Sport: Vlahovic, Aubameyang and 3 things Edu must do for Mikel Arteta before the transfer window ends

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We weren't necessarily expecting this to be a busy transfer window at Arsenal, and on the face of it, thus far, it hasn't been really.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles was able to secure his loan move to Roma earlier in the window, while Flo Balogun completed his move to Middlesbrough for the rest of the season.

In the academy set up football.london understands that Miguel Azeez has been recalled from his spell at Portsmouth amid dissatisfaction at his progression at Fratton Park, while Harry Clarke saw his loan at Ross County ended before immediately being sent out to Hibernian for the next 18 months.

Still though, by the standards of the summer window in which the Gunners completed a record number of deals, this has been a pretty quiet January for Edu. That could be about to change though.

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After a shocking start to the season that saw them bottom of the Premier League table going into the first international break Mikel Arteta has been able to lead a come back that has put his team in with a great chance of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

However, there is still an acceptance that a little bit more could be needed if the Gunners are going to finish in the top four.

Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool look uncatchable, meaning that they are competing with West Ham, Tottenham and Manchester Untied for that one remaining spot.

As a result the club could look to move this window as they seek to accelerate the pace of Arteta's project at the Emirates.

With that in mind here are three things Edu still has to get done, before the winter window slams shut on January 31.

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Sort out the six monthers

As a legacy of some poor contractual decisions over the years and a desire to evolve the squad in the direction of Mikel Arteta's project, Arsenal have plenty of players whose contracts are set to expire at the end of this season, meaning that January will be the last chance they have to secure a fee for them.

When asked if he would be open to letting any of them go Arteta admitted that each individual case would be a judgement call, but also stated that nothing could truly be ruled out.

“It depends on every single case, depends on the player’s situation, the minutes he’s playing, his willingness or the offer that you have,” he said. “But it’s something that you have to consider.”

With that being the case let's go through every individual case to see where the land lies.

Sead Kolasinac came close to joining Fenerbahce only to bizarrely feature quite heavily in the opening games of the season, including starting in a back three for the 5-0 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad.

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There was a suspicion that history could be repeating itself when he came on as a late substitute in the FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest but that does not appear to be the case.

The Bosnian reportedly has suitors in the form of Marseille and Napoli who would both be happy to take him this month for a nominal fee. However, he is able to sign a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs so if that is the course of action he opts for there will be little Arsenal can do.

There were reports that Watford were in for the 28-year-old as a replacement for Danny Rose, but having signed left back Hassane Kamara from Nice that now seems unlikely.

Calum Chambers' deal is up in the summer, and given that the England international has just 171 Premier League minutes to his name this season it might have been fair to assume that he is free to go too.

However, developments elsewhere in the squad could mean that doesn't end up happening after all.

Chambers' versatility cannot be underestimated, and given the current midfield crisis at the Emirates - more on that later - his ability to play there could be called upon at some point, even if it has not been needed so far.

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 Tottenham: Tale puts pressure on its executives supplied by Sports.co.uk It is waiting for reinforcements during this winter mercato. Since the arrival of Antonio tale on the bench in early November, Tottenham is better. Ungroup in 8 championship matches (3 were postponed), the SPIRs are lifted in the standings and two points of 4th, with two less matches. But the Italian technician is aware that his current workforce will have trouble competing with Manchester City, Liverpool or Chelsea in the long term .

The position he was asked to fill in on Thursday night was at right back where injuries to Cedric and Takehiro Tomiyasu, combined with the departure of Ainsley Maitland-Niles could see him called upon as well.

Meanwhile, reports that Pablo Mari - who has not played since September - could be on his way out of the club, mean that the 26-year-old's ability to play centre back could be useful too.

He is instead likely to be allowed to leave in the summer, where his and Mari's departure are set to open up a spot for William Saliba to return to the squad and finally feature as an Arsenal player.

Mohamed Elneny could be allowed to leave after barely featuring at all this season. If the Gunners are able to bring in another midfielder - again, more on that below - then they will likely let him go before his contract runs out.

Alexandre Lacazette is now the de facto club captain so he will almost certainly end up staying until his deal expires in the summer.

However, the same can not be said for certain of Eddie Nketiah. The club would like the 22-year-old to stay, but he has desires on getting first team football elsewhere.

With this being the last chance they have to extract a fee for the Hale Ender though, the Gunners may allow him to go if a suitable offer comes in for him. This though is only on the condition that they get another striker in first.

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Sort the midfield situation

For all the plaudits Arsenal's attack and defence have garnered this season, there still remain some question marks over the club's midfield.

Thomas Partey may have left for the AFCON after one of his best performances in a Gunners shirt, but prior to that he rated his own time in north London as just a four out of 10.

It is perhaps a sign of the strength in depth at the Emirates though that the Ghanaian continued to play week-in-week-out during his more underwhelming stints of the season.

After experimenting with a 4-3-3 and a 4-4-2 at points this season, Arteta seems to have finally settled on making his side a double pivot team within a 4-2-3-1 set up.

This enables Arteta get his most creative player in Martin Odegaard closer to the opposition goal, while providing a solid defensive base to allow full backs Kieran Tierney and, more recently, Takehiro Tomiyasu to get forward and support the attack.

Assuming that Partey has one of the spots in the double pivot nailed, that leaves one more place left.

Granit Xhaka has generally filled it when available this season, and although we've seen some of the best of the Swiss international in Arsenal's impressive December run, more recently we have seen some of the worst.

Granit Xhaka was shown a straight red card in Arsenal's goalless draw with Liverpool © Getty Images Granit Xhaka was shown a straight red card in Arsenal's goalless draw with Liverpool

The Swiss international is fundamental to the Gunners' build up, and ability to control possession in the midfield, but it is the other side to his game where he can sometimes be found lacking.

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His lack of natural athleticism means he can struggle when it comes to covering for the full backs in wider spaces - as seen with his red card challenge against Liverpool on Thursday - while his disciplinary issues have cost Arsenal on occasion - as seen by his unnecessary red card against Manchester City earlier in the season.

Regardless of that though it seems the Gunners were going to stick with him until the end of the season at least having offered him a two year contract extension in the summer. But a change in circumstances means that they may be on the look out for an upgrade this January.

Albert Sambi Lokonga is an immensely talented young midfielder, and despite some mature performances this season such as the one at Anfield on Thursday, he doesn't quite seem physically ready to be starting games regularly at the minute.

The next in line behind the Belgian in the pecking order was Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but now that the Hale Ender has secured his loan move to Roma which could well be made permanent in the summer, it seems there is room for a new recruit.

Internal solutions until the end of the season include a promotion to the first team for Charlie Patino, but the 18-year-old showed in his first start at Nottingham Forest last week that, despite his undoubted potential, he's not quite ready to be relied upon in big games just yet.

Mohamed Elneny is also an option, but the Egyptian's lack of ambition with the ball and the fact that he has just six months left on his contract with no signs of any renewal talks starting any time soon, means that Arsenal could be in for an addition this winter.

There are two ways they can look to do this.

Option one is more of a stop gap type of signing, which would tide them over for midfield options until the end of the season, while ideally providing quality depth for the Premier League run in.

Mercato: The price of Vlahovic is known

 Mercato: The price of Vlahovic is known © provided by Sports.co.uk The attacker of Fiorentina should remain this winter. After recalking Arsenal and asked to leave at the Juventus (where it will receive 7 million euros net per year), Dusan Vlahovic (21 years old) will be officially recruited by the old lady. According to the Gazzetta Dello Sport, the deal with the Fiorentina has been finalized and the player will soon spend his medical visit before signing a 4-year-old contract.

If this is the route the Gunners look to go down then Arthur Melo of Juventus would appear to be the perfect man. football.london understands that Edu was pushing hard to get the deal completed before this weekend's North London Derby which ended up getting postponed anyway. The deal seems to depend on if the Old Lady can get a replacement in for the former Barca man though.

Option two is that Arsenal look for a long-term signing in keeping with the summer transfer policy of investing in players for the future. It was this ideology in the market that saw them bring in six signings all aged 23-and-under.

While Bruno Guimaraes is 24, he certainly fits in to the mould of longer term investment, and having spent three seasons at the base of Lyon's midfield he also possesses the experience that the Gunners have been looking for in their recent recruits.

The Brazilian is a client of Kia Joorabchian with whom Edu maintains a working relationship contrary to some reports, and that could well be a factor in any potential deal.

Meanwhile, another name that has been linked is Youri Tielemans of Leicester. The 24-year-old has caught the eye of those within the Arsenal set up who have reportedly made contact with his representatives.

The Belgian has just 18 months left on his deal at the King Power and could therefore be available at a decent price, with Brendan Rodgers having admitted that the Foxes are planning for life without him.

However, it does seem unlikely that Leicester would be willing to let him go to a club that they view as a rival for a European position despite the fact that the Foxes currently sit 10th in the Premier League table. As a result it seems a summer move is far more likely for now.

Sign a striker

While the midfield position does seem like a can that Arsenal can just about afford to kick down the road, an area where they are in need of immediate bolstering is the centre forward department.

Flo Balogun has gone out on loan till the end of the season, so he is obviously no longer an option, even if he was further down the pecking order than Nketiah, while Gabriel Martinelli has shown some of his best form in a Gunners shirt in the wide positions over the past month or so.

Meanwhile the man who started the season as Arsenal's first choice number nine, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, was in exile from the first team squad after being stripped of the club captaincy last month for repeated disciplinary breaches. He is currently away at AFCON, but there has been little indication that that will change when he's back and football.london understands that he has attracted interest from clubs in Italy, France and Spain.

As things stand the Gunners are only an Alexandre Lacazette injury away from being forced to rely upon Eddie Nketiah week-in-week-out.

While Mikel Arteta has publicly expressed his desire to see the England under-21 international stay, his record at Premier League level thus far is a bitterly disappointing five goals in 41 appearances - although it should be said that most of those have come as a substitute.

This means that if they want to really secure their chances of getting Champions League football next season, then recruits are likely to be needed.

Plenty of names have been linked with Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak and Dominic Calvert-Lewin of Everton among those mentioned, but in recent weeks Dusan Vlahovic is the man who has emerged as the clear target.

football.london understands that Arsenal would like to get the deal done this January and are willing to use Lucas Torreira, who is currently on loan at Fiorentina, as a makeweight in the move to ensure that it goes ahead.

The Serbian's Serie A goal tally of 33 last calendar year equalled that of Cristiano Ronaldo, so it's easy to see why so many clubs, including Tottenham, are interested in getting him, and at 21-years-of-age his potential is immense.

Teams are defined by their centre forward, and as the only position where Arteta is yet to have made a signing the Spaniard will be keen to ensure that he gets his man this window, having claimed that Arsenal are in a position to secure the deal if it's possible.

“I think with the amount of things, and the way that we want to evolve the squad, we have to maximise every window in many different ways and we are alert," he said.

"Edu [the sporting director] and his team are working very hard, as we know exactly what we need to do. Whether we can accomplish that in January or the summer is a different question as it is related to other stuff.

“If it is the right player and we can afford it, and we can do what we want to do, we will discuss it and make the best possible decision. We are open.”

The onus is now on Edu to get the deal over the line in the next two weeks.

Mercato: The price of Vlahovic is known .
© provided by Sports.co.uk The attacker of Fiorentina should remain this winter. After recalking Arsenal and asked to leave at the Juventus (where it will receive 7 million euros net per year), Dusan Vlahovic (21 years old) will be officially recruited by the old lady. According to the Gazzetta Dello Sport, the deal with the Fiorentina has been finalized and the player will soon spend his medical visit before signing a 4-year-old contract.

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