Mikel Arteta has already hinted that this summer is going to be a busy one for Arsenal. The Gunners finished fifth place in the Premier League this season, just two points off the Champions League places. When asked what the club were planning to do to bridge that gap, Arteta was clear.
“We want to take the club to the next level,” the Spaniard said in his press conference ahead of the final game of the season against Everton. “That’s the ambition. In order to do that we have a very clear plan again, how we want to do it and execute it, and there are no secrets. We need resources and we need to increase the quality and the depth of the squad.”
Arsenal are targeting a striker, with Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus thought to be the main target, while central midfielder Youri Tielemans and full back Aaron Hickey have both been linked. However, as much as getting the right players in is going to be important this summer, moving the correct ones on is also going to be key.
Historically selling well has not been a strong point for Arsenal. Despite the fact that 10 players left the Emirates last summer, the only significant fee that Edu was able to obtain was the £25 million Newcastle spent on Joe Willock. This is something the Gunners will be hoping to change this summer.
Bernd Leno seems as though he will be able to provide them with the opportunity to do that. Despite denying reports that he has said his goodbyes to his teammates at London Colney, the German is almost certain to leave this summer, with Matt Turner on his way in from New England Revolution to take over as Aaron Ramsdale’s back up. Benfica have been linked, but they are reportedly unwilling to meet the £8.5 million asking price that the Gunners have placed on Leno.
Another goalkeeper who is on his way out is Runar Alex Runarsson. The Iceland international is still an Arsenal player, and despite playing relatively regularly for OH Leuven this season, football.london understands the Belgian side are reluctant to pay the amount required to trigger their option to buy in his loan deal. Runarsson is not part of Arteta’s plans and will be allowed to leave this summer should the right offer come in.
He is one of several members of the Arsenal loan army who could be set to leave this summer. Another is Hector Bellerin, who enjoyed a positive loan spell at Real Betis this season where he helped his boyhood club to win the Copa del Rey. With just one year remaining on his contract though and Takehiro Tomiyasu, Cedric Soares and impressive youngster Brooke Norton-Cuffy all among the options at right back, it would seem the Spaniard is on his way out.
Arteta has stated that he is planning for the 27-year-old’s return, but from his side Bellerin has already expressed a desire to return to Betis. “At the moment, I have to go back (to Arsenal),” he said in a statement. “I have already spoken with the two clubs and I have made my position clear. Now we have a few months where we hope that the best will come out for the three parties. I made an effort to come (to Betis) and I am willing to make another effort to stay because I am happy.”
Pablo Mari is another who had a successful loan spell. The Spanish centre-back impressed at Udinese, who have expressed a desire to keep him. However, football.london understands the Italian side are waiting until the appointment of their new manager to decide whether to push ahead with a move. On top of this Udinese are unlikely to be able to afford the reported £14 million that Arsenal are hoping to recoup for the former Flamengo man, meaning the move is far from done.
Mari’s future could well be tied in to the future of William Saliba. football.london understands that the Frenchman will hold talks over his future at Arsenal this summer. He was named Ligue 1 young player of the year after an impressive stint at Marseille, but with Gabriel and Ben White having established an impressive partnership at the Emirates, it is not clear whether he would get regular game time if he were to return to North London as things stand.
Another centre-back who could leave is Daniel Ballard. football.london understands that the Northern Ireland international is available on a permanent transfer this summer, with Millwall among the clubs interested in signing him.
Fellow Hale Ender Ainsley Maitland-Niles could also go this summer. The England international’s loan with Roma will not be made permanent despite his Europa Conference League success. He has just one year left on his contract meaning this will likely be Arsenal’s chance to secure any sort of fee for him.
The same goes for Lucas Torreira. It was thought that the Uruguayan would be making his loan move to Fiorentina permanent this summer after an impressive season there, but the Italian side are now reportedly hesitant over a fee. He is another who is not part of Arteta’s plans though, and with midfield recruits set to come in, it’s hard to see him staying.
One slightly more shocking exit though would be Granit Xhaka. football.londonunderstands that Roma still hold an interest in the Swiss international. The reason Arsenal extended his contract last summer was thought to be to protect his value, and with firm interest from Jose Mourinho’s side, Arteta showed that he would be willing to let Xhaka leave.
There has been no suggestion that the 28-year-old will go from his side, and having won over the Arsenal fans after being named player of the month for April and receiving a standing ovation in the final game of the season against Everton, this might seem like strange timing to go. But with Tielemans continually linked, and Arteta now wedded to the 4-3-3 set up it could be one to keep an eye on.
A player whose future is far more certain though is Alexandre Lacazette. football.london understands that, the Frenchman will not extend his contract in North London this summer. Mohamed Elneny has signed a deal, while Eddie Nketiah is thought to be moving closer to one, but Lacazette appears unlikely to follow suit.
He could be followed out the exit door by Nicolas Pepe. football.london understands the Ivorian has changed his agent this summer with a view to a move away from Arsenal. The Gunners’ record signing is yet to start a game of any kind in 2022 at club level, and is keen to get more game time next season. Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe are ahead of him in the pecking order, and it seems likely that he will be allowed to leave.