Arsenal is facing a summer of transition as Mikel Arteta looks to strengthen his squad ahead of the new season. Arteta took over from Caretaker coach Freddie Ljungberg in December with Arsenal’s season in jeopardy. He has steered the ship steadily and recently delivered his first trophy to the Emirate faithful.
The squad he inherited is full of talents but will need a lot of rebuilding. Some players will need to leave to pave the way for recruits who can play to the philosophy and objectives of the Spanish coach.
The players on the proverbial chopping block are Mesut Ozil, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Matteo Guendouzi, Sokratis, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sead Kolasinac and Lucas Torreira.
If these players move on, the Gunners would have the funds to tie Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang down to a new deal. Part of it will aid them to snap up Willian on a free, and sign targets Gabriel Magalhaes, Thomas Partey, and Coutinho.
Below is a breakdown of reasons/factors that necessitated moving each player on.
1 Mezut Ozil: Until quite recently Ozil has been the first name on the list on match days. His importance in the team during the Arsene Wenger era and early in Emery’s tenure was glaring. The German international is a fantastic player to watch on his day. His assist tally for Arsenal can only compete with Thierry Henry’s.
His loss of form has necessitated the loss of his place in the team. Moreover moving him on will free up enough funds on the salary structure owing to the enormous 350k per week he earns.
2 Ainsley Maitland Niles: Niles has been at Arsenal from his childhood. His form has always been up and down. In some matches, he plays to the admiration of the fans, while in other games, he will let everyone down and disappear.
It is clear Arteta wants him to stay, but the board has decided to move him on. Initially a central midfielder, Niles has always been deployed to the right-back or wing-back position. In the last three matches Arsenal played, Arteta used him in the left-back area. He did creditably well.
3 Matteo Guendouzi: He had not played for the Arteta tutored team since the game in June when he grabbed Maupay by the throat. Arteta seems to have frozen him out of the group as it looks like he has zero-tolerance to indiscipline. Guendozi is a good and young midfielder who will flourish in no time; unfortunately, his disciplinary attitude seems to be his undoing in his Arsenal career.
He will not be short of suitors as Barcelona, and a host of other clubs are already said to be interested.
4 Henrik Mkhitaryan: When he walked into the Emirate Stadium in a swap deal with Alexis Sanches, there was a lot of expectation from the Armenian international. Owing to the presence of Aubamayang his ex strike partner at Borussia Dortmund, great reunion in the attacking department looked set. It was never to be as one year into his contract; he went out on loan out to Roma.
Interestingly it seems that he is presently surplus to requirements as exciting young talents like Saka and Nelson are coming up in his position.
5 Socratis: The Greek international has been declared surplus to requirements with the acquisition of Pablo Mari and Willian Saliba. Other upcoming defenders like Calum Chambers and Holding makes it necessary to move the 32-year-old defender on. He has had a good two years in the team after signing from Dortmund; a hard-working defender. Unfortunately, age is no longer on his side.
6 Kolasinac: The bulky Bosnian defender has had a torrid career recently in the Arsenal shirt. Arteta has used him both at left-back and central defense. It increasingly looks unlikely that he will be able to convince neither the board, the bench, or the fans. With the signing of the Scottish fullback Tierney, his days as an Arsenal defender look numbered. Tierney has been putting up man of the match displays to support the argument that Kolasinac needs move on.
7 Lucas Torreira: The Uruguayan midfielder who was signed two seasons ago from Sampdoria seems to be on his way. His Arsenal career has been successful in terms of his abilities on the field. Still, it looks like he is not the kind of central midfielder that fits the style of Arteta. Arteta’s method supports a robust midfielder with a physical presence. What Torreira lacks in physique, he makes up in his other abilities. He is also not in want of suitors as AC Milan is linked.