The final days of January went by in a flash, and with them, the transfer window closed. Going into this window news on the Arsenal front seemed very dim. Their best player, Alexis Sanchez, was campaigning for a move to Manchester City.

Their second best player, Mesut Ozil, had been weighing up a move to Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, or Barcelona.

While these massive names would be missed, possible replacements had been named in the likes of Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors) and Malcolm (Bordeaux). While both of these players possess South American flair and great young potential, they are highly unproven, especially Pavon who has yet to make a move to Europe.

Suddenly, Arsenal's new backroom, namely Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi began to flex their financial muscle. A surprise swap deal with Manchester United saw Alexis Sanchez trade dressing rooms with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, which appeared like a masterstroke given the position the club was in regarding Alexis' contract running out in the summer.

Mislintat then used his connections with Borussia Dortmund to secure a move for superstar forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, which in turn convinced Ozil to sign on the dotted line and commit another three years to the North London club.

These moves took a struggling Arsenal side with a toxic dressing room and numerous contract issues and allowed them to form one of the most potent attacks in England. However, the club is far from done, as they still have a notable lack of defensive-minded midfielders, a struggling back line, and an aging Petr Cech in goal.

Defensive reinforcements

So what's next for Arsenal? A proper defensive midfielder, experienced center back, and top class goalkeeper have all been touted as the necessities to bring Arsenal to the level of Europe's elite, but where will they look?

Goalkeepers

Arsenal are believed to be planning on moving on from aging goalkeeper, Petr Cech. A dip in form and some crucial mistakes have lead the club's management to believe it is time to find a top-class replacement for the Czech stopper. Many names have been tossed around, but there are a few that Arsenal seem far more serious about than the rest.

  • Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)

The best of the best. Oblak has already cemented himself as one of the top goalkeepers in world football. While Atletico Madrid can offer him an enticing package, Sanllehi has come out saying Oblak is Arsenal's top summer target, and he may be able to use his Spanish connections to secure a deal for the Slovenian stopper. It will prove tough though, as Paris Saint-Germain are also said to be eyeing a move this summer.

  • Peter Gulacsi (RB Leipzig)

Gulacsi was heavily linked with London early this year, as both Arsenal and Chelsea looked to secure the former Liverpool stopper's services. He has shown his quality in the Bundesliga over the past season and a half and it is said that Wenger is a big fan. However, Wenger seems to be losing control over Arsenal's transfers, and it appears that the board may be looking for a higher profile target now. Regardless, this is definitely a space to watch.

  • Alban LaFont (Toulouse)

Having just turned 19, LaFont is the youngest of the bunch. Having been linked with Arsenal for a few years now, it's definitely the time to snap him up if they plan on investing in the keeper. He has been one of Europe's top up-and-coming talents for a while now and has the full potential to be a star. However, at just 19, it's yet to be seen if he can handle the physical and mental demands of the premier league. His reflexes, however, are not something to bat an eye at.

  • Jack Butland (Stoke City)

It isn't easy to find a quality home grown keeper in England, Jack Butland is just that. Being touted as the heir to Joe Hart in the English national team, he may have already surpassed his predecessor at club level. At just 24, Butland has the potential still to become a world class keeper with a move to a larger club, will Arsenal offer him that opportunity?

Back Line

Arsenal have been mixing up their approach to defense all year. At times fielding a back four and often a back three. Stability at the back will benefit the club, but to do that they need the right players. Their problem, is that they only have one fit right back and two top-quality centerbacks. At the left back position the club are pleasantly stocked with Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Hector Bellerin is more than capable of work on the right flank, but a suitable backup is a must as the club are alarmingly thin after the departure of Mathieu Debuchy.

Most urgently though, a commanding center back is desperately needed as Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi are their only top centerbacks, and both have been at fault numerous times this year. Arsenal have also fielded Rob Holding and Calum Chambers at the position but both have failed to live up to Arsenal's standards and are likely to be sold on this summer. While numerous names have been looked into at the Emirates, let's look at the most likely to arrive.

  • Kostas Manolas (Roma)

A failed approach on transfer deadline day left Arsenal empty handed, and short on defense. Should Arsenal return in the summer, they are likely to be told to hand over the transfer fee of 30 million euros that they were quoted this January. Manolas is a top quality centerback and would be a great addition to Arsenal's back line as he brings a large presence that is currently lacking.

  • Jonny Evans (West Bromwich Albion)

Jonny Evans is a player that both Arsenal and Manchester City showed major interest in, but West Brom simply wanted too much for them. However, should the baggies be relegated at the conclusion of this season, Evans' will be available to sign for just 3 million euros. This is an opportunity that Arsenal would surely be interested in.

  • David Luiz (Chelsea)

Another player linked with Arsenal this past January. The out-of-favor centerback may be available for a reasonable price, and his quality is shown by Real Madrid's reported interest in him. However, should Antonio Conte be fired, as is suspected, a new manager may re-welcome him to their starting eleven. If conditions stay the same at Chelsea though, expect Arsenal to come knocking.

Defensive Midfielder

The last position we're covering today, is the same that Arsenal have appeared to be struggling with for years now. Wenger's style doesn't exactly mix well with specialized players, however with pressure growing on his neck and the Arsenal board taking over for transfers, it's safe to expect a new defensive midfielder to make their way to the club. Granit Xhaka was bought for this purpose two summers ago, however he hasn't been able to reclaim his defensive prowess from his days in Germany. Besides him, Francis Coquelin has been sold, leaving Mohamed Elneny as the clubs sole defensive midfielder, and many would argue he is not up to Arsenal's standards. With this worrying lack of depth, it would be a no-brainer for a new CDM to make their way to the club. Who could it be?

  • Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal)

The cost-effective option. Big, strong, and already at the club. Kolasinac often played a CDM role for Schalke, so he already knows what the role entails. Given his great start to the season, but shocking lack of game time it would make sense for Arsenal to give him a shot.

  • Steven N'Zonzi (Sevilla)

N'Zonzi has frequently been linked to Arsenal over the past couple of transfer windows. He's already accustomed to the premier league. He's one of the best defensive midfielders in Spain. His price tag is relatively cheap. What is stopping Arsenal from filling up one of their most urgent holes?

  • William Carvalho (Sporting CP)

Carvalho has been linked with Arsenal for essentially - eternity - He has made a strong name for himself in Portugal and it is time he made the move to a larger club. He excels in winning the ball back and pushing it up the field to his more attack minded teammates. While it is understandable Arsenal have been hesitant to make a move in the past, Carvalho is now 25 and has put numerous good seasons behind him. If Arsenal are to ever make a move, now is the time.

Becoming elite

Arsenal have made huge steps forward this year. Reshaping their backroom with the notable additions of Mislintat and Sanllehi shows this, as well as the signings of Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang. They may be looking for more fire power in the summer, too, but defense is the top priority. However, there job is just starting and following through on their defensive promises may prove difficult, until the summer we can only wait and see. One thing is for sure though, and that is that the future at Arsenal is looking bright for the first time in a while.