Mikel Arteta has been able to prioritise signing a striker for Arsenal in the January transfer window after the surprise return of Granit Xhaka.
The midfielder suffered a serious knee injury against Tottenham in the North London derby and wasn’t expected to return until the early months of 2022.
However, the Arsenal boss has now revealed that Xhaka is ahead of schedule as he looks to recover from the injury and is expected to return to full training in the next few weeks.
It was recently revealed by transfer guru Fabrizio Romano that the Gunners intend to prioritise the signing of a striker in January, and Xhaka’s unexpectedly quick recovery could have played a huge role in their decision making.
Arsenal had been heavily linked with a move for a central midfielder in the upcoming transfer window, with Arteta desperate to bolster his options in the middle of the pitch.
The expected departures of both Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny as they jet off to represent their respective nations at the Africa Cup of Nations makes the Gunners’ plight look even more severe, with the two midfielders potentially set to be absent for a whole host of Premier League games including the return North London derby at Spurs.
However, the return of Xhaka certainly eases the pressure on the midfield, as the Gunners will be able to call upon Albert Sambi Lokonga and Ainsley Maitland-Niles as well as the Switzerland international.
With Arteta’s midfield woes now eased, it gives the Arsenal boss the chance to address his side’s goalscoring problems by signing a new striker in January,
Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette’s contracts are both set to expire at the end of the season, and with no news regarding fresh deals for the pair, the club could be open to selling in January to avoid losing them for free next summer.
If both strikers do leave the Emirates Stadium, then this will leave the Gunners short on forwards, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Folarin Balogun – a youngster with just two Premier League appearances to his name – the only strikers remaining in the squad.
However, Arsenal have been linked with a number of prolific strikers including Swedish starlet Alexander Isak and Serie A marksman Dusan Vlahovic, both of whom would provide Aubameyang with stiff competition for a place in the starting XI.
Arsenal still need to strengthen their midfield despite the return of Xhaka, but the surprise return of the 28-year-old has definitely made the signing of a forward a more immediate priority.
Make sure you have subscribed to The Arsenal Way and the Fan Brands team along with plenty of your football.london favourites will be producing daily Arsenal content for you to enjoy including match reactions, podcasts, football fun and interviews.