Arsenal’s next two games could have major implications on what could happen whilst the January transfer window remains open.
With no European football on offer this season, it means there are a few Arsenal players who have been on the sidelines in recent months and are in need of regular game time during the second half of the campaign.
As a result, Ainsley Maitland-Niles is on his way to Italy to link up with Jose Mourinho and Tammy Abraham at AS Roma in a loan deal.
But will the versatile midfielder be the only high-profile exit from the Emirates Stadium this month? That remains to be seen, but strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Eddie Nketiah have both been linked with exits.
Although, a clear indication over Bernd Leno‘s future could come over the next week.
Arsenal take on Liverpool in the first-leg of their rearranged Carabao Cup semi-final leg next Thursday after taking on Championship side Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round on Sunday evening.
Leno as the ‘cup goalkeeper’ since losing his No.1 spot to Aaron Ramsdale after the September international break, will be expecting to play in both games as well as the return leg against the Reds on January 20.
But given the importance of the semi-final, in particular, there is a possibility that Arteta may opt for his first choice stopper against Jurgen Klopp’s side.
In this scenario, the German will be left considering his options more seriously, particularly given that he is also keen to represent his country at the World Cup in Qatar. With that said, a January exit does seem unlikely unless Edu is able to bring in a suitable replacement.
And Leno isn’t the only Arsenal player awaiting Arteta’s decisions for the upcoming cup ties.
Pablo Mari is somewhat of a forgotten man at the moment. This is despite the fact that he was Arsenal’s first-choice left-sided centre-back for games against Brentford and Chelsea at the start of the season.
However, he now finds himself below Benjamin White and Gabriel Magalhaes in the pecking order and hasn’t made a Premier League appearance since August. In fact, he last featured for the first-team in their 3-0 Carabao Cup third round win over AFC Wimbledon in September.
Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he missed the round four win over Leeds United through illness and was then sidelined for the quarter-final win against Sunderland after testing positive for Covid-19.
Like Leno, Mari will have his eyes on the FA Cup tie at the weekend and his chances of starting have been boosted with Gabriel now set to serve his one-match suspension against Forest after being sent-off in the 2-1 defeat by Manchester City on New Year’s Day.
If his name is not in the starting lineup an hour before kick-off at the City Ground then that could make the decision regarding his future easier.
Brettbarley.com revealed in November that Mari was attracting interest from former club Flamengo – who are keen on a loan deal – and it’s understood game time, or the lack of, will play a major role in his decision.
As Mari’s opportunities – outside of the cup competitions – are already extremely limited, it seems that Sunday afternoon will be the biggest indicator yet on where his immediate future lies.
Should he leave – albeit temporarily before deadline day – he will help to save Arsenal in the region of €1million (£865,000).
This is in relation to when Mari joined the Gunners on a permanent deal in the summer of 2020 after becoming Mikel Arteta’s first signing in the January transfer window when he initially arrived on loan.
Brazilian outlet Globo Esporte then reported last January that Arsenal have to pay Flamengo a bonus of €1million (£865,000) every time Mari makes 10 Premier League appearances, up to a maximum of 80 outings.
As the centre-back has only made 14 appearances in the top-flight of English football so far, the Gunners have only had to pay that bonus once – and that came following the 1-0 home defeat to Manchester City last season.
Therefore, with Flamengo due another €1million if Mari makes a further six Premier League appearances this season, Arsenal will avoid having to make this payment should the defender opt to leave this month.