Despite a lengthy period of underwhelming results and the curtain-shutting end of the season as Arsenal lost out on the Europa League final, Mikel Arteta seems to sit comfortably in his chair. But big change could be coming elsewhere.
“We have to be ruthless. There is no time to waste and there’s a lot to do,” the manager said about the summer transfer window and a possible overhaul of the squad, adding in another interview: “The squad needs changing (…) Things are going to have to change and the owners are going to back it up.”
We’re all looking forward to the summer, but Arteta maybe more than most.
So, who are the Arsenal players Arteta and technical director Edu might look to ship out this summer, and why them? Arsenal blogger Kenneth Andersen takes a look…
The Icelandic goalie from France didn’t impress at all in his first few games, and his playing time quickly diminished at the start of the season. January brought Mat Ryan, the Australian from Brighton, as back-up for Bernd Leno (himself now rumoured to be surplus to requirements). Ryan has done well, has been praised by Arteta and could be Arsenal’s new back-up goalie as Runarsson leaves north London after one year.
Experience and being a good role model is worth its weight but the 34-year-old’s contract is up this summer and, having picked up an injury, a possible extension is in jeopardy. Gabriel, Pablo Mari and Rob Holding have all impressed in spells this season and William Saliba will return from Nice soon. Moving on from Luiz and focusing on the ripe fruit seems logical.
Verdict: Leave on free
Bellerin has been at Arsenal for ten years this July. In that time he’s been great, he’s been awful, he’s had some bad injuries and he’s been given the amusing nickname ‘Heccy B’. But he’s not the player Arsenal fans thought he’d blossom into. At 26, his lightning pace has faded (possibly from his cruciate ligament rupture) and his performances with it. Both Cedric and Chambers have been preferred over Heccy at times this season and improvements can be found out there. Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey, for example. An amicable farewell could become reality this summer.
The Bosnian was part of the Mesut Özil and Shkodran Mustafi clique that was rushed out of the club in January. With one year left on his contract his days are surely numbered and a permanent move for Kolasinac will be a priority. Though the Hulk memes will be missed.
He’s done very well at Stuttgart after being poached on loan by former Arsenal head of recruitment, Sven Mislintat. However, with Gabriel, Mari, Holding and perhaps Saliba and Calum Chambers ahead of him in the centre-back queue, he’ll likely be a back-up’s back-up if he returns to Arsenal. There are reports saying he could play another season on loan in Stuttgart, which sounds great for all parties.
Martin Ødegaard and Dani Ceballos
This is a tough one. His technique, work rate and that goal against…are great arguments for trying to slip the Norwegian out of Real Madrid’s hands. But it will be costly, and Emile Smith Rowe has been one of Arsenal’s best players from that position this season. Considering Ceballos has said he’ll go back to Madrid, the Gunners’ attacking midfield will be left quite thin if Ødegaard returns to Spain as well. Arteta and Edu will likely try to sign the Norwegian permanently or to another loan and though Real’s poor finances help Arsenal’s cause, it won’t be an easy deal to make.
Verdict: Re-loan if possible
Since day one, the Egyptian has been a good squad player. He’s had some ups and downs but he’s been consistently alright. Mixing in his impressive work rate and positive personality makes him a good back-up. But with one year remaining on his contract, the 28-year-old will probably be put on the unwanted list this summer. A sale could also give Joe Willock more playing time next season.
The feisty Uruguayan has announced that he wants to go back to South America to play his football after his mother sadly passed away from Covid-19 earlier this year. Hopefully Arsenal grant his wish.
Being versatile isn’t always a good thing for a footballer. Maitland-Niles has impressed as a central midfielder on loan at West Brom, but at Arsenal he played anywhere but his preferred position. Having tasted some starting time in midfield, albeit for a much weaker side, the 23-year-old might look to move to the promised land. Though he has two years left on his contract, it’s a good time for him to move to a club that sees him as more than a Swiss army knife and a good time for Arsenal to cash in.~
Guendouzi fell out with Arteta and was loaned to Hertha Berlin, where he’s done reasonably well with a goal contribution every five games. Redemption at Arsenal for the spirited Frenchman feels possible still and Arsenal could need an extra midfielder next season, but with one year left on his contract a new deal must be signed first. That sounds like a lot of ifs and buts.
A lot of Arsenal fans would like to see the experienced Brazilian leave. But being 32, with two years left on a very expensive deal, it’s highly unlikely any club would be too keen to open their wallets for him. Keep smashing those free-kicks top corner, though.
Verdict: Stay. There’s no choice.
If someone had said Willian will score with just his third shot on target of the season in the Premier League, you’d have taken that back in September.
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) May 10, 2021
Another tough one. Lacazette offers something no other Arsenal striker does: hold-up play. He’s the only forward who can link up the midfield and the attack effectively. If that’s something Arteta wants in a striker, renewing his contract (expires next summer) one more year instead of replacing him seems a decent solution. But Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang might be favoured up top too. If a new forward is to come in, Lacazette will have to be sold first. It really comes down to what type of striker Arteta wants.
Verdict: Renew or sell. It could go either way
Nelson has hardly had a go this season. He’s been left out of the squad entirely for most of the season and his only Premier League game time came as far back as November. Being 21, having two years left on his deal and oozing big potential, a fruitful loan seems best. Maybe back to Germany?
No position is more difficult to make yours than the forward spot. Nketiah is only 21 but still needs to develop, to become more than a ‘fox in the box’, to be a starter at Arsenal. And one year left on his contract makes his situation far more complicated. Renewing his deal must include a path for him to become a bigger asset to the club. A loan perhaps? Selling the 21-year-old for the right price seems tempting too. A wait-and-see approach that determines a sale or renewal plus loan could quickly become reality.
Verdict: F*** knows
If all this was to become reality (“one lottery ticket, please”), Arsenal would see 9-11 first team players leave the club permanently and 2-3 being loaned out. It’s certainly an overhaul and could add around £120m in transfer fees.
Edu will have a busy summer.
Kenneth Andersen – follow him on Twitter