Mikel Arteta has revealed that his transfer priorities will shift to focus on outgoings before he continues to invest in his Arsenal side following the arrival of Oleksandr Zinchenko.
The Gunners have signed 5 new faces for the senior side so far this summer, with Zinchenko joining Gabriel Jesus, Matt Turner, Marquinho and Fabio Vieira in arriving at the Emirates Stadium since the transfer window opened.
That, combined with the seven returning loanees, has left Mikel Arteta with a bloated squad ahead of the new season, demonstrated by the fact that only Reuell Walters from the youth sides was taken on the pre-season tour of the USA.
So often a chance for youth talents to showcase their ability, the tour has instead become a procession of ensuring minutes around the squad even for those clearly outside the Spanish boss’s plans this season.
They are not alone in this regard: across London both Tottenham and Chelsea are in similar situations.
And speaking after their most recent pre-season game, a 3-1 win over Orlando City, Mikel Arteta admitted that his focus was now switching to outgoings from his 33-man-large senior squad.
“We have to”, the Arsenal boss explained. “We have a big squad and now we have to make things happen. We have to make some decisions on the players that we’re not going to be using consistently and be fair with them. That’s a process that is going to start very soon.”
The Gunners gaffer has previously told the media his ideal squad size, explaining that “If you can financially afford it and we don’t have to do the turnaround in the squad that we’ve had to do, if you ask me what I want it’s 22 outfield players and three goalkeepers”.
At present, he has been saddled with five goalkeepers, and 28 senior outfield players, meaning that even before further incomings, 8 players will need to leave the club this summer.
Who is set to leave?
So, who are these 8 players set to be?
1. Bernd Leno (GK)- In talks with Fulham over a move to Craven Cottage this summer, the fee demanded by Arsenal is currently a sticking point for the 30-year-old German international. Will certainly be departing if his value is met.
2. Runar Alex Runarsson (GK) - Another player expected to depart this summer either on loan or permanently, Runarsson spent last season on loan at Belgian side Oud-Heverlee Leuven, but didn’t do enough to earn a permanent move. The Icelandic goalkeeper has no future at Arsenal.
3. Hector Bellerin (RB)- After spending last season on loan with boyhood club Real Betis, this summer has been something of a saga to see whether the Spaniard would return there ahead of the new campaign on a permanent deal.
At present, that doesn’t seem financially feasible, though the proposed sale of Betis defender Alex Moreno to Nottingham Forest may change that. One to keep an eye on.
4. Nuno Tavares (LB) - A hit and miss first season of Premier League football, the arrival of Zinchenko seems to have put pay to any idea of him remaining at the Emirates Stadium this summer in an ideal world. Brighton, Marseilles and Atalanta have all been linked with loan moves, but nothing has yet been forthcoming.
5. Pablo Mari (CB) - Another player sent on loan in January, Pablo Mari’s departure is perhaps less certain than others on this list by virtue of his ability to play in the left-sided centre-back role. However, with both William Saliba and Rob Holding serving as third and fourth choice central defenders at present, Mari remains likely to be on the move this summer.
6. Ainsley Maitland-Niles (CM) - It is still hard to tell what Ainsley Maitland-Niles wants to do with his footballing career, but whatever it is looks set to be away from Arsenal if a buyer can be found.
An unimpressive loan spell at Roma last season ended with European silverware but few appearances for the Englishman, and Arsenal’s hope that Roma would seek a permanent move at the end of it proved wide of the mark.
The 24-year-old is out of contract next summer, and Arsenal will look for a permanent resolution this summer.
7. Lucas Torreira
It seemed certain that Torreira had found a home in Florence after an impressive spell with Fiorentina last campaign, only for the Serie A side to swerve the 15m option to buy come the end of the season, leaving the Uruguayan once more in limbo.
Taken on the tour of the USA, Torreira was one of two fit outfield players not to play a minute of football in their opening two games, and has now flown home amid speculation surrounding a move.
Not in Mikel Arteta’s plans 12 months ago, it is hard to see how, in an ideal world, that would have changed.
8. Folarin Balogun
With Eddie Nketiah’s contract extension and Gabriel Jesus’ arrival in north London, it seems likely that Folarin Balogun will be once again leaving the club on loan this summer.
The youngster signed a new contract with Arsenal in April 2021 which ties him to the club until 2025, and is still thought to be highly-thought of in north London, but is unlikely to get the minutes that he requires to develop stuck on Mikel Arteta’s substitutes bench.
Honourable mentions: Arthur Okonkwo, Nicolas Pepe and Reiss Nelson
Having been Arsenal’s third-choice goalkeeper last season, Arthur Okonkwo is expected to head out on loan this season and hand that role to fellow youth-squad shot-stopper Karl Hein.
Meanwhile, the futures of both Nicolas Pepe and Reiss Nelson likely depend on potential incomings. In an ideal world, Arsenal would be happy to see Pepe move on, but finding a potential suitor to recoup any of their £72m outlay has thus far proved tricky.
Reiss Nelson is out of contract next summer too, meaning that his departure is likely but by no means guaranteed. Should the Gunners bring in another winger as they tried to with Raphinha, the writing may well be on the wall.
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