Arsenal have entered the transfer market early this summer but there is still more work that needs to be done.
The signings of Lukas Podolski and Oliver Giroud, plus the possible arrival of Yann M'Vila, are encouraging signs, but are they really the type of players Arsenal need to challenge for the title next season?
Lukas Podolski, Arsenal's first summer signing.
Podolski appears to be a direct replacement for Andrey Arshavin, while Giroud, at 6ft 3in, is the obvious choice to replace Nicklas Bendtner and/or Mauranne Chamakh as back-up for Robin van Persie. However, with just 6 caps to his name, the 25 year old French striker represents something of a gamble, although his scoring record suggests he could be another shrewd investment by Arsene Wenger.
But M'Vila could prove to be the best signing of all, a defensive midfielder capable of protecting the defence. His presence would also allow Alex Song more freedom to get forward, which he loves to do, and with the likes of Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere set to return from injury, Arsenal could have a very strong midfield indeed.
The return of Jack Wilshere could prove crucial.
Behind them, however, there still appears to be problems. It has been this area of the team which has cost them in recent years, conceding at least 10 goals a season more than their title rivals, and they still do not appear to have enough strength in depth. The first choice back four of Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, Thomas Vermaelen and either Kieran Gibbs or Andre Santos, look decent enough but the back-up still appears weak. Carl Jenkinson has potential at right back but you are not going to win major honours with him playing regularly, while Francis Coquelin seems more suited to midfield role.
In the centre of defence Per Mertesaker recovered from a slow start to finally look like the international centre half he is before injury ended his season in February, but the jury is still out on Johan Djourou and Sebastian Squiallaci. Therefore the signing of another centre half this summer looks essential, someone like German Matt Hummels for example, who appears to be a perfect fit for Arsenal.
Matt Hummels, a perfect fit for Arsenal?
There is also concern over the goalkeeping situation. Wojciech Szczesny had a decent season and is going to be a very good goalkeeper, but he showed his inexperience for Poland in the opening match of Euro 12 and his replacement, Lukas Fabianski, is never going to good enough. Perhaps third choice Vito Mannone will come good after going out on loan last season, but the club need a more experienced goalkeeper to give them some solid cover.
But of course the biggest signing of all would be to tie van Persie in to a long term deal. It does not appear to be simply a matter of money for the skipper, but ambition of the club. The signings made so far are a positive step but will they be enough to convince the Dutchman he can fulfil his own ambitions in North London?
Robin van Persie, the signing of the summer?
He has clearly looked like a player with a lot on his mind in the Euros, but Holland's potential early exit would at least give the club more time to sort out his future.
While they do not have to sell as he still has a year left on his contract, Arsenal are unlikely to risk losing him on a free next summer. However, if a trophy arrives at The Emirates next season there is a very real possibility van Persie would be happy to commit his long term future then.
Having sold Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri last summer, the last thing they need is to lose another of their star players, so it may be worth the gamble of keeping the Dutchman for another year. They have recouped enough in sales over the last few years, and made a healthy profit once again, so it could be a risk worth taking if it means the club are celebrating a Premier League or Champions League success next May.
Optimistic? Perhaps, but with another 2-3 good signings in defensive areas it could be possible. Just remember where you read it first...