Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey remains an option if the Gunners can raise the funds required, while there has been plenty of noise linking Lyon’s Houssem Aouar with a move across the channel.
Signing one of the pair would be great, but both would be even better. However, if they manage it, how would it affect Mikel Arteta’s team going into the new season? We’ve looked at the Gunners’ options.
Xhaka and Partey double pivot
Whether Arteta goes for a back four or a back five, a double-pivot of two tackling midfielders in Xhaka and Partey can always have a place.
On the occasions where four defenders play behind the axis, a 4-2-3-1 would have room for Aouar in a number 10 role, but there’s nothing stopping Arsenal using him there even as part of a 5-2-1-2 with the full-backs providing width.
A balanced three of Xhaka, Partey and Aouar
Arteta might opt to attempt to recreate the Lyon midfield of Aouar, Tanguy Ndombele and Lucas Tousart in which the three complemented each other well, albeit with different players in the Ndombele and Tousart roles.
This is also a setup that could potentially suit Dani Ceballos if he ends up returning in place of one of the two current targets.
Xhaka pushed forward in front of Partey and Ainsley Maitland-Niles
A back five provides freedom for Arteta to mix things up in midfield, and one option there would be to push Xhaka into a more advanced role, not dissimilar to how we’ve seen him in a Switzerland shirt.
There may be games where this is a more appropriate setup, while there’s also scope for a 4-2-2-2 or 5-2-2-1 with both Xhaka and Aouar together in front of two sitting midfielders.
Partey as a lone deep-lying midfielder
Whether in a back four or back five system, there may be games against deeper-lying opponents where Arsenal need just one holding midfielder, and it’s a role Partey can play.
Whether that means pushing Xhaka forward or using Aouar alongside a different central midfielder such as Joe Willock, this feels like an option when the Gunners come up against opponents who look harder to break down.
A compact midfield three with Aouar in a free role
A player with Aouar’s creative tendencies could be just as useful in a free (or at least freer ) role, ostensibly as part of a front three, at least on those occasions where fellow new signing Willian is unavailable.
Such an approach would free up personnel behind him, allowing Arteta to select a trio of, for example, Partey, Xhaka and Maitland-Niles and crowd the midfield against opponents who tend to punish rivals when the game is more open.