For the third year in a row, Arsenal will miss out on a top-four finish in the Premier League and be resigned to another campaign slogging their way through the Europa League – unless the Gunners can overcome the threat of Valencia on Thursday and then one of Chelsea or Eintracht Frankfurt in Baku.
Unai Emery failing to win the Europa League for the fourth time as a manager in the coming weeks would be disastrous for the Emirates Stadium natives, though, as it could set the North Londoners back years.
They are already expected to be hamstrung in the summer transfer market with a minuscule budget of £40million, and will find it near-on impossible to recoup vast sums for the players they are willing to let go.
Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are both bleeding the Gunners dry with their respective £350,000 and £180,000-a-week contracts and doing little to justify their salaries on the pitch.
Mohamed Elneny and Carl Jenkinson have only ever been squad options at the Emirates, too, and Emery wants to be the one who finally shows the life-long Arsenal supporting right-back the door.
Replacing their input – particularly Ozil and Mkhitaryan – will have to be a priority for Emery, however, but without Champions League football, who can they target?
Ajax sensation David Neres has been tipped as a potential option and new betting sites UK are still favouring it, but not only would Arsenal face competition from Chelsea and Liverpool for the Brazilian winger – who will be in the Champions League next season – he would set the Gunners back almost all of their pre-sale budget at £35million.
Would he, or anyone else the Islington outfit try to sign, also be willing to drop down to the Europa League?
Neres has been one of the star’s of his Eredivisie outfit’s season and his input alongside Hakim Ziyech and Dusan Tadic has been one of the reasons why they have been able to do so well in the Champions League.
Instead, Emery, Head of Football Raul Sanllehi, international scout Francis Cagigao and Managing Director Vinai Venkatesham will have to look for discount signings that can complement those already in N5. A move that will not edge the Gunners closer to their rivals, but rather see them fall further away from the top-four, who are all expected to strengthen squads that already usurp that at the Emirates.
Losing their key players and missing out on some of their top targets could act as a refresh for Arsenal, however, and see Emery do what he should have done more so this season and give youth a chance.
Even when the Gunners cried out for fresh blood and only signed Denis Suarez in January – who has since returned to Barcelona having only played 95 minutes – the Spanish head coach rarely turned to the academy.
If Emery continues down that path, prospects like Bukayo Saka and Xavier Amaechi will only want to leave, as they will not see a route into the first-team with Arsenal, and their fans will watch in fear of the Gunners repeating the mistakes that allowed Serge Gnabry to move on.