The focus on what Arsenal need to strengthen in the summer remains on the striker and central midfield areas. Despite the success of Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka, there is a feeling the Gunners are just one world-class midfielder away from levelling up the position for the long term.
However, should the Gunners qualify for Europe, hopefully, the Champions League, then Mikel Arteta will need a much stronger depth of quality to his side. There are a number of positions that will need addressing based upon who could leave in the summer.
Takehiro Tomiyasu has been a brilliant addition to the squad this season and his performances have been some of the most consistently impressive in the team. However, his latest injury seeing him miss most of 2022 meant that Cedric Soares has deputised.
Many supporters were concerned that the Portuguese full-back simply would not be able to live up to the expectations of the Japan international. However, in the seven successive Premier League starts, Arsenal have won six losing only to Liverpool.
This has drastically changed my opinion on how to approach the summer transfer window regarding right back. It is evident that Cedric can hold down the position for a temporary period when Tomiyasu is unavailable.
Mikel Arteta has also recognised this. Answering a question in a recent press conference on having two strong right fullbacks the Spaniard praised the contrasting qualities both players could give.
“It’s exactly what I want,” Arteta said. “That we have players that can play in the same role with different qualities that give us different options and you have the reassurance that they both can perform at the highest level and that’s the case now.”
However, there is a second layer to this. football.london understands that 18-year-old right-back Brooke Norton-Cuffy is catching the eye of the coaching staff. Arteta is impressed with the player’s performances whilst on loan with Lincoln this season and his route into the senior team will be given greater thought.
Norton-Cuffy began his stint at Lincoln this January and made do with four substitute appearances before he claimed the right-back spot for himself. His coach Michael Appleton has already come out to praise and back the youngster to play for Arsenal in the future.
“I don’t want Arsenal ringing me up saying ‘what have you said that for?’ “But I’ve been saying it behind the scenes, I think he will play for Arsenal’s first team on a regular basis,” he told Lincolnshire Live.
“It might not be for a couple of years but it’s definitely going to happen. He’ll hopefully continue his progression over the next few games. There are one or two things that I think I can help him with, but by the time he goes back to Arsenal, he’ll be much better.”
The full-back is an offensive-minded, athletic type who loves to support the attack. Much like Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, despite being lightyears away from the accomplished level of the England international, Norton-Cuffy could become Arsenal’s very own academy produced full-back.
Were Arsenal to allow Cedric to leave and replace him with a younger option, not only would Norton-Cuffy have Tomiyasu to compete with but yet another youthful player in his position.
Already right-back Zak Swanson is getting a place on the Arsenal bench, granted this is much to do with Tomiyasu’s injury. Why add another obstacle when Norton-Cuffy could follow the paths of so many Hale End graduates before him?
Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe and more recently Charlie Patino have shown that Arteta is giving opportunities to the talent produced by the club. And the level is impressive, very impressive. Norton-Cuffy is part of this next generation, and the club should not be blocking the chance of discovering another star.