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Arsenal’s toothless, campaign-defining 2-0 defeat to Newcastle on Monday night – that all but surrendered their hopes of securing Champions League football for next season – is set to have damaging implications for their summer transfer business. A number of the club’s priority targets that have already fallen under consideration and discussion inside the Gunners boardroom consider Europe’s elite club competition imperative, meaning Arsenal are likely to be faced with further challenges when striving to improve Mikel Arteta’s squad.
The Spaniard’s brutal post-match assessment of his side’s spineless display on Tyneside would suggest he’s well aware of exactly that.
Despite remaining in control of their own destiny in the aftermath of last Thursday’s resounding 3-0 north London derby defeat at Tottenham, Arsenal never truly possessed the belief to take the top-four race by the scruff of the neck.
Instead, the Gunners have been left to lick their wounds ahead of the final day of the Premier League season, when a single point will do for rivals Tottenham when they travel to East Anglia to face 20th-placed Norwich.
While Arsenal have already reaffirmed their commitment to their current manager, Arteta will now be facing sleepless nights over the calibre of player the Gunners can attract without the sell of Champions League football.
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Arsenal’s commanding grip on fourth had previously provided a strong foundation during transfer talks between Edu and the representatives of Gabriel Jesus and Youri Tielemans.
Both are leaving their respected clubs – Manchester City and Leicester – with a view to playing regular Champions League football. Now Arsenal will be tasked with twisting their arm, after sacrificing their unique selling point.
Jesus’ agent Marcelo Pettinati, recently laid on record his client’s interest in a move to Arsenal before declaring that there were a whole host of other potential suitors at the table.
“We had talks with Arsenal about Gabriel Jesus, we like the project – it’s a possibility we’re discussing,” Pettinati told Fabrizio Romano.
“There are 6 more clubs interested in Gabriel – he’s focused on final games with Man City, we’ll see”.
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Should any of those other clubs be able to offer Jesus Champions League football, Arsenal will be at risk of missing out on the Manchester City frontman – with an opening offer still understood to be imminent – unless they can pull off a final-day miracle or alternatively, sweeten the player’s reps with assurances of regular playing time.
Should Jesus opt against choosing Arsenal as his next destination, there will also be question marks surrounding the calibre of striker Arsenal can attract without the lure of the prestigious tournament, particularly given the centre-forward market is a saturated one.
Dusan Vlahovic already rebuffed the Gunners in January – his representatives even refused to pick up the phone – in favour of a switch to Juventus.
Darwin Nunez, another striker Arsenal have monitored, will also only leave Benfica for a club where Champions League football is on offer.
Tielemans had also emerged as one of Arsenal’s leading central midfield targets in the past few weeks after Edu met with his agent at London Colney at the start of the year.
The Belgian, who Leicester will seek to cash in on this summer due to his expiring contract in 2023, was seemingly open to a move to Arsenal, with Tottenham also among the contenders for his signature.
Yet the absence of Champions League football could now prove to be a sticking point during negotiations – particularly given Tielemans has snubbed a new deal at Leicester to play in the competition.
Much like Jesus, the deal is still within reach but both transfers were on the right track before the back-to-back defeats to Tottenham and Newcastle, which have threatened to leave a stain on Arsenal’s season.
For that reason, Arteta and Edu will feel incensed by the nature of the team’s feeble performance, which could effectively see their season amount to nothing.
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