11:35 AM UTC Mar 22, 2018
Game Details
7:00 PM UTC Mar 22, 2018
Game Details
4:00 PM UTC Mar 23, 2018
Game Details
5:00 PM UTC Mar 23, 2018
Game Details
Republic of Ireland
5:30 PM UTC Mar 23, 2018
Game Details
7:45 PM UTC Mar 23, 2018
Game Details
7:45 PM UTC Mar 23, 2018
Game Details
ESPN3 8:00 PM UTC Mar 23, 2018
Game Details
ESPN3 7:45 PM UTC Mar 23, 2018
Game Details
2:30 AM UTC Mar 24, 2018
Game Details

Granit Xhaka a boost but Wenger must remain busy in transfer market

A season of disappointment -- even if it ends in hilarious fashion -- has an impact on how fans view the squad as it stands, and what needs to be done to it.

The players who haven't performed as well as expected become expendable, flotsam to be set adrift on the transfer ocean, replaced by something newer, shinier, better and more exciting. It's true in some cases that this is what happens, but a manager has to find the right balance. Add too many and you have to deal with issues of integration and adaptation; too few and the same old stories repeat themselves.

As Arsenal look set to sign their first player of the summer, with Swiss international Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach reportedly on the cusp of joining, Arsene Wenger will certainly have some thinking to do this summer about how he builds his squad for next season.

There are obvious gaps to be filled. Xhaka provides depth and quality to midfield, an area of the team that really didn't function this season. Injuries hit and doubts persist over Jack Wilshere's ability to stay fit for an entire season, while the departures Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini mean that numbers have to be made up.

Further forward the need for a new, clinical striker has been obvious for ages. Wenger's pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez as far back as 2013 suggest this is something he's been open to doing for some time. He simply can't let another summer go without signing that type of player, and that's not even taking into account the injury suffered by Danny Welbeck -- one which Wenger believes will more or less keep him out for most of next season.

You could make a case for the purchase of a player who could add something to the wide attacking areas too, as well as a centre-half, and possibly a full-back, depending on what happens with certain players on the fringes of the first team.

But some measure of cohesion has to be maintained. It's not possible to wipe the entire slate clean and start again. Wenger has to keep hold of the majority of the squad, and add to it in the right places. Yet there comes a time when a manager has to make a decision about a player and whether or not his contribution is sufficient, and there are a number who spring to mind.

Theo Walcott's 10 years at Arsenal have provided some superb moments, but not much in the way of consistency. The Arsenal manager has seemed reluctant to give him playing time and in the second half of the past two seasons he's been a bit-part player. Does Welbeck's injury make it more likely that Arsenal will keep Walcott? Perhaps, but if the Frenchman has made his mind up, he should be prepared to let him go and replace him with somebody better.

Granit Xhaka appears set for a move to Arsenal.

He'll be thinking about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, too, who has had a season of regression rather than development and, heading into the final two years of his contract, there's a decision to be made there, too.

Then there are players who might want to leave themselves. David Ospina is No.1 for Colombia and will hardly fancy spending another season on the bench, while Kieran Gibbs is known to be anxious to play more regularly. Joel Campbell might feel his best chance of playing week in and week out is by going to a club where he has the full trust of his manager, something that's obviously missing from his relationship with Wenger.

Not all those comings and goings will happen, but they're still issues the Frenchman will have to deal with this summer. His job isn't just about buying new players, it's about making room for them when they arrive, managing his current squad, cutting his losses with some and convincing others Arsenal is still the place to be.

Wenger famously takes very little time off, even during the summer, and this one looks set to be one of the busiest and most challenging of his 20 years at the club.

Andrew Mangan is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @arseblog.


Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.