In Depth

Arsenal transfer target XI: How Gunners could have looked

As Wenger picks his first team since the window shut, here's how his side could have been lining up against Southampton

As Wenger picks his first team since the window shut, here's how his side could have been lining up against Southampton

Arsenal return to the Emirates on Saturday for their first home game since the opening day of the season, when they were humbled by Liverpool.

The game against Southampton will also be their first match since the transfer window closed and Gunners fans could get the chance to run the rule over new signings Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi. 

The pair arrived at the end of August with Gunners fans screaming out for Arsene Wenger to bring in reinforcements. The new arrivals have been welcomed but they are not the kind of blue riband signings the fans had been calling for and the pair arrived after another frustrating summer in the transfer market, during which the Gunners were linked to dozens of players.

So, what would the Arsenal XI look like it all the summer transfer gossip had turned out to be more accurate than one of Per Mertesacker's long balls? We take a look at what might have been.

Jamie Vardy

Barely had the season ended before Leicester's goalscoring hero was being nailed on for a move to Arsenal after they triggered his £22m release clause. "Wait until after the Euros," Vardy told the world. And it wasn't long before England were back home and the Foxes frontman had signed a new deal with Leicester. This week he told The Guardian it had been an "easy" decision to make: "Every time I thought about every little thing, though, both head and heart were saying 'you need to stay'."

Alexandre Lacazette

Having failed with Vardy, Arsenal turned their attention to French striker Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon. Surely a bid of £29.3m would weaken the resolve of the Ligue 1 outfit? But the man who has scored 72 goals in 173 appearances was going nowhere. "Lyon will keep Alexandre Lacazette," announced the club, adding that the 25-year-old was "irreplaceable".

Mauro Icardi

Third time lucky with Mauro Icardi of Inter Milan? So Arsenal hoped, but when they tabled a £45.5m bid they were told to stick it up their proverbial. "We're not going to sell Icardi," said Inter president Erick Thohir on July 29. "We extended his contract a year ago." Back to the drawing board.

Riyad Mahrez

The Daily Express wasn't alone in trumpeting at the end of July that Leicester's Riyad Mahrez would complete a £37m move to Arsenal "in the next few days". Apparently terms had been agreed and the Algerian winger was looking forward to his new challenge. Fast forward a couple of weeks and Mahrez was signing a new and improved four-year deal with the Foxes. "We're delighted" said the official Leicester statement. Arsenal probably less so.

Marcelo Brozovic

Having been blown out by Inter Milan in their advances towards Icardi, the Gunners had a go at enticing midfield general Marcelo Brozovic to the Emirates. This time the Italians were willing to talk business but the talks broke down quicker than Jack Wilshere when Inter slapped a £28m price tag on the Croatian midfielder

Moussa Sissoko

Remember early on in the summer when Sissoko declared that his heart belonged to Arsenal and the papers were convinced it was only a question of when the Newcastle United midfielder would sign for the Gunners? The Magpies wanted £35m, reported Talksport, which to no one's surprise Arsene Wenger wasn't prepared to pay. So the 26-year-old Frenchman signed for Spurs, much to the amusement of Gooners, who have since been reminding their neighbours of Sissoko's first love. Of course they won't be laughing if Sissoko scores the winner in the north London derby.

Jonny Evans

At one point in August, with a defensive crisis looming and the howls of supporters ringing in his ears, Arsene Wenger was reportedly on the brink of paying £25m for the West Brom defender. But those rumours proved as wide of the mark as one of the Irishman's clearances. Instead, as Metro reported, the former Manchester United centre-back remains a Baggy much to the relief of Gooners.

Kalidou Koulibaly

Chelsea were heavily linked with a move for the Napoli centre-back for much of the summer but so were the Gunners late on following injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista. It was said by Metro that Wenger liked the physicality of 24-year-old Senegal stopper and was mulling over Napoli's £37m asking price. In the end he felt it was too much, but then spent the same amount of money on Shkodran Mustafi - Gunners fans will be hoping he picked the right man.

Jose Fonte

The Portugal defender and Southampton captain emerged as a target for both Arsenal and Manchester United in August with the Daily Mirror claiming that the "injury-hit" Gunners were ready to rival any United bid for the 32-year-old Fonte. Neither team made a concrete offer and Fonte remains on the south coast.

Mats Hummels

The German World Cup winner was linked to Arsenal at the start of the summer transfer window, along with Manchester United and Bayern Munich. It didn't the 27-year-old centre-back long to sign a five-year deal with Bayern, the club he left for Borussia Dortmund in 2009. "There just was not that one English club where the overall package was fitting," he told the Daily Express. "The overall package means: a club which fascinates me". Enough said.

Guy Smit

Back at the start of July Arsenal gave a trial to young Dutch goalkeeper Guy Smit, who had left NEC Nijmegen for the bright lights of London. "This opportunity I have to seize," he told the Daily Mail. But the 20-year-old Smit then did a David Ospina, letting it slip through his hands, and he's now back at Nijmegen.

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