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Arsenal January Transfer Window Primer

Where things stand at the start of the silly season.

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Atletico de Madrid v Elche CF - LaLiga Santander Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The January transfer window opened on January 1st at midnight. Arsenal are expected to be active, as Edu and Mikel Arteta look to reinforce their squad for a title challenge. The Gunners aren’t usually big players in the mid-season window, but Gabriel Jesus’ knee injury and sitting atop the Premier League may have changed that practice.

Said Mikel Arteta, “we are going to be active and active means we are looking to strengthen the team. This squad still doesn’t have the luxury of not maximising every single window. We have to do that because it’s really important. But then we have to get the right profile, it has to be the right player to take us to the next level.”

Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk is Arsenal’s primary target. The Gunners seem close to agreeing to a move for the 21-year old Ukranian speedster. Shakhtar rejected an initial offer of £35.5m plus £17.7m in add-ons. Arsenal have reportedly made a second, improved offer. Based on Mudryk’s Instagram, the Twitter sleuths speculate that he may be in London in anticipation of a move. Transfer Twitter is peerless in absurdity.

There also seems to be legs on the João Felix loan rumor. The Gunners are reportedly in the running for the Portuguese attacker alongside Manchester United and Chelsea. Atletico Madrid are asking an extremely steep loan price for their €127M record signing: a €15M loan fee plus covering his €6M salary. The spend doesn’t strike me as something Arsenal would do without a plan / desire for a permanent move, but the title challenge might change things. Rental players, while not common in football, are not a novel concept. Basketball, baseball, and hockey teams in the U.S. routinely trade draft picks and prospect for established players they think will help them make a deep playoff run.

Arsenal might also be in for Youri Tielemans, although that front has been quieter than it was over the summer. Some are speculating that the Gunners might make another attempt to pry the Belgian midfielder away from Leicester City before his contract expires in June. The thinking being the Foxes can ill-afford to lose a player of his caliber for free from an accounting standpoint.

My feeling was that Arsenal would move for 21-year old Brazilian midfielder Danilo in the January window. The Gunners have reportedly cooled their interest significantly, however.

The Gunners have also been linked, albeit somewhere between “little” to “none” on the reliability scale, with Dusan Vlahovic, Alexis Mac Allister, Ibrahima Bamba, Adrian Rabiot, Ferran Torres, and Elye Wahi.

In terms of needs generally, the squad could do with another quality player in the center of the park, and the long-term replacement for 29-year old Thomas Partey is not currently on the roster. The squad needs another attacker, which looks as if it will be Mudryk, and a younger upgrade at left #8, the spot currently occupied with Granit Xhaka.

Only Cedric Soares has been linked with a move away from the Emirates in January. It seems likely that he’ll head down the road to Fulham, where he’d presumably play more frequently. There were inaccurate rumors linking Martin Ødegaard with a move back to Real Madrid that mistakenly relied on an imagined buyback clause. That clause does not exist. There was no such clause in Ødegaard’s sale to Arsenal. Madrid may have a right of first refusal / sell-on clause, but it doesn’t matter. The Arsenal captain isn’t going anywhere.

Perhaps the biggest pieces of business for Arsenal, not confined to the January window, are new contracts for William Saliba, Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, and perhaps Reiss Nelson. Nelson’s contract expires at the end of the season, but he has expressed a desire to stay at the club. It remains to be seen whether Arsenal feel the same way. A shorter contract / bridge deal might make the most sense.

The Gunners recently triggered their extension in Saliba’s contract, extending his stay at the Emirates through the end of the ‘23-’24 season. They’ve done the same with Bukayo Saka. When last asked about it in August, both Arteta and Saka seemed confident and comfortable that the deal would get done in due time. Arsenal are thought to be close to a new deal with Gabriel Martinelli, too.

As always, we’ll do our best to keep y’all up to date on the latest Arsenal transfer rumors as the January window kicks into high gear. I wouldn’t be surprised if a transfer comes seemingly out of the blue, as well. As we saw with Fabio Vieira, Edu and Mikel like to play some things close to the vest.