In just over five months time, the Arsenal first-team squad will look a lot different from what it is right now following what is shaping up to be an extremely busy summer transfer window in terms of incomings and outgoings.
In terms of deals already in place, football.london understands Matteo Guendouzi will join Marseille permanently after a successful loan spell. The same applies to central defender Konstantinos Mavropanos and midfielder Lucas Torreria with Stuttgart and Fiorentina respectively.
Furthermore, with Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah and Mohamed Elneny now into the final three months of their contracts at the Emirates Stadium, they are now able to speak with clubs outside of Europe. Although, Mikel Arteta has already said that any decision will be made at the end of the season.
Meanwhile, there are several members of the 21-man strong Arsenal first-team squad that will be in need of regular football and may look to use the summer window as an opportunity to leave north London for pastures new. But who should be kept, sold, or loaned out? football.london assesses the squad Arteta currently has at his disposal below…
This is a pretty straightforward area for Arsenal. Aaron Ramsdale has already nailed down the number one spot – even if he wears no.32 on the back of his shirt – and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Although, he will have a new rival in Matt Turner from next season with the USMNT keeper set to replace Bernd Leno.
As revealed by football.london, the German will be allowed to leave this summer after losing his place to Ramsdale and is attracting interest from Bundesliga sides – including a return to Bayer Leverkusen – as well as Newcastle United. Leno leaving is the best decision for all parties as the Gunners get a transfer fee and the 30-year-old can get the game time he needs to make the Germany World Cup squad.
Meanwhile, Arthur Okonkwo came into the season as one of two inexperienced third-choice goalkeeping options alongside Karl Hein before cementing that role when the Estonia international departed for Reading on loan during the January transfer window. Certainly one for the future, but Okonkwo may need a loan next season to ensure his development does not stall.
With Kieran Tierney in line to be named the next Arsenal captain, he will continue as Arteta’s first-choice left-back with Nuno Tavares operating as a backup option and the Portugal U21 international’s game time should increase provided the Gunners are competing in Europe next season.
Regardless of what happens with William Saliba (more on him a little later) Benjamin White and Gabriel Magalhaes are must keeps given their partnership has been a catalyst to Arsenal’s improved defensive record and subsequent top-four challenge. Takehiro Tomiyasu is the other defender who is all but assured of a place in the squad for next season.
Although, there are decisions to be made regarding Rob Holding and Cedric Soares. The former could drop even further down the pecking order but is a good option to keep around and if the Gunners are successful in signing a back-up right-back then Cedric could be bidding farewell.
Keep: Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Holding, Tierney, Tavares
It’s safe to say that barring a bizarre set of events, Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka will be at Arsenal next season. In fact, they could all feature in what many consider to be Arteta’s best XI after the summer transfer window closes.
Whilst the Gunners are on the market for a new central midfielder, Granit Xhaka could be a decent squad option if a potential move to Roma doesn’t materialise in successive summers, whilst Albert Sambi Lokonga should get more opportunities with the side competing on several fronts next season.
Elneny has been a bit-part player for two seasons now and all things are pointing towards him being released in the summer, again, this is the sensible option for both parties.
Keep: Partey, Xhaka, Lokonga, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Saka
Of the first-team forwards at Arteta’s disposal right now, only Gabriel Martinelli is assured of figuring in his plans for next season. Nicolas Pepe is an intriguing case as the club’s record signing is not even guaranteed a place in the Spaniard’s best Arsenal starting XI when everyone is fit and available for selection.
Yes, there is a decent counterargument for keeping Pepe around – him being a goal threat – but he will be 27 when the new season starts and he really needs to be playing week in, week out. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to envisage that being at Arsenal who will have to take a loss on the £72m fee spent.
There is a scenario where Arsenal sign one new centre-forward instead of two this summer and Lacazette puts pen-to-paper on a one-year extension. Alternatively, the Frenchman leaves along with Nketiah, thus allowing Arteta to usher in a new era of strikers in north London.
Sell: Lacazette, Nketiah, Pepe
In addition, Arsenal have 10 first-team players (going off the club’s official website) currently out on loan across Europe. With Guendouzi, Mavropanos and Torreira set to leave, they are likely to be joined in the departures lounge by Alex Runarsson, Hector Bellerin, Pablo Mari and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Saliba is the one loanee that should be integrated into the first-team picture next season, taking over from Holding as the third-choice central defensive option to begin with and competing with White and Gabriel as the campaign progresses. Depending on what business Arsenal get done in the attacking areas, Folarin Balogun and Reiss Nelson may need another loan spell to aid their development.