How Arsenal’s XI might look when the 2017-18 season begins

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Arsenal fans protested outside the Emirates Stadium, made a statement by refusing to turn up for the penultimate Premier League home game of the season against Sunderland and even flew a banner over the Hawthorns.

But despite all that, Arsene Wenger had made up his mind to sign a new two-year contract extension with the Gunners and wasn’t going to allow a group of disillusioned supporters to force him out of the club he has single-handedly transformed over the past 20 years.

Wenger, who turns 68 in October, clearly believes he’s still the right man for the job - even though Arsenal have failed to secure Champions League football for the first time under his management.

The victory over Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final followed by the surprise win over Chelsea in the final appears to have convinced Wenger that he *can* end the club’s long wait for the Premier League title over the coming seasons.

However, in order to win the league next term, it’s imperative that Wenger strengthens his squad.

Let's assume Alexis will be gone

That Wenger is reportedly prepared to smash the world transfer record on AS Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe indicates the veteran French coach will approach the transfer market very differently this summer.

Arsenal fans will hope to see Wenger spend every penny of his reported £150 million summer war-chest - particularly if, as expected, Alexis Sanchez leaves for Bayern Munich or Manchester City.

So, how might Arsenal’s line-up look at the start of next season? Let’s take a closer look…

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford

Arsenal are in the market for a back-up goalkeeper with David Ospina set to leave the Emirates and Wojciech Szczesny set to seal a permanent move to Juventus.

Jordan Pickford was outstanding for relegated Sunderland last season and Wenger may opt to sign the 23-year-old as an understudy for Petr Cech.

Cech’s best years are now behind him, however, and so Pickford could begin next season as Arsenal’s No. 1.

Centre-back: Shkodran Mustafi

Shkodran Mustafi has enjoyed a reasonably decent start to his Arsenal career but you sense the best is yet to come from the Germany international.

The 25-year-old will have a big role to play for the Gunners next season.

Centre-back: Laurent Koscielny

Arsenal’s talisman at the back, Laurent Koscielny is still a class act whose presence will continue to benefit those around him.

Centre-back: Rob Holding

"Unfortunately no one speaks about the performance of Rob Holding,” Wenger said following Arsenal’s 0-0 draw against Leicester City last August. “You should be happy, he is English and 20 years old. I am sorry he didn't cost £55 million, so he can't be good."

Holding cost Arsenal just £2 million and that fee now looks an absolute bargain.

The 21-year-old ended the season very strongly - producing an excellent performance in the FA Cup final - and he should begin the season as past of a back-three alongside Mustafi and Koscielny.

Left wing-back: Sead Kolasinac

Arsenal’s first summer signing completed his free transfer from Schalke earlier this week.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina international might not be the club’s most glamorous purchase of the summer, but he could prove to be one of their most important.

Right wing-back: Hector Bellerin

Barcelona want Hector Bellerin but unless they pay a ridiculous fee, there’s surely no way he leaves the Emirates this summer?

The 22-year-old signed a six-and-a-half-year contract with his current employers in November. This means Arsenal are under no pressure to sell.

Bellerin wouldn’t have signed such a long-term deal unless he was content at Arsenal, so fans should expect to see him lining up for the club’s first match of the 2017-18 campaign.

Midfield: Granit Xhaka

Granit Xhaka experienced a mixed first season in English football.

It’s clear that certain aspects of the 24-year-old’s game need to improve - such as his tackling and general discipline - and quickly if he’s to develop into the central midfielder Arsenal so desperately need.

The £35 million Switzerland international has a very big season coming up.

Midfield: Arda Turan

Arda Turan’s move to Barcelona hasn’t worked out and Arsenal are currently the firm favourites to sign the 30-year-old this summer.

The attack-minded midfielder was superb during his four-year spell with Atletico Madrid - in fact, he was one of La Liga’s star players - and his arrival would bring some much-needed steel and creativity to Arsenal’s central midfield.

Arda also announced his international retirement this week, following a bust-up with a journalist, which should help prolong his club career.

Forward (left): Mesut Ozil

Alexis is likely to leave the Emirates this summer, but Mesut Ozil should stay, even if he fails to put pen to paper on a contract extension.

The inconsistent German playmaker has fewer options than his Chilean teammate and might decide it’s in his best interests to stay put and knuckle down.

Forward (right): Riyad Mahrez

Assuming Alexis is off, Riyad Mahrez wouldn’t be a bad replacement.

The Algerian star has decided to leave Leicester City and could make a huge impact at the Emirates, given the opportunity.

Arsenal’s new No. 7?

Striker: Alexandre Lacazette

Sorry Arsenal fans, but your chances of signing Mbappe this summer range from slim to none.

The French forward will probably end up at Real Madrid for a world-record fee.

Alexandre Lacazette wouldn’t be a bad alternative, though.

The 27-year-old, who has scored 37 goals in 45 appearances for Lyon this season, was expected to replace Antoine Griezmann at Atletico Madrid this summer but the Spanish club’s transfer ban means that deal is now dead in the water.

Arsenal might well capitalise.

Arsenal’s potential XI for the start of 2017-18

Decent line-up...

Substitutes: Petr Cech, Nacho Monreal, Aaron Ramsey, Mohamed Elneny, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck.

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Alexis Sanchez
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Petr Cech

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