Ox for Sturridge, Giroud for Griezmann, Wilshere for Wilshere?
Arsene Wenger needs an upgrade at right-wing. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has failed to convince yet again. Theo Walcott has proven to be grossly ineffective on the flank. Joel Campbell has performed admirably this season, and it's fair to say that he should have gotten more minutes. By all estimations, it seems Wenger views the Costa Rican as a good player, but presumably does not consider him bound for greatness. The manager needs someone cut from the same cloth as Alexis Sanchez, someone with world-class pace, finishing ability, mushrooming imagination and creativity, someone who can develop a scintillating partnership with the world's most promising right-back, Hector Bellerin.
Here are a couple of moves that Arsenal's long-serving manager should consider making as the season of summer transfers beckons:
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Daniel Sturridge: It's time to consider moving on one of the most promising talents in Great Britain. Prized and lauded for his incredibly acceleration, power, and technical ability, each of the last two seasons felt as though the Ox was poised to breakout and become an established member of the starting 11. His goal against Chelsea in the Community Shield furthered the anticipation and had supporters frothing at the mouth. This seemed like the year. Oxlade-Chamberlain was going to be one of the key men at the Emirates.
But it was not meant to be, as a nagging lack of self-confidence infected Oxlade-Chamberlain all season long. His anxiousness to impress, to prove that it was going to be his season, that he would reach ignition, and score goals, weighed heavy on his mind, too heavy it seems. His poor decision making, and imparticular, a bad habit of losing possession in the defensive-third, saw him slowly get relegated down the pecking order as Arsene Wenger lost faith in his performances.
If this sounds like a familiar story that's because it is. Despite still only being 22, Oxlade-Chamberlain is quickly becoming a perennial disappointment. He has lost his spark at Arsenal.
Clearly, there is a special player hiding underneath the serial underachievement, it exists in some form, suffocated in a back-alley of his soul, right now it's a small, smoldering, flame, a tiny, smoky crackle, that is in dire need of Jurgen Klopp's gasoline-infused man management. Ox needs someone to get into him, to blow him up, to douse him in petrol and set him on fire.
Klopp could turn Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain into a world-class talent.
Securing a prospect like the Ox shouldn't come cheap. By allowing Oxlade-Chamberlain to move to Merseyside, Arsene Wenger must demand Daniel Sturridge in return. One Englishman for another would be interesting to both Clubs. Liverpool get a versatile player with loads of potential that is athletically gifted, and almost genetically built, to suit the high-pressing game Klopp will be looking to complete the install on this summer. Arsenal get the right-winger they need, a proven goal-scorer, lightning quick, creative, with technical expertise and ability, that would bring the team from North London one step closer to fielding an attack that could win the league.
Olivier Giroud for Antoine Griezmann: Diego Simeone has, in the past, been rumored to be interested in signing Giroud. The Argentine firebrand must like the prospect of working with such a skilled big man. He clearly has a penchant for working with physical, strong, traditional target strikers. He cultured impressive results out of a ruffian like Diego Costa, and when he left, figured he could emulate the successes enjoyed during Costa's tenure by bringing in the Croatian Mario Mandzukic.
Simeone has a fetish for traditional no. 9's and Olivier Giroud could be enticing bait in luring the mercurial Griezmann to Arsenal.
Griezmann would bring serious panache to Arsenal. His penetrating runs in behind opposition defenses would sync magically with Mesut Ozil's otherworldly vision. The combination of Ozil's passing and Griezmann's movement would make any back-four nervous, but it is Griezmann's conversion rate that makes him such a high-value target for the Gunners. Arsenal's finishing has been mediocre at best this season, Ozil should realistically have 25 assists at this stage in the season, Griezman could turn chances into goals, and ensure that Ozil's offerings don't go begging.
The Atleti marksman can play on the flank, or through the middle as a traditional striker, offering Wenger a versatility that makes him extremely desirable. At just 25 years old, Griezmann is entering the prime of his career, and could be come a global superstar plying his trade in London. With Luciano Vietto coming through the pipeline as the next great Atletico Madrid striker, Wenger should tempt the Argentine taskmaster with a plan B option, that directness he likes to have in his quiver, and this option has silky Arsenal-bred touch, which makes the big French international perfectly suited for the technique required in La Liga.
Griezmann going to Arsenal for cash, and Olivier Giroud, makes for a very intriguing transfer-swap that both manger's could get behind.
Jack Wilshere for Jack Wilshere: If it's April, and there's not much left to play for, it typically means Jack Wilshere is about to return from a serious injury and make his way back into first team action. This is the time of year that will see Wilshere return, score a few brilliant goals, and excite everyone at Dial Square about just how good he will be next season if he can avoid injury.
Wenger will undoubtedly keep Wilshere on the books again for the next campaign. Because as every pundit from Milan to Minsk will declare, Wilshere is that one Arsenal prodigy that is worth keeping, he is the one player who has the class to play for Barcelona, he has the pedigree to be England's most gifted player. Assuming Wenger does keep him, and he will, how does Jack Wilshere get into the team next year?
With Mohamed El Neny getting better with every match, Santi Cazorla set to return in the coming weeks, Francis Coquelin providing needed balance, Aaron Ramsey proving he's one of Wenger's favorite players, and Mesut Ozil occupying the no. 10 role, there's not much opportunity of finding a central role for Wilshere. The right-wing becomes the best viable option for Wilshere to make his mark at Arsenal, as he could provide some quicksilver ingenuity out on the flank, cutting inside to his favored left-foot, creating the angles for unleashing his significant shooting ability, turning provider for the striker, and offering a worthy partner for Hector Bellerin to play off of, and defend with.
Wenger and Wilshere have to give up on the idea of Jack playing centrally. He hasn't shown the needed discipline, and the byproduct has been injury, cautions, or dismissals, and with the new personnel developing balance in the middle of the park, it's time to rebrand Wilshere's role in the team.
The Wilshere of old must be forgotten, the box-to-box, or even deep lying, central midfielder, must become the crafty, goal scoring, assist making winger that Arsenal need for the right-side of their midfield.