After going ten games unbeaten, it’s a great time to be an Arsenal fan right now.
Aside from the immediacy of having not lost in three months, the most exciting thing about this Gunners side is the potential almost all of their players have to get better.
Summer signings Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Martin Odegaard were all brought in aged 23 or under, adding to the even younger talent of Hale Enders like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.
The scope for this impressive group of youngsters to improve is huge, but the latest piece of transfer news around Arsenal means that could be under threat.
It may only be November, but with the pause in club competition due to the international break, thoughts are turning to the January transfer window.
The Gunners have already been linked with strikers Luka Jovic and Dusan Vlahovic, while they could look to move for a central midfielder to make up for the absence of Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny due to the AFCON.
Another rumour that won’t go away is the story surrounding a potential move for Raheem Sterling to the Emirates.
The England international has hardly played for Manchester City this season, starting just three Premier League matches, and has admitted that he could be interested in a move to find more game time if the opportunity presented itself.
“If there was the opportunity to go somewhere else for more game time I would be open to it at this moment in time,” Sterling told the Financial Times in October.
“As I said, football is the most important thing to me — challenges that I have set myself from a young age and dreams as well.”
With just one year remaining on his contract at the Etihad Stadium in the summer City would reportedly be willing to let the 26-year-old go for a fee in the region of £45 million.
While this would seem like quite a reasonable fee for the former FWA footballer of the year, going down this path could potentially be very risky for Arsenal.
Academy products Saka and Smith Rowe are among the club’s most prized assets right now, due to their fine form and crucial role in the Gunners resurgence.
In recent weeks they have taken their game to a new level thanks to a positional tweak employed by Mikel Arteta.
The Spaniard has moved Saka from the left wing to the right hand side of his new-look ‘4-4-2’ formation, while Smith Rowe has been shifted from a more central ‘free eight’ position out to the left. Playing in these roles the pair have managed a combined five goals and four assists.
Sterling’s arrival though would mean that one of the pair would either have to be dropped or moved away from the position where they have been so effective in recent weeks.
The Englishman can play as a ‘false nine’ but he is at his very best when playing in the wide positions that are already occupied by his international teammates.
This is before we even begin to think about the potential impact it could have on Gabriel Martinelli.
The Brazilian is finding it tough enough to get minutes as it is with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette ahead of him in the centre forward position and the Hale Enders and Nicolas Pepe generally taking up the wide spots.
Add an established international Premier League winner into the squad and it would only serve to push him even further down the pecking order.
This is a trap Arsenal fell into last season with the signing of Willian.
The 32-year-old was brought in as an experienced presence in the attacking line who could offer an immediate solution to the Gunners’ creativity issues, but ultimately only ended up blocking the pathway of the exciting youngsters at the club’s disposal.
While there can be little doubting that Sterling would offer plenty going forward, it would leave Arsenal in a similarly undesirable predicament as before.
A move for Sterling would also contrast to the club’s recent transfer strategy that was articulated by Josh Kroenke during a recent interview.
“In the United States we have a certain model [used at other organisations run by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment] and we’re implementing that here, and we have over the last three years, which is, young players, talented players with the right mentality, let them grow together while continuing to sprinkle in talent throughout the squad.
“Eventually it grows into something very special. The power of continuity behind the scenes and people working together and pulling in the same direction is an underrated aspect of pro sports.