Arsenal: The first six fixtures of the 2021/22 Premier League season
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Arsenal have suffered a fresh transfer blow after reportedly having a bid for Anderlecht midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga. The Gunners want to sign the Belgian star as part of a huge summer revamp of Mikel Arteta’s squad.
The Spaniard has been trusted to lead their transfer window plans despite overseeing one of the most disappointing campaigns in the club’s recent history.
Arsenal finished eighth in the Premier League despite a five-match winning run to end the season. It means that they will miss out on a place in European competition for the first time since 1996.
A pitiful defence of their 2019-20 FA Cup success ended in a fourth-round defeat by Southampton, while they were beaten semi-finalists in the Europa League.
Their 2-1 aggregate loss against Villarreal denied them an all-Premier League Europa League final against Manchester United, who were beaten by the La Liga side.
Arteta and sporting director Edu have already plotted a big rebuild of the first-team squad, with several senior players to be replaced by fresher faces.
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Defender David Luiz will leave when his contract expires at the end of the month. Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Granit Xhaka and Willian have all been linked with departures.
However, Arteta and Edu keep facing obstacles.
They were beaten to the signing of Norwich City midfielder Emiliano Buendia by Aston Villa.
Their pursuit of Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana is dependent on the Cameroonian having his 12-month ban from football upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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Onana was suspended from all football activity for a year in February after taking a banned substance called Furosemide. The 25-year-old has appealed the ban and insists he mistook the pill for an aspirin.
And Arsenal’s latest setback is that their £12.9m bid for Lokonga has been rejected by Anderlecht, according to Italian-based journalist Ekrem Konur.
The Belgian side want closer to £22m for the 21-year-old, who is also wanted by AC Milan, Monaco, Sevilla and Bayer Leverkusen.
Arteta has urged the Arsenal board to make vast changes this summer to avoid falling further behind their Premier League rivals.
“The squad needs changing,” the 39-year-old said in May.
“There were already a lot of changes in December, something that has not been done in years, but it tells us where we were.
“Things are going to have to change and the owners are going to back it up.
“Time is catching up right now.
“It’s a trend, it’s years now that this has been happening. If the distance and the margins with the rest become too big, then it’s almost impossible to do it.
“We are still on time, and we have put some very strong pillars and foundations in the last few months to do what we have to do.
“We know what has been going on inside here for the last 18 months.
“We know. We only know – the ones that are here. How we have built that is incredible.”
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