As new head coach, Unai Emery, gets to grips with his squad ahead of the World Cup, we look at who may be on their way out of the club in what could be a busy summer for Premier League teams.
The midfielder and long-time Arsenal fans’ favourite has been locked in negotiations with the club hierarchy for the best part of the season about his future.
The 26-year-old was asked to prove his fitness by Arsene Wenger as he headed into the final year of his contract and, in fairness to the midfield ace, he seems to have done just that in the last eight months or so.
While not quite the same player who burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced 18-year-old, he retains a touch of class in possession which would make him a valuable squad asset looking ahead. Whether Jack will accept a role outside of the starting XI remains an issue, however, as does he willingness to accept a deal that doesn’t involve a pay increase of some form.
Various, well-placed sources suggest Aaron has been offered improved terms to stay at the club but it remains unclear whether he will sign or not.
Perhaps he is weighing up his options before putting pen to paper and, after a strong season for the Welshman, I don’t necessarily blame him.
He rediscovered his goal-scoring knack in 2017/18 and added a few more assists too, recapturing the form that made him so important in the 2013/14 FA Cup-winning season. After spending so long with the club, through good times and extremely bad, it would be a shame to see him leave but perhaps he feels it is time for a change of scenery. Footballers from these shores are not so shy of heading overseas as once they were and maybe he is mulling options in Spain, Italy, or Germany.
Whatever he may feel, I don’t believe it is in the club’s interests to allow him to run down his contract. If he won’t put pen to paper this summer, I think it is better that he is sold, while he can still command a good market price.
By all accounts the Columbian was convinced to stay last summer by Arsene Wenger after looking to pastures new, but I would be surprised if he was compelled to stick it out another 12 months in London.
Clearly, as an international, and heading into the prime of his career (29), David will not want to be sitting idly by on the bench, picking up 10 or 15 appearances in a season. He will want to be playing week-in, week-out and, unless he is given assurances to that effect from Mr Emery, I can’t see him staying around. While a good shot-stopper and capable of some excellent work between the posts, he has not been given the chance to prove himself the world class goalkeeper many have craved.
The German arrived to much fanfare in 2016, on the back of lengthy negotiations with Valencia that saw the club part with £35million – big money for a centre back.
After an excellent start to his Arsenal career, the German has suffered something of a decline and, last summer, was understood to be on the move to Inter Milan when the plug was pulled by Mr Wenger at the 11th hour.
Quite whether Mustafi is as bad as most believe remains to be seen but it is worth bearing in mind that he may well be a victim of the Wenger-era defensive system in which most players on the planet would have struggled.
If we’re honest, there is only a handful of defenders in the last decade who have come out with reputations in tact following stints in the Gunners back four and, at the moment, Mustafi isn’t one of them.
It may well be that Mr Emery has seen enough already and decides to move him on, or he may be content to give him one more chance to impress, given that Mustafi is capable of some excellent work (think the north London derby at the Emirates last year).
The young Englishman is another who was on the cusp of departure last summer only to be handed a new deal by Mr Wenger in somewhat strange circumstances.
By his own estimation, Chambers needs to be playing football regularly now but whether that is at Arsenal or not remains to be seen. I am not convinced he is ready for a starting XI berth given that he can, on occasion, be prone to a lapse in concentration. Frankly, though, there doesn’t seem to be a player at Arsenal who isn’t.
He has shown a great deal of promise, however, and a new manager and new system may be just what he needs to finally make the leap from promising talent to reliable centre back. He may decide, however, that he is better placed dropping down a level in order to get the game time he craves, before working his way back up again. A loan deal is not really an option any longer at 23 so it is something of a crossroads for the former Southampton youth product.
The young Spaniard is another defender who has suffered in recent times. Whether his decline in form is as a result of playing in a Wenger defensive system or whether his concentration and desire has also ebbed away is another matter, however.
The 23-year-old’s Oxford Union address was quite telling in many ways, particularly in that it revealed just how much he has on his plate outside of football. In my opinion, his interests away from the game demand more of his concentration than I would like.
Of course, footballers are not robots and can’t spend all their lives in their boots but do the best defenders in world football spend quite so much of their time worrying about fashion and other business interests away from the game? I doubt it.
Perhaps a move away is what Hector needs to reinvigorate himself and his love for the game, or perhaps fellow Spaniard Emery will be able to refocus him. As it stands, however, I think Hector’s future is unclear and he may decide it is time to move on.
Any other business?
I would be surprised to see any other big movements away from the club this summer, although I’m sure many fans would like to see a more comprehensive clear out.
That would be almost certainly be counter-productive, though, and one of the key reasons Emery landed the Arsenal job was because of his ability to work with youth and to develop existing players, squeezing that extra 10 per cent out of them.
To that end, I think Emery has an ideal platform from which to work, with a squad full of players with plenty more to given and in need of a new direction.
Before we get too hasty in calling for heads on spikes, let’s see what the new coach can do with the players he has, and gauge whether they are all quite as frail as it is has appeared in the Wenger years.