Martin Meissner/Associated Press
Arsenal are reportedly ready to spend £75 million this summer on three Bundesliga targets as they bid to strengthen their defence.
The Gunners want to bring in Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno, Borussia Dortmund centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Freiburg’s Caglar Soyuncu, according to The Sun‘s Mark Irwin.
The club has yet to confirm who will replace Arsene Wenger as manager, but head of recruitment Sven Mislintat is working on the deals and knows the players well from his time at Dortmund.
Arsenal are aiming to conclude all three deals by the time the transfer window opens on Friday, June 1. However, they may wait to make the transfers official until a new manager has been appointed, per Irwin.
Defence was a weakness for Arsenal last season. Goalkeeper Petr Cech topped the list for errors leading to goals, as Opta showed:
5 – Top five goalkeepers in terms of errors leading to goals in the 2017-18 Premier League:
6 – Petr Cech (Arsenal)
5 – Hugo Lloris (Spurs)
5 – Asmir Begovic (Bournemouth)
4 – Joe Hart (West Ham)
3 – Jonas Lössl (Huddersfield)
Cech will turn 36 on Sunday and is heading towards the end of a long and distinguished career. He needs replacing, and Leno is reportedly available at a decent price, as Simon Collings at Hayters showed:
Simon Collings @sr_collings
Bild reporting that Bernd Leno – who has been linked with Arsenal and Napoli – has a clause in his contract which means he can leave for just €25m this summer.
However, Arsenal may face competition for his signature, as Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis has said he has met with the goalkeeper’s representatives, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t football journalist David Amoyal):
David Amoyal @DavidAmoyal
Napoli president De Laurentiis on Pepe Reina’s replacement:”Rui Patricio? We’re in negotiations, I like him a lot. But I also met with Leno’s representatives, I’m evaluating situation” to Gazzetta dello Sport
Central defence is also an issue, with Per Mertesacker set to retire. Meanwhile, Laurent Koscielny struggled this season and suffered a torn Achilles that is expected to rule him out for six months, per James Olley at the Evening Standard.
Shkodran Mustafi is another player who endured a subpar campaign, and he has been left out of Germany’s FIFA 2018 World Cup squad.
Papastathopoulos is an experienced defender, and a move to Arsenal would see him reunited with former Dortmund team-mates Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Soyuncu’s agent, Mustafa Dogru, has said the defender’s “main objective” is to play in the Premier League, per Charles Watts at Football.London.
Commentator Kevin Hatchard explained what Soyuncu could bring to Arsenal:
Kevin Hatchard 🎙⚽️ @kevinhatchard
If #afc do pay £35m for Caglar Soyuncu, it is a risk (all transfers are to some extent), but there is so much to like about him. Tenacious, strong, decent on the ball. Greatest weakness is that he sometimes gets too pumped up and makes silly mistakes, but good coach will fix that
There will be big changes at Arsenal this summer as the club begins a new era after Wenger’s departure. The Gunners do not appear to have a huge budget, but the squad needs strengthening, and the north London outfit must ensure they bring in the right players.