Arsenal transfer rumours assessed: 5 targets in January 2021 – and how likely they are to actually sign


Christian Eriksen et al. playing football on a field: Houssem Aouar, Christian Eriksen and Emi Buendia have all been linked with a move to Arsenal (Photo: Getty)

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Houssem Aouar, Christian Eriksen and Emi Buendia have all been linked with a move to Arsenal (Photo: Getty)

Mikel Arteta is discovering the hard way that an FA Cup victory only carries a manager so far.

Those victories over Manchester City and Chelsea in the late summer feel like an awfully long time ago now for a club that finds itself marooned in the bottom half of the Premier League table after their worst start in decades.

Clearly, things need to change – from the top down. Arsenal’s board have seemingly been content to stuff Kia Joorabchian’s pockets with pound notes without stopping to consider whether an agent-led transfer strategy is the best policy to take. Mikel Arteta, like Unai Emery before him, isn’t blameless, but this group of players have under-achieved for too long.

The club’s technical director Edu has sought to temper expectations that big signings will be made next month. “People might start to ask: ‘what are you going to do in the winter window?’ Of course, we will try to do something but we have the responsibility to change it,” he said on Monday. “Don’t wait for someone outside to come inside and be a magician because that’s not going to happen.”

Despite Edu’s comments, Manchester United’s signing of Bruno Fernandes proves that signing a “magician” in the winter can galvanise a team.

Here are five players Arsenal could target to salvage their season…

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Isco (Real Madrid)

Every transfer window, without fail, Isco is linked with a move away from Real Madrid. The classy Spanish playmaker is a true rumour mill legend. It’s only December, but already Isco has been tipped to swap Madrid for another major European city when the window re-opens.

a female football player on a field: Isco has slipped down the pecking order at Real Madrid (Photo: Reuters)

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Isco has slipped down the pecking order at Real Madrid (Photo: Reuters)

According to Spanish publication Sport, a handful of clubs hold an interest in Isco, including frequent shoppers from Real Madrid, Juventus, Serie A’s surprise leaders AC Milan, transfer guru Monchi’s Sevilla and Everton who possess the Carlo Ancelotti factor these days.

Arsenal are also mentioned as suitors with Mikel Arteta understandably keen to increase his side’s creativity. Although Isco’s importance to Real has dwindled in recent years, he was integral to their three consecutive Champions League league wins under Zinedine Zidane.

Isco has started only three La Liga games this season and Real will be eager to offload him for a fee while they can with his contract set to expire in 2022. Arsenal have a good relationship with Real having signed Dani Ceballos from them over the past two campaigns so this one could potentially have a chance.

Likelihood of signing in January: ????????

Houssem Aouar (Lyon)

Arsenal could face a challenge in persuading summer target Houssem Aouar to swap a Ligue 1 title tilt with Lyon for a potential Premier League relegation scrap, but there is always a deal to be done with the French club’s wily old owner Jean-Michal Aulas.

Aouar featured prominently on Arsenal’s transfer shortlist in the summer before the club prioritised a move for Thomas Partey instead. With a third of the campaign gone, it has become apparent that a player of Aouar’s craft and ingenuity is required.

The 22-year-old is not a No 10 of Mesut Ozil’s ilk – he ranks 59th in Ligue 1 for chances created in 2020-21 – but crucially he plays the ball forwards more often than not, a trait that isn’t necessarily shared by current midfield incumbents Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny.

Likelihood of signing in January: ????????

Boulaye Dia (Stade Reims)

For most of the Premier League era, Arsenal have been renowned for their free-flowing attacking football. That hasn’t been the case this season. Only West Brom, Burnley and Sheffield United scored fewer goals than Arsenal’s 12 after 14 matches.

Aubameyang has been a shadow of his former self, scoring just twice from open play, while Alexandre Lacazette hasn’t fared much better, netting three times in the league. Additional firepower could be required and Stade Reims forward Boulaye Dia is apparently on Arsenal’s radar.

The 24-year-old has scored nine goals in 14 Ligue 1 appearances this season, a total only bettered in the division by PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, who has 11. While addressing the team’s chronic lack of creativity from midfield is Arsenal’s number one priority, acquiring a striker to relieve some pressure on the misfiring Aubameyang could also be beneficial.

Likelihood of signing in January: ????????

Christian Eriksen (Inter)

While Aouar is a prober, Christian Eriksen is a lock-picker and would be able to seize the creative slack that has been absent since Ozil tumbled out of favour. During the Dane’s six full seasons in the Premier League – with Arsenal’s north London rivals Spurs, no less – he ranked in the top 10 of all players for chances created.

Christian Eriksen holding a football ball on a field: Former Spurs playmaker Eriksen has emerged as a shock transfer target for Arsenal (Photo: Getty)

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Former Spurs playmaker Eriksen has emerged as a shock transfer target for Arsenal (Photo: Getty)

Things have turned sour for Eriksen since swapping the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for San Siro, however. Despite being fully fit, Eriksen has only started four of Inter’s Serie A matches this term, while Antonio Conte has given more minutes to 17 members of his squad than last January’s marquee recruit.

Despite Eriksen’s struggles in Italy, he is a proven Premier League performer who helped transform Spurs into title contenders if not champions. Assuming there is no route back for Ozil in Arteta’s plans, Arsenal could do worse than to coax Eriksen back to London after a year away.

Likelihood of signing in January: ????????

Emiliano Buendia (Norwich City)

If Szoboszlai opts to take the well-trodden path from Salzburg to Leipzig and Eriksen decides against tarnishing his…

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