Date: 19th May 2017 at 1:00pm
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It should be a colossal summer at the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager since 1996, is yet to decide whether he is going to stay on for one final year or pack his bags and leave at the end of the campaign. Meanwhile, the Gunners look set to finish outside the top four for the first time in his illustrious tenure and the Arsenal board must begin to plan for life without Wenger – and that means offering a lucrative sum of transfer funds for the next boss.

In all fairness, Wenger should also be given the opportunity to spend big in the transfer window if he does stay – because that is exactly what Arsenal need to do in order to keep pace with England’s elite clubs. Both Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are likely to spend big again this summer and Arsenal must respond in kind to avoid being left behind in the Premier League title race once again.

Real Madrid star James Rodriguez has fallen out of favour since Zinedine Zidane took over at the Santiago Bernabeu and Arsenal could sign him for the right price. According to reports, Jose Mourinho is interested in moving for the Colombia international but the Gunners could undercut their rivals, especially if they are prepared to offer Rodriguez a hefty contract.

If Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil leave in pursuit of elite European football, Arsenal will need to sign somebody of Rodriguez’s calibre to fill the void. Champions League football or no Champions League football, Arsenal are a massive club and the Gunners should still be able to attract the top talent…

Another man linked with a move to north London is Jordan Pickford. The Sunderland youngster is looking to sign for a Premier League club this summer after the Black Cats were relegated to the second tier. Without a doubt, he has been one of the most consistent shot stoppers in the top flight this season and he could be Arsenal’s number one for the best part of a decade.

If Arsenal, priced at 14/1 to win the Premier League title next season, are serious about their ambitions, signing players like Rodriguez and Pickford is an absolute must. Pickford has the potential to blossom into a fantastic goalkeeper and England fans will be excited at what the future holds for the 23-year-old. Should he move to Arsenal, the Gunners will have a reliable pair of hands between the posts.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez would be the signing of the summer. At the 2014 World Cup, the Colombia star was simply sublime and he is capable of producing magical moments on a weekly basis. Since the start of April, the 25-year-old has scored six goals in eight appearances for Madrid – and this run of form could convince Wenger (or the new Arsenal boss) to move for Rodriguez before the window slams shut.

Gunners fans will be sitting tight ahead of an announcement regarding Wenger’s future but in the grand scheme of things, the manager isn’t important. To the Arsenal board, it is time to get the wallet out and offer some financial support. One year out of Europe’s elite club competition isn’t a disaster but it can only be one year – it is time for the Gunners to spend big and sign big.