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The golden rule of transfer recruitment

Arsenal are set to embark recruiting new players for head coach Mikel Arteta. But given the makeup of the squad, there is a golden rule they must not break.

Mikel Arteta has made a very positive start to life as Arsenal head coach. He has proven his coaching skill, implemented a well-defined and concise system that has improved individual and collective performances, and displayed enough progress that suggests he can build a competitive team.

The next step along the Arteta rebuild is recruitment. While positive steps have been made to bed tactical processes and systems into the players, ultimately, there is only so much a coach can do. You need the players to execute your gameplans, and at present, Arteta is working with blunt tools.

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The upcoming summer transfer window, then, will be critical for the future Arsenal football club. And for the Arteta project especially. If the former Manchester City assistant is to make true progress at the helm of the team, he must be given new and improved players over what he is currently hamstring with. Centre-back, central midfield, and attacking midfield are all positions that are in need of investment, and that is without considering the potential departures of players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

However, while there are plenty of positions in need of lavish spending, given the current make-up of the squad, there is one golden rule that the club must not break if they want to have a successful recruitment strategy: quality, not quantity.

Without any players bought or sold and assuming full fitness, this is the expected starting XI next season:

Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, David Luiz; William Saliba, Kieran Tierney; Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira, Mesut Ozil; Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette

And this leaves the following for the reserve XI:

Emiliano Martinez; Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac; Matteo Guendouzi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock; Reiss Nelson, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah

And all this is to not include Rob Holding, Sokratis, Emile Smith Rowe, as well as Cedric, Dani Ceballos and Pablo Mari, all of which could be signed at the expiration of their respective deals at the end of the season.

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You can quibble about the names here and there, but the point is this: the Arsenal squad is deep, varied, plentiful and young. They do not need to add numbers at any position other than perhaps attacking midfield, and that is not the case if Arteta believes in Smith Rowe as some others do.

You will notice that the difference between the starting XI and second XI is not that great, especially in defence and midfield. And in the front three, Nelson, Martinelli and Nketiah are all taking giant leaps forward every time they take to the pitch. There are two simultaneous reasons for this: the starting XI is not very good and the second XI is pretty decent.

Where Arteta needs help is in finding truly elite players. He needs a world-class centre-half, a Premier League-leading defensive midfielder, and a replacement for Ozil. He only needs one of each and signing any old name is not helpful. He needs elite, elite quality. Anything less is not worth the investment.

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So, when Arsenal come to the summer transfer window and look to provide Arteta with the squad he requires, they must not break the golden rule: quality, not quantity.

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