Arsenal FC endured a horrendous run towards the end of the season which increased frustration amongst the Gunners' supporters who want the Arsenal manager to spend the money to bring in established players. Arsene Wenger has been notorious for his frugality and some of his recent signings have not gone too well with the fans who are desperate for the Gunners to win trophies soon.
Wenger has probably never had a more tricky summer in his tenure at Arsenal with immense pressure on him to make the right signings for the Gunners and also fight to keep his best players at the club. It is no surprise that Cesc Fabregas has been linked with a move to Barcelona in this summer and there is every possibility it could drag on in the summer.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is likely to be active in the market and was interested in signing youngster Phil Jones before the defender reportedly opted to move to Manchester United. The French tactician has also had to deal with a number of players ready to exit in this summer and has to convince his best players to stay at the club.
There is still some uncertainty regarding Samir Nasri's contract negotiations and he has not ruled out the prospect of joining Manchester United. Though the French midfielder did not have a good second half of the season, he was superb in the first half and is one of the most important players in the current squad. Also, if Nasri does leave the club, then the club will have to bring in a quality replacement.
With clubs below and above Arsenal in the Premiership looking to strengthen in this summer, Arsene Wenger will understand his team's needs and try his best to bring in quality players. However, Arsenal do not have the financial power of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United or for that matter, Liverpool but Wenger is a shrewd negotiator and manager and will look to spend within his transfer budget.
Arsenal's transfer chest is not compared to that of Chelsea or City but according to the Swiss Rambler, a respected football finance blogger, it could be predicted to be more than 40 million for sure. In this inflated transfer market, 40 million will not be able to bring more than two quality players but a number of fringe players like Nicklas Bendtner and Denilson could be on their way and their transfer fees will also be added to the budget.
This is the reason why sorting the future of Cesc Fabregas is a priority for Arsenal because only then will Arsene Wenger be able to understand the needs of the team for the summer. Let us take the two scenarios which is possible in the case of Fabregas.
If Fabregas Departs for Barcelona, What should Wenger do in the Summer?
Though Arsenal fans would like their captain to stay at Arsenal, they will not rule out the possibility of Cesc Fabregas joining his boyhood club in the summer. However, though Fabregas could be allowed to move on by Wenger, it is likely that Barcelona would have to meet Arsenal's valuation of their captain. Though it is difficult to predict the sum of money, if Jordan Henderson is reportedly worth around 20 million, then you can imagine Arsenal's valuation.
It is possible that Barcelona could be interested in a player plus cash deal for Fabregas and could offer one of their talented youngsters to the club. Wenger will have a lot of cash to build his team if Cesc does depart in the summer. But quality players are generally snapped up early in the transfer window which is why it is important for the Gunners to finalize the future of Fabregas in the next few weeks.
If Nasri does sign a new deal at the Emirates, then there is every possibility that he could be shifted to the central attacking midfield role which he prefers to a wide role. The Frenchman is undoubtedly talented and could replace Fabregas though it will mean that Jack Wilshere will be responsible for the distribution and controlling the tempo of the game.
There is also the possibility of Arsenal signing a new midfielder who can fit in with Arsenal's style of play and Nasri can continue on the wings with either Aaron Ramsey or the new midfielder operating in the hole behind striker Robin van Persie. But if Fabregas does leave the club, what is certain is that the money has to be invested into the squad.
Another option for Arsene Wenger is to invest the money from Fabregas' sale to sign a new striker like Benzema and Van Persie can operate behind the striker with Nasri and Walcott as wingers in the formation. This could result in change in formation back to a 4-4-1-1 but it depends on Arsene Wenger's decision on how he wants to utilize the two strikers.
If Nasri does not stay, then it is the worst case in which both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri depart Arsenal. In this scenario, Arsene Wenger will most certainly have to spend the money to acquire a central attacking midfielder, preferably someone who can also play on the wings to provide depth. He could sign a winger or a versatile striker who could play on the wing which will be excellent for Arsenal.
If Cesc Fabregas does stay at Arsenal for the 2011-12 season, then What are the Options?
If the Arsenal captain stays at the club, then it will be pretty straightforward as to what the manager should do in the summer. It will come down to Samir Nasri's decision as to what the Wenger will do in the transfer market. There is a good probability that Nicklas Bendtner will leave the club in the summer and Wenger would have to sign a striker to add depth to the squad.
If Nasri stays, then signing a striker should be the only priority as Arsenal do have a number of attack minded players who can fit in when necessary. Nasri, Arshavin and Walcott will be the wingers while a versatile striker preferably can be added to the squad. Fabregas, Ramsey and Wilshere can play in the attacking midfield role where there is no need for a new player to be signed.
If the French midfielder does leave the club, then Arsene Wenger would have to sign a new winger because Arshavin and Walcott will be the only two wingers apart from Rosicky who has not been very effective since recovering from his long term injury. Arsenal will require a quality winger who can fit in straight in the first team and can provide a lot of quality to the team.
Why is an Early Decision on the Future of Fabregas is Important for Arsenal?
An early decision on Fabregas is absolutely essential for Wenger to decide on the type of players that he has to target for Arsenal. if he is staying with the club, then he can concentrate on the Nasri situation and can be certain on what positions he has to target in the summer. If he does not stay at the club or the club is ready to accept a bid from Barcelona, then they will have to move in to do their best with the contract situation of Samir Nasri and could possibly move him to centre midfield.
But either way, it makes perfect sense for Arsenal to bid for a talented winger like Eden Hazard who has been linked with the Gunners in the past. Though Tomas Rosicky has not been at his best, it is better for the Arsenal manager to retain his services because he can provide a lot of experience and can provide depth to the team.
If Cesc Fabregas' future is not resolved by the end of June, it could mean that a number of players could be signed only after pre-season starts for Arsenal and that is not ideal for the Gunners. In the pre-season, it is important that the players adjust to the new signings' style of play and it could help the player to build a good rapport with his team mates as well.
Arsene Wenger needs to get his deals sorted out before the start of the Champions League qualifier which could turn out to be a tricky fixture. If the Fabregas saga is allowed to drag on till that point, it is possible that it could affect the planning for the next season which could be the most important one yet in Arsene Wenger's long tenure at the club.
If interested, read Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Pros and Cons of signing Jan Vertonghen, Falcao, Ricky Alvarez, Scott Parker and Gervinho in this series of Arsenal Transfer Prospects