Operation ‘Clear Deadwood’ well underway at Arsenal
Whilst there are calls from the Arsenal faithful to bring in a new winger, getting rid of players that aren’t needed, seems to have been made a priority by the club, at present.
When you look at this Arsenal squad, we have great depth in most positions. In some, however, we have excessive personnel who are not needed. The wage bill is high as it is, and we are a club that is run largely on internally generated funds, so we have to be more careful financially than say, a club like Manchester City who have a big external push from the owner. Arsenal’s owner, Stan Kroenke has come under huge criticism by Arsenal fans, for his lack of financial support over the years, but it is something we all have to live with. For now, at least.
When you look at our goalkeepers, it seems pretty obvious that Bernd Leno and Petr Cech would be the favoured options. Emiliano Martinez looks poised to be third choice, he fits the home grown quota, so it makes more sense for the club to keep him. This opens the door for David Ospina to move on. There are reports circulating around that he could move to Turkish side Beşiktaş on a loan deal. It looks increasingly likely that he will leave Arsenal this summer. Matt Macey has already left the club and joined League One club, Plymouth Argyle.
Coming to our defenders, I don’t see us clearing out any of our centre backs. Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papasthathopoulous would be our senior centre backs, whilst Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Konstantinos Mavropanos are the upcoming ones. Unai Emery will be quite keen to set the centre back pairing, that best fits his philosophy. So far, in pre-season – Emery has paired Holding and Mustafi together twice, Sokratis and Mustafi once, Sokratis and Mavropanos once, Chambers and Holding once. This indicates to me that he is still trying to figure the optimum pairing. So we need all six.
Carl Jenkinson is another player I can’t see staying at this club, particularly after we captured Stephan Lichtsteiner. He is just not good enough to play at this level, much as I admire him, for he is an Arsenal fan himself. Goal and Telegraph have already indicated his likely departure in their reports.
Moving on to the midfield, we have six senior central midfielders in Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Matteo Guendouzi, Maitland Niles and Mohamed Elneny. I can’t see any of them being cleared out unless a replacement is brought in, which looks quite unlikely at this stage. It is important to note that already, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere have left the club after the expiry of their contracts, Jeff-Reine Adelaide has also left the club a few days back, citing potential lack of game time, largely because of this packed central midfield.
Now coming to the forwards, this is where I think we will see some outs. We have Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette who I can see playing in the first team. On top of this there is Eddie Nketiah, Danny Welbeck, Lucas Perez, Reiss Nelson and Joel Campbell. Four out of the five are all basically wide forwards. Joel Campbell has come out and said that he will discuss his future this week with Emery. He is on the last year of his contract, so if he leaves, it is likely he will be sold. I can also see one of Danny Welbeck or Lucas Perez moving on. The former has been linked to Newcastle and the latter has been linked heavily with Lazio for a major part of this window. Also, these potential outs are in addition to Chuba Akpom who is close to joining Greek side PAOK FC, as reported by Goal.
Lastly, with respect to the young players, I think Unai Emery will want to keep Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson – the latter because he is the only proper out and out winger at the club. Emile Smith Rowe is 17 years of age, but it is clear to see that he is a special talent, so I think Unai Emery will be keen to develop him further. I think Joe Willock could be loaned out because I just can’t see him getting game time at this stage.
Clearing the deadwood is very important. Having good squad depth is excellent, but having excessive squad depth is detrimental. If we can lessen the wage bill and get some cash from player sales, we could well land a winger – A position the club desperately needs.