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15,000+ Arsenal fans were given control of the club: This is who they would keep and sell (Part 1)

15,000+ Arsenal fans were given control of the club: This is who they would keep and sell (Part 1)

If you had control?

Arsenal have endured a very difficult season which is unlikely to see them qualify for Europe. An overhaul is what is needed and many Arsenal fans have entered prolonged debates about who should stay and who should go.

Therefore, as an interesting experiment, using a series of polls on individual players in the squad with the help of over 320,000 individual votes –  averaging more than 15,000 votes per player – the perfect sample size was collected.

In this 3-part series, the results of the experiment are discussed and explained. Arsenal fans were asked a very simple question: ‘Keep or Sell?’

The rules led to only the first-team squad being used, and none of the loanees (Mat Ryan, Dani Ceballos or Martin Odegaard), or those whose contracts expire this summer (David Luiz) were included. No youth players, either (e.g Folarin Balogun, Miguel Azeez etc.).

Starting with goalkeepers and defenders, this is what the Arsenal fans want:

Goalkeepers

Bernd Leno – Sell

The Arsenal number 1 has had an indifferent season. From saving Arsenal in a penalty shootout against Liverpool in the League Cup at the start, to seeing a ball trickle off his gloves from a Richarlison cross to condemn Arsenal to a likely Europe-less campaign next time out.

15,000+ Arsenal fans were given control of the club: This is who they would keep and sell (Part 1)

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 29: Bernd Leno of Arsenal reacts after Chelsea score their first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Emirates Stadium on December 29, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

It is unsurprising, then, that a slender majority have voted in favour of seeing the German international leave. But with 42.5% still backing Leno, they have not been deterred by his recent comments regarding being open to a ‘new adventure.’

A new goalkeeper will be on the summer agenda with Mat Ryan’s loan ending. Whether the club’s signing will replace or cover for Leno remains to be seen.

Alex Runarsson – Sell

The Icelandic keeper has been nothing short of a disaster since his arrival, following a recommendation from goalkeeping coach Inaki Cana.

His performances have looked nervy and amateur. A ball slipping through your fingers against Manchester City is one thing, but looking awkward against Dundalk in the Europa League is another altogether.

15,000+ Arsenal fans were given control of the club: This is who they would keep and sell (Part 1)

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 21: Alex Runarsson of Arsenal during a training session at London Colney on September 21, 2020 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The loan signing of Mat Ryan provided all fans needed to know about how the club view Runarsson, and, unsurprisingly 88.6% of voters said they too would move him on.

Defenders

Hector Bellerin – Sell

Hector Bellerin is one of the few ‘old guard’ from the Arsene Wenger days still at the Emirates. Now 26, his minutes under Mikel Arteta have gradually diminished. A serious knee injury has seen the Spaniard look a shadow of his former self, a key reason behind fans turning on the former favourite.

15,000+ Arsenal fans were given control of the club: This is who they would keep and sell (Part 1)

LEICESTER, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 09: Hector Bellerin of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Arsenal FC at The King Power Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

There have even been reports circulating that a secret agreement between Bellerin and Arteta will see him leave the club in the summer.

The return of Calum Chambers was the biggest signal towards the Spaniard’s departure, as the former Southampton man has regularly taken his place in a role he has barely featured in during his time at the club.

Fans have reacted, and a staggering 91.1% have voted to see the player leave.

Cedric Soares – Keep 

The first ‘Keep’ of the list so far. The Portuguese player was utilised more consistently than many expected after his free transfer arrival from Southampton, as Kieran Tierney was confined to the sidelines. His performances earned a call-up to the Portuguese national team for the first time in a number of years.

Cedric is seen as a clear cover player for the right-back role, an area in which Arsenal will likely invest this summer. And he seems content with such a role as things stand. As do the fan base, of whom 66.1% have opted to keep the player.

Calum Chambers – Keep

Certainly one on the list who, had the poll been run a few months ago, would likely have seen a very different result. After recovering from a long-term knee injury, Chambers made the right-back spot his own, and put in some solid displays, most notably in the 3-3 draw with West Ham.

Still, 75.3% voting keep is a surprise. Chambers has just one year left on his deal at the club, and, based on the percentages, it appears a new deal would not be complained about.

Arsenal’s injury record, and Chambers’ own versatility, may provide further reasoning behind the desire to see him stay.

Rob Holding – Keep

One of the closer votes of the poll, Holding only just survived the cut by earning 53.1%, to the vocal dismay of some online who quickly revealed their fury at which way the result had fallen.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 16: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal celebrates with teammate Rob Holding after scoring their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Southampton at Emirates Stadium on December 16, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Peter Cziborra - Pool/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 16: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal celebrates with teammate Rob Holding after scoring their team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Southampton at Emirates Stadium on December 16, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Peter Cziborra – Pool/Getty Images)

Holding is a player who, for the long-term, is likely not of the required level to be the Gunners’ starting right-sided centre-half.

However, he has proved himself a competent player, and recently signed a new contract with the club. This is important due to the fact that the player who follows Holding on this list is set to return from an impressive loan, meaning the Englishman can provide ample cover, which would otherwise cost a sizeable fee on the market.

His filling of one of the necessary homegrown slots is also a plus in the defender’s favour.

William Saliba – Keep

Arguably the most enigmatic figure in the whole of the Arsenal squad. Signed in 2019 but still without any idea of how he will fare as a Gunners player, yet, as shown in the poll’s results, still exceptionally highly regarded by the Arsenal fan base is William Saliba.

The Frenchman’s first 6 months at his new club, after returning from a loan with Saint-Etienne, were ones to forget. Sent to the under-23 squad, he barely got a look in with the first-team setup, getting a spot on the bench just twice, and not once in the league.

He joined Nice on loan in January, and has shown Arsenal exactly what they have been missing. Granted, not the finished article, whilst immature mistakes pepper his game, but Saliba has shown leadership and quality during his time back in France, and made Nice better for it.

15,000+ Arsenal fans were given control of the club: This is who they would keep and sell (Part 1)

Nice’s French defender William Saliba (L) is challenged by Metz’s French forward Thierry Ambrose during the French L1 football match between Football Club de Metz and OGC Nice at the Saint-Symphorien Stadium in Longeville-Les-Metz, eastern France on January 9, 2021. (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP) (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Next season, questions will come, but hopefully, for Arsenal’s sake, the stopper can show why the club paid so much for him.

Konstantinos Mavropanos – Sell

The Greek defender has been excellent in his spell with Stuttgart on loan – so good that the club are desperate to keep him. The Arsenal fan base, though, have opted to allow the 23-year-old to leave.

There are a number of factors behind why this might be. First are the presences of Saliba, Holding and Chambers, and the prospect of a potential signing in that area this summer. You can only have so many centre-halves, and Mavropanos clearly doesn’t make the cut.

Further is the opportunity to sell the player for a tidy sum, and make significant profit on the small fee paid to secure his services some years ago.

Gabriel Magalhaes – Keep

Unsurprising to see a huge vote in favour of the Brazilian’s continuation at the Emirates, following his arrival last summer. He was a player who Arsenal desperately needed, and proved why during arguably the club’s worst period in the first half of the season.

There is certainly more to come from Gabriel, and his age is an indicator that this is indeed the case. A partner alongside whom he can form a consistent partnership will be the focus this summer… Could it be in the form of a certain young Frenchman?

Pablo Mari – Keep

Arsenal have seemingly got the left-sided centre-back role covered, with Pablo Mari providing consistent cover for Gabriel. He has even started plenty of games alongside Rob Holding, whilst Gabriel is preferred, when fit, alongside David Luiz.

Mari’s age of 27 will see him become the most experienced centre-half in the Arsenal side when David Luiz moves on, and he looks ready to fulfil that role. A good communicator and calm presence in the side.

No surprise, then, that the large majority of fans would like to see him stay.

Kieran Tierney – Keep

Not much to discuss with Tierney. By far the most loved player in Arsenal’s squad, due to his his tenacity, grit and attacking play. Injuries have hampered his time with the club, but, when fit, he is up there with the Premier League’s best at left-back.

15,000+ Arsenal fans were given control of the club: This is who they would keep and sell (Part 1)

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND – JANUARY 02: Kieran Tierney of Arsenal celebrates with teammates Rob Holding, Dani Ceballos and Pablo Mari after scoring their team’s first goal during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns on January 02, 2021 in West Bromwich, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Rui Vieira – Pool/Getty Images)

The biggest issue for Arsenal has been when the Scot is not there – something the Gunners will need to address in the summer.

Sead Kolasinac – Sell

A player who was let go on loan in January and arguably shouldn’t have been, not because of his quality, but because the club failed to bring in a replacement.

Kolasinac left for Schalke, where some reports credit him with having played a central role in the manager’s sacking.

The Bosnian and his big wages are assets the club, and evidently fans, are keen to see leave permanently.

Make sure you stay tuned for part 2, coming soon.

Arsenal transfer latest: Insight into Odegaard fee, Southampton stopper lined up, Nelson set for Championship

Arsenal teammate confirms Martin Odegaard ‘feels at home’ amid mounting calls for permanent deal


This article was edited by Conor Laird.

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