Mendes has pitched the Atlético Madrid forward to, but any potential terms of a possible January deal are hardly suited - at current - to what the Gunners are looking for primarily.
With reports bounding around linking Atléti with a desire to see Félix depart the Wanda Metropolitano only on a loan deal until the end of the season with no option or obligation to buy included, it is unlikely that the 23-year-old will be viewed as a player that Arsenal would focus transfer efforts on given the clear temporary situation he comes with. But another point of view could be just that; a temporary needle-mover that adds undeniable quality to equip Arteta with enough tools in the shed to continue his march toward the Premier League title. Certainly, Félix’s capability of being used as a 9 or anywhere across the front three is intriguing, but it remains clear that the north London outfit wants solutions for not just this season, but beyond it.
Memphis Depay (FC Barcelona)
In a similar vein to the aforementioned Félix, Arsenal could certainly turn its attention toward the figure of Barcelona’s Dutch forward Memphis Depay if the club wants added depth in forward positions without having to thrust Mudryk - should and when a deal be struck - into a position where he must contribute immediately rather than being viewed as a slow burn with high potential.
Depay hardly comes with a lot of confidence from a Premier League perspective after his ill-fated - and ill-timed - move to Manchester United from PSV in his younger years, but since then, the Moordrecht native has emerged as a fantastic goalscorer for his country and is on course to eclipse Robin van Persie as the Netherlands’ all-time leading scorer. Highly experienced, versatile, and technically astute, Depay’s injection of quality on a temporary loan basis gives Arsenal the ingredients they would need from a quality standpoint while avoiding his much-talked-about concerns regarding the mental side of his game off the pitch.
Ibrahima Bamba (Vitória de Guimarães)
Finally, a name that few will know much about - and I owe this shout to friend and Football.London writer Tom Canton for - is Italian midfielder Ibrahima Bamba. One that flies under most radar screens, the 22-year-old is currently plying his trade for regional outfit Vitória de Guimarães in the top flight of Portuguese football and is very much an unknown quantify after first developing with Italian minnows and former early Serie A powerhouse F.C. Pro Vercelli 1892.
Since his arrival in Guimarães, the 20-year-old Bamba made his professional debut last season in February before quickly gaining the trust of manager João Miguel da Cunha Teixeira while making 18 appearances this season before the extended international break. Having recently been called up to Italy’s 53-man camp under Roberto Mancini in the summer, Bamba is already turning heads in the Italian football sphere of influence and likely will move on from Vitória in the near future. A holding midfielder by trade, he could offer competition for Lokonga before possibly replacing the Belgian outright, and his rumored €30m release clause presents a very affordable long-term investment.