Dembele link a sign Emery set to fill glaring squad hole


Unai Emery – or Arsenal’s new recruitment team – have acted this summer to fill the three areas where there was most clamour for signings.

Greece international defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos arrived from Borussia Dortmund to reinforce the centre of defence, an area where Arsenal were clearly deficient, particularly with worries over the fitness of Laurent Koscielny.

German Bernd Leno has come in as goalkeeper, with Petr Cech in clear decline and David Ospina never quite managing to convince.

While Lucas Torreira – a diligent figure in the centre of Uruguay’s World Cup midfield – is presumed to be the remedy for the soft centre Arsenal have long endured.

It remains to be seen how effective any of these signings will be and there remains a suspicion Arsenal are still shopping in the bargain sales, despite the supposedly parsimonious Arsene Wenger’s departure.

But the recruitment at least leaves just one glaring hole in the squad – a pacy wide player.

Since the departures of Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott – and to an extent Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Arsenal have lacked a direct threat out wide.

There are plenty of options to fill the spaces left and right of a frontman. Mesut Ozil or Henrikh Mkhitaryan can occupy one flank but surely can’t both be employed at the same time.

Danny Welbeck can offer pace down the left but is best as a non-scoring centre-forward. Reiss Nelson needs time, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can play wide and has been tried there in pre-season, but it would seem folly to post the team’s most natural goalscorer away from his natural habitat.

So the Dembele links are interesting. A loan deal with Barcelona has been touted for a player who cost more than €100m from Dortmund last season. A swap with Aaron Ramsey has also been rumoured.

Arsenal’s head of recruitment Sven Mislintat knows Dembele well from his time at Dortmund. The the 21-year-old World Cup winner would offer pace, trickery and goals from a wide position.

In a way, it would be a typical early Wenger signing, the rehabilitation of a highly-rated player who has struggled after a high-profile, costly move.

Emery probably needs a statement signing to bolster belief in his reign. And whether it’s Dembele or another attacker, this looks to be the position where Arsenal most need a new recruit.