Is leadership Arsenal's greatest need in the market?
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Arsene Wenger's last days were filled with sub-par memories. The Gunners were the weakest among the Premier League's big six. Fans cried out for a new gaffer. Wenger had little choice but to retire, vacating the hot seat for Unai Emery.
The new gaffer started well buying five new players in his first transfer window. Bernd Leno, Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, Sokratis and Stephan Lichtsteiner all settled well in the Emirates.
The squad improved noticeably. While they fell just short of Champions League football, they are no longer the weakest of the top six. They achieved more points, won more and lost fewer matches than their previous campaign. They even surpassed their Europa League level of last season by reaching the final.
Unfortunately, the trip to Baku to face London rivals Chelsea turned into a nightmare. After a scoreless first half in which Arsenal were the better if less clinical team, the Blues took them apart in the second 45, winning 4-1 in the end. Alex Iwobi's worldie was scant consolation. The one thing missing from Unai Emery's squad was revealed.
When the summer transfer window kicks into gear, the Gunners are expected to be busy. The squad requires upgrades to cope with the coming season. Alexis Sanchez's void is yet to be filled and the Gunners will surely be searching for a winger. They've been heavily linked with Crystal Palace's Wilfred Zaha. More important, though, is the desperate need for a proven leader on the pitch.
Even with Aaron Ramsey leaving and issues on the flank, Arsenal's attack is fine. Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is strong. The strike duo provided 35 Premier League goals this season, with the Gabonese winning a share of the Golden Boot after bagging 22. Nothing needs changing up front.
In midfield, Granit Xhaka, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil all contribute to the attack. None, especially the German, offers a commanding presence on the pitch. They're either on form or pitch invaders with whom security can't be bothered. Both Lucas Torreira  and Matteo Guendouzi  are too young, inexperienced and new to the club to take a leadership role.
In the back, there are too many veterans. Petr Cech is retiring to Chelsea's front office. Stephan Lichsteiner is a cheerleader on the bench and on the pitch. He hasn't the pace to keep up with Premier League wingers. Laurent Koscielny is on his last legs. Shkodran Mustafi can't marshal himself, let alone an entire squad. Only newcomer Sokratis Papastathopoulis shows the ability and presence to be considered as a genuine leader and then just barely.
No, the squad needs someone else to take them into battle.
Jurgen Klopp.found his leader last year. Liverpool persisted until Southampton sold them Virgil van Dijk. Eighteen months later, he is the PFA Player of the Year and the Reds are European champions.
Calm and collected, he reads the game like few can. The Dutchman never needs to lunge into a tackle. He's always in position to steal the ball or nudge it beyond an attacker's control. Ask Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
Van Dijk is a stabilising force at the back, taking care of his business and making sure his teammates are handling theirs. Watch the Merseysiders defend a set piece. You'll see VVD barking out orders and the rest carrying them out. He cost Liverpool £75 million and, even if the squad couldn't deliver the long-awaited Premier League title, proved well worth it. What's more, Arsenal can land a similar player if they are willing to splash £63 million on a Senegalese.
Kalidou Koulibaly ranks among the finest defenders in football. His physique and aggressiveness will galvanise Emery's squad. At 27, the Senegalese's commanding voice will prevent unnecessary defensive mistakes at Arsenal's back. It's what he's done for the last three seasons at Napoli. If Maurizio Sarri wasn't the boss at a London rival, he'd confirm that Koulibaly can be the VVD at the Emirates.
Its obvious the Gunners need his quality. There hasn't been a huge defensive improvement since Emery came. They conceded the same number of goals as Wenger's final season. It's time the Gunners face reality and invest in their rearguard like they do their attack. If they can keep opponents from scoring, Lacazette and Auba's goals will be worth far more and trophies will fall into their hands.