This summer looks set to be a strange one for Arsenal supporters as their club, in a break from the norm, are ready to spend big money to bring in players.
Over recent years Gunners fans have often sat patiently and waited for star names to arrive, only for the transfer window to close without any notable additions being made.
However, failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time under Arsene Wenger appears to have woken Arsenal from their slumber. The club are ready to spend, and spend heavily, to bolster their squad.
Here, we take a look at the top five Arsenal transfer stories according to the Football Whispers Index, which scores the validity of transfer rumours out of five, to see who could join Sead Kolasinac at the Emirates this summer.
Alexandre Lacazette – Lyon – 3.6
Top of their list is Lacazette.
The French striker had agreed to join Atletico Madrid this summer, as reported by Sky Sports.
However, the Spanish club’s transfer ban was upheld and that meant the move broke down.
That gave Arsenal the chance to make their move.
And The Sun claim the north London side are increasingly confident they can strike a £50million deal for the 26-year-old.
With Chelsea striker Bertrand Traore close to sealing a £16million switch to Lyon, it appears the Gunners are in position to make France international Lacazette their club-record signing.
Riyad Mahrez – Leicester City – 3.3
Mahrez was the stand-out player during Leicester’s shock title win but he hugely underperformed last season, not scoring from open play until March.
That hasn’t deterred Wenger, however, and, according to The Sun, Mahrez isn’t put off by the club’s lack of Champions League football.
A fit and focused Mahrez would be an upgrade on Arsenal’s current options out wide, barring Sanchez, and the reported £26million fee quoted is surprisingly low given the inflated transfer market.
With both parties keen to make the move happen, this is likely to be a deal that gets done shortly after pre-season gets underway.
Chris Smalling – Manchester United – 3.0
The arrival of Victor Lindelöf has pushed Smalling further down the pecking order at Old Trafford and it appears Manchester United are willing to let the England international leave if the price is right.
Wenger is a known admirer of Smalling – who had an excellent 2015/16 campaign but was in and out of the starting XI under Jose Mourinho last season.
The Arsenal boss was interested in the centre-back when he played for Fulham in 2010 and had a £12million bid rejected in 2015 by United, according to the Guardian.
With defensive reinforcements required this summer, especially if the Gunners continue to play a back three next season, then Smalling is a logical option for Arsenal, who have done business with United on several occasions in the past.
While he may not be the most technically adapt, Smalling is swift across the ground, powerful and strong in the air. He also, importantly, would count as a homegrown player.
Negotiations between top clubs rarely are smooth so Smalling, who had a tense relationship with Mourinho at times last season, may have to push for a move if a deal is going to be done.
Arda Turan – Barcelona – 2.9
The Turkish international is expected to leave Barcelona after two years at the Camp Nou and Arsenal are reportedly at the head of the queue to sign him.
His versatility would undoubtedly benefit Arsenal given Sanchez and Mesut Özil, who both only have one-year remaining on their respective contracts, could still depart this summer.
The biggest stumbling block appears to be the player himself. Turan’s agent, speaking in the Turkish media and reported by The Mirror, stated at the start of the month that the attacking midfielder is settled in Catalonia and has no intention of leaving.
That puts a rather obvious spanner in the works and given Turan’s age and the required fee to prise him away from Barcelona, Arsenal may opt to pursue other transfer targets for the time being.
Thomas Lemar – Monaco – 2.7
One of the many Monaco gems, Lemar impressed last season as the club clinched the Ligue 1 title and reached the Champions League quarter-finals.
Interest in the winger was expected and Arsenal aren’t the only north London club in the hunt, Tottenham Hotspur too are hoping to conclude a deal for the 21-year-old.
According to The Telegraph, Lemar is one of three French players on Wenger’s wish-list, the other two being Lacazette and Real Madrid transfer tarnet Kylian Mbappé, and the Arsenal boss was spotted in Nice, a short drive away from Monaco, this week.
Lemar’s price tag is estimated to be around £35million, which given the current market, isn’t likely to put Arsenal off. Again the future of Sanchez may be in any deal given the Monaco star predominantly plays off the left flank.
If a switch to the Emirates was to take place, it is likely to be done later in the transfer window.