Mikel Arteta has identified the three players he wants to bring in this summer as he looks to make his own stamp on the Arsenal squad he inherited from Unai Emery.
The Gunners boss is looking to add a wealth of experience to the team and is intent on switching to a 4-3-3 system next season, as he continues implement his own style of play.
According to The Times, Arteta has identified Philippe Coutinho, Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey and Chelsea winger Willian as the men to help transform his side as they look to build on their FA Cup triumph.
With Coutinho now exiled by Barcelona, Arsenal could snap up the Brazilian this summer, with recent reports suggesting that the former Liverpool star could cost as little as £9million. A loan deal is also being mooted should Barcelona not receive an offer in the region of their valuation of the player.
The Catalan giants are hoping to sell Coutinho permanently but are aware that clubs may not be able to part with a significant transfer fee in this current financial climate and could instead look to loan him out for another season – he joined Bayern on loan last August.
In the centre of the park, Partey is being seen as the man to take over from Matteo Guendouzi after the Frenchman lost his place in the squad due to attitude issues. He was accused of taunting Brighton players over their wages during a Premier League clash.
Another veteran Arteta is keen on bringing in is Willian, whose current deal at Stamford Bridge is set to expire after Chelsea’s second leg against Bayern Munich in the Champions League last-16 on August 8.
While he remains locked in contract talks with the Blues over extending his stay at the club, Arsenal are one of the front-runners to land the Brazilian should he not be offered a new deal. He wants three years at Chelsea, who are only offering two.
Arteta is also hoping to extend Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s stay at the Emirates by offering the Gabon striker a new £250,000-a-week deal.
Aubameyang’s current £180,000-a-week deal expires next summer but his contract includes a 12-month extension clause.
It is reported that Arsenal must trigger the clause by December 31, which would then see his wages go up significantly.
With bonus fees involved this could cost the club around £20m for one season, after which Aubameyang could still leave.
Arsenal therefore want the matter resolved and will push for their FA Cup hero to sign on the dotted line with completely fresh terms taking him through until 2023.
Speaking after the final, Arteta made it clear he wanted Aubameyang to stay, adding that he wanted to ‘build his squad around him’.
He told the BBC: ‘He knows what I think about him. I think he wants to stay and it is just about getting the deal done.
‘These moments will help him to realise and believe that we are on the right path and he is a big part of that.
‘He is loved by everybody at the club. Hopefully he can continue with us.’
However, sources insist Aubameyang is not prepared to be low-balled. He knows he could secure a more lucrative pay-day by leaving on a free transfer next year and wants a deal that acknowledges his position as the club’s most important player.
Asked on Saturday what he could reveal about his plans, Aubameyang replied: ‘Nothing.’
Meanwhile, any new arrivals coming in will see a number of first-team players being offloaded.
Sportsmail reported on Sunday night that Arteta is considering offloading as many as nine first-team players in order to raise funds for players this summer.
Arteta knows he must sell players to generate the money required to land his first-choice transfer targets — and he could even ship out Alexandre Lacazette or Hector Bellerin if a sizeable offer is made for either player.
Sokratis, Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Sead Kolasinac — as well as Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding, who have played key roles for Arteta in recent weeks — are also in the shop window.
Arsenal want to sell Mesut Ozil, but their hopes of offloading the former Germany playmaker — and his £350,000-a-week salary — appear slim after his agent insisted Ozil would see out the final season of his contract.