Which players are Arsenal watching at the World Cup?

FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • 25 Nov 2022 11:00 GMT
  • 4 min read
FT Desk 25 Nov 2022 11:00 GMT 4 min read
Mikel Arteta, Arsenal, 2021/22

Arsenal picked up an "Invincible" in Gilberto Silva off the back of his 2002 World Cup with Brazil, and there could be more where he came from in Qatar this winter…

The Gunners have raced to the top of the Premier League this season, with Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko impressing since their combined £77 million (€89.5m) arrivals from Manchester City, but they will need to keep recruiting if they want to stay there.

Gilberto perhaps goes down as Arsenal's most successful post-World Cup recruit. The defensive midfielder helped Brazil to their fifth title in Japan and South Korea in 2002 before completing a €5.2 million move from Atletico Mineiro.

READ: Arsenal's 10 best transfers of all time

Two years later he was part of the Invincibles who went the entire Premier League season undefeated in 2004.

Now 18 years on, Arsenal are once again keen to bolster their midfield, and perhaps the nation whose games they will be watching most closely in Qatar is Belgium, and in particular Youri Tielemans and Leandro Trossard.

Top target Tielemans

Leicester City man Tielemans is available on a free transfer at the end of the season, and the Gunners would happily see him underperform at the World Cup less that another club puts a big-money offer down now. Tielemans can play more than one position in midfield and his presence would take pressure off the injury-prone Thomas Partey.

READ: Barcelona suffer transfer blow with target Arsenal-bound

Brighton's Trossard is more of a versatile attacker, one who can play across the final third, much like Netherlands talisman Memphis Depay. The Dutch forward is out of contract with Barcelona in the summer and could prove a much cheaper alternative to "Ukrainian Neymar" Mykhailo Mudryk, who is not at the World Cup with his nation.

Arsenal will be watching Cristiano Ronaldo if Piers Morgan gets his way, but the chances of the Gunners signing the 37-year-old seem infinitesimally small, even if a measure of revenge for the Robin van Persie move to Manchester United in 2013 would go down well with some sections of the support.

A more realistic target is Serbia star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Like Tielemans, he can fulfil more than one midfield position, but the Gunners could face stiff competition from Juventus, whose fans gave him a standing ovation when their side met his current employers Lazio earlier this month.