With the various end of season cup finals taking place, the summer transfer window is becoming the hottest topic to talk about in the world of football. This also means that player contracts are expiring, becoming free agents in the process.
Although the major contract news for Arsenal revolves around Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, there are a few other pending free agents which should excite fans. That is if Arsenal make a move for them.
Free Agents Which Arsenal Should Consider
For this article, I will focus not on the best players with expiring contracts, but rather on the free agents which would strengthen the team the most. So, in other words, just central defenders, central midfielders and goalkeepers.
With that in mind, the first name on this list is that of a former Liverpool man. Pepe Reina starred in goal for the Reds from 2005 until 2014, currently plying his trade in Serie A for Napoli.
The Spanish ‘keeper enjoyed a good season, helping his team to an exciting campaign, eventually finishing second to Juventus. However, it was the tightest Scudetto race in recent memory.
Reina is 35 already, so wouldn’t be a long-term solution between the sticks for the Gunners. With that said, he did just keep 17 clean sheets in Italy, winning the golden glove award in the process.
Due to the fact that Petr Cech has not been impressive at all this season, the team could do with a new ‘keeper, and they could get Pepe Reina for free. However, there may be a stumbling block. AC Milan Sporting Director Massimiliano Mirabelli told Sky Sports Italia,
“We did inform Napoli that we want to speak to Pepe Reina’s agent, because we want to see if there’s a possibility of bringing the player to Milan.”
That deal is, however, contingent on Gianluigi Donnarumma leaving the San Siro. So, there is hope for Arsenal to sign the Spanish shot-stopper.
Of all the possible free agents that Arsenal could sign, Barzagli is the oldest. The Juventus defender turned 37 in May 2018, with his contract expiring not long after. Since joining the Old Lady in 2011, Andrea Barzagli has been a rock at the back alongside long-time partner Georgio Chiellini as well as Leonardo Bonucci before his move to Milan last summer.
This season is no different. With Juventus lifting its seventh-consecutive Scudetto, Barzagli again proved his worth in Turin.
He could also compliment the Arsenal defense very well. Aside from Laurent Koscielny, who is out until at least December, Shkodran Mustafi is the only veteran presence in the heart of the backline. Calum Chambers, Rob Holding and Konstantinos Mavropanos are all young and relatively untested and should receive time to develop.
One or two may even end up on loan next season. So, it would be very beneficial to the club to bring in another center-back, especially one with plenty of experience. Enter, Andrea Barzagli. The only worry here is that Juventus are rumored to have already offered an extension to the player.
Stefan De Vrij
As you can already tell, many of these free agents currently play in Serie A. Dutchman Stefan De Vrij plies his trade for Lazio. Only 26-years-old, the defender is also one of the youngest players on short contracts in the world of football.
Lazio did offer De Vrij a new contract earlier in the season, only to see it rejected. After joining from Feyenoord in 2014, the player has made 116 appearances, scoring ten goals.
The central defender has experience but is not old yet. He would make a great replacement for Mustafi, or perhaps even Koscielny if his achilles problems persist.
However, the possible stumbling block this time is a tasty rumor that Stefan De Vrij has already signed a contract with Inter Milan. If such talk is false, though, the Gunners should at least make an offer.
Fiorentina captain Milan Badelj is also on a short contract. He is also the first midfielder on this list, as well as the final representative from Serie A.
Badelj joined in 2014 from Hamburg and has 103 league appearances since then for the Viola. He is known as a ball-playing defensive midfielder, which is exactly what Arsenal needs to sort out their midfield.
The player is very open about his position on a new contract. That is, he will not make a decision until after the final match is played. With funds limited in north London, and a major need in the center of the park, getting a defensive midfielder on a free would really be a coup.
The Liverpool midfielder is at the center of a tornado of transfer speculation. The German international is very versatile, lining up as a central midfielder, central defender, or even sometimes on the wing.
He has yet to commit his future to Anfield, fueling speculation of a possible transfer to Juventus. As he is still just 24, any team that signs him will surely feel they have made a steal, as he would fetch a large transfer fee.
Although Arsenal would face competition from Juventus, English clubs are much stronger financially than their Italian counterparts. So, the Gunners may be able to outbid the Old Lady.
However, then it would be down to a simple choice; Champions League football in Turin or Europa League action at the Emirates. Even if it is unlikely, the three-headed Hydra of Gazidis, Mislintat and Sanllehi should make a bid.
Brother of the invincible Kolo Toure, Yaya may have the more impressive resume. While Kolo may claim to have been unbeaten in a season twice (the other time was with Celtic in 2016-2017), Yaya has played for Barcelona and Manchester City, winning league after league as well as a Champions League.
However, there is one slight blotch on his CV; Toure is now 35 and no longer an integral of Guardiola’s team. He does, however, wish a Premier League stay, even if it is not with the champions.
With no real defensive midfielder at Arsenal right now, a move for the Ivorian would make sense. He is physically imposing, tactically aware and still has technical skills. While he probably couldn’t play all 38 matches in a league season, he would be a very important bit-part player for big games.
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