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5 Raphinha alternatives and a change of plan: How Arsenal could bounce back from transfer disappointment this summer



Arsenal look set to lose out on Leeds United winger Raphinha, though quite to who remains to be seen.

News that the Gunners had been outbid by Chelsea broke on Tuesday evening, and Barcelona continue to circle though quite how they would fund a deal for the player is unclear. Should they be able to do so, the Brazilian will be lining out at the Camp Nou next season, with personal terms not set to be a problem with Xavi's side.

Either way, Arsenal seems destined to be forced to look elsewhere for cover and competition in the wide areas, something that Mikel Arteta has clearly identified as a problem heading into this summer.

With this in mind, 101 took a look at 5 options that they could potentially target instead of the Brazilian.

Why did Arsenal want Raphinha?

Competent cover for Bukayo Saka on the right-wing is a must for the Gunners this summer. The 20-year-old, who has quickly emerged as Arsenal's most important player, played the fifth-most minutes of any forward in the Premier League last season, appearing in all 38 games.

With Arsenal now back in Europe, and hoping for better cup runs than they enjoyed last season, they could face playing over 60 games next season. That is before the World Cup is factored in, where Saka is vying for a starting spot in an England team that is third-favourite to win the whole tournament, a feat that would pile a further seven games into the fixture list.

The Hale End graduate obviously cannot play every game this season, but Arsenal was keen to add competition rather than cover, with fellow right-winger Nicolas Pepe having seemingly lost the faith of manager Mikel Arteta and having been limited to just 681 Premier League minutes last campaign.

Raphinha, capable of playing on both flanks, seemed the perfect answer. Still, outside his prime at 25 years old, strong in 1vs1 situations and proven in the Premier League, he had plenty going for him.

But he is far from the only option.

Unrealistic choices

Barring a dramatic change in the way that Arsenal operate this summer, none of Neymar, Ousmane Dembele or Serge Gnabry will be making their way to north London even if the prospect of playing for a club without Champions League football appealed to them. All three would demand wages significantly higher than Arsenal's current top earner, and in the case of Dembele, likely a hefty signing-on fee.

Arsenal's unwillingness to match Chelsea's £60m bid also gives a ballpark figure that they are looking to spend on wide reinforcements, likely ruling out AC Milan star Rafael Leao too, with the Portuguese winger likely to cost far more were he to leave San Siro in the near future.

So, who is left? We've narrowed it down to five.

1. Cody Gakpo (PSV)

The first name is one no doubt familiar to Arsenal fans, with PSV Eindhoven winger Cody Gakpo having been linked with a move to north London and, more recently, Leeds United.

But, his links to the Premier League are for good reason, with the 23-year-old having grabbed 12 goals and 13 assists in the Eredivisie from the left wing for PSV last campaign.

Also capable of playing on the right and through the middle as required, he could be a good addition to Arsenal's armoury, and would come in at a fee of around £40m should he move this summer.

Out of contract in 2026, PSV is under no pressure to sell, and Gakpo may himself not be keen to move somewhere that won't guarantee him a spot in the starting XI having only just broken back into the Dutch national team and with a World Cup on the horizon.

However, it is one that Arsenal certainly could explore.

2. Kamaldeen Sulemana

The first of two Rennes options on this list and by far the biggest gamble, Kamaldeen Sulemana is perhaps one for the future more than the level raiser that Arsenal were seeking this summer, but could be set to explode onto the scene in a major way in the seasons to come.

A strong dribbler and handy presser, he registered 4 goals and 2 assists during an injury-hit season in Ligue 1. While he certainly wouldn't be a player of the calibre of Raphinha were he to join, he would likely cost significantly less than the Brazilian.

He likely needs another step in his career before joining a club looking to regularly gain Champions League football, however.

3. Pedro Neto (Wolves)

Arsenal has already used the power of Jorge Mendes once this summer to bring Fabio Vieira to the Emirates Stadium and could repeat the trick for his fellow 22-year-old client Pedro Neto.

The Portuguese winger certainly fits the bill in terms of both age range and Premier League experience and is comfortable operating on either flank, though he has predominantly been used as a left-winger by Bruno Lage.

Injury at the back end of last season restricted the youngster to just 13 Premier League appearances last campaign, in which he grabbed a goal and an assist, but those numbers are likely to increase with more regular game time.

With Wolves needing to sell before they can enter the market this summer and few suitors seemingly showing interest in Ruben Neves, Neto could well be let go if the price is right.

4. Michael Olise (Crystal Palace)

The least experienced and polished player on this list, yet perhaps the one with the most potential, Michael Olise is a star for the future.

He has only spent a season in the top flight, and injury hindered his game time under Patrick Vieira but has shown glimpses of his enormous talent, with the 20-year-old notching up two goals and 5 assists for the Eagles.

A search for similar players to Raphinha via Smarterscout also threw his name into the mix, suggesting that the data backs up the eye test on the Englishman.

He could also be signed relatively cheaply, with rumours of a £35m release clause in his current Crystal Palace contract.

Olise would certainly represent more of a project than a finished article, but he may well be the perfect foil for Bukayo Saka. While it may perhaps be a season too soon, it is the sort of risk that Arsenal has to take at this point in order to secure top talent.

5. Martin Terrier

Still only 25 years old but with six years of top-flight experience under his belt in Ligue 1, Martin Terrier is coming off the back of his best goalscoring season to date. The Frenchman netted 21 goals for Stade Rennais, while also providing 3 assists last campaign as he helped spearhead a push for European football.

Another that can play anywhere across the front three, he is likely to be one of the cheapest names on this list despite his high output last season.

A change of transfer direction?

Should none of the options available stand out, one alternative for Mikel Arteta and Edu to consider could well be using new signing Gabriel Jesus as wide cover for Saka and instead, spending on another striker.

This would allow them to pursue others that they have previously expressed interest in, including the likes of Sassuolo's Gianluca Scamacca, Napoli's Victor Osimhen, or Brentford's Ivan Toney.

It may not be the perfect outcome for either Jesus, who is expected to take the no.9 shirt upon arrival, or the club, but there is certainly life after Raphinha.

 


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Ben Browning

Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.



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