Ligue Un outfit Marseille have unintentionally become Arsenal’s B team with Chelsea flop Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the latest ex-Gunner to get to France.
Alexis Sanchez, Nuno Tavares, William Saliba, Matteo Guendouzi and Sead Kolasinac have also recently had spells at the Stade Velodrome.
So I’ve decided to pick out six more former Arsenal players who could be next to join Marseille. I’m not pretending that I’m some kind of transfer insider, but I’d say one deal is pretty realistic while Aston Villa and Everton stars are involved in the other fantasy summer signings (that definitely won’t happen)…
Hector Bellerin (Real Betis)
A beloved figure at Arsenal, Bellerin has been hot-potatoed around Europe with spells at Real Betis, FC Barcelona, Sporting Lisbon coming over the past two seasons. He’s now headed back to Real Betis this summer.
Arsenal have fared pretty well at right-back without Bellerin as Mikel Arteta has actively looked to reinvent his squad. Takehiro Tomiyasu and latterly Ben White have both thrived and now summer signing Jurrien Timber has been thrown into the mix for good measure.
Aged 28, Bellerin has now played in England, Spain and Portugal so it only makes sense (for the purposes of this article) that he can add France to this list.
Olivier Giroud (AC Milan)
Here’s a signing that I could actually see Marseille pulling off over the next year or two.
The 36-year-old was criminally underrated during his time in the Premier League with Arsenal and Chelsea as he unsurprisingly aged like a fine wine.
Giroud is nearing the end of his career but he has shown at AC Milan that he still has a lot to give and considering he’s never had to rely on his pace (because he does not have much of it), this should not be a shock.
Forty-three goal involvements in 85 appearances is a stunning return for a player of his age and a spell back home in Ligue Un at Marseille (or somewhere else) would be a nice way to end what’s been a brilliant career.
In a similar way to Newcastle United’s striker-turned-midfielder Joelinton, Iwobi has benefitted hugely from permanently switching positions.
On the whole, Iwobi was pretty unremarkable at Arsenal and they were rightly delighted when Everton paid £28m plus add-ons to take him off their hands in 2019.
Yet unlike the majority of Everton’s recent signings, Iwobi has slowly proven to be a worthy investment and although this has not come in the form it was initially intended, Sean Dyche’s side cannot afford to lose him ahead of what’s likely to be *another* season around the bottom of the Premier League.
I’m not here to please Everton and the prospect of a central midfield partnership between Iwobi and Guendouzi is too tantalising to ignore.
Emi Martinez (Aston Villa)
The World Cup-winning sh*thouse rattled a fair few cages in Qatar as he helped Lionel Messi win a trophy that had previously eluded him.
After Arteta picked Bernd Leno over him as his first-choice goalkeeper in 2020, Aston Villa got themselves a bloody bargain when they snapped up Martinez for just £20m.
The Argentina international has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League over the past couple of seasons and while Aston Villa are quite clearly on the rise with Unai Emery and Monchi at the helm, the shot-stopper is deserving of a move to the Champions League and while he’s *probably* better than Marseille, they are the focus of this article so that is where he’s heading.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Inter Milan)
There was significant hype surrounding Mkhitaryan prior to his move from Borussia Dortmund to Man Utd but his stint in the Premier League with the Red Devils and Arsenal was underwhelming.
Part of the infamous swap deal involving Alexis Sanchez in January 2018 (that worked out woefully for all parties), Mkhitaryan has fared better in Serie A even with an uncomfortable reunion with ex-Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho at Roma.
Like Bellerin, Mkhitaryan has been around the houses in his career and while he’s nearing the end of his tether at the age of 36, I reckon he is still performing at the necessary level to cut it in the so-called ‘farmers league’ in France; a move to Marseille would be about right for him.
Lucas Torreira (Galatasaray)
Arteta has been pretty quick to bin off unwanted players who are not part of his plans and Torreira felt the Arsenal manager’s wrath around 18 months before Aubameyang suffered a similar fate.
Torreira appeared a sure-fire bet to be a decent £26m signing for the Gunners after his stellar performances at the 2018 World Cup for Uruguay but his lacklustre spell post-Arsenal proves Arteta was right (as he often is) with his decision to part with the midfielder.
Aged 27, Torreira’s trajectory to date makes it seem like he is condemned to meander his way around Europe through his career without setting the world alight. And he would fit the mould for Marseille who tend to (barring the odd Aubameyang and Sanchez-esque anomaly) sign former Arsenal players who could not fully cut it at the Emirates as part of their B team formula.