Partey sold, Guimaraes joins, £40 Gallagher bid - Arsenal midfield transfer plans decided

Arsenal and Newcastle midfielders Declan Rice and Bruno Guimaraes
-Credit: (Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal have conundrums to solve across the pitch this summer. In defence, it is left-back causing headaches. Who should stay, who should go, and what is the best role for Oleksandr Zinchenko?

The frontline appears to be more simple. Who will carry the load as a striker and sole No.9? The profile is of Benjamin Sesko, but what does this mean for the demands to be placed on Kai Havertz next year, and inversely what does that mean for the midfield?

And then to the centre of the park. On paper there is only one spot in the team left open. Declan Rice will certainly play, as will Martin Odegaard, but who completes the trio? And within that, what does it mean again for the defensive work needed of Rice?

He has shown yet more proof of just why £100million was well spent 12 months ago to bring him in from West Ham as runs from deep are added to his skillset. Is it worth truly exploring options to make him a marauding No.8 rather than an anchoring, ball-playing No.6 instead?

Getting the alchemy right will be absolutely key for Mikel Arteta, who is up against Pep Guardiola and the most defined roles imaginable. Each of his Manchester City players know their tasks inside and out, but there is some uncertainty at Arsenal now.

This is all before considering the possibility that a host of players actually depart. Thomas Partey could make way as he enters the final 12 months of his contract. Jorginho extended his deal but is also now into his 30s and requires another extension to keep him beyond the summer of 2025. Fabio Vieira exists as a name but not much more in a footballing sense. Emile Smith Rowe anyone? Please?

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It is possible that effectively half of the midfield stocks are sold before the new season begins. That will take some revamping. Bruno Guimaraes has been touted being on the market again following the continued dead-end deal that Martin Zubimendi has been so far.

Even Conor Gallagher has made it into Arsenal reports. Amadou Onana is certainly a player and is possibly available if Everton chose not to sell Jarrard Branthwaite for less than two-and-a-half William Salibas. Or, if Manchester United spent too much on Antony and Mason Mount, and therefore cannot afford Branthwaite.

But what does this all actually mean for Arsenal and how might it play out? Here, the writers offer their take on the the midfield.

Tom Coley

A lot of Arsenal's midfield plans come round to what they are actually going to do. If they want a defensive player to go alongside Rice in a double pivot and allow him to be more adventurous, then Onana is a brilliant option. But if they are looking for the box-crashing all-rounder to do more attacking than defending then Guimaraes and Gallagher are perhaps more suited.

Rice can do it all so the options are there, but a lack of clarity over what the goals are for the midfield is the only worry. In terms of personnel, any of the names mentioned are good enough. Gallagher, especially, is a great price at around £50million considering Guimaraes will cost double that for his release clause.

A player-plus-cash deal, as has been mooted, would also be ideal though as it kills two birds with one stone. Eddie Nketiah and or Smith Rowe to Newcastle, Guimaraes to north London. Ideal. Partey really should go now because offering him a new contract doesn't make sense, finding a replacement for him is key, and Onana feels like the best fit for that role.

Joe Doyle

It's an interesting summer for Arsenal. There's no doubt about two spots in the midfield: Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard are starting. It's just a bit of an issue of what to do with the third.

There are plenty of options. Thomas Partey came back from a long-term absence and looked pretty much at home, but his injury history since joining the Gunners means he can't be relied upon completely.

Then there's Kai Havertz. He started the season in midfield and eventually moved into the striker role and looked far better. But if they do sign a new No.9, does Havertz move back into that midfield role?

A lot of questions for Mikel Arteta to answer. I would expect Emile Smith Rowe to leave, and possibly Fabio Vieira too. They're just not getting enough football; you can spin however you like about the increase in games next season meaning a greater need for squad players, but Arteta hasn't shown much of a willingness to rotate in smaller games, let alone big ones.

If you can get a good price for Partey, I'd sell him. It's the last real time you'll get some decent money for him. I'd then make a move for Amadou Onana in an ideal world. He's the right age and technical ability to grow into a role with the Gunners.

Sam Truelove

Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard are automatic starters for me in the Arsenal midfield. There is room for a new defensive midfielder, however, with Rice pushed into the left No.8 role.

Youssouf Fofana is approaching the last year of his contract so the AS Monaco man could be available for a decent price. He is exactly what the Gunners need and at the age of 25 has plenty more to give. Another player who I like is Amadou Onana. The Everton midfielder has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park this summer and would offer physicality as well as quality in the Gunners midfield. Signing one of these would be my preference.

Conor Gallagher I really like as a player and he could do a solid job in north London. Tottenham has also been touted as a potential destination so Mikel Arteta may have to act quick if he wants to sign the Chelsea man. Would Gallagher want to move to Emirates Stadium, though? That's something only he knows.

Thomas Partey, Fabio Vieira and Jorginho can remain at the club, for me, but Emile Smith Rowe is free to depart. The Englishman has been starved of minutes in recent seasons and could fetch a decent fee if a suitor is found. Albert Sambi Lokonga can also move on while Kai Havertz is sure to play the odd game in midfield, especially if Arsenal sign a striker. I also believe youngster Ethan Nwaneri will get more game time next season, with the 17-year-old showing his class in the Premier League 2 last campaign.

Jack Flintham

There is a fair chance that Arsenal fans will receive a brief glimpse into the future this evening when England face Denmark. Gallagher could be recalled into the starting line-up in place of Trent Alexander-Arnold and if that is the case, it would be interesting to see how the midfielder gels alongside Rice in the centre.

Chelsea clearly don't seem to be keen on keeping Gallagher so now seems an opportune moment for the Gunners to strike a deal as he enters the final year of his contract. As for outgoings, Smith-Rowe and Vieira are obvious targets to be sold.

Less obvious is the future of Partey but I feel that if the north London club wants to fund plans to strengthen their attack as well as midfield, they need to sell players so the Ghanaian looks a prime target to move with the Saudi Pro League showing interest. If it was to be a dream transfer window, Bruno Guimaraes would be a sensational addition alongside Gallagher.

The Brazilian was brilliant for Newcastle last season and would add that bite to midfield which arguably is sometimes lacking at present.

Tom Canton

The midfield area for Arsenal is their priority understands and for the second season running. There should be little surprise here when they have broken their Premier League goalscoring record for a second successive campaign and conceded even fewer goals than in the 2022/23 season.

Declan Rice is the lynchpin that determines who the club might go for but what is perhaps an even greater influence is on the options themselves. Unlike last summer with Rice, there is not that standout candidate and players like Amadou Onana for instance, for me at least, don’t have the technical requirements to play in an Arsenal middle three.

Finding a progressor will be important, especially with Thomas Partey potentially moving on. Someone who can find the passes between the lines and help Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Kai Havertz with the passes which can create an attack out of very little which for all of Rice’s brilliance he does not necessarily possess yet.

I am a fan of Ruben Neves and believe he left the elite leagues too soon and would happily see the Portuguese international return to England with Arsenal. I also like his replacement at Wolves Joao Gomes and seeing him break into the Brazilian national side is of little surprise.

The other option for me and perhaps a financially astute one is Youssouf Fofana. I fell in love with his profile at last year’s Emirates Cup and watching him since that appreciation has not diminished.

Isaac Seelochan

Bruno Guimaraes would be the perfect signing for Arsenal. His leadership qualities in Newcastle's midfield plus his Premier League experience would see him slot nicely into Arteta's team.

However, with Declan Rice and Martin Odeegarrd starting, a defensive midfielder is probably what the Gunners need most. I've always seen Guimaraes as being better as a number six, similar to the position Rice plays.

But looking at the other options in the market, the Brazilian is probably the best option if they can pull off a deal. Signing him is likely to be expensive though and Arteta may not want to blow almost all of his budget on signing one player, particularly when other areas of the pitch will need strengthening.