Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists the club's transfer plans will not be affected by failure to qualify for the Champions League. Defeat in the north London derby to Tottenham Hotspur leaves Wenger's side six points off a top-four place with five matches to play and facing missing out on playing in Europe's premier club competition for the first time in 18 seasons.
Though the Gunners do have at least one game in hand over Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United they need each of the trio to drop points in their concluding matches – starting this weekend when they welcome Jose Mourinho's side to The Emirates Stadium.
The Old Trafford boss has already confirmed he will field a weakened team for the game, in an effort to rest players for the Europa League semi-final second leg against Celta Vigo – a competition which could provide them with a route into the Champions League.
With the likes of Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe continually linked with moves to Arsenal, the cartel of players which the club can attract appears to be unaffected by the prospect of playing Europa League football next season. But should their place in the continent's second-tier competition become a reality, Wenger has no plans to change his transfer strategy.
"I don't think so," said Wenger, according to The Metro, when asked if he will compile two lists of targets for the summer. "We will deal with it [Europa League] if we have to face it but at the moment we are not there. It means we focus on the same players."
Injuries have once again played a part in Arsenal's problems this term, with a string of players spending lengthy spells out of the first team. Santi Cazorla has been out since October owing to an ankle injury and former defender Martin Keown says the club's transfer business should start with enlisting a replacement for the Spaniard.
"The very first thing they need to do is work out who is in charge — and as soon as possible," he told The Daily Mail. "Arsene Wenger is an outstanding manager but his standout quality has been wiped away. He creates a feel-good factor around the club and maps out the future for each player.
"With Wenger's own future unsure, that creates uncertainty among the players and it is no coincidence that Arsenal's Premier League form has suffered. On the pitch, they need to sign one of Europe's best midfield players. Granit Xhaka is improving but he is not putting fear into the Premier League's top teams. Arsenal need a player who can dictate the play. They have felt the loss of Santi Cazorla greatly and it has massively affected the group."