The 2022-23 campaign was one that will live long in the memory for Arsenal fans. Mikel Arteta’s young and exciting side defied expectations to challenge Manchester City in a thrilling title race.
They couldn’t quite make it over the line as they fell away in the final weeks, but there’s a growing confidence that with more strong additions that they’ll be able to compete going forward. The likes of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko had a transformative impact and there’s hope the next new faces will see the team improve further.
But what became of the players they chased but didn’t sign? We’ve revisited seven of Arsenal’s reported transfer targets from last summer and assessed how they fared in 2022-23.
“Arsenal came earlier for Lisandro, but it was an amount where we said, ‘Thank you very much for the offer, but we’d rather keep the player than start negotiating’,” Ajax sporting director Edwin van der Sar revealed in an interview with The Athletic.
“With United, it was a little bit different,” he continued. “Over the years we have had a few conversations: Daley Blind, Donny van de Beek. My job is making sure I make the best decisions for Ajax.”
Martinez reunited with Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford, having been signed for a £57million fee. Many pundits questioned whether the Argentinian’s diminutive frame would be an issue for Manchester United but he soon silenced his critics and enjoyed a superb debut Premier League season. He even scored his first goal for the club at the Emirates as Arsenal registered a memorable 3-2 victory.
The Gunners didn’t end up adding a new centre-back last summer, but – cliche alert – returning loanee William Saliba was like a new signing. The French defender was a revelation after being integrated into Mikel Arteta’s backline – who knows if they might’ve got over the line in the title race had his season not ended early due to injury.
“Deco always told me that Raphinha only wanted Barcelona” Arsenal sporting director Edu told Sky Sports news after the Brazilian winger joined the La Liga giants.
Leeds United might have received a bigger transfer fee had their star asset been willing to move to another Premier League club, with both Arsenal and Chelsea reportedly launching bids to sign the 26-year-old.
Raphinha wasn’t consistently brilliant for Barcelona, and received some criticism for his decision-making in the final third, but he registered a respectable enough tally of seven goals and seven assists as Xavi’s men claimed their first league title in four years.
Raphinha with a brilliant looping header! 😱
A MASSIVE goal for Barcelona 🔵🔴 pic.twitter.com/g107CLy74q
— Viaplay Sports UK (@ViaplaySportsUK) November 8, 2022
You do get the sense that if Arsenal really wanted Tielemans they could have signed him last summer.
The Belgian midfielder was into the final year of his contract at the King Power and last summer represented Leicester City’s last real opportunity to cash in on one of their star assets.
Still, Tielemans’ name was a frequent fixture of the gossip columns, with The Mirror reporting that Arsenal were in contact with his camp.
Twelve months on there can be few regrets in north London over failing to sign the 26-year-old, who failed to produce his best football as Leicester suffered a disastrous campaign that ended in relegation.
He’s since joined Aston Villa as a free agent. It will be interesting to see whether Unai Emery can rekindle his career at Villa Park.
It seems strange now but Arsenal were consistently linked with the Italian striker last summer. Sky Sports even reported in July 2022 that the Gunners saw a £34million bid rejected by Sassuolo.
In the end, West Ham signed Scamacca for a £35.5million fee and Arsenal landed on Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City.
That didn’t work out too badly for Arsenal in the end. The Azzurri striker scored just three goals for David Moyes’ Hammers and is already being linked with a loan return to Serie A.
A rumour mill stalwart in summer 2022, Gakpo remained at PSV until the winter – when he shone at the World Cup for the Netherlands and promptly moved to Liverpool.
Prior to that he was linked with both Arsenal and Manchester United, while he turned down an ambitious approach from Leeds on deadline day.
Gakpo took a few weeks to get going at Anfield. While he couldn’t quite turn save their season, by the end of the 2022-23 campaign he looked a solid addition to Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
Sky Germany reported that Arsenal had enquired about Sane in the Spring of 2022 before their attention turned to Raphinha, and later Mykhailo Mudryk, before eventually landing on Leandro Trossard as a mid-season addition.
The Germany international has won predictably three successive Bundesliga whilst in Bavaria but he’s yet to reach the heights he did working under Arteta and Guardiola at Manchester City. The 27-year-old notched a decent tally of eight goals and seven assists as an undercooked Bayern Munich edged out Borussia Dortmund in the title race, but his most notable moment of the campaign was coming to blows with Sadio Mane.
France international Diaby was so frequently linked with a move to the Emirates that football.london even gave himself the full Football Manager simulation treatment. But the player himself spoke out and quashed the reports.
“I’ve made my decision and will play for Bayer Leverkusen again next season,” said Diaby in July 2022.
Sure enough, he stayed put at the BayArena and took his game to new levels under Xabi Alonso. The 23-year-old remains contracted until 2025 and is undoubtedly Leverkusen’s most valuable asset.
Those links have reemerged in the tabloids in recent weeks, but we’d take them with a pinch of salt. It’s fanciful to imagine Arsenal spending big on Diaby after securing Havertz, Timber and Rice. Diaby is said to be valued at £65million.