Over the last seven years, Arsenal have averaged, per season, slightly more than eight player departures in the transfer window. Even though that number includes both the summer and winter windows and is not limited to first team regulars, that’s still a good bit of roster churn each year.
To give you a better idea of what that turnover looks like, consider this: of Arsenal’s 2017 FA Cup winning matchday squad, just Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin, Granit Xhaka, and Mesut Ozil are still with the team (Shkodran Mustafi would have played but for an injury, Calum Chambers was out on loan, but the point still stands).
Should we expect the trend to continue this summer? It’s tough to say. Arsenal are in the middle of rebuilding the roster to fit Mikel Arteta’s ideas, and there are some guys that clearly aren’t part of the plan. There’s another group of guys that you’d probably rather be rid of, but for any of a number of reasons, might not be able to move on this window.
The global transfer market will probably be slower this summer because of the financial ramifications of coronavirus shutdowns. Add to that the frantic pace of matches next season and the players already starting the season on the injured list (Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Gabriel Martinelli, and Shkodran Mustafi). Arsenal are going to need enough bodies to keep up with the even more rigorous schedule. That means some guys who might have been sold in a normal window with a healthier roster likely remain at the club. And oh by the way, even though the transfer window will stay open into early October, the season starts in just over a month.
But I suppose that it’s my job to try to cut through all that and to prognosticate for your reading pleasure, so here we go.
Arsenal should sell everybody and buy Kylian Mbappe.
But it’s a good reminder for both possible outgoings and incomings that just because you want to sell or buy a player doesn’t mean there is a market for them. For a transfer to happen you need a willing buyer and a willing seller who can agree on a price. We’d all love to see Arsenal fleece clubs for fringe guys — who’d say no to selling, say, Sokratis for £20M — but that’s just not going to happen.
Matteo Guendouzi, HIGH
Arsenal seem almost certain to sell the young midfielder this summer to pretty much anybody who will take him for a decent price. Guendouzi hasn’t played since his much-discussed incident with Neal Maupay and has been training on his own for weeks. He has reportedly been unwilling to apologize or to commit to changing his behavior, which for an apparent disciplinarian like Mikel Arteta, is a non-starter. Arteta has left the door open to a reconciliation with Guendouzi, but at this point, it seems unlikely.
Mesut Ozil, LOW
Arsenal would like to move on from Mesut Ozil, mostly because of his astronomically high £350K per week wages. But it’s those same wages that are proving a significant impediment to a transfer. Other clubs cannot or do not want to pay his salary. Recent reports have Arsenal considering buying out his wages (which doesn’t save them any money but does rid them of the “headache”) or subsidizing them to make a transfer more palatable.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, LOW
All signs point to the striker being close to signing a new deal to stay at the Emirates. Mikel Arteta has said time and again that he would like Aubameyang to remain at the club, and it appears he’s going to get his wish. If he doesn’t sign a new contract, however, it’s highly likely Arsenal sell him.
Alexandre Lacazette, MEDIUM
Lacazette’s status hinges on Aubameyang’s; Arsenal have said they don’t want to lose the pair in the same window. If PEA signs a new contract, there is a decent chance the Gunners look to sell Lacazette. If Arsenal want to make several moves in the window, they’re going to have to sell to buy, and Lacazette is one of the club’s more salable assets. Unless you are one of a handful of clubs around Europe like Manchester City, if you want to buy good players you probably have to sell some good ones, too.
Emi Martinez/Bernd Leno, LOW to MEDIUM
After patiently waiting his turn for 10 years, the Argentine showed in relief of an injured Leno that he’s got the ability to be a first-choice keeper. Martinez has reportedly told the club that he wants either regular minutes or a transfer, but I wonder whether a closer to even split of matches might keep both him and Leno happy. Alongside Guendouzi and slightly ahead of Lacazette, the two keepers are probably Arsenal’s most valuable assets that don’t fall into the “untouchable” category. That said, you’d have to be real confident in Matt Macey or looking to bring in a cheap, veteran backup to move a keeper.
Kieran Tierney, NOPE
Nothing else needed here.
Sead Kolasinac, LOW
As much as people would like to see Arsenal move on from the Bosnian Hulk, I don’t think it happens this summer. Mikel Arteta wants a left-footed centerback, and with Pablo Mari starting the season on the shelf, Tierney and Kolasinac are the only guys who fit that bill. Kolasinac is also the only real left-back cover at Arsenal because I don’t think Arsenal want Bukayo Saka in that role if they can avoid it.
William Saliba, NOPE
Arsenal’s great defensive hope isn’t going anywhere.
As noted, Arsenal have a bit of a centerback Injury issue heading into next season. That said, even with those injuries, Sokratis only made two cameo appearances in the restart. He’s not good enough on the ball for the way Mikel Arteta wants to play. But I don’t think the phone is ringing off the hook with buyers interested in Sokratis. My bet: he plays out the last year of his contract then leaves on a free next summer. If he helps Arteta steal a few games of rest for other guys this season, I’m happy.
Rob Holding, MEDIUM
If Arsenal are moving a centerback this window, Holding is the likeliest candidate. As a British, homegrown player he has some value, and I think he would improve several mid-table clubs.
Calum Chambers, LOW
If he wasn’t coming off an ACL injury, he’d be in the same boat as Rob Holding. But he hasn’t played since December and won’t be ready when the season kicks off in a month.
Pablo Mari, NOPE
He’s the left-footed centerback Mikel Arteta wanted. Arsenal signed him permanently after seeing him for a smattering of first team minutes. He’s not going anywhere.
David Luiz, NOPE
He’s an Arteta guy at this point.
Shkodran Mustafi, VERY LOW
Mustafi is often listed on Arsenal’s selling block, but I don’t think he’s going anywhere this summer, both because of his injury and because Mikel Arteta has said he’d like to give him a new contract. I’m fine with Mustafi remaining at Arsenal. For my money, he was one of the five best players under Mikel Arteta.
Cedric Soares, NOPE
You don’t sign guys on a free transfer to sell them in the same window.
Hector Bellerin, LOW to MEDIUM
It pains me to write this, but I don’t think Bellerin is “untouchable” at Arsenal anymore. He was before his ACL injury, but I don’t think he is right now. He has yet to recapture his pre-injury form. I’ve found myself wondering if he does enough on the ball for Mikel Arteta’s system, although his powering run that led to Arsenal’s second goal in the FA Cup Final was a glimpse of the old Bellerin and encouraging. Was the Cedric Soares signing for depth and cover or was it indicative of something else?
Lucas Torreira, MEDIUM
Torreira recently made some cryptic comments about his contract and place at the club that suggest he’s open to leaving. I don’t blame him — he’s one of the players whose stock and standing slipped the most under Mikel Arteta. He shined as a single holding midfielder in Italy, a position that doesn’t really exist in Arteta’s system. He’s another player that has a good bit of transfer value whose sale could generate funds to be reinvested.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, MEDIUM?
I’ll be honest, I don’t really know what to make of AMN’s situation. He played really well at right back then there was that business about him not seeing himself as a right back, which may not have been true to begin with. He didn’t look to be a part of Mikel Arteta’s plans but then played really, really well to close out the season. He’s young (22) and could be a useful utility player but would also fetch a decent sale price.
Joe Willock, MEDIUM?
In a similar situation to Ainsley Maitland-Niles, without the positional questions but with questions about whether he actually has the quality to play a meaningful role at the club.
Granit Xhaka, NOPE
If I told you several months ago that Granit Xhaka, of all players, is one of the least likely to be moved guys on the roster, you would have called me crazy. But here we are.
Bukayo Saka, NOPE
Not going to bother with the digital ink here.
Nicolas Pepe, VERY LOW
We can debate Pepe’s season until the cows come home, but the bottom line is that he’s not going anywhere. A sale now would be an admission that the club missed on a transfer-record move, and they wouldn’t be able to recoup the fee they paid. Not happening.
Reiss Nelson, LOW
Even though Nelson didn’t play much in the restart, Mikel Arteta has spoken highly of the winger’s talent and prospects. He’ll get at least a full season under Arteta to develop and earn a place.
Eddie Nketiah, LOW
Mikel Arteta recalled the striker from a loan to Leeds and gave him substantial minutes. He’s the backup center-forward for next season.
Gabriel Martinelli, NOPE
He may eventually be sold, especially if he continues on his current trajectory. But not right now.
Dinos Mavropanos, LOW
He’ll be on loan to VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga this season, a step up from his loan to the German second division last season. He may ultimately be sold to Germany, but if he impresses, he could also have a place at Arsenal in the 2021-22 season.
Mohamed Elneny, HIGH
Elneny will either be sold or loaned to a Turkish club this window. The Gunners have given his shirt number to William Saliba. His Arsenal days are over, I think.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, ???
Arsenal and Roma have an agreement in place for Mkhitaryan to remain in Italy next season, but whether that is a loan or a sale is unknown.
Emile Smith Rowe, NOPE
Arsenal have said he’ll be with the first team this season. He has a shot to become the central creative/link-up player the team desperately needs.
Folarin Balogun, HIGH
The Gunners have reportedly slapped a £8M price tag on the 19-year old striker, even though he doesn’t have a minute of first team action. He’s garnering interest from a handful of Premier League clubs and wants to leave Arsenal in search of regular, first team playing time.
And there you have it. What started out as a post about the big-name players who could leave Arsenal this window turned into an entire roster rundown. The moves are coming, and probably pretty soon.