Cesc Fabregas has been the talisman of this young Arsenal side in the last few years and the season is likely to end in disappointment, barring any spectacular mathematical possibility. The current Arsenal captain voiced his frustration at Wenger's policy of developing youngsters which had taken precedence over winning trophies according to the Spanish midfielder.
Though he did not intend it, he did undermine the authority of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger when he insinuated that he would not have survived in Spain if he did not win trophies for a span of five years. The Arsenal captain has been coveted by his home club FC Barcelona for a long time now and though speculations were rife last summer, Wenger managed to convince the midfielder to stay for another season.
It is expected that FC Barcelona will make a bid for Arsenal's star midfielder but they must match Arsenal's high valuation of the player for them to sign the playmaker. Former Arsenal player Nigel Winterburn was of the opinion that the Gunners will let their captain move on if they receive a serious offer from the Catalan giants.
If the Arsenal captain makes his move to Barcelona in the club, his place would be hard to fill for the Gunners. However, the emergence of youngsters Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere has provided hope to the supporters though Wenger could bring in a new player to supplement the likes of Nasri and Ramsey with the money obtained from the sale of Fabregas. Here are 10 players who could be targeted by Wenger in the summer.
1. Aaron Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey sustained a horrible leg-break against Stoke City last season and it sparked fears as to whether he can overcome the injury. However, if the game against Manchester United is any indication, he has not suffered any lasting effects from that tackle and retains the creativity that made him an important transfer target for Arsenal and Manchester United when he was at Cardiff.
The Welshman has been touted as the replacement for the current captain Fabregas and he certainly has the potential to be an excellent midfielder for the Gunners. The question which will be on Wenger's mind would be as to whether he is ready to replace the Spaniard in the next season after only just recovering from the injury.
Samir Nasri has shown himself to be adept in the attacking midfield role but if he were to play in the role, Arsenal would have to sign a winger to replace the talented Frenchman. Nasri plays in the centre for France and has the talent to be the most advanced midfielder for the team.
Jack Wilshere is also capable of playing in the role of an attacking midfielder but he is settled in the team playing alongside Song and Wenger has even stated that that is his best position in the long term for young Wilshere.
2. Sergio Canales
The Spanish playmaker is one of the most highly rated youngsters in the world and he showed his class on many occasions for his former club Racing Santander and for the Spain U-19 and U-21 teams. The midfielder was signed by Spanish giants Real Madrid at the start of the 2010-11 season but he has struggled to break into the team due to the impressive performances of Mesut Ozil.
With the array of talents available for manager Jose Mourinho, Canales might not get enough playing time that he requires for his development into a world class player. Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have an excellent record of developing youngsters with good potential into world class players and if Arsenal pay the right value for the Spaniard, Canales could choose to come to the Emirates.
However, he is still inexperienced at the highest level and Arsenal already have a quality youngster Ramsey in their ranks.
3. Thiago Alacantara
Thiago Alacantara is one of the brightest prospects to emerge from the famous La Masia academy of Barcelona and has been touted as one of the stars of the future. Though the youngster has made limited appearances for the Blaugrana, the quality of the youngster is evident and he has the attributes of being an excellent attacking midfielder.
However, if Barcelona do sign Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, it could hamper the chances of the youngster breaking into the first team and it could result in him looking for a move away from the Catalan club. Arsenal have been rumored to be monitoring his progress and if he is looking for a move, Arsene Wenger could look to sign him for the Gunners.
The disadvantage of signing him is the same as that of the signing of Canales. He is also inexperienced and would need time to adjust to the rigours of the Premier League.
4. Wesley Sneijder
Though the influential Dutchman has been reported to be a big money transfer target for Manchester United, Arsene Wenger could attempt to hijack the deal if Cesc Fabregas leaves the club. Sneijder has been superb in his spell at Inter Milan and was one of the best players in the World Cup.
The experienced midfielder will not come at a bargain though but he will add a lot of experience and winning mentality to this youthful Arsenal squad. However, it is rumored that Van Persie and Sneijder have differences, which could be detrimental to the squad.
5. Javier Pastore
Javier Pastore has been impressive in the last few seasons and has been linked to many big clubs including the likes of Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona and also Manchester United. The Argentina International has a bright future ahead of him and has even earned a senior cap for Argentina at the age of 20.
Though Pastore has been linked strongly with the Spanish giants, he will have a better chance to develop into a world class player under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger, who has played an important part in developing many prodigious talents like Jack Wilshere and Cesc Fabregas.
However, Palermo's high valuation of the midfielder will imply that the Wenger will have to spend a large chunk of the money obtained from the sale of Fabregas which may prove to be a stumbling block.
6. Nuri Sahin
Nuri Sahin could be one of Wenger's transfer targets in the summer as he seems destined to leave Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund after enjoying a hugely successful season with the German club. He has only one year left on his contract and even his team mates have accepted the fact that he could be on the move in the summer.
In many sections of the media, it has been reported that Sahin signing on the dotted line for Real Madrid is only a formality. He could be one of the bargains of the summer as he is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder or a deep lying playmaker.
Though he is an attractive prospect for Arsenal, it is likely that he will choose Real Madrid as his destination in the summer.
7. Keisuke Honda
The Japanese International impressed Arsene Wenger, who was working as a pundit, in the world cup and was one of the key reasons for Japan's performances in the tournament. Though he can be considered by many as a second striker, he is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder.
He has an excellent work ethic and also has the quality to play for a top European club. He has a good shooting range and is a good set-piece taker. In the world cup, he scored from a scintillating free kick to the dismay of Bendtner and his Danish team-mates.
The CSKA Moscow player will not be too costly for a club like Arsenal and in the past, there have been reports of him being linked to a move to Arsenal. In addition to this, he could be the ideal mentor for one of Arsenal's most talented youngsters Ryo Miyaichi.
8. Marko Marin
The Germany International has been impressive for Werder Bremen this season and despite the club's inconsistent performances, he has been one of the most important performers for the club. The 22-year-old has been touted as one of Germany's best talents along with Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira and was in the World Cup squad.
He will not come at a bargain but could be interested in a move to Arsenal after Werder finishing well below the Champions League spots this season. He has a phenomenal assists record with an average of more than 10 assists a season in his last four years and will only improve with time. He could be an astute signing by Wenger, which will be reminiscent to the signing of Samir Nasri.
9. Ibrahim Afellay
According to reports, Robin van Persie had advised Arsene Wenger to sign former PSV Eindhoven midfielder Ibrahim Afellay but the midfielder opted to join Barcelona in January. The talented midfielder is at a prime age when he needs to be playing regularly but with the Barcelona team consisting of a number of stars including the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Pedro, Afellay's role in the team has been restricted.
If Barcelona were to sign Afellay, that would certainly mean that he will only compete for a spot on the wing currently occupied by Pedro. However, Pep Guardiola has a lot of faith in the Spaniard and Pedro has been consistent for the Blaugrana. Hence, Barcelona could involve Afellay in the Fabregas deal in order to tempt Arsenal.
10. Ricardo Kaka
The best way to appease Arsenal fans would be to sign a world class attacking midfielder if their influential captain Cesc Fabregas moves on. Kaka is one of the few midfielders in the world who would satisfy the description as a world class midfielder and could have a huge impact if he can stay free of injuries.
Kaka has endured a horrible time at Madrid after his record breaking move from Milan and has been dogged by various injuries which has resulted in him losing his place in the side to Ozil. The midfielder has been benched on a number of occasions and the imminent arrival of Sahin could mean that Madrid have enough depth in the midfield.
At the age of 29, Kaka needs to play regularly and still has the quality to demolish any opposition on his own. the former AC Milan midfielder's time at Madrid seems to be coming to an end as Ozil has taken centre stage at Real Madrid.
It would be a risky move to pool in huge money for a player who has struggled for fitness in the last two years but it would be a signal of intent if Arsenal were to sign Kaka. Besides, Arsenal do have the likes of Ramsey and Nasri to play in the role if the Brazilian is injured. It is difficult to sign players who are genuine winners and Arsenal will have the player who could take them to the next level if they sign Kaka.