Mikel Arteta could be spoilt for choice when it comes to naming the next Arsenal captain as a few more contenders have emerged to challenge Kieran Tierney and Martin Odegaard for the honour.
Following the decision to take the armband away from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last December as a punishment for another disciplinary issue, the Gunners manager entrusted Alexandre Lacazette to skipper the side for the remainder of the 2021/22 season, although that was always expected to be a short-term solution.
And with confirmation that the Frenchman is leaving Arsenal at the end of the month, not only does Arteta have to bring in a striker as a replacement – amid interest in Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus – but he will also have to name Lacazette’s successor with regards to the captaincy going into the 2022/23 season.
Now, the leading candidate to take over from Lacazette appears to be Tierney having been promoted to the vice-captain role with Arteta already hinting that the Scotland international is next in line. However, the left-back’s worrying injury record does raise concerns as to if he would be the ideal choice.
With Tierney missing the final two months of the season just gone after undergoing knee surgery, he didn’t get a chance to captain the side when Lacazette lost his place in the team, initially after testing positive for Covid-19 and then due to the impressive form of Eddie Nketiah.
As a result, Odegaard – who is also the captain of the Norway national team – skippered the side during the final eight games of the season – including against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – so he is certainly in the frame to get the role on a permanent basis.
It remains to be seen what route Arteta decides to take, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Tierney and Odegaard are named Arsenal’s next captain and vice-captain respectively – there’s even the possibility that the order of the roles could change based on how last season ended.
Although, the Spaniard could yet change his mind as there are a few players within the first-team set-up ready to pose a challenge to the aforementioned duo including Gabriel Magalhaes, Benjamin White and Albert Sambi Lokonga who have been tipped for big things by Lacazette.
“There are some future captains,” he told Arsenal.com “Gabriel, big Gabi, has got presence, leadership at the back. I think when he’s going to be more fluent with English, it will help a lot. Ben White as well, he’s more quiet maybe, but by the way he plays he can be a good leader and maybe with edge can build up.
“Sambi Lokonga, but he’s already been a captain in the past so it’s not hard to say he can be a good captain. Kieran as well because I think he’s been a captain as well in the past for the national team a few times. You can see some future captains, or leaders.”
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale recently threw his name into the ring after listing the credentials that would make him the best option to take over from Lacazette and some Arsenal fans think ‘natural leader’ William Saliba should be a contender after captaining France U21’s earlier in the season.
Whether any of the five potential contenders to be named next Arsenal captain are seriously being considered by Arteta is anyone’s guess but one player who has promised to be a leader on the pitch with or without the armband next season is Granit Xhaka who was stripped of the captaincy under former head coach Unai Emery in 2019.
“Obviously, I am not captain of Arsenal any longer. But I can promise you that I will still act like a captain, even without the armband,” he said when speaking exclusively to The Players’ Tribune. “That is possible. I get a lot of respect from my teammates and our staff, and I am so thankful for that. I will always help the young guys and take responsibility for our performances.”