Looking Ahead To Arsenal Summer Transfers – Part 1 (Outgoings)
The dust has finally settled on what was an extremely busy & successful January window for Arsenal.
We saw two players join on loan in Martin Odegaard & Maty Ryan, we saw four players terminate their contracts in Mesut Ozil, Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi & Matt Macey, while the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, William Saliba, Sead Kolasinac & Joe Willock went out on loan.
The only thing that could have made this window any better was if we signed a left-back to provide cover for future captain Kieran Tierney. Recent defeats to Wolves & Villa have shown just how important he is to our team (competent referees would help too!) & that shoe horning in right footer Cedric was never going to be a sustainable option.
That being said, the January window is behind us now & as Mikel Arteta continues to overhaul the squad in to one that he feels can best execute his project, we thought why not begin to look ahead to the summer window!
The Free Agents:
As it currently stands, Arsenal will only have four players that will be out of contract when the season ends:
David Luiz – In my previous article I praised David Luiz for his overall performances since joining from Chelsea. He was colossal against Manchester City & former club Chelsea on the way to our FA Cup win last season, but as we have seen recently with Luiz, he will always undo his great work with an inevitable mistake or rash decision.
Overall Luiz has been a good signing with more good moments than bad but the time is definitely right for us to cut ties. He will be 34 years old by the summer & fighting with Gabriel/Pablo Mari for a spot at LCB, – with both those players in their prime and able to offer much more to the club in the years to come.
Dani Ceballos – Ceballos is currently halfway through his 2nd season on loan with us & I think it would be fair to say he has not really hit the heights we thought he would. There’s no denying Ceballos is a very tidy player & a hard working one at that, but it always seems to be flashes of quality with him.
He formed a formidable partnership with Granit Xhaka towards the end of last season, acting as the creative force while Xhaka recycled possession, but this season there has been something missing. He does not seem to play well with anybody other than Xhaka & lacks the physicality to play in a two-man pivot in this league. A third loan spell is not going to happen & I think £30m could be better invested elsewhere, so I think we will see the number 8 shirt become available again this summer for sure.
Martin Odegaard – As with fellow team mate Ceballos, Odegaard is currently on loan from Real Madrid until the end of the season. Considering he has not even made a start for us yet, we can’t possibly judge him yet or predict what will happen with him.
Whether he rejoins us on a second loan or permanent deal in the summer when this loan deal ends will be very interesting, he is still arguable one of the best players in his position & maybe we can provide the perfect platform for him to prove it..
Folarin Balogun – The latest star to emerge from the Hale End production line & mega talent Balogun is our last player out of contract this summer as things stand. Talks have been ongoing throughout the season, & we all thought his breakthrough moment came when he showed great play to score away to the mighty Molde.
Sadly, unlike team mates Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli who we all felt would stay when we heard they were in contract talks, I believe Balogun will be on his way. The singing on bonus of a free transfer & the offer of guaranteed game time would be hard for any 19-year-old to resist. It’s a shame because there will definitely be opportunities here next season but if he does not want to fight for his place then I’m sure we will survive.
The re-investment centre:
Its nice to finally be talking about some outgoing transfers that will bring in some actual money! Edu has proven he can move players on by any means this January, but maximising the fees we receive for the players not in Arteta’s plans will be key to pushing the club forward.
The following players have all either been linked away from the club recently, have 1 year on their contract by the summer or are completely out of favour.
Runar Alex Runarsson – Ever since letting Mahrez’s free kick slip through his gloves, Runarsson has been written off by many Arsenal fans. He was quite clearly not our choice for the number 2 spot in the summer when you consider how heavily we were linked with David Raya of Brentford AFTER we signed Runarsson. I personally am not against him staying as our 3rd choice keeper but there were rumours that the club feel he is far below the level they expected when he signed.
Verdict – I think we will see a loan for him before he is completely written off or sold.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – Cast your mind back to the Community Shield, he was the man of the match on his birthday against the Champions of England & received an England call up shortly after. He was heavily linked with Wolves for around £20m in the summer when his stock was at his highest, but they apparently did not want to pay more than £15m or so.
Following our switch from the 3-4-3 earlier in the season, Ainsley fell heavily down the pecking order to the point where he escaped to West Brom for some game time in January. Its a shame we didn’t cash in while he was in good form during the summer if we weren’t going to use him but I think he will 100% be sold at the end of the season.
Verdict – He should still command around £15m given his age & versatility which would be a tidy profit for an academy player.
Hector Bellerin – ‘He cares more about his hair & fashion than football’. ‘He can’t take a throw in’ & ‘He’s dropped off since he became vegan’ are phrases you will often hear about Bellerin. I was a big fan of Bellerin when he broke through & he always seems to perform against Chelsea which is more than we can say for far better players to previously wear the Cannon!
Im sure there will be lots of fans who would keep Bellerin this Summer, rightly stating that other positions are more important to strengthen. Oddly, I think Bellerin would return one of the highest fees in the squad if sold & we should look to sell while he is valuable & healthy for the benefit of the team. I think he is actually quite limited in technical & defensive aspects of his game, with many of our conceded goals this season coming from his side.
Verdict – A nice £30m fee would be solid & realistic business by the club for a home-grown right back less than halfway through his career.
Calum Chambers – Chambers is almost a forgotten man these days. He has barely featured the season due to his recovery from the ACL injury he suffered last season. Prior to that he had loans at Fulham & Middlesbrough, but other than the season he joined us, he has never really held down a place in our back line.
I think Chambers is a good player who can definitely do a job in midfield & at right back, but ultimately he is a centre back & this is a position where we are stacked. Saliba will return from loan & Rob Holding seems to be one of Arteta’s go to players. This, coupled with him only having a year left on his contract, for me solidifies the argument for selling him & trying to recoup some of the large investment we outlaid to sign him.
Verdict – I think around £10m would be a decent fee for a decent centre back, nothing more.
Send Kolasinac – The ‘Tank’ is currently on loan to former club Schalke until the summer. Kolasinac is clearly not a player Arteta fancies & he was quite close to leaving last summer too but the move broke down with Leverkusen due to wages apparently.
Not much to say here, he will definitely be sold this summer especially as he will enter the last year of his contract. I will always love him for fighting off the armed muggers with his bare hands but he is a player we definitely need to improve on to move forward.
Verdict – I can see him going for around £5/6m given his high wages, which will be clear profit if nothing else.
Matteo Guendouzi – The master of chaos ball. Guendouzi is a fan favourite to some & a pantomime villain to others. There is no denying his talent & ability, he can progress the ball & carry it like no one else in our midfield bar Thomas Partey. Sadly, Matteo’s talent is often overshadowed by his behaviour & attitude.
He is currently on loan in Germany after being exiled by Arteta for throttling Maupay after he injured Bernd Leno. I remember LOTS of fans in the summer saying we’d be fools to sell such a talent & we’ll regret it. I personally think we’d be extremely smart to sell a player with a history of attitude problems & that while being great on the ball, has poor positional awareness & very little end product.
Verdict – We paid very little for him but could easily sell him for £30m plus if Arteta feels he is a lost cause.
Lucas Torreira – Torreira is a bit like Ceballos in terms of what we expected & what we got. When we signed he was exactly what we needed, a physical presence who is happy to sit, tackle & release the ball. At one point he was imperious when playing with Xhaka, winning multiple man of the match awards with a cracker against Spurs thrown in for good measure.
It wasn’t until Emery decided to play him as a CAM that we saw him lose his way & weaknesses in his game were exposed. I personally wouldn’t be against him staying as backup to Partey when he returns from Atletico Madrid but he was generating a lot of interest in January & I think he could also raise decent funds if sold.
Verdict – I do not think he can do what Arteta wants from a midfielder & I could see a £20m move to Italy on the cards for him this summer.
Mohamed Elneny – Elneny is a squad player for us, & will only ever be a squad player. He is clearly a well liked figure in the dressing room & offers positivity in abundance which is great to see, but we need to be ruthless this summer.
Elneny’s game time could easily be divided between Willock & the upcoming Miguel Azeez next season. Other than a standout performance at Old Trafford next to Partey, you will struggle to think of anything mention worthy that he has done this season.
Verdict – Decent squad player, but with 1 year left & his biggest strength being running a lot, we should look to sell Elneny for above £5m & promote a younger to be our 4th/5th CM option.
Willian – Willian has not actually been linked with a move away, which would be expected with any player who has only joined the club months prior. Unfortunately I think this is a case where we can collectively agree we wish someone would take him off our hands already.
Other than Fulham away on his debut, he has been massively underwhelming almost every time he has played. We can forgive wingers for losing the ball or struggling to create, but when you are clearly not putting in the effort & doing the basics you will rightly be criticised.
This will be a great test to see what Edu is made of. Can he come out & admit that signing his friend from the Brazilian team for free was somehow an expensive mistake & shift him, or are we going to have to terminate his contract to get him to leave in a repeat of former mistakes?
Verdict – I would be happy but very surprised if he left this summer. His arrival appears to have completely halted Reiss Nelson’s progress too, who I hoped would go on loan in January. I would genuinely be happy for Willian to leave for free & we just forget it happened, but something tells me this will drag out..
Alexandre Lacazette – Our leading goal scorer & self proclaimed ‘dad of the group’ to Saka, ESR & Martinelli, we have Lacazette. We can use all the stats & technical terms that we want to describe Lacazette’s game & strengths. But ultimately, if you sign Aubameyang for £60m six months after signing a £50m striker, questions have to be asked.
Physically Lacazette is not the best, we all knew that from when he joined. What he does offer is work rate, good finishing with his right foot & pretty tidy hold up play, but not much else. For £50m we need a 20 goal striker leading the line, but sadly it seems be Saka who carries Lacazette at times. I like him overall & he is clearly popular within our team, but with one year left we simply have to sell & find a more mobile striker.
Verdict – I expect Lacazette will be sold this summer for somewhere around £25m. I can see return to France or a short term contract with Atletico Madrid.
Eddie Nketiah – Lastly we have Nketiah. We can all agree that Eddie is a good kid & a very good poacher of goals. For where we are as a club & with Lacazette very likely to leave, can Eddie be the guy to challenge Aubameyang & lead our front line? For me, no.
Again Nketiah is clearly a very nice boy & good in front of goal but he needs more to his game. We need a striker who can release team mates, run in behind & score a variety of goals, which is not Eddie’s game at all. He works hard for sure, but I feel the front line of Arsenal is too big of a job for him.
Verdict – I would expect he leaves for more game time, he was linked with West Ham in January for £25m & I not many fans would have turned this down. I think he will leave for between £15m-£20m & we will use Martinelli as our 3rd Striker.
That concludes my view on what will no doubt be another busy transfer window this summer, hopefully a much more profitable one..
In part 2 we will look at potential incomings & additions to the squad this summer so keep an eye out for what will be an exciting piece on our rebuild process.